Review by Sean Boelman
One of the great things about horror is that it is so often conducive to allowing a filmmaker’s unique perspective and voice to shine. The Welcome to the Blumhouse movie Evil Eye is definitely one such film, and while it results in mixed success, there are definitely some interesting ideas floating through its head.
Adapted by Madhuri Shekar from his Audible original audiobook of the same name, the film follows a mother who becomes suspicious of her daughter’s new boyfriend, convinced that he is a reincarnation of her former lover who tried to kill her decades ago. It’s a story that definitely sounds compelling on paper, but in trying to make it adhere to traditional horror-thriller tropes, the movie comes up substantially short.
More often than not, the film offers much more in the way of melodrama than legitimate thrills and chills. A few suspenseful moments aside, the audience won’t really buy into the tension of the story because Shekar doesn’t seem particularly concerned with the mystery aspect of the narrative.
Instead, it appears that the movie is meant to be more character-driven, but the script doesn’t deliver in this regard either. One of the biggest problems from which it suffers is its indecisiveness as to who the protagonist of this story is. The film switches between the mother and the daughter too often for there to be much of a connection to the story.
And it really is a shame that the characters aren’t better written, because the movie does benefit from an extremely talented cast. Veteran character actress Sarita Choudhury and up-and-comer Sunita Mani play the mother-daughter duo, and they have some great chemistry together, but the dialogue is so unnatural that the film hardly works.
Inarguably the best and most intriguing parts of the movie are those which explore more culturally-specific elements. But unfortunately, the incorporation of tradition is surface-level at best, but the filmmakers’ apparent desperation to stick to mainstream appeal seems to imply a fear that these elements which make the film unique will also cause it to struggle to connect with audiences.
In terms of execution, the movie is definitely very straightforward, but that likely comes from the fact that it is adapted from an audiobook. As such, the focus is predominantly on the dialogue, and while there are some intense moments, they are nowhere near bountiful enough to sustain the entire narrative.
Evil Eye has an interesting concept, and its filmmakers have an undeniably exciting voice. But sadly, the film pulls a few too many punches to really land as more than a subpar and over-the-top melodrama.
Evil Eye streams on Amazon Prime beginning October 13.