When you are booking tickets for Balloon, starring actors Jai and Anjali in the lead, the description is likely to say that it is a 'horror comedy'. Please do not be fooled.
A better term for this film will be a 'comedy horror'. From the moment the movie begins, the laughter riot ensues and it turns out even the ghosts in this movie add to the hilarity. To put it simply, Balloon is a 'horror' movie that forgets to scare you.
The premise of the film is simple - An aspiring filmmaker, Jeevanand (Jai) takes his friends (Yogi Babu and Karthik Yogi), wife (Anjali) and nephew to Ooty to come up with a script for a horror film he needs to pen. He has heard about a haunted house in the area where several people have disappeared or been killed. But in his search for inspiration, Jai unknowingly invites trouble and the gang is soon visited by ghostly entities.
Director Sinish has borrowed every single cliche that horror movies have to offer - a haunted doll, a troubled child, a dilapidated building, exorcism, an innocent wife and more. In fact, the hero even mentions this oddity in the film, making you wonder halfway through if you are watching some kind of a spoof. But no such luck.
While Jai predictably switches between two expressions throughout the film, even Anjali who is known for her acting prowess seems to be bamboozled by the script. The characters just begin to muster a fearful expression in the face of ghosts before Yogi Babu comes up with a one liner that completely breaks the tension.
Yogi is the real star of the film in the first half and has the audience in splits constantly. You can't get scared even if you want to when he is around for comic relief. Which is probably why, the director decided to keep his role in the second half limited. But this only means that you are now forced to restlessly watch a movie that fails to even make you sit up as its multiple ghosts try to look menacing.
The ashen faces and grey lenses used to characterise the ghosts hardly compare to the make-up and special effects that we saw in Aval, a recent horror film from the same industry. The supernatural beings in the movie are a really confused lot and switch between searching for one and other and preaching on caste violence.
While the second half explains the past of these ghosts through a detailed flashback, you really wish Yogi Babu was there to make things interesting. The director, has relied heavily on crosses and.. uh..balloons.. to create a horrific atmosphere. The cinematography however, really does bring out the beauty of the hill station. In the scenes depicting night time, an eerie red light is used to add drama. The special effects are used for the regular affairs - levitating bodies, moving beds and even knives. Predictably, electronics go haywire, anytime the ghost appears.
The climax reminds you of scenes from Vijay's Kathhi and our ghost which died close to 30 years back repeats a dialogue from the recent Ajith starrer Vedalam. A Thala fan even in death clearly.
The two songs in the movie are both romantic sequences and are nothing to write home about. Yuvan Shankar Raja, the music director, however impresses with the background score which tries really hard to remind you that you are in fact here to be scared.
To wrap it up, Balloon offers comedy, romance, politics and even tragedy. Everything, except the promised horror.