Tuesday, July 07, 2015 - 05:30
By Nandhu Sundaram You may not remember Bug. William Friedkin, who helmed The Exorcist, directed this horror-thriller. But Bug didn’t impress critics the way the seminal The Exorcist had in 1973. I caught the 2006 movie on DVD. I found it interesting and disturbing, and it left an indelible mark on me. The film, which is about rampant bug infestation in a spooky motel, isn’t a great movie. Likewise, most of the Tamil movies in the oft-neglected horror genre aren’t up there with the all-time greats. However, when Tamil new wave motifs mix with new age horror, it becomes difficult to ignore the potent mix. Working fresh themes into tried-and-tested stories, the horror wave in Tamil cinema boasts of such hits as Pizza, Pisaasu, Demonte Colony, Yamirukke Bayamen, Yavarum Nalam and Eeram. Well-thought-out and smartly executed, these movies are riding the crest of the horror new wave and have been successful at the box office as well. The morbid comedy in some of these films was much appreciated and this sub-genre curried favour with Tamil audiences as producers rubbed their hands in glee. Even the more crass versions like Masss, starring Surya, and Kanchana 2 made by choreographer turned actor-director Lawrence are bona fide hits. Movies like these two play to the gallery and footfalls are higher for these movies than for the more serious fare in this genre. The latest in the Muni/Kanchana franchise is the year’s biggest hit. (Kanchana 2 starring Lawrence) It took years for the horror genre to take root in Tamil cinema. Thyiagaraja Bagavathar never acted in a horror movie. Both Shivaji and MGR also shunned this genre, by and large. Movies like Yaar Ne and Nooravathu Naal are all that remain etched in memory. During the parallel movie movement in Tamil in the 1970s, horror movies took further root. The supernatural element, which is free of the boundaries of law, was often seen taking revenge on those responsible for its plight. This offered those in the audience satisfaction by proxy. The blood and gore in these movies was high and the violence gratified the audience. In most of the movies, the ghost is seen combating evil and emerging triumphant.     But these tropes, which were a constant in the horror genre, are now being altered. In Pisaasu for instance, the ghost, which looks terrifying, is actually quite benign. Once its need for appearing as a ghost is over, the ghost cremates itself. In Demonte Colony, the spooky events in a house end up of killing all its occupants, though they are blemish less. This reverses the hitherto trend that it is always the sinner who gets killed. It was superstar Rajnikanth’s horror-comedy Chandramukhi (2005), directed by the inimatable P Vasu, which revived the genre . Most of the movies that followed this blockbuster mixed gags with ghosts to create a new sub-genre. (GV Prakash starrer, Darling) More recent in this horror comedy genre was  GV Prakash starrer, Darling (2015) and Aranmanai(2014) directed by Sundar C. Another aspect of the horror wave is that some of these movies are low budget and do not necessarily feature a star cast. They rely on performances from small time actors with most of the money being fuelled into special effects to create ghosts and other supernatural elements. So as successful directors like Mysskin (Pisaasu) turn to the genre, we'll probably have to brace ourselves for a prolonged season of horror. (Image courtesy: Facebook)