The four children, who are the prime protagonists, unravel the mystery and prove to be the biggest strength of the series.

Netflix Typewriter review Few scares but Sujoy Ghoshs horror series still charms
Flix Netflix Monday, July 22, 2019 - 14:31

An almost forgotten childhood trauma. An old family home. A new family moving into it, setting off spooky, inexplicable incidents. A string of deaths. Sound familiar? It would be, if you have watched enough horror films. The story arc, no doubt, isn’t new. But if you are a fan of the genre, you’d know that more often than not, it’s the treatment of the combination of the same elements that can make all the difference between a nail-biting watch and a dud.

However, Netflix’s newest Indian horror offering, Typewriter, doesn’t fall neatly into either category. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh of Kahaani fame, the series maintains the suspense for the most part, but fails to leave you with scares that you haven’t experienced before. 

The five-episode series is set in present day Bardez, Goa. At the beginning of the series, we see Jenny (Palomi Ghosh) and her family move into Bardez Villa, where she grew up until the death of her grandfather Madhav Mathews, a renowned writer of ghost storybooks. Surprise surprise (or not) – the massive old property has a reputation of being the neighbourhood haunted house.

What adds to Typewriter's charm the most are the four children, its prime protagonists –  Sam, Jenny’s son Nick, Gablu, and Bunty, played by Arna Sharma, Aaryansh Malviya, Milkail Gandhi and Palash Kamble respectively. Armed with little except curiosity, grit, and bookish knowledge from Madhav’s classic The Ghost of Sultanpore, the kids’ ghost club is set on witnessing a real ghost. So, when Nick’s family moves into the villa, they see it as the perfect opportunity.

As the events unfold, mysterious deaths start happening in Bardez, and all of them have one link – Jenny. Palomi Ghosh convincingly portrays a woman who is coming to terms with her past and her family’s. Purab Kohli, who plays Sam’s single parent, Ravi Anand, makes an impact as the likeable neighbourhood inspector looking into the deaths.

At the heart of all this is Madhav’s typewriter which is still at Bardez Villa. As the kids start unravelling the mystery and connecting the dots – much like Enid Blyton’s memorable Secret Seven and Famous Five ­– Sam shines as the clear leader of the pack, a young girl with will as well as vulnerability.

The story has its share of conventional, predictable moments that would not take a horror buff by surprise. Then again, there are just enough plot twists to keep you hooked, even if the series fails to be one that stays with you. Sujoy Ghosh’s expertise with the thriller genre does shine through this haunted tale as well, though the series suffers from pacing issues despite a strong beginning. However, with another season likely, I’m not too mad at Typewriter for establishing the backstories. The devil is in the details, as they say.

If you want to enjoy this series, and are a fan of the complex, psychological thriller kind of horror, it's best to lower your expectations as Typewriter lies on the other, more ‘traditional’ end of the spectrum. And while that may not make it very contemporary, that is also its strength. Not only does it invoke a sense of nostalgia with its child characters and classic-ghost-story-theme, the fact that the series is convinced about its earthy, old-school premise is what makes it convincing for the viewer too.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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