Aranmanai 4
Aranmanai 4YouTube screengrab

Aranmanai 4 review: Perhaps it is time for Sundar C to retire this franchise

In ‘Aranmanai 4’, it is divine intervention that saves the day. Despite our varying religious beliefs (or lack thereof), the audience too should appeal for divine intervention to save us from films like this.
Aranmanai 4 (Tamil)(1.5 / 5)

The only thing scarier than the ghosts in Aranmanai 4 is the predictability of the plot. Has the Tamil audience become so attuned to the Aranmanai cinematic universe that they (or just I) can foresee almost every plot point? As the latest Sundar C movie is the fourth in this franchise, the predictability does not come as a surprise. Also unsurprising is that Aranmanai 4 is a disappointing movie, just like the twists and turns in it. 

Like the older Aranmanai movies, the fourth one does not depart too far from the average Tamil horror movie. Saravanan (Sundar C) is an honest, upright lawyer and lives with his aunt (Kovai Sarala). His sister Selvi (Tamannaah Bhatia) had eloped with her partner and married him despite the family’s disapproval. When Saravanan hears some devastating news about Selvi and her family, he and his aunt rush to Kovur, a fictional village, where his sister resides. Saravanan and his aunt discover that the palace that Selvi and her family were living in is haunted and find ways to rid it of supernatural beings. 

There is honestly nothing to say about Aranmanai 4 that has not already been said. The plot is overridden with cliches — a medley of characters thrown together at a palace due to unforeseen circumstances, a ghost wreaking havoc, and multiple attempts to drive the evil spirit away. The characters are poorly developed and you have no reason to root for them even when they are tormented (by the director or the evil spirits, it is hard to say).

Even the supernatural elements do not invoke anticipation, for the audience knows exactly when to expect a jumpscare and even where the ghost might be standing! The humour does not go beyond body shaming, a few slapstick stunts, and infantile punchlines that make little sense.

The film’s women characters are a let-down. Selvi is present for a few scenes, more than half of which have her crying or pleading for her children to be spared. Yes, she eloped, but who was her boyfriend? How did they meet? What were Selvi’s aspirations? We don’t know. 

Maya (Rashi Khanna) is a doctor and is the granddaughter of the jameen (Delhi Ganesh) who owned the palace before Selvi’s husband did. She is also present for a few scenes, but not to add any value to the plot. She does try to help in keeping the ghost at bay and protecting Selvi’s children, but there is nothing more to her character. 

The comedic genius of Kovai Sarala is heavily underutilised. We do not even know her name but she is present only to deliver lazily written punchlines to hype Saravanan or make the situation humorous. And it works, sometimes. 

Personally, the scariest part of Aranmanai 4 was the post credits scene. Why does a horror film require Rashi Khanna and Tamannah to dance to a rather salacious song? This was present in all the Aranmanai films and one song was even titled “Party with the pei” where Trisha, Hansika Motwani, and Poonam Bajwa dance similarly. 

One might justify this by saying it would ease the mind of the audience after watching a horror movie. But why should this supposed relief appeal solely to the male gaze? 

The evil spirit in the film is based on Baak, an Assamese folklore spirit that lives near the water and torments fishermen. In Assamese folklore, it is common for Baak to murder someone and assume their identity. This trait is embodied rather decently well in the film and offers some respite from the other cliches. In almost all the Aranmanai movies, the women are the ones who are possessed and terrorise the family but there are at least two instances where the evil spirit takes on the identity of men. Perhaps that is a win for feminism? Nevertheless, even the few departures from the triteness of the older Sundar C horror-comedy films do not seem enough to save Aranmanai 4. 

The visual effects of the film are not convincing and add little value to it. Hiphop Tamizha’s music is energetic albeit grating. 

Executed with poor gfx, towards the end of Aranmanai 4, a goddess throws a trident to the place where the evil spirit is standing to destroy it. It required literal divine intervention to save the day. Despite our varying religious beliefs (or the lack thereof), maybe the audience should also appeal for divine intervention to save us from films like Aranamani 4.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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