Movie Review: Go Goa Gone (2013)

Go_Goa_Gone_poster2 Stars (out of 4)

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Timing is everything in horror movies. Getting it right keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Get it wrong, and the audience feels like they’re ticking boxes on a horror cliché checklist. The zombie flick Go Goa Gone gets its timing all wrong.

The premise is actually good. Dumped by his girlfriend, dope-smoking loser Luv (Vir Das) wants to forget about his romantic troubles. His horny roommate, Hardik (Kunal Khemu), sees this as a perfect excuse for a weekend of partying. They tag along with their straight-laced pal, Bunny (Anand Tiwari), on a business trip to the beach paradise Goa. The guys find themselves in trouble when a new party drug turns a bunch of ravers into the living dead.

Instead of getting right to the action, there’s a bunch of needless setup scenes. Hardik gets in trouble with his boss. Luv tosses out all his booze and drugs in order to impress his girlfriend, only to have her ditch him when he proposes to her. This is all stuff that could’ve happened offscreen beforehand, and the guys could cover it while they sit on the couch getting high. We don’t need to see it.

It takes about twenty minutes for the guys to get to Goa, and another twenty minutes for the zombies to show up. In a movie with a runtime of 110 minutes, that’s way too long.

Go Goa Gone has a lot in common with Delhi Belly (which also starred Das), another raunchy comedy made for an adult audience. Unfortunately, directors Raj & D.K. missed one of the crucial elements that made Delhi Belly so effective: no intermission.

With a runtime of only 90 minutes and no intermission, Delhi Belly maintains a cracking pace. It’s efficient, with no wasted scenes and no extraneous dialog. Go Goa Gone‘s additional twenty minutes of time to kill and the need for a break at a sensible point in the middle makes it bloated and slow by comparison.

This is most noticeable in the dialog, which is very funny at times — but which, like the undead, goes on longer than it should. For example, when Luv realizes that he and Hardik are being pursued by a bunch of flesh-eating zombies, he asks, “We only have ghosts and spirits in India. Where’d they come from?” “Globalization,” answers Hardik.

Rather than ending on that clever line, the scene continues on with further speculation as to the origin of the zombies. Watching the film, I kept thinking about the Seinfeld episode where George realizes that he’s dragging out his jokes too long and resolves to “end on a high note.” (A clip from the episode is embedded below.) Raj & D.K. don’t know when to end a funny scene, and the jokes get lost.

Even the scenes with the zombies feel boring. The creatures most often appear in large, slow-moving hordes, which the main characters easily outrun. Characters open doors with impunity, since there never seems to be a zombie hiding behind them. I usually hate jump scares, but even I was disappointed by the film’s lack of them.

The only advantage to the big groups of zombies is that it allows the Russian mobster Boris (Saif Ali Khan) to use them for target practice. Khan’s dyed-blond hair and exaggerated Russian accent are funny, but not for long. The fact that he’s always there to save the guys takes the agency away from our heroes.

Das and Khemu have a great rapport and do their best to carry the film. Tiwari’s character seems shoehorned in to make self-aware jokes about being the friend who always gets killed first in horror films. Pooja Gupta fits in better as Luv’s new love interest, Luna. Her presence sparks some amusing conflict between Luv and Hardik, as they compete over her in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

There’s a lot of funny stuff in Go Goa Gone, but this kind of movie doesn’t work in the traditional Indian tale-of-two-halves format. The intermission break is the biggest thing keeping horror from becoming a popular genre in Bollywood. Without quick-hitting jokes and surprising scares at the right intervals, this kind of horror-comedy just doesn’t work.


19 thoughts on “Movie Review: Go Goa Gone (2013)

  1. Shah Shahid

    You may not realize Kathy, but likening this movie to DELHI BELLY but with zombies, will only make me watch, and preemptively decide to love this movie even more!

    I do like that they mention the ‘globalization’ in the movie itself. Since I found out about this, I’ve been thinking myself how it’s cool that the Zombie genre has made its way to India. There’s another Bollywood Zombie movie I believe.

    Dragging out jokes is, in itself a form of comedy. Most notably comedians like Seth McFarlane, Steve Carrell, Ricky Gervais, all do a version of this kind of comedy. But you’re right. The drag out still has to be funny and has to know when to end… despite how long it goes for. So yea… I’ll see if I agree with you in this movie.

    1. Kathy

      While I don’t recommend this movie for everyone, you should definitely see it, Shahid. I wanted to like it as much as you.

      Your comment prompted me to make a slight edit to my review. It’s not that Raj & D.K. drag out jokes to long. I like stuff like that on FAMILY GUY, when beating a joke to death is the joke itself. It’s more like they feel the need to explain the jokes, which never works. There’s even a ton of set up for the globalization joke, as the characters run through every possible supernatural creature that could be after them before finally settling on zombies. The scene is written for the benefit of people who’ve never heard of zombies before, but I’m pretty sure everyone who pays to see this movie already knows what they are. It’s weird.

      1. Shah Shahid

        Even if you told me not to, I’d still watch it. This might be my ‘so bad it’s good’ movie of this year. I don’t expect much, so it might impress me.

        Hmm yea. That reminds me of having gratuity JUST to set up a joke or plot point. I guess we’ll see what I think. Hopefully this doesn’t ‘keel’ the zombie or other supernatural horror genre from rising up in Bollywood.

        Would love to see more mainstream actors as Vampires, Witches and other monsters.

        1. Kathy

          I’m still waiting to see RISE OF THE ZOMBIE, but I think there’s room for the zombie genre to grow in India. What’s going to hold it back — in addition to having to force an intermission into a genre that isn’t suited for it — is that writers and directors aren’t paying enough attention to WHY horror movies are structured the way they are. Filmmakers aren’t focusing on how to build tension and generate scares. Maybe it’s the tradition of making movies that the whole family can see, but I think Indian filmmakers are afraid to really scare their audiences (or they just don’t know how to do it). When you’re making something like GO GOA GONE that only adults are going to see, why not go all out?

          1. Shah Shahid

            Family movies in India are a huge thing. I remember the backlash that Karan Johar received when he made an adult centric film about infidelity as his 3rd movie. He established himself as a family movie Director, with KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI & KABHI KUSHIE KABHIE GHAM. Then he made KABHI ALVIDA NA KEHNA, which I thought was pretty well done, but it shocked people that went to watch the movie with their kids and grandmas.

            It’s very easy to offend in the Indian Industry, which is why I applaud the makers with the balls to not give a fuck, despite the quality of the end result. (BOOM comes to mind)

            Speaking of Indian audience’s sensibilities: Check out Director Onir’s I AM. An amazing movie dealing with various cases of abuse. However, to date hasn’t received a TV premiere in India, nor has it been recognized by any of the film governing bodies. Sad.

            1. Kathy

              I’m a little surprised that family movies are still considered the standard, especially since the definition of a “family movie” differs so widely from the Hollywood definition. I can’t imagine what a kid would get out of a movie like KABHI KUSHIE KABHIE GHAM. The squirmy children at various screenings I’ve attended over the years would seem to prove that a lot of these movies aren’t exactly kid-friendly, even if they are inoffensive.

              There are so many recent examples of movies geared toward adults — DELHI BELLY, GANGS OF WASSEYPUR, and 7 KHOON MAAF spring to mind — that I think the industry and audience are (slowly) adapting to the fact that films for all ages aren’t the only viable option any more. That’s also being proven by the increasing number of movies aimed at kids, even if they are still mostly cartoons at this point. I wish ALADIN had been more successful, since I do love kid-friendly, live-action adventures.

              Brace yourself, Shahid: I’ll be posting my review of BOOM in the next week or two. That movie is mind-blowing.

      1. Shah Shahid

        No worries. Love sharing a good review.

        I usually stay away from Reviews of movies I haven’t seen. And even though I have yet to watch majority of what you Review, it’s always interesting hearing your comparisons and analysis of storytelling in general, relating to Bollywood. It’s a rare thing in my experience.

        Be sure to check the Reddit link every now and then for comments from people there as well.

  2. Ricky

    I haven’t seen the movie yet but I agree on dragging of the jokes. I felt that from the trailor itself. Infact it’s been happening in a lot of Hindi movies and it ruins what could be funny. Than again that’s a trait I have in real life. You know, dragging a joke till its no longer funny, like I mentioned before. You know the stuff I was talking about.. Lol

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