Blurr — a remake of the 2010 Spanish movie Julia’s Eyes — is like two movies in one. The first half is a compelling thriller about a married couple at odds with each other about how to deal with a family tragedy. The second half is an inadequately-set-up horror film.
Gayatri (Taapsee Pannu) gasps for breath as she wakes from a nightmare about her identical twin sister, Gautami (also Pannu). She convinces her reluctant husband Neel (Gulshan Devaiah) to drive to the forest cabin where Gautami lives to check on her. There, they find Gautami’s body hanging from a noose in the attic.
The police are eager to close the case on Gautami’s apparent suicide, but Gayatri sensed in her dream that her sister wasn’t alone when she died. Gautami hated rap music, but her stereo blasts it out at full volume when turned on. Gayatri heard the whining sound of a camera flash in her dream — a sound she hears again in the house and around town as she and Neel decide their next steps.
Gayatri’s relationship with Neel is the most interesting part of Blurr. He acts sketchy, but he’s also right that maybe Gayatri doesn’t want to accept the obvious. After all, Gautami had been blind for the last year, the result of a degenerative eye condition that Gayatri also has. Given that the condition is exacerbated by stress, Neel’s worried about his wife’s health. Pannu and Devaiah have a terrific chemistry whether their characters are fighting or reminiscing about the good times. They make a great on-screen duo.
Eventually, Neel’s fears come true, and Gayatri is forced to undergo emergency surgery to restore her sight. She must keep her eyes bandaged for two full weeks in order for them to properly heal. Instead of recovering in the hospital, Gayatri insists on returning to her sister’s house.
This is purely a plot convenience to endanger Gayatri, but it makes little sense given her state of mind to this point. Before the surgery, she was convinced that the unknown person she believes killed her sister was following her and was able to enter her house at night. Staying in a fully staffed hospital is obviously safer, so her insistence on recuperating at home is absurd.
Gayatri’s loss of eyesight dovetails with the film’s theme of social invisibility. Multiple characters mention feeling as though people look past them — a cue to the audience to pay attention to characters on the periphery of the story. But writer-director Ajay Bahl is so stingy with clues that invested viewers will not find their diligence rewarded. The film’s last act is more of a survival horror story than it is a mystery.
Even though the second half of Blurr is a letdown, it’s generally an engaging and watchable thriller. Yet the biggest mystery of all is not what happened to Gautami, but why the killer needs a darkroom to develop Polaroid photos.
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