2.5 Stars (out of 4)
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The Hindi word Khamoshiyan (“Silences“) sort of sounds like the English word “commotion,” which is fitting given the insane way this sexy horror film spins out of control.
Frustrated novelist Kabir (Ali Fazal) hits rock bottom when he tries to sabotage his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. She tells him, “You’re an incomplete man, Kabir. You could never complete anything in your life.” He hits the road, resolving to finally finish his book and find a purpose.
Kabir winds up at a mountain lodge which he describes as being “locked in time,” even though the building looks like a newly built McMansion. There are no other guests at the hotel, only the inn’s beautiful caretaker Meera (Sapna Pabbi) and her bedridden husband.
During his first night in the hotel, Kabir hears phantom sounds, sees figures disappear from paintings, and a poltergeist throws at book at him. He packs his bag the next morning, and we hope he’s smart enough to get the hell out of this obviously haunted house. Nope. He’s just going for a hike.
Bewitched by her pretty face and mysterious manners, Kabir resolves to uncover Meera’s secrets. He has no way of knowing what bizarre horrors haunt the inn.
That’s because the narrative takes a left turn into crazy town in the second half. You will think that you have the story figured out. “Duh, she’s a ghost,” you will say. You will be wrong. Not even writer Vikram Bhatt knows how he reached the film’s conclusion.
Now, that doesn’t mean that Khamoshiyan isn’t fun, because it is. Meera gets it on with Kabir and — in flashbacks — her husband, Jaidev (Gurmeet Choudhary). Kabir fights ridiculous CGI dogs and flops around possessed. The hotel has some amazing evil artwork, because what says “Welcome!” better than a hideous painting of a muscular chimera in the foyer?
Free hot breakfast included at the Motel 666!
A portrait of Uncle Bob back in his Blue Man Group days…
Where the movie falls short is in its application of a coherent mythology. There don’t seem to be any rules governing the movie’s supernatural entities. It’s unclear how to destroy them, since certain rituals work and others don’t without explanation.
It’s also unclear what motivates the spirits. Meera makes it clear that — for the sake of her husband — she’s not allowed to leave the hotel grounds. Yet the spirits don’t seem to have a problem with her humping Kabir on the hood of a sports car in the garage.
What results is a disorganized collection of occult imagery that is more confusing than horrifying. Most of the attempted chills take the form of telegraphed poltergeist effects. The mood is intermittently pretty creepy, however, and director Karan Darra deserves credit for trying to make butterflies scary.
For all its incoherence, Khamoshiyan is undeniably entertaining. Good looking people make out, and some mildly spooky stuff happens. What more do you need?