Envoy score: 2/5
After Bombay Talkies and Lust Stories, eminent Bollywood filmmakers Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar tried their hands at creating a horror anthology film for Netflix.
If anything, Ghost Stories just glaringly exposes how unfamiliar any of them is to horror. Each story is completely distinct, but none of them is able to instil any sort of fear. There’s nothing to write home about with this one.
Akhtar’s short film stars Janvhi Kapoor, who plays the nurse of an elderly woman constantly talking about her grandson being at the house. It also features Vijay Varma and Surekha Sikri.
Kashyap takes a unique route with a psychological horror film where Sobhita Dhulipala plays a pregnant woman fearing the worst.
Banerjee’s story is a ‘zombie apocalypse’ with deeply political undertones. It stars Gulshan Deviah.
The anthology is concluded by Karan Johar’s narrative of a newly-married couple where the groom claims to still see and talk to his dead grandmother.
To be fair, the performances are the only saving grace of Ghost Stories. Janhvi Kapoor, who’s been constantly criticised, shows a glimpse of latent potential. Surekha Sikri, as the delusional grandmother, is marvelous, as she always is.
But it’s Sobhita Dhulipala who completely steals the show. There’s genuine paranoia on her face throughout the story. Even though the film is devoid of any real scares for the audience, you do feel scared for her.
The kids in Banerjee’s short film deliver performances well beyond their age. You’d be forgiven to believe everything happening to them was more than just on reel.
Apart from the standouts, every actor does justice to their character.
As mentioned, the performances are the only real positive and prevent an even lower score. Kashyap And Banerjee try something different, but was that really the need of the hour when all most people wanted was a good old spine-chilling watch?
All the short films absolutely fail to entertain. There are horror cliches, and yet, there’s no positive imbibed from the classic horror films. If you’re going for similar, at least keep the good and actually terrifying parts. Johar’s story even had me laughing at one point.
There are scenes which will easily gross out majority of the viewers. When you’re aiming for such uncomfortable storytelling, at least make it engaging enough for the audience to not just get up and leave, which is even easier in the streaming age.
Considering the hype Ghost Stories created, this could be one of the biggest disappointments of 2020. Yes, I know it’s only been a week. This one makes Lust Stories feel like a masterpiece, and that’s saying something. Watch only if you’ve already decided to, and want to see good performances in a sinking ship.