Vikram Bhatt has emerged the most successful brand in the horror genre. In fact, it won't be erroneous to state that what Karan Johar is to candy floss, Vikram Bhatt is to horror. If one looks at Vikram's body of work, the talented storyteller has taken upon himself to petrify and frighten the moviegoers over and over again. RAAZ, 1920, SHAAPIT, HAUNTED, DANGEROUS ISHHQ, RAAZ 3... now 1920 - EVIL RETURNS. This time, of course, Vikram hands over the directorial reins to Bhushan Patel.
Let's put this on record: 1920 - EVIL RETURNS is not connected, in any way, with the first part. The plot, the characters, the set of actors, the setting, everything is diverse. One expects 1920 - EVIL RETURNS to be crammed with chills and bloodcurdling moments. Also, in a film of this genre specifically, the conclusion to the tale has to be most compelling... and of course, spooky. But the problem with 1920 - EVIL RETURNS is that it appeals in bits and spurts. Not in totality. More on that later...
1920 - EVIL RETURNS narrates the story of Jaidev [Aftab Shivdasani], a well-known poet, who lives with his sister Karuna [Vidya Malvade]. One fine morning, Jaidev spots Smruti [Tia Bajpai] lying unconscious near the lake and gets her home. Karuna is against Jaidev's decision of bringing a stranger home. A few episodes later, Jaidev realizes that Smruti has lost her memory and doesn't remember anything except his poems.
Jaidev decides to get Smruti treated in Shimla. En route, while resting in the guest house, strange developments start taking place. Jaidev realizes that Smruti is possessed by a spirit.
1920 - EVIL RETURNS may be Bhushan's first tryst at directing a movie, but the director knows the grammar of film-making right. His handling of the terrifying moments is the best part of the enterprise. Note the sequence soon after the interval or the long-drawn climax and you'll realize that Bhushan knows what he's talking about.
So where's the hitch, did you ask. It's the writing that vacillates between engaging and yawn-inducing moments. Like I pointed out earlier, the portions depicting Tia [when she is possessed] are remarkable. Those sequences take the film to another level, actually. Conversely, the love story [between Aftab-Tia] is far from persuasive, the hate story [between Aftab-Sharad Kelkar] looks phony, the flashback [between Vidya-Sharad] is strictly okay, while the spate of songs that keep showing up at regular intervals add to the woes.
Bhushan retains the clichÃ©s that are mandatory while attempting a horror film [creaking doors, isolated mansions, long and abandoned passage and hallway], which is fine. Also, to give the credit where it's due, a few episodes do startle you as well. But how one wishes the writers [Vikram Bhatt, Amin Hajee] would've spun a compelling tale. The first hour barely moves, while the post-interval portions work partially. Also, the soundtrack [Chirantan Bhatt], though good, is a waste in a film like this. Ideally, this should've been a songless film.
The background score is strictly okay, while the makeup and prosthetics deserve strong mention. The cinematography is stunning, with the DoP capturing the beauty of Sweden delightfully on celluloid.
Aftab looks too mellow for the part. The fire that one associates with the lead protagonist is missing. It's up to Tia to pull off the act of a possessed woman with flourish. An extremely talented actor, Tia is the soul of the film, displaying sensitivity [where required] and scaring the daylights of you [when needed]. Vidya Malvade doesn't get much scope, though she does a decent job. Sharad Kelkar's character could've been convincing, hence the limitations in his performance. The actor, who has the premonition about the spirit and warns Aftab about it, is effective.
On the whole, 1920 - EVIL RETURNS scares and shocks in bits and spurts. The film rides on Vikram Bhatt's brand, more so after the super success of RAAZ 3, but its writing plays the spoilsport.