VOD film review: Evil Eye
James R | On 17, Oct 2020
Amazon’s partnership with Blumhouse Television smartly raids the online giant’s own back catalogue with this adaptation of an Audible original drama. Directed by Elan and Rajeev Dassani, it’s a tale of romance, family and past trauma, one that play with genre conventions even if it doesn’t quite know what tune it wants to strike.
Things start out as a faintly familiar rom-com, as Pallavi (Sunita Mani) is badgered by her mother, Usha (Sarita Choudhury), into finding a suitor fit to marry. But when an arranged date doesn’t show, she crosses paths with Sandeep (Omar Maskati), a guy who seems too good to be true – and her mother soon begins to warn her away from him.
So far, so traditional, and Evil Eye’s strength is the way that it really gives depth to Usha, a character who could be a two-dimensional archetype for comic relief. Sarita Choudhury sinks her teeth into what turns out to be a more complex figure, haunted by flashbacks to an abusive relationship in her past. Her concerns of what might not be the man of Pallavi’s dreams after all, then, are rooted in something experienced first-hand. Sunita Mani, too, plays things straight as the frustrated but also coniderate daughter.
The show is stolen, however, by Omar Maskati, who is wonderfully ambiguous as the slick (too slick?) Sandeep, who moves quickly (too quick?) and has a generosity (too generous?) that’s equally presumptuous.
But while the cast are strong, they can’t sell a script that requires one too many leaps of faith. Directors Elan and Rajeev Dassani never quite manage the film’s shift in gears from intriguing mystery to flat-out horror, as its initially unsettling uncertainty is forced to come up with some thing concrete to wrap everything up. There are some interesting observations and nuances on offer, as we see a mother daughter separated not only by generations but also cultures, but they fizzle out amid the uneven tone and preposterous plotting.
Evil Eye is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.