Vikram Bhatt has landed the final nail in the coffin of the Raaz franchise, and that is a massive relief.
There should actually never have been sequels to Raaz, made in 2002 by Bhatt and starring Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea, but the mix of watered-down erotica and mild scares with foot-tapping songs thrown in proved irresistible for the producers. The two follow-ups, one by Bhatt and one by Mohit Suri, screamed “Law of diminishing returns”, and yet, the franchise has trundled on.
Raaz Reboot gives us a free tour of Romania in the winter. Shania (Kriti Kharbanda) and Rehan (Gaurav Arora) move to the Transylvania region (of course). Rehan is posted as the head of a finance company that seems to be functioning in another wing of the house that serves as the primary location.
Shania and Rehan have drifted apart and sleep in separate bedrooms (it’s a big house), and when Shania gets possessed by a malevolent spirit, their marriage actually starts to look up. Rehan reacts mildly to Shania’s increasingly erratic behaviour and peaceably goes to work the night after she has had a psychotic breakdown instead of calling for help.
When Shania’s first husband Aditya (Emraan Hashmi) appears out of nowhere and offers her help, the movie has a chance to salvage itself, but here again, the movie is let down by the director’s notorious inability to pace a narrative and deliver scares that are more sophisticated than the average television show.
Hashmi’s efforts are spent on channelling his bad boy image and (you guessed it) planting his lips on Kharbanda’s. The list of movies that have been commissioned so that audiences can watch Hashmi’s lips in action is long and increasingly inexplicable. Why build a 127-minute narrative around false hopes, non-existent sexual frisson, non-scary horror scenes, songs that escape memory, and a plot that relies on the power of the mangal sutra to set things right? Even the Ramsay brothers are more fun than this toothless romp in vampire country.