An official remake of writer-director Mike Flanagan’s American film Oculus (2013), director Prawaal Raman’s adaptation is more suspense thriller than supernatural horror. The fear factor in this film, set in the United Kingdom, is a haunted mirror.
Dobaara See You Evil opens in ancient Britain, circa 1700s. A woman accused of being a witch is burnt at the stake and her image is captured in a mirror. Hundreds of years later, in contemporary Britain, artist Alex Merchant (Adil Hussain) purchases the mirror and hangs it in his studio. Merchant’s personality gradually begins to change. His wife Lisa (Lisa Ray) and children Natasha and Kabeer believe he might be having an affair with one of the many attractive models who pose for his works. But soon his behaviour becomes sinister and then frightening.
We learn many of these things in the course of flashbacks as the story is recounted in two timelines. In the present, the now grown-up Natasha (Huma Qureshi) and her brother Kabeer (Saqib Saleem) are reunited after his 10-year incarceration at a juvenile correctional facility, convicted for shooting his father. Years of psychiatric care have helped him come to terms with his actions. Kabeer’s voice of reason is his mid-riff-baring lawyer (Rhea Chakraborty).
Natasha, however, believes Kabeer is innocent and that the fault lies with the haunted mirror. She has spent years plotting to reveal the truth and lift the scandal and horror that besieged the family. Her concerned fiancé questions her obsession with macabre deaths, at which point Natasha draws attention to a folder of wedding dress images on her computer and says she is also a normal girl seeking a family. It’s a wonder the fiancé didn’t bolt right then.
Natasha sets up a complex system for recording the mirror’s evil ways, repeatedly reminding Kabeer that he had promised to help destroy the reflecting device. During this elaborate exercise many, many minutes are spent as the two talk about what transpired 10 years ago, bicker and remain in conflict. Qureshi and Saleem can do little with the limited material and unimaginative direction.
You wonder when the scares will come. Post interval? Things do get a bit hairy as you realise that reality and illusion have become interlocked.
The screenplay is not quite a mirror image of Oculus. Raman has made some amendments, such as the introduction of a smouldering Italian seductress Ana (played by Madalina Bellariu Ion) with whom Alex is allegedly having an affair. It’s quite a stretch of the imagination watching Hussain play a flirt and then a man possessed. But this is as grizzly as it gets.
Ram Gopal Varma can rest easy – his special space as the maker of sleazy horrors is safe.
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