Some members of my family have a fatal flaw – we are suckers for horror movies. So if a streaming site shows up a tag of ‘horror’ for film, we’ll be quick to watch it. And so we were lured into streaming the 2015 Indian ‘horror’ film ‘Budugu’, directed & written by Manmohan.

The story follows 8-year-old Bunny, he is a problem child, with working parents who are too busy to handle the constant complaints they receive from school and teachers over his behavior. Bunny’s father Rakesh (Sreedhar Rao Chennamaneni) finally packs Bunny off to a boarding school, against the wishes of his mother Pooja (Lakshmi Manchu) and extended family. However, Bunny soon gets expelled from the new school too, over his strange behavior. The rest of the film is about how his mother tries to figure out the root of the problem, especially since it appears that Bunny can see ghosts and acts weird.

What viewers would appreciate about this Indian film is the fact that Pooja tries to be a rational mom, and instead of falling claims that her boy might be affected by supernatural elements. She takes Bunny to see a therapist, who tries to unravel the mystery of the ‘ghosts’ he has been seeing. However, some things are over-explained, and there are scenes and emotional moments that are too exaggerated to be taken seriously.

The actor who plays Bunny isn’t able to shoulder the film, he comes across as an annoying brat that would put off a lot of viewers. Lakshmi Manchu as the mother is balanced in her performance and is perhaps the only saving grace of the film. The father’s role is an awkward mix of evil and comical and Sreedhar Rao doesn’t look convincing as busy man with two kids.

Director Manmohan has his heart in the right place with this psychological thriller, where he tries to tackle the issue of behavioral problems among children and the importance of therapy. However, the script is shoddy and the scenes that are supposed to be scary are straight of our horror movies from 1980s, too cliched to make anybody flinch.

Despite a promising start, ‘Budugu’ descends into a confused, juvenile mess, leaving the viewer disappointed by the end. It’s a 4/10 from me.

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