The most common complaint among movie watchers and book readers about disappointing works is how they are ‘predictable’. Do you know what can be worse? A boring unpredictable ending… an ending so conventional, that you imagine something wittier, but turns out it was staring at you in the face the whole time. You think ‘nah, that’s too obvious’, but the maker mocks you in the end, as if saying – ‘you didn’t think that did you? Gotcha!’. That’s the case with the 2021 Netflix film ‘Irul’, a crime-thriller directed by Naseef Yusuf Izuddin.

The story follows writer Alex (Soubin Shahir) who persuades his lawyer girlfriend Archana (Darshana Rajendran) to go an a weekend trip with him without their cellphones, claiming he has a surprise in store for her. Their car breaks down during a downpour in the middle of nowhere and they seek refuge in a house where they meet its owner Unni (Fahaad Faasil). As their conversation progresses through the night, it appears that there might be a killer among them.

The biggest problem with ‘Irul’ is the inconsistent writing. There are several little things that take place in the first half that are just do not sync with the twist that follows. The director deliberately misleads the viewers to give us what seems like an intelligent closure, however it’s preceded by too many plot-holes that do not fall into place. We are left to fill in the gaps in the narration by ourselves.

The ambiance of the movie felt a little too cosmetic, straight out of a horror film set, complete with unnecessary jump scares. Most of the plot unfolds in a sprawling bungalow that looks like those fancy home-stays we see on social media and cannot afford. The interiors are even fancier, crowded with antique pieces, old paintings, and shimmery wallpapers that went out of trend 100 years ago. Unni says he has a host of servants to help run the place, but we don’t get to see any.

The cast tries to hold it together and act out their parts to the best of their ability but the script-writing is pretentious and the slow pace brings the mood of the thriller down. It’s like the director couldn’t decide if he wanted to give us a art-house thriller or old-school horror, so he awkwardly mixes the two.

‘Irul’ means ‘dark’ in Malayalam, but unfortunately, this film is nowhere near dark. It feels like a parody play, the good kind, which builds in high expectations in the viewer’s mind, only to shatter them in the end. This Netflix film was disappointingly unpredictable. It’s a 5/10 from me.

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