Film: 3 AM
Cast: Rannvijay Singh Anindita Nayar Salil Acharya Kavin Dave
Director: Vishal Mahadkar
The success of Raaz 12 years ago ushered in an era of a mutant genre: The Musical Horror. Apart from Broadway or unless your name is Tim Burton, I don’t see how these two mutually exclusive genres can be combined effectively, which is why one is hard pressed to remember a quality spine-chilling Hindi flick since Ramgopal Varma’s Bhoot.
The wait continues with this film. 3 AM is the demonic hour when spirits chill between our world and theirs, turning into human-consuming menaces (ghosts). If this actually held true, many writers including this one wouldn’t have careers (or lives). In fact, I’m writing this at 3 AM…but we digress.
Rannvijay Singh is Sunny (who really is Rannvijay Singh), a reality show host whose longtime girlfriend Sarah (Anindita Nayar) is mysteriously killed at this hour in the haunted Rudra Mills compound. Naturally, he grieves to the tunes of a lilting Bhatt soundtrack, convinces his friends Cyrus (Salil Acharya; loud) and Raj (Kavin Dave; suitably nervous) to shoot a show that investigates paranormal activity, and returns to Rudra for one night with cameras and scientific equipment (glorified sound recorders).
There’s initial promise, a well-paced setup, even a few spooky moments that involve the usual grainy-footage night-vision scenes, but it all ends with the arrival of terms like ‘black magic’, ‘mill inferno’ and, of course, Bhagavad Gita. Very soon, exasperated ghosts will carry out a morcha and refuse to appear in films until writers do away with their obsession with mythological legends.
Post-interval, the mess begins. Many call it the curse of the dreaded second half, but it’s just criminally lethargic writing: a love song is shamelessly slotted into a portion that bizarrely looks like a separate film, destroying the daunting mill atmosphere.
When will directors understand that there is nothing louder than silence? Unnerving in the real world but unheard of in Bollywood, it is sorely missing here; they’re constantly jabbering to cameras, themselves and even loudly challenging Ghost of (dead mill-owner) Rudra Pratap Past.
One of them gets possessed, and that’s about it. Dodgy makeup appears, background score gets louder, visual effects nosedive; even the ghost displays signs of verbal diarrhea. Self-aware ghosts are the worst.
Also, Sunny unflinchingly narrates his story—this entire film in flashback—to a bunch of pesky college kids in the compound. Anyone who has been to a midnight bonfire or watched more than one supernatural thriller will immediately understand the purpose of this dated technique.
The most frightening aspect of a horror movie these days is its predictability. In this context alone, 3 AM is fearsome.