What happened to six mass media students who went to shoot their project film into the jungles and never returned? Search parties discovered a video camera with some jerky details showing an unknown horror that attacked them in the bungalow in the middle of nowhere where they were based.
This is the premise behind this latest film in the “found footage” sub-genre of horror films. The problem is that daring concepts need scripts to match, and “?,” blurbed as the world’s first untitled film, is certainly not the first to prove that ideas don’t make films, scripts do!
Let me clarify: “?” is modestly scary. You do not get bored, and do not miss the background music in the 90-minute frenzy of things happening. But the more horror films you see, the more you expect innovation. The wine may be old, but the bottle must keep getting newer!
Before the evil spirits begin to do their stuff, there is an academic discussion by the six students (the seventh is a girl who is the closest buddy of one of the BMM girls) on spirits and their motivations. The filmmakers, who are also the writers, take their completed film’s PR angle and “untitled” title very literally and do not offer any explanation for what happened from beginning to end. There are not even any credit titles for the audience. Now, that’s taken experimentation a bit too far, because films are meant to tell a (completed) story!
The acting is meant to be natural, even a shade amateurish, given the premise of the film and the thrust of its promotion. But we wish the writer-director duo had shown the same enthu as the actors — more newness, better chills and to put it in a nutshell, more “spirit” (pun intended!) were needed to make this a benchmark film. But the form adopted is similar to films like “Paranormal Activity” and such-like, and the plot similar to Ram Gopal Varma’s “Agyaat – The Unknown,” which also had an irritating, incomplete end but also had ingeniously conceived thrills and chills unleashed on the characters and therefore on the viewers.
Nothing is explained in the film — like why and how the camera shoots certain scenes, blanks out or moves to the next set of sequences. We presume that the evil spirit is directing what to shoot! But even that idea does not scare!
From the cast, Varun Thakur as the director, Maanvi Gagroo as the leading lady of the film within the film and Akhlaque Khan as Akki stand out. Wish the film did too.
Percept Picture Company’s ?
Written and directed by: YASH DAVE & ALLISON PATEL
Starring: AKHLAQUE KHAN, YAMAN CHATWAL, VARUN THAKUR, CHIRAG JAIN, SONAM MUKHERJEE, MAANVI GAGROO & KIRAN BHATIA