‘Chathur Mukham’ movie review: Manju Warrier’s ‘techno-horror’ has a few surprises up its sleeve

The film might score lower on the scare-quotient part, but makes up for the same with the novelty and believability of some of the plot points

With almost all the possible horror themes that could scare people almost nearing exhaustion, it is left to scriptwriters and filmmakers to mine fresh ideas that could give the chills to the viewers. Those who keep an eye around themselves, absorbing in all the changes, could still come up with something that feels contemporary and that could make people think, suspending disbelief, that this could possibly happen to them too.

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In Chathur Mukham, smartphones and even selfies become sources of horror, helping it connect immediately to a large section of the audience. But merely making these ubiquitous things part of the narrative would not be enough. It needs to be backed by scenarios that are convincing and a plot that is somewhat organic, both of which are achieved by the filmmaker duo of Ranjeet Kamala Sankar and Salil.V, and the scriptwriter duo of Abhayakumar.K and Anil Kurian.

Thejaswini (Manju Warrier) is a social media addict, who keeps updating images from her daily life constantly online. After she loses her smartphone, she decides to buy a new one from an online store. Mysterious events begin to take place after the phone arrives. Along with her friend Antony (Sunny Wayne), with whom she is running a struggling CCTV camera business, she seeks the help of Clement (Alencier), a science enthusiast who is skeptical of anything that does not have a rational explanation.

Chathur Mukham

  • Directors: Ranjeet Kamala Sankar and Salil.V
  • Cast: Manju Warrier, Sunny Wayne, Alencier
  • Storyline: A social media addict buys a new smartphone, after which mysterious events keep happening in her life

The gist of the plot or even the trailer might give one an impression of a run-of-the-mill horror movie, yet the makers have stored quite a few surprises within, peppered at regular intervals. There is often an attempt to provide a scientific explanation for the happenings on the screen, with some of the characters even poking fun or dismissing the traditional Malayalam horror movie ingredients of black magic and exorcism. Yet, the script does not fully dismiss the supernatural elements, which are very much part of the plot too, but coated with a thin veneer of scientific reasoning.

Some of these horror elements might appear over-the-top, but are treated in a much more controlled manner. The makers, who are all from the field of technology, also get a touch philosophical on how there is no escape from the ‘signal’, which keeps you hooked to one electronic device or another for every waking hour of your life. They seem to tell us that exorcising that ghost might be an even harder task than handling the usual ones.

Thejaswini is not portrayed as a damsel in distress, but as someone who leads the fight from the front. The strained relationship with her brother, and how the mysterious events make her have a relook at it forms an interesting, but under-explored tangent. The script also treats her friendship with Antony in a mature manner, refusing to fall for the compulsion to turn it into a relationship.

Chathur Mukham might score lower on the scare-quotient part, but makes up for the same with the novelty and believability of some of the plot points. Considering its branding as a ‘techno-horror’, it lives up almost fully to the ‘techno’ part of it, and partly to the ‘horror’ part of it, a fact which the faint-hearted might be thankful for.

Chathur Mukham is currently running in theatres


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