Saturday Features

Not much to celebrate

  • Dinesh Raut’s Parva is a derivative hodgepodge of horror-thriller clichés that has little that is original or surprising to offer; the elements are so familiar that you find yourself perpetually a few steps ahead of the story
- OBIE SHRESTHA
The script is ridden with inconsistencies and oversimplifications… Such details, though always important, should be afforded particular weight in films such as this one, where each little clue matters

Jun 3, 2017-By the time the new Parva delivers what seems like its hundredth jump scare, the mild annoyance you’ll have initially felt at the laziness of relying so heavily on such an easy tactic will have likely bubbled over into full-blown frustration.

Directed by Dinesh Raut (I am Sorry, November Rain), Parva is a derivative hodgepodge of horror-thriller clichés that has little that is original or surprising to offer; indeed, the elements are so familiar that you find yourself perpetually a few steps ahead of the story, tapping your feet and rolling your eyes as you wait for the proceedings to catch up—which, given the film’s d-r-a-w-n out pacing, looks to be a while in any case.

I will admit that underneath all the layers of vacuous melodrama, posturing and sheer noise, there is a glimmer of potential here, an opening for something more substantial, had the makers of this film—rather than spending their time patching together bits of what countless other films have already done—given a smidge more thought to matters such as context, character development and well, plain logic, it would seem on more than one occasion.

Unfortunately, Parva appears to have squandered any opportunity to break through its mold, ending up instead a clear example of the follies of allowing imitation to triumph over imagination.

Romance unfolds at literally breakneck speed between Ritu (Namrataa Shrestha) and Maanav (Koshish Chhetri), a writer of psychological thrillers that Ritu has long been a fan of but never met until the day he drops by the apartment she shares with two other girls (Jebicca Karki and Mala Limbu) to return the phone she’d left and he’d coincidentally found at a bar they’d both been to the previous night.

No sooner have they learned each other’s names than they are suddenly getting cozy over late-night phone calls, sharing intimate candlelit dinners and basically becoming inseparable, all within what feels like—though it’s hard to say given that 90 percent of it happens in montage—a week or so.

And it disintegrates just as quickly too. 

Without any warning, and seemingly directly related to a bad dream she has one night, Ritu’s mood plummets and she’s acting very bizarre, jumping at the slightest sounds, constantly distracted.

Maanav takes her to a shrink, who prescribes medication, rest, and rather laughably, a complete break from reading, as he believes—in his professional opinion—that the thrillers she enjoys could very well be exacerbating her anxiety.

Maanav also decides it might be a good idea to take her away for a stay in his old family home—because, you know, what better way to help someone struggling with depression than hole them up in a creepy, isolated mansion, filled with ghoulish, DeviantArt-esque paintings and other odd knickknacks, out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do but think? To exactly no one’s surprise, Ritu’s condition worsens with the change in location—she’s even more paranoid here, at times acting downright deranged, and no amount of cajoling from Maanav or her friends do her any good.

In time, however, as we hurtle towards a long and exhausting climax, the cause behind her sudden onset of madness is revealed, as are a few other “unexpected” secrets. 

You’ll notice I’m practically walking on eggshells here, because if I so much as give away a single extra detail, chances are you’ll be able to unravel the story easy-peasy—and whatever my failings, I’d rather plot-spoiling not be among them.

Although, of course, a good hard look at the trailer will give you much of the information I’m trying so hard to hold back here, since it’s all fairly basic stuff at the end of the day.

That still wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker if not for the careless treatment: the script is ridden with inconsistencies and oversimplifications,whether to do with the passage of time, the actions of characters, or portrayals of mental health problems.

Such details, though always important, should be afforded explicit weight in films such as this one, where each little clue matters in helping us to piece together the overall picture; more substantial research into the mental health aspect, in particular, would have been prudent.

Another place where Parva noticeably stumbles is in its somewhat regressive views to do with gender, although it is hardly alone in this—horror-thrillers are notorious for narrow depictions of women, the “loose”, sexually-liberated among whom are often presented both as objects to be lusted over (as intended, for instance, by the insertion of a completely unnecessary item number here) and, in time, morally policed.

Again, I won’t go into the specifics, but just under its slick, seemingly-modern surface, the film boasts a conservative core. This extends to infuriating scenes in the final third where a few unnamed female characters are made to look cartoonishly weak and clumsy, always screaming and falling about, utterly incompetent. 

Given all these issues with the writing itself, it’s hard to say how much responsibility the actors should be made to shoulder for their part in Parva’s ineffectiveness, though one does wish they’d made better impressions despite their poorly-written roles: Chhetri is often very stilted, and Shrestha, though comparatively more expressive, can’t get past a certain level of artifice and affectation, particularly in her enunciation.

The film could have also benefitted from a bit of breathing space in general between events, but the score just doesn’t let up, so intrusive and melodramatic that it feels like an annoying character of its own.

Production design is otherwise fairly decent, except for a few times when the lighting (and constant rolling fog outside the mansion’s windows) feels a touch on the campy side. 

At least Parva ends on a moderately satisfying note, and there are a few laughs—albeit mostly unintentional—scattered about.

But I can’t vouch that this will be enough to make the effort to go see the film worth your while. 

Published: 03-06-2017 08:27

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