By Subhash K. Jha
Film: Mercury; Director: Karthik Subbaraj; Starring: Prabhudheva; Rating: * (1 star)
Sometimes the message is not enough. Not when you have to wade through acres of lush -- in this film, quite literally -- to get to the point.
"Mercury" has a message about ecological devastation and chemical plunder. To drive in the point the director, wearing his commitment on his sleeve like a renegade revolutionary rapidly running out of tricks,flashes statistics of chemical carnage across the globe during the end-titles.
This attempt to yoke horror-thrills with a social statement left me cold. It is as unconvincing as the mighty Prabhudheva going through a role that requires no dancing.
A bit like Agra without the Taj Mahal, no?
But wait,here comes the redeeming stroke. In the elaborately-staged scenes where the blind nameless ghoul follows sound signals to track down his victims in a dilapidated ramshackle chemical factory reeking of death and plunder, Prabhudheva uses the dancer's body language as an action machine to show his characters sniffing out his prey.
The chases in the environmentally challenged setting are interestingly staged, parts of it being heart-in-the-mouth, thanks to the cinematography and artwork which aid the ambience of shivery shindigs.
Prabhudheva gives his ghoulish character a life of its own. He fills the air with anguished shrieks that sends a chill up our spine. As long as he is on the 'scream' we are game. But the rest of the film is so awfully loud messy and theatrical I cringed on behalf of the multi-talented Prabhudheva.
He deserves a lot better than this phoney salespitch at promoting cheap seat-jolting horror in the guise of a social message. The story of four young men and one young woman who are hounded by a zinced-out zombie who tracks them down with the help of sound is clearly inspired by Fede Alvarez's 2016 horror-thriller "Don't Breathe".
"Mercury" doesn't allow you to breathe either. It suffocates you with the over-elaborate background score and amateur actors who gesticulate like circus artistes in lieu of genuine sign language.
Silent film? "Mercury" is as silent as goat whose throat is being slit.