Fear manifests itself in various forms. Some are palpable due to impending danger and some are visceral and occupy the mind completely. The Shining worked because of the looming psychotic presence of Jack, while in The Babadook, the anticipation of the apparition keeps us hooked. Game Over beautifully juxtaposes both types of fear to deliver a taut film with slightly less use of jump scares, but a whole lot of uncomfortable sequences which suck the user in, as if it were a 3D augmented reality show. Directed by Ashwin Saravanan, Game Over gives women the centre-stage as they grapple with harrowing pasts and societal discrimination.
Taapsee Pannu plays Swapna (cleverly named in context of the movie) who went through a nightmarish ordeal a year back and her past comes back to haunt her exactly one year later. The movie does not spell out the details of the event from one year back. Ashwin allows the audience to create unpleasant scenarios in their minds and have a back story formed. Which, in hindsight is the best way to develop a horror story.
Swapna and her maid Kalamma stay in a silent villa in Gurugram. Swapna has reconciled to her fate and stays away from any social interactions. A short scene at the start shows how she prefers a video call, even with her clients rather than visiting their establishment. She is addicted to Pacman and loses her sleep because of excessive gaming. What seems like a distraction, reveals itself to be a bigger plot driver towards the intermission. The game, the characters in the game, all have surreal significance in the story which gallops to the end in the second half. Anything more than this will give away the story. Swapna’s predicament develops from her gradual spiralling down the stairs of self loathing. Taapsee plays Swapna with enough vulnerability and resolve and gives us one of the performances of the year.
Game Over is a game changer for Horror movies in India. Trust the South to give us quality storytelling in a genre which is still plagued with oft repeated tropes of ghosts and unnecessary screams. The second half is an absolute treat for anyone who is looking for gratifying sequences of the victim triumphing over the perpetrators. This is not at all an easy watch. As an audience you will feel a myriad of emotions and I saw few in the audience looking away during the climatic scenes.
Taapsee is here to stay and her talent is agnostic of the language of her movies. Ashwin Saravanan, in only his third movie has shown his mettle and we cannot wait for his next project. Go watch Game Over immediately!