At the outset, Connect feels like a horror drama that aims to scare the audience by leveraging the theatrics of the genre. But after watching the film, you would feel that it is primarily an emotional drama.
This Nayanthara-starrer will leave you wanting to take the first step to healing from personal losses. But does the film connect with the audience as deeply as it intends to? Let’s see.
Set in the milieu of the lockdown, the story revolves around a happy family of four, which consists of a teenage girl (Haniya Nafis), her mother (Nayanthara), father (Vinay Rai), and grandfather (Sathyaraj). Their lives turn upside down after the dad, who worked as a doctor, dies on COVID duty. The mourning daughter chooses to reach out to her dead father with the help of an Ouija board and unintentionally invites evil powers. This is soon followed by a virtual exorcism over a video call that comes with its own challenges. What happens next is the rest of the story.
When life throws unbearable trauma at you, either your belief in god can increase exponentially or you could turn to atheism out of anger and frustration. The film perfectly captures this through Sathyaraj and Haniya's characters, respectively. It delves into pain, loss, and the real-life difficulties of processing grief. It digs deeper into the uncertainties of life.
The terrifying sequences in the film are brilliantly choreographed with tiny comic reliefs during their build-up. Once you least expect anything scary to happen, the jump scares arrive, and they are extremely effective.
The film employs smart camera angles, especially through video-call interactions and close-ups, and it provides an immersive and thrilling experience. In those moments, Connect does remind us of The Exorcist and The Conjuring.
The film swiftly switches between fear and faith. However, as much as Connect talks about impiety and questions religion, it also submits to superstitious spiritual practices. And hence, the film leaves you perplexed as to how you should feel. While it engages you as a thriller, it falls short on the emotional level.
I felt this strongly because Connect is directed by filmmaker Ashwin Saravanan, who has previously delivered two of the finest thriller films, Maya (2015) and Game Over (2019). In addition, Connect is bankrolled by Rowdy Pictures, founded by Nayanthara and her filmmaker-producer husband, Vignesh Shivan. And hence, the expectations for this film were very high. While it succeeds to some extent, you are left feeling unsatisfied. That is exactly why the audience tends to feel disconnected from Connect.
Nonetheless, Sid Sriram's "Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum," which plays near the end, immediately transports you on a healing journey. It brings you happiness and gives you hope. And hence, it also makes us wonder if that song from Netrikann, Nayan's previous movie, served as an inspiration for Connect.
The film is running in cinemas now.