PHOBIA is Radhika Apte and Radhika Apte is PHOBIA. This in short sums up the film which rides solely on the performance of this hugely talented actress who in the past three years has been notching up one brilliant performance after another.
The other actors who lend excellent support are Ankur Vikal, Yashwani Dayama and Satyadeep Mishra--all in that order.
Vikal is that raw gem in the film that gives it a horrifying twist. You are left wondering what his role in the movie is and why Mehak (Radhika Apte) suffering from Agoraphobia is wary about him. Vikal does well with his performance that cannot be described in words. He is just... amazing.
Yashwani playing Mehak's neighbour is that charming, yet intrusive teenager who comes in the life of Mehak at a crucial time. And like all teenagers, she wants to ensure that she helps Mehak, come what may. Satyadeep Mishra has a questionable role that does not clarify what exactly he is doing in Mehak's life. As a friend who is not her lover, he does everything in his capacity to help her cope with her phobia.
Now here comes the question uppermost in my mind. If Mehak is not willing to step out of the comfort and safety of her house, why does her sister and friend want to make her live on her own in another home? That to me is alarming, because Mehak needs someone around her 24x7. Here, in her new rented home, she is left alone to cope with her fears. Maybe, she was not comfortable with the idea of going to an institution for patients like these. Even then, the very fact that she is isolated defeats the purpose of her treatment. And her friend calling her 'psycho' and 'mad' and other such names is not becoming of a friend who wants to help her heal. It's mean because he knows that she has a problem.
Finally, going back to the first scene (during the last scene), in which she sees something that is not there but triggers a memory is a bit confusing. Up until then [the first scene], she was a sane normal girl, but what happened after that altered her life.
Coming back to Apte, the girl makes Mehak her own. Body language, petrified eyes, emotions... she packs a punch in her delivery. The fright scenes are aplenty and genuinely scary but director Pawan Kripalani, who stitched together Ragini MMS wonderfully with back scenes, fails to recreate that seamless flow of events when he wants to take us to the past within the present. The horror (petrifying at times) is overdone.
That is where PHOBIA fails and leaves a lot of questions in one's mind.
For lovers of the horror genre, however, PHOBIA will be a terrific watch.