By By Subhash K Jha, IANS
A super-natural thriller-if one may conveniently seek a reference-genre- SACRED EVIL adapts a story by Ipsita Roy Chakraverti about the church, religion faith and the enigma of evil. It's the story of a traumatized nun who continuously sees frightening visions of an indeterminate past, until a Wiccan (Sareeka) is brought in to the convent exorcize Martha of her demons.
Like the ominous mood and the mild intensity of the narrative, the plot moves in mysterious, if somewhat simplistic ways. The co-directors alternate between the nun's traumatized present and young vivacious Claudia's technicoloured but tortured past, with a flair for colours that glow with a hidden vivacity.
Quite obviously not the average masala fare, nor a slanted-eyed look at the underbelly of the Catholic church like Vinod Pande's SINS or a church-meets-headlines treatise like Kaya Taran , SACRED EVIL derives its positive energy from the utterly sincere adaptation of the original material.
Though some of the actors are unrecognizable, that proves to be a blessing in disguise (pun intended!). The anonymity provided by the unexposed cast gives the co-directors the freedom to go into areas of the human psyche where fear insecurity and guilt are allowed free movement.
The narrative moves fluently from the present and the past. Whether it's the forbidding ambience of the church or Kolkata in the 1940s, the French cinematographer Ivan Kozelka furnishes the frames with colours that we've either not seen or seen in an era gone-by.
Either way, we must credit this unorthodox film on a deviant doctrine for its prideful display of colour and starkness. We may not like how the characters behave within the bizarre situations created in the plot. But we cannot take our eyes off the fascinating frames.
The performances look unrehearsed. Everyone seems to believe in the bizarre material… and that's half the battle. Lynsey Pow is a discovery. She's amazingly skilled in her ability to bring out multiple shades and personalities in a troubled ambience. Sareeka as her sounding-board strains hard not to look board. She's just about effective in her reactive role.
Naturally, this film about unnatural occurrences in nature isn't everyone's cup of tea. Though the narrative gets high on the mood mode, it also puts the non-believers off. You have to be either an oculist or at least mildly interested in the supernatural to even get into the narrative scheme.
Also, the ambience is acutely uninviting. The pale twilight shades used for the nun's sequences are reminiscent of The Omen where disturbances in the Church were externalized through discomfiting visuals.
This is a film that appeals to those who like to question the spiritual doctrine. When we come out of it asking… 'Why are we here?', we don't quite mean it the way we do in the average movie.