Cast: Udhayanidhi Stalin, Aditi Rao Hydari, Nithya Menen and Raj
If you’re familiar with Mysskin’s style of filmmaking, there are no points for guessing that his films are crazy, dark and not light-hearted. His latest work Psycho – a fascinating dive into the psyche of a serial killer – is not for the faint-hearted which he conveys in the very first shot of the film. A woman is mercilessly beheaded and her body is displayed publicly by the killer whose identity is revealed without much hullabaloo, and as he goes on a killing spree, the film gets unimaginably violent and unsettling. Psycho, which is unarguably the most violent film to come out of Tamil cinema, tries to humanize a serial killer with an emotional core and it succeeds in the process, allowing us to empathize with the killer.
Watch the trailer of Psycho:
The film is centred on the hunt for a serial killer who has so far killed 14 women. It works both as a serial killer film and as an interesting investigative thriller. When Dagini (Aditi Rao Hydari) is kidnapped and held captive by the killer, Gautam, a blind music conductor who likes her, sets out to catch the killer. Unsatisfied by the way the police department operates; he seeks the help of a former police officer Kamala Das (Nithya Menen), who is now a quadriplegic. As Kamala and Gautam join hands to search for the killer, Psycho unfolds as an effective commentary on what really handicap is and how eyes aren’t the only way to see.
Mysskin likes the idea of humanizing so much that he almost makes you shed a tear for the killer. At a time when there’s a lot of debate about whether the rapists of Nirbhaya deserve forgiveness, here’s a story that justifies why it’s essential to empathize with such people, but can we? Quite early on, we hear a psychologist talk about different types of psychopaths on a radio show. By the end of the film, there’s solid reasoning behind the actions of the killer and it helps one understand the intent behind his killings. Here’s a killer who hacks his victims and collects their heads as trophies. But Dagini’s calmness in captivity leaves him unsettled, and when she tells him that Gautam will come to save her, he takes it as a challenge.
While Aditi Rao Hydari and Nithya Menen impress, Stalin isn’t great.
The writing and unusual casting makes Psycho both eccentric and bold. In a hard-to-imagine role, Aditi Rao is a revelation, and she plays her character with the right amount of vulnerability. Nithya Menen steals the show is a slightly over-the-top but brilliantly essayed hot-headed and foul-mouthed former cop. Her scenes with her mother are filled with wry humour and lighten the mood in an otherwise unsettling movie. Udhayanidhi Stalin isn’t great but he plays his part assuredly. The cinematography and Illayaja’s music play a vital part in accentuating the mood of the film, especially the visuals that are both haunting yet stunning.
Psycho isn’t as emotional as Mysskin’s best work Pisasu, but it sure works as a cracker of a serial killer thriller that doesn’t hold back when it comes it depiction of blood and gore. It stays true to the genre and achieves a lot more than most films in this space.