First of all, hats off to Malayalam industry.
After watching the likes of “Akashaganga”, “Meghasandesham”, “Vellinakshatram” etc, which had a female ghost in white saree giving out high pitched laughter and long canines backed by an over the top comic performance from supporting cast, the concept of spirits and direction have improved tremendously. Watching this film was equivalent to experiencing the horror effect of a nerve-racking Hollywood film. Personally, I don’t believe that the concept of an evil spirit should be limited to illusions, infestations and random movement of objects because when it comes to cinema and other artistic media, the range should be wide enough for the audience to enjoy. Ezra delivered that in a way. The reason why I watched this is because of 1) Prithviraj who is doing a different flavor in his career of a variety of films and 2) friends of mine fought with each other because one of them revealed the spoiler of this film as the final twist is quite impactful. I love films with twists. 😛
Back to the film,
We get to see religious diversity in this film. The movie is about an ambitious Jewish guy who vows revenge through his son (not revealing anything else). A Hindu woman Priya (Priya Anand) married to a Christian man named Ranjan (Prithviraj) comes across a Dybbuk box in an antique store and brings to the house. The box contains the spirit which possesses the woman when she opens it. A Muslim cop (Tovino Thomas) and a Christian priest (Vijay Raghavan), with the help of a Jewish priest (Sujith Shanker), helps the husband and wife overcome the paranormal phenomenon.
Kudos to the director Jay K and cinematographer Sujith Vasudev for creating an eerie environment. The movie, in spite of following cliches like jump-scares and “fooling”, will make you bite your nails and sit at the edge. At one point, a situation gave me a big fright and the coffee I was holding got spilled. The movie had the feel of both insidious and conjuring, it is quite visible that the director studied James Wan more than anyone else, the presentation and the shots make you feel as if you are watching the film from Malayali’s POV. However, some of the scenes were too dark to enjoy and the expressions on the actors were not visible enough. Prithviraj stepped into the shoes of Ranjan and delivered a punchy performance. His reaction when the priest reveals about Dybbuk box and how the dybbuk enters a human body were all perfect and Prithviraj has always proved his talents. He also had both creepy and ‘scared to death’ looks which make him apt for the role. Priya Anand’s dialogues were too artificial as most of the shots showed her in a close range and lip movements are very obvious. Overall, she is only above average but she nailed it when it comes facial performance during scary scenes and when she is possessed. Vijay Raghavan is a born actor and he made the screen lively. One of my favorite moments is the scene where he sees the dybbuk box and prays to god immediately. The rest of the cast have put up the pacing though some of the characters were seemingly stuffed into the film; like Priya’s (Priya Anand) mother.
Ezra’s back story, though intensely directed, is kind of obvious as Indian films are always incomplete without the touch of a love story. The overall concept surrounds Jewish rituals and forbidden love. Ranjan and Priya themselves faced the issues related to their relationship. About, the final twist, without revealing anything here, I observed a lot of clues from the beginning leading up to it. It is a good twist but a lot of dramatic instances could have been added. The intensity of the whole film is about the final twist.
Ezra is a well executed Malayalam horror. If you enjoy this genre then go ahead and watch it. Fans of Prithviraj will love the film.