Such is the timing of the release of Connect that it not only brings shivers down your spine bringing back the memories of the worst days of our lives but also when the threat is looking back at us yet again! Ashwin Saravanan had in an interview stated that there was hopelessness and uncertainty about whether we would ever recover from Covid. So, he wanted to portray those emotions in a film and that the only genre that would work was horror. Anxiety, dread, sense of hopelessness and fear; the horror genre lends itself to these emotions beautifully. What happens when we are unable to connect?
The story revolves around Susan (Nayanthara), her doctor husband Joseph (Vinay Rai), music loving daughter Anna (Haniya Nafisa) and Father Arthur (Sathyaraj), a happy foursome. On a beach planning the future of Anna, whether she should pursue studying music abroad Joeseph gets a call to rush to the hospital as Covid has engulfed people. He has to stay put at the hospital to relentlessly help Covid patients. Susan and Anna are confined in their home and are desperate that Joeseph should return home but then the news breaks that he has succumbed to the dreaded virus himself! During the nationwide lockdown in India, Susan now a single mother starts noticing eerie changes in the behaviour of her daughter Anna. She seeks help from Father Augustine (Anupam Kher) who proposes a virtual exorcism.
What one might acknowledge about the movie is the setup and the environment. The director has shown a world connected with just video calls and added few jump scares for the sake of shocking the audience. There are instances when one feels the anxiety especially from Arthur, Susan’s father.
I fail to understand the concept of keeping the subjects of a horror/suspense thriller in dark, literally. What I mean is we seldom find people living in lavish flats who wouldn’t switch on lights upon entering a room and that too when you are secluded and alone. Also do doors of such flats have to have the squeaky sounds!! Which means that the writer / director is falling short of elements to communicate fear to bring in such obvious sounds. The director doesn’t work hard on the story as much as he does on its technicalities and astounding sounds. The conclusion is too exaggerated and falls flat with lines like “We will do something that has never happened in the Vatican too!”
Though Nayanthara’s character is not shown loud, it is neither shown to be too tough to take things in her stride. She just stays cool with so much happening to her daughter. On the other hand, it is Sathyaraj’s character which displays a range of emotions – in happy times and otherwise too. Anupam Kher as Father Augustine looks clueless in the setup, the character, and the lines.
Ashwin Saravanan’s Connect, though unlike any mainstream Tamil film, fails to connect as to what was the purpose of the narrative. Was it to showcase the lives of people during Covid lockdown or was it about a mother-daughter and father-daughter or ‘Curson’ or the most to have belief in God? But none drives home the point. With a crisp runtime without any interval, Ashwin could have elevated the experiment to a true horror genre film with more effort spent on writing along with technicalities.
Overall, Ashwin’s Connect tries to create a sombre environment that stays for some time before giving in to the clichés. Watching it at home wouldn’t hurt.
Director: Ashwin Saravanan
Cast: Nayanthara, Sathyaraj, Anupam Kher, Vinay Rai, Haniya Nafisa, Avinash, Mekha Rajan,
Duration: 99 Mins