Oct 17th: Evil Eye (2020) ☆☆☆

I couldn’t take my eyes off this mysterious, inter-generational thriller. But I can’t say I would watch it again.

It looks like Amazon is taking a cue from Hulu’s Huluween this year by teaming up with Blumhouse Productions (Insidious, Sinister, Get out – the list goes on and on) to create a slew of scary movies for us Halloweeners to enjoy. If you’re feeling a little more artsy/social commentary-ish, go with Prime movies. If you want to see some quickly spat-up horror garbage, most Huluween movies will do it for you (that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy them, too.)

Evil Eye, directed by Elan and Raveej Dassani, is the first I’ve watched of the new Blumhouse films available on Prime Video, and I wasn’t disappointed, really, but I also wasn’t super excited.

As you can probably see, this review is not being posted on October 17th, but I did, in fact, watch the movie that day, so I’m working from some notes I took directly after watching. Because of that, I won’t go too deeply into the plot (which will be the same for the next few movies, hahahahahah-)

***SPOILY-OILY-OILERS!***

TW for domestic abuse.

In Evil Eye, viewers get a glimpse into the lives of Pallavi (Sunita Mani) and her mother, Usha (Sarita Choudhury) as Pallavi navigates being a young Indian woman living in the US. Usha wants Pallavi to get married, so she sets her up on dates with Indian men and hopes for the best.

During one of those set ups, the date is, like, an hour late, and Pallavi ends up meeting the suavely handsome and oddly serious-looking Sandeep (Omar Maskati), and the two begin a sweet little relationship.

During the course of the movie, Usha begins to believe that Sandeep, who was born nine months after Pallavi, is the reincarnation of an abusive boyfriend of hers from her past. The boyfriend in question attacked and nearly killed Usha when he saw her pregnant on a bridge at night, but Usha managed to fight him and knock him into the water, where he could not swim and drowned. Usha made off without getting caught, but she lived with the horror of the event forever and took measures–such as an evil eye bracelet given to Pallavi, which the woman takes off near the beginning of the film–to try and keep her daughter safe.

But nobody believes Usha. Choudry gives a stellar performance in the part of the loving but “delusional” mother who wants nothing more than to keep her child safe; I was really hoping that she was right the whole time and not just imagining things.

As things go, Usha is right, and viewers get to see little evil bits of Sandeep seep in throughout the movie. First, Sandeep starts paying Pallavi’s rent, and she quite her job, something her mother is surprised and a little upset to hear. Then, the two of them move in to Sandeep’s awesome house before marriage–and then they immediately plan to get married.

Yeah, so those things don’t seem so evil, maybe, but they do alert Usha to a problem that the entire film is shoving in our faces in a not-so-subtle metaphor: while Sandeep may seem kind and thoughtful, his intentions are not simply to provide for Pallavi, but to pull her into his life before she realizes he wants to control her. One of the things that makes Usha extremely suspicious is when Sandeep tells Pallavi that he’s doing these things “for her own good.” It’s the same thing Usha’s boyfriend used to tell her, and it’s, honestly, an overwrought but appropriate line in movies about domestic abuse. So, really, if the line is so prevalent, why would Usha use that to further her belief that Sandeep is her old boyfriend?

Well, because the point of this movie is really to show the horrors of recurring trauma on women, and the inescapable damage wrought by partners–in this case, violent men–who control and abuse women. Sandeep doesn’t really have to be Usha’s old boyfriend coming back for revenge, because Sandeep and the boyfriend and million other people are one and the same. The horror isn’t being chased by the same person through generations, but by the same trauma. Mothers and daughters throughout history have experienced the same type of events at the hands of abusers.

And, really, I liked it. Going into the movie, you don’t really know that’s what they’re trying to display, but it becomes clear quickly that Sandeep and the boyfriend are just vessels for social commentary. I’m fine with that. It was still awesome–and heartbreaking–to watch Usha and Pallavi, finally convinced when Usha shows up wearing the same pair of earrings that Sandeep gifted to Pallavi , fight off Sandeep with the kind of pent up rage and frustration that viewers likely shared while watching the film.

But I won’t watch this entire movie again for just that scene, or the scene at the end where Usha and Pallavi hug in a hospital bed and talk about, well, the metaphor (I liked it because it was sweet, but I’m iffy on the fact that they literally laid out the point of the movie in words.) I wasn’t a fan of Mani’s acting in this; it just felt a little forced and half-hearted (her fake laugh at one point), especially held up against Choudhury’s emotion and tone. Then again, there are only a handful of movies that I will watch more than once for fun, so that’s not saying much.

Bye for now,

Abby

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