'Pizza' short movie review: Slice of horror, no extra toppings

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Updated: Jul 26 2014, 18:57pm hrs
Pizza reviewAkshay Oberoi and Parvathy Omankuttan in a scene from 'Pizza'.
Movie review 'Pizza'

DIRECTOR: Akshay Akkineni

CAST: Akshay Oberoi, Parvathy Omankuttan, Rajesh Sharma, Dipannita Sharma, Arunoday Singh, Omkar Das Manikpuri

Rating: **

Apizza delivery boy can be an unwitting witness to some truly bizarre happenings: you go to the doorstep to pick up your pie, he is ready with a hand outstretched for the money, and maybe a tip. You ask him to wait while you find the correct change, he steps in, and the door bangs shut. And then comes a bloodcurdling scream.

Neat premise for a horror film, and Pizza runs with it, falteringly at the start, and getting it together as it goes along but never really acing it. The debutant director (Akknineni is top editor Sreekar Prasads son and Prasad has edited the film) shows he has an eye. Some of the scary moments are well done and you do jump a little. But theres not enough sharpness or consistency in the build-up, and everything in-between sags.

Kunal (Oberoi) scoffs at the supernatural, but is surrounded by people who believe in it. His pregnant wife Nikita (Omankuttan), his boss (Rajesh Sharma) whose wife seems to be possessed by an evil spirit, and whose dodgy associates include a sadhu who doubles up as an exorcist (Manikpuri). Then, there are his pizza outlet colleagues, who seem unnaturally concerned by the bosss marital troubles. A remake of the surprise Tamil hit by the same name, Pizza does proves a point. That successful horror films dont need stars, but needs a solid script and atmospherics. The bodies with axes jutting out, the trail of bloody feet, the wriggly maggots in the pizza, are all good, but the story-telling could have been better.

The Tamil film is superior, because it was smart and had suspense. The send-up of this genre was skillful, and the lead pair was having a blast. In the Hindi version, the chemistry between Oberoi and Omankuttan doesnt have flash, though the former does a good job of looking petrified, as he flails about in the house of horrors, armed with a flashlight, trying to get out. What I liked about the film is its refusal to weigh anything down with false portent. The horror bits are efficiently done even though my 3D glasses didnt give me anything extra. An entire portion in the second-half delivers a mild shiver a minute, but at no point did I feel like closing my eyes (my index of how scary the film is) and there were some points where a laugh escaped me. Those bits were unwittingly funny.

Pizza will give you some nice chills and a little twist in the end, which is not a surprise as it should have been. While we wait for the sequel, try catching the Tamil original (its out with subtitles), for a slice of extra cheese.

(shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com)