Movie Review: This ‘Pizza’ is half-baked

July 18, 2014

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

If the rule of thumb to gauge the worth of a horror movie is how badly it scares you, then Akshay Akkineni’s supernatural thriller ‘Pizza’ is successful only in parts. That’s tragic, considering the plot held promise and would’ve worked had it been treated more intelligently and with attention to finer detail.

pizzaaKunal (Akshay Oberoi) and Nikita (Parvathy Omanakuttan) are a married couple. Kunal is a pizza delivery man while Nikita writes horror novels. Money is scarce and they struggle to make ends meet. One night Kunal delivers a pizza to a woman (Dipannita Sharma) at her bungalow.

Soon he finds himself trapped inside the house and from then on, the film is about Kunal stumbling upon bloodied bodies, his close encounters with demons, and his attempts to escape. Add to the mix Kunal’s wife who goes missing after she turns up at the bungalow following his frantic call for help.

“Pizza” starts on a weak note — the opening scene in the elevator with the vanishing old man is borderline funny and could well be a lesson in how not to begin a horror movie. The next 20-odd minutes are spent establishing Kunal’s family and work life. There is even a flashback song thrown in. You know there’s a purpose to all this, but it bores you and you wish things would quickly move on.

pizzadThe movie’s scariest moments are those that Kunal spends locked in the haunted house. From the time the door shuts behind him, you know he’s in serious trouble. Dead bodies appear and disappear, and evil spirits seem determined to terrorize and kill him. The visuals of blood and gore might be routine fare for the average horror movie buff, but there are some genuinely tense moments too.

Kunal inexplicably receives a call from his wife on a disconnected landline telephone in the bungalow. There are images in paintings that come to life — nothing you haven’t seen before but they are still effective. The song ‘Thehar Ja’ may unnerve you when it’s unexpectedly played during a particularly tense sequence. And there’s a good chance the ‘peephole’ scenes, particularly one right before the interval, will keep you on the edge of your seat.

pizzabSadly, that’s where the fun ends. The second half of “Pizza” is plain dull and confusing. The incidents don’t add up even by the standards of a horror movie. In the end, you can see the director tries to be clever but the several red herrings leave you feeling more cheated than impressed. The final scene is chilling but it just doesn’t seem enough.

Akshay Oberoi as Kunal gives a steady performance but is hampered by a weak script and direction. It is slightly annoying to constantly hear him talk aloud to himself – you wonder why a person stuck in a house infested with menacing spirits would do so. Parvathy’s acting is patchy and mostly lacklustre. Rajesh Sharma has an important role as Kunal’s unprincipled, superstitious boss, though I wish he would’ve cut the theatrics. Dipannita Sharma is radiant in her part as a pregnant woman while Arunoday Singh convincingly pulls off the role of her drunk, suspicious husband.

After watching Akshay Akkineni’s “Pizza”, I took a look at the Wikipedia entry for the movie’s Tamil version. The minor deviations from the original plot seem to have veered Akkineni’s directorial debut badly off track. This “Pizza” may have the right ingredients but it’s sadly served half-baked.

(Follow Anupriya on Twitter @anupriyakumar; This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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