Out of the first four films in the Welcome to the Blumhouse series, Evil Eye has the most distinctly “made-for-television” feel. That’s not to say that the movie isn’t without its merits. The premise is an intriguing one and the actors turn in (mostly) solid performances. Between Split, Happy Death Day, and the Best Picture-nominated Get Out, though, Blumhouse has set a high bar for horror. Evil Eye doesn’t meet those standards, playing out more like a campy B-movie that had a baby with a Lifetime movie. As a campy thriller, the film has its fun moments. As a Blumhouse thriller, though, the screenplay could’ve used a few more eyes.
Directed by twin brothers Elan and Rajeev Dassani, Evil Eye stars Sarita Choudhury as Usha. Her one goal in life is to see her daughter Pallavi (Sunita Mani) wedded off. Usha seemingly gets her wish when Pallavi falls for a strapping young man named Sandeep (Omar Maskati). Handsome, wealthy, and charismatic, Sandeep is seemingly the whole package. Although Pallavi finally appears ready to settle down, Usha can’t shake the feeling that Sandeep isn’t what he seems. Based on several conversations, she begins to suspect that her daughter’s beau is the reincarnation of a man who almost killed her three decades back.
The Indian mythology paves the way for an engaging setup, but Evil Eye makes one major mistake. Much of the horror hinders on the tension between Usha and Sandeep, but they don’t meet in person until the final act. Most of the time, Usha just hears others talk about Sandeep and occasionally she speaks to him on the phone. That’s like if the main character in Get Out primarily interacted with his girlfriend’s parents over Zoom. The distance takes away from the anxiety that we’re supposed to feel. It would’ve been far more interesting if Usher met Sandeep in the first act and she slowly started to connect the dots to her late abuser.
Another problem lies in the casting department. To be fair, Choudhury and Mani do deliver convincing performances as a feuding mother and daughter. Bernard White is also quite likable as Usha’s understanding husband, who simply wants to keep his family together. In a horror picture likes this, however, everything depends on the boogeyman and Maskati’s performance as Sandeep is a misfire. It’s hard to say if it was the actor or the direction, but Maskati’s delivery is completely backward. Sandeep comes off as creepy when he’s trying to be charming and silly when he’s trying to be intimidating.
A character like Sandeep should keep the audience guessing, but the audience can tell early on that there’s more to him than meets the eye. Thus, we keep waiting for the inevitable confrontation between Usha and Sandeep. Then when that scene does come, it’s too little, too late. Much like Black Box, Evil Eye would’ve been better suited for an episode of an anthology TV series than a feature film. It’s the weakest entry in Welcome to the Blumhouse thus far, but it happens to share a release date with the best film in this series.
Evil Eye releases on Amazon Prime on October 13.