FILM REVIEW: EVIL EYE embraces its cultural roots to tell a relatable tale with a strong Indian influence.


Elan and Rajeev Dassani direct this unique Hindi-influenced supernatural horror from playwright Madhuri Shekar

It’s a very difficult struggle for filmmakers to make genre films about different cultures that will appeal to either the original culture the subject matter hails from or to the culture the story is being adapted for. One only has to think of entries like 2016’s The Forest, about a pair of Americans exploring Japan’s Aokigahara forest, renowned as the “suicide” forest, or 2020s The Grudge, which also failed to really connect its Japanese ghost story antecedents to an American audience. On a certain level, that makes Evil Eye, the last installment of Amazon Prime’s Welcome to the Blumhouse, a welcome entry to the series’ oeuvre. It tells a culturally specific tale with Indian actors from a script adapted from a popular Audible tale from Shekar. Evil Eye follows Usha Chatri (Sarita Choudhury) as a superstitious Hindi mother living in New Delhi. She is into horoscopes and is trying to find a man for her daughter Pallavi (Mr. Robot’s Sunita Mani), whom she fears into an old maid in America. She came from an arranged marriage and tries to convince her independent daughter that it may not be the worst thing for her as well. This relationship drama aspect feels very true to the culture and grounds us in the world of Indian culture and relationships. But, before too long, Pallavi meets a man on her own, Sandeep (Omar Maskati), who sweeps her off her feet. Sandeep comes from money and influence; before too long, he is convincing Pallavi to give up her apartment, her job, and her independence to be with him. But Sandeep hides a darker truth behind the veneer of the perfect boyfriend.

It’s to the Dassanis’ credit that the movie feels intimate to the Indian culture. Choudhury and Mani play their mother/daughter relationship on cultural lines; with Mani wanting to be her own person and not be defined by traditional Indian marriage and Choudhury wanting the best for her daughter, even if it is coached in superstition and tradition. The movie takes a turn into the supernatural once Sandeep is introduced. The concept of reincarnation is a central one in the Hindu religion, which is dominant in India. Utilizing it to tell a horror story is a clever twist; especially a generational one here that really digs into the human story of the mother/daughter relationship. The best horror stories tell something about human nature, with the supernatural element only used to augment that and bring it into sharper focus. EVIL EYE does that well, and with solid acting chips from everyone involved. The only failing the film really has is the thinness of the development of Sandeep and Pallavi’s relationship. We hear about it as it develops via phone calls from Pallavi to Usha, but it doesn’t really ring all that true, given that its development is integral to the overall plot. The other wasted opportunity seems to be setting Pallavi’s life in New Orleans but never juxtaposing it to India in terms of culture or locale. The scenes shot in New Orleans never take advantage of its own unique creepy history and the shots are very blase and uninspiring.

Overall, EVIL EYE is an interesting watch with a core story about the generational and cultural schism between mothers and daughters. It uses the culture it is invested in to tell a tale unique to that culture with authentic voices to it and that should be enough to help it transcend to American audiences, rather than dumbing things down. It works with some flaws and is a solid horror watch.

– 2 out of 5 stars
A cultural horror tale with a solid character story at its base. Gets lost along the way a few times with thin supporting characters, but solid overall.