There is a word that gets thrown around a lot in Naseef Yusuf Izuddin’s Irul – curiosity. Curiosity is what makes characters in horrors and thrillers venture into the darkness, overlooking the perils ahead. Curiosity is also what kills the cat. Irul , meaning darkness in Malayalam, features a lot of moments of its lead characters venturing into darkness both literally and metaphorically.
Jomon T. John’s cinematography is top notch in the movie, and it is what makes the movie visually engaging. As the opening credits roll, a couple Alex (Soubin Shahir) and Archana (Darshana Rajendran) travel to a weekend getaway with an aerial shot of their vehicle manoeuvring through the maze-like hilly region that lends itself to some breath-taking visuals while also foreshadowing the twists and turns that the movie has in store. When the movie shifts to a house in the middle of nowhere after their vehicle breaks down, the camera movement (aided with the intense background score) keeps the proceedings tense as the entire movie unfolds over conversations between the 3 primary characters.
The biggest USP of Irul is the acting by Soubin Sahir, Darshana and the actor extraordinaire Faahad Faasil. There is nothing new to be said about the acting capabilities of Faahad and it is his nonchalant delivery and expressions that become the fulcrum around which the plot moves. His act in the second half also brings to mind another of his unforgettable performance from Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. He gets able support from a brilliant performer in Soubin Shahir, and the intrigue is enhanced when they play off each other. Darshana Rajendran evokes emotions of scare, confusion, and anger in apt measure.
Irul is let down by the lack of depth in its writing. Even at 1 hour 30 minutes of run time, the thriller does not feel taut enough, especially after an excellent first half. The red herrings seem contrived to move the narrative forward. The screenplay also leaves unintentional clues to guess the ending for someone who has seen a thriller or two. The detail to design in creating the interior of the house is unfortunately not matched by the detailing in the writing. Post a very promising start and an intriguing middle, Irul fizzles out much before the end credits roll. In spite of the powerful performances, good cinematography and a fitting background score Irul ends up as a middling thriller.