From executive producers Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Jason Blum, Evil Eye is part of Welcome to the Blumhouse series, a line-up of eight original films from the Amazon Studios that will premiere directly on its streaming service in October.
Based on an audio play by Madhuri Shekar, who adapted it for film and directed by Indian-American twin brothers Elan and Rajeev Dassani, Evil Eye is a suspense thriller that has veteran Sarita Choudhury playing Usha, a superstitious mother whose concern for her daughter spirals into a fierce nightmare as past penetrates the present.
Usha, like a typical Indian mother, is obsessed with getting her daughter Pallavi (Sunita Mani) married. Trying to succeed at matchmaking from miles away, Usha keeps setting up dates for her 29- year-old-daughter who is born and raised in the US. While waiting at a coffee shop for one of these potential husbands to turn up, Pallavi meets Sandeep (Omar Maskati) who is rich, handsome and also Indian. Pallavi and Sandeep hit it off instantly. Pallavi excitedly tells her mom about her new-found love and how she connected with him immediately. But instead of being happy for her daughter, Usha starts to behave in a very strange manner and is convinced that Sandeep isn’t really who he seems to be. Usha strongly feels that Sandeep is the reincarnation of her own abusive and dangerous boyfriend who tried to kill her many years ago, before she escaped and flew to the United States. The screenplay alternates between New Delhi where Usha and her husband have settled after many years in the US, and New Orleans, where Pallavi lives.
The story of the film mainly revolves around the concepts of reincarnation and karma. In the past, we have seen several Hindi films based on similar themes. Some of the striking examples are Subhash Ghai's Karz, Rakesh Roshan's Karan Arjun and Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om. Choudhury is wonderful in her role as a creepy yet caring and oddly comforting mother. The little nuances of the mother-daughter relationship are the highlight of the film. Bernard White, who plays Krishnan, Usha’s supportive husband is also pretty convincing and real. In fact, Usha and Krishnan's relationship have a healthy dose of both humour and stress as he initially dismisses her doubtful behaviour as paranoia but later starts to feel that she's losing her mental stability and needs a medical expert. Editor Kristina Hamilton-Grobler has done a decent job with the constant back and forth between two continents and from present to past, while bringing to attention disturbing incidences of Usha's younger years.
While the thriller, with its good mix of romance, cultural portrayal and supernatural elements, remains engrossing, it fails to be scary along the way. The flashback scenes aren't always effective, making it hard for the viewer to take the scenes very seriously. Also, the plot makes one expect a lot from Maskati whose performance is largely bland. Moreover, the characters Pallavi and Sandeep lack layers and seem very generic.
To sum it up, Evil Eye is a little dose of supernatural with a dash of desi twist. Watch it if you have an inclination for romantic thrillers.