This week, Amazon Prime Video’s Welcome to the Blumhouse adds Evil Eye, directed by Tennesseean twin directors Elan Dassani and Rajeev Dassani, to its anthological collective. Like Black Box, this is another impeccable production of supernatural proportion (albeit a much more focused one) from Team Blumhouse Television & Amazon Studios. I mean, it’s all right there in the title: This one’s about the bad energy we receive.
And I am here for it.
Looking at the scope of Welcome to the Blumhouse (eight genre movies, by and with a diverse crew and cast of new and familiar faces), and how the program is aiming to showcase distinctive visions and perspectives on common themes centered around family and love as redemptive or destructive forces, I am diggin’ how these movies just might be a – pardon the pun – prime example of why representation matters. I mean, seeing Sarita Choudhury, in full Hindi mama-bear mode, vividly struggle to protect her daughter, who lives halfway around the world in New Orleans, from the spirit of an ex of hers, from like, 30 years ago, had me thinking about reincarnation and what I do or don’t know or feel about it. Like, I could relate to how there was in a concept in her character’s faith about which she felt oh-so-fervently, and make these organic connections to the notions I grew up hearing about or that I picked up along the way. And it was immediate empathy that I felt for her character.
Choudhury, headlining what I would wager is her farthest-reaching project to date in a career that spans the last three decades and that includes Showtime’s Homeland, is magnetic as Usha in this adaptation of the award-winning, best-selling eponymous Audible Original production by Madhuri Shekar. She plays a woman in Delhi, who is haunted by the memory of a man that simply wouldn’t take no for an answer back in the day. The only thing that brings her any sort of joy is matchmaking, from India, for Pallavi, her 29-year-old daughter, who lives stateside, and who is played by Sunita Mani (Netflix’s GLOW). Mom is like, “Tick tock, girl. You can’t just let the good times roll forever. Maybe, you are cursed.”
Oh, yeah. Usha’s seriously superstitious – so you know all the alarms ring out in her head, when Pallavi meets a charming fella, (some tech bro, not the pre-approved Prince Charming she sent her way), and that relationship goes from 0 to múdate conmigo in 3.5. Usha feels it’s too fast, and she knows that this Sandeep (Omar Maskati), som’in’ is really off with him. But ya can’t tell the kids a thing.
And ya can’t keep a good mom from doing what she has to do to keep her baby safe, either.
Usha realizes she can’t escape her karma. The pain that she has buried deep inside and tried to conceal from her loved ones did not stay down, and now her daughter is in grave danger. And she will be truly damned, if she does not cash in her frequent-flyer miles or whatever to race to Pallavi’s side and confront a ghost from her past that’s now determined to claim both of their present and their future.
That is Evil Eye. You can like it or not. I did, in spite of the necessary crutch that is the gimmick of having the core relationship of the movie unfold across previously unsurmountable distance thanks to smartphones, of all things. I get it…but. The Dassani brothers managed elegantly, though, by leaning into the geography of it all and using that to their advantage to magnify the scope of their production; however, their flashback work was a tad heavy handed.
Given the platform’s global reach, these movies needed to be made well (they are – these are movies). That they provided a chance (or eight) to create new pipelines of creativity for emerging filmmakers only adds to their resonance for me. Ergo the writing.
What the Blumhouse lacks in sustainable suspense, it makes up for with opportunity. Like I said, I am here to for it, because it Choudhury and Mani are here, too. It’s swell to see them put an authentic face to the story at hand.