GRADE: C / 30%
It is ‘Pizza’ which should be charged for cheating its audience with an overloaded use of ‘deus ex machina’. Before I move further, let me explain what the term ‘deus ex machina’ signifies the same way film critic Roger Ebert did while reviewing Spike Jonze’s delectable ‘Adaptation’ – by quoting from Wikipedia; the term is used for ‘a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved, with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object’. While Adaptation is able to inventively, ingeniously and effectively fit this device into its plot structure, Pizza leaves its audience puzzled searching for answers only to reveal after that important pieces were kept hidden from them all the while. The only purpose of its deus ex machina is for its writer-director Karthik Subbaraj to show just how ‘unbelievable’ his twist is; the problem is that the audience doesn’t go ‘Oh, how could I miss this!’ in Pizza because the film’s plot never allowed them to catch it in the first place. The twist takes the film to an altogether new tangent which we couldn’t have guessed at all, and we are left cold: I want my money back!
Pizza opens with a group of ghost hunters scanning for paranormal activity in a supposedly haunted house, which ends in a cliffhanger the moment their device detects a presence. That’s when our lead actor switches off the television on which the ‘movie’ was running and we’re taken to the actual setting where our lead couple is cuddled up, talking about ghosts. We learn that the lady Anu is a writer of horror stories and is researching by watching a number of films and books while her guy Michael is a pizza delivery man who has his reservations about anything supernatural. While delivering a file to his boss’ home, Michael finds out that his boss’ daughter is possibly possessed by a spirit and her father is desperately trying to cure her. This incident haunts him especially because the girl looks directly at him while possessed and screams out the name ‘Nithya!’ demonically. The other incident that besets him is Anu’s announcement that she’s pregnant, but they reconcile and get married privately. One night, he is found by the owner in the pizza joint covered in blood along with his colleagues, who are also bruised badly. He then tells the others about his nightmarish experience at a home where he had gone to deliver pizzas. After this incident, Anu goes missing and attempts to locate her also fail.
The film failed to give me anything to search for, and Subbaraj left missing too many things which could have made my attempts easier in finding some sense in the film. You should be able to tease your audience throughout in a manner that when they are tricked, they don’t feel cheated. In a great movie like M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Sixth Sense’, the twist didn’t need a major clarification because we knew we were sold by it, and later we could sit and think of all the subtle hints we missed during the film. In Pizza, the twist fails badly and the most explicit proof for its failure is the fact that it required about five to ten minutes of clarifications in the resolution to show us how it actually worked. This time is taken in revealing things that weren’t shown to us at all before, and could’ve simplified our confusion without losing the intended twist’s effectiveness.
Although I commend Karthik Subbaraj’s attempt of blending the genres of horror, suspense, comedy, thriller and mystery, his film Pizza fails to whet our appetite. We leave the theatre with a bad taste in our mouths. (note: I watched two films of Vijay Sethupathi in two days, Soodhu Kavvum yesterday and Pizza today, without realizing until checking his Wikipedia page that he was one and the same actor! That’s some good acting!)