As the film opens, Sid (Anu Gunn) is waiting at a beach house for his ex-girlfriend, Kareena (Nishi Rajan), to arrive in town. Though they have not seen each other in years, he does have what appears to be an engagement ring ready to go for her, which seems odd at first. That oddity is compounded by his blatant lie that he is closing a real estate deal, and cannot meet her at the airport, even though he is doing nothing but lounging around the beach house waiting.
When Kareena does arrive, the two begin painting conversational pictures of the people they want the other person to think they are, whether it is true or not. For the most part the chit chat is of the “getting to know you again” affair, and mostly harmless. Every once and while, however, a forced tension seems to intervene and the two begin to bicker with each other.
Things take a turn for the truly weird when a heated conversation about religion reveals Kareena’s belief in demons, and a possible history of being tormented by them. Still, the two go back into their routine of small talk, heated bickering, bonding over music (he plays guitar and she sings) and then bickering some more, and the demon admission seems like an odd quirk. But then the two go to bed, and the film becomes a series of odd noises, reactions to the noises and other spooky, demon-friendly horror imagery and sounds.
In the beginning, Sid’s Paralysis seems like one of those films where two people just sit in one location and talk the entire time, for good or bad. This minimalist approach has worked in some films, and not worked in others, so it has as much a right as any to be successful in its format. The problem is that, once the two start talking, it’s hard to understand why the two are even hanging out at all; at a certain point, their bickering doesn’t come off as playful, and it’s hard to empathize with either character being with the other one. Even though we know from the jump that Sid has a ring ready for the giving, you just don’t think it’s a good idea. I mean, if they’re fighting now, wait until that demon nonsense rears its ugly head.
Which is really where the film tries too hard and loses steam; I get that maybe just being a character story about Sid and Kareena didn’t feel big enough for a feature film, like it needed something more, but adding in a supernatural element doesn’t help matters. If anything, it feels shoehorned into the story, and it doesn’t make for a better film. It makes for a suddenly really confusing film that is falling back on modern-day, familiar horror tropes in an effort to do… what, exactly?
Perhaps if the supernatural element had been introduced even sooner in the story, and allowed to build more naturally over the course of the evening, it would’ve worked better. As it’s currently structured, when their conversations end and they go to bed (pretty much 75% into the film), that’s when things get odd but, by that point, you’ve already sat through a lot of emotional up-and-down conversation and the majority of the film’s identity has been established. Anything that comes after that, and wasn’t a cohesive element during, feels like it was just added because the filmmaker didn’t know where to go next. Whether that is accurate or not I cannot rightly say, but that’s how it seems by the final, confused frames of the film.
It’s not all bad, though. The few moments in the film where the two make music together are actually quite good; Nishi Rajan has a wonderful voice. Some bits of dialogue are also well-done and delivered, mostly when the two actors are allowed to have a conversation that isn’t suddenly imbued with what seems like unnecessary dramatics.
In the end, Sid’s Paralysis seems like a film that doesn’t know exactly what it wants to be, so it tries to hit a couple different things. I’m not saying a film can’t have some genre-bending fun, but there are ways to do it successfully and this one doesn’t quite get there. On the one hand, I was happy for something other than the forced drama of the conversations the couple was having, but I also wanted that something different to go somewhere strong, which for me it did not.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.