With '1920 - Evil Returns', first time director Bhushan Patel gives a good account of himself and shows that other than being a good technician, he is also an able story-teller who wanted to start his journey with something that was indeed different.
In this regard he gets good support from Vikram Bhatt who proves once again that when it comes to the horror-thriller genre, he is not just comfortably leading the race but practically running alone. '1920', 'Haunted', 'Raaz 3' and now '1920 - Evil Returns', he indeed has a knack of coming up with interesting ideas in a cost effective manner that turns out to be a win-win for all.
Just as is expected from a movie belonging to this genre, the cards are opened at the very onset in '1920 - Evil Returns'. In fact the manner in which Bhushan sets the film's context is quite amazing as the ground is set in first 15 minutes itself. A hint of an unspoken love story, few lies being told, Tia's walk towards her love, the journey going wrong and in the middle of it all, an 'aatma' that is already creating havoc - there is so much that happens in quick succession even before the opening credit titles start rolling. By the time that happens and Aftab Shivadasani is introduced, you are with the film.
As an audience you get an idea that there is some big trouble all set to strike and even though Aftab's sister (Vidya Malwade) and a 'kabristan' caretaker (Sanjay Sharma) begin to get some strong signals around that, you want to know the how, why and what behind the tale. Who is Tia? How is she already connected to Aftab? Why doesn't he know her yet? From where has this 'aatma' come? Why is it after Tia? What is the reason behind Vidya's displeasure over Tia's presence? What's the story behind the castle? Number of questions start playing in your mind in the first half of the film.
However this is also that part of the film where one indeed gets time to ask so many questions since the pacing is rather slow. Yes, there are a few attention grabbing moments (especially the ones where Tia vomits nails) but then routine sequences like servants getting killed, mysterious women scaring the daylights out of Tia, long walks in the corridor (with the cry of 'koi hai') and doors opening at their will turn out to be way too commonplace. What adds to the slow movement of the narrative are the songs which, though very good compositions by Chirantan Bhatt, make way too frequent appearances (in the first half) and stay on for their entire length.
Nevertheless, one forgets everything about this once the second half kick-starts. Really, it has to be one of the more entertaining second half of the films released in the recent past, especially the horror affairs, as the director as well as the actress take over the proceedings for the 60 minutes that follow. Once it is established that Tia is possessed, there is no looking back as she creates havoc in the lives of everyone around him. Her interrogation by Sanjay Sharma is the pick of the lot and the roars & the growls that follow are thoroughly enjoyable.
The film continues to show an upwards trend as one sequence after another pretty much establishes that it is a point of no return for the established. The flashback sequence, as is the pre-requisite for films belonging to this genre, may not be taking the momentum further high but at least ensures that it stays steady. The revelation, though not quite convincing in entirety, is narrated in such a fast paced manner that you are more interested in knowing about what would happen next instead of what had happened in the past. That turns out to be a good reason to wait for the climax which is indeed 'paisa vasool'.
This is the reason why star of the show turns out to be Tia around whom the film revolves. She gives an excellent account of herself, especially while playing a possessed girl, and it is impossible to believe that we are looking at the same Tia here who is otherwise so petite. Another actor who does well is Aftab. Underplaying his act without trying to get into 'herogiri' of any sorts, he is suitably restrained and plays the passive role of someone who is trying to get back his lost love. Sanjay Sharma, who was also seen in 'Haunted', plays a similar (and extended) role and does well again.
When a film ends up engaging you not just because of the horror and thriller elements but also a strong suspense quotient, it means that it has done its job. '1920 - Evil Returns' didn't shout from the rooftops and came up with any lofty promises. However what the film did promise was an entertaining tale that would come from the house of Vikram Bhatt and have something new to tell, at least from a Hindi film perspective. In this endeavour, this Bhushan Patel film succeeds to a good extent. For a horror thriller, it keeps you entertained for those two hours and most importantly, has a definite story to tell as well.