Two comedies can be entirely different, two romances can be distinct, there are many styles in which villainy and gore can be depicted in the case of the action genre, but horror movies cannot be horror movies without the mandatory eerie sounds, characters that have never suspected anything ominous falling in the trap of the evil spirit, the night effect, so on and so forth.
Theatre Lo is one such movie, but what is curious about the horror-comedy film is that one remembers more the weird characters, the ogling/stalking buffoonery of two of the characters, rather than the evil and its avenging agenda.
In an effort to scare the daylights out of us, the director, for a change, has created a character who is a viewer of his film (titled Naluguru) like the rest of us. However, with the execution not so imaginative, the idea fails to have the intended effect on the audience. After RGV's tired attempts to psychologically win over the audience by challenging him, and sometimes glorifying the evil, subtly mocking at the naivete of those who refuse to believe in its existence, writers like Maruthi and Saikiran Mukkamala (the concept is by the producer himself), whose films were incidentally released on the same day, have a commonality when it comes to their stories.
The film begins with a scene outside a theatre playing Naluguru, we see a range of funny characters. In the film, four youngsters - a short-tempered cricket better, a rich magician, and their two friends who belong to a lesser class. The last two constantly leer away at the better's girl friend, trying to grap her attention by indulging in silly tricks. The first part packs many laughter-filled moments, there is a cool comic touch to each scene.
Their car journey to Vizag is used to establish their quirks, arrogance, meanness, and when they show fear at the sight of the police, a suspense is created.
Stranded in a forest, they move to a guesthouse, once there the endgame begins for them, with one guy after another trembling at the darshan of the evil spirit in a colourful attire. Concomitantly in the theatre playing this film, four guys disappear one after one, in front of the very eyes of an audience.
Is there a link between the film and the real world? Watch out for the climax.
Though a fairly well-written narrative, the tricks employed by the writer fall flat thanks to the total absence of a substantial plot oustide of the film within the film. One feels either cheated or let down or both when a devil other than the anguished kind we see is not introduced. The Pizza-kind ending is a mere shadow, for we don't feel for the victim (the character who has been experiencing ominous signs from the beginning).
The RGV comedy by the actor who played Gour Raju is enjoyable. The dialogue is fine and what works most for Theatre Lo is the realistic reactions of the characters in danger. The loud crying of the better, the fear shown by the maid when she first sees the devil and so on.
The actors prove to be good choices. Swetha Pandit is a mere glam doll and she doesn't deliver a dekko.
Technically, Chinna's music and the cinematography are average.
Verdict: All in all, Theatre Lo, though a fine narrative, is devoid of the factors which are must for a good horror movie.