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One of the ingredients of a good supernatural thriller is horror and suspense, which keep the viewer glued throughout. It may not have many instances of jump scares but if it leaves us with an unsettling feeling then it has done its work. In that respect, Shaitaan by Vikas Bahl looks like a super movie.

A stranger enters a farmhouse, and from that moment on controls the teenager daughter in inexplicable ways. She does everything strange and perilous he prompts her to do. What is the secret behind this new presence and will he be outplayed by desperate family in his wicked game?

The film opens by introducing Kabir’s (Ajay Devgn) happy household consisting of his wife Jyoti (Jyotika), teenage daughter Jahnavi (Janki Bodiwala), and nerdy son Dhruv (Anngad Raaj). An unexpected visitor called Vanraj Kashyap (R Madhavan) appears early in the story and brings about fear into them. He mysteriously manipulates Jahnavi to a point where she obeys whatever he says. Fear quickly turns into terror as Vanraj makes orders that become more sickening for Jahnavi’s life herself or her family members as well. The remainder is about unraveling what gives Vanraj such power, why he does it, and can the family get away from him.

Shaitaan is appealing due to its non-CGI-created atmosphere already noted above. Most hinges on just how much evil intentions are there behind their games; it leaves you quite queasy at times too. Unlike other horror movies written by Aamir Keeyan Khan and Krishnadev Yagnik have steered clear of usual horror tropes while touching on an ageold supernatural versus science debate among other things that make human beings no more than embodiments of evil forces.

The narrative moves along at a fair pace and the treatment ensures it’s mostly an engrossing movie although it gets a little tedious in the second half. The buildup is eerie, though not very suspenseful. The story has some weak points and one of its scenes reveals a pivotal plot point thereby making the ending predictable. Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti has created an atmosphere of horror and darkness that is further accentuated by Amit Trivedi’s music.

Madhavan performs extremely well as the sinister character and does every evil act convincingly. Ajay Devgn plays his character with great skill though he is weak for he cannot do anything about this situation. Jyotika too was good in her role of a strong mother who wants to save her daughter at all cost. Janki Bodiwala should be commended for her flawless performance as an innocent child enslaved under blind influence. She laughs, cries, dances, and attacks on cue in immediate succession perfectly. Anngad Raaj also succeeds at playing his part as Dhruv.

Though Shaitaan’s plot stumbles occasionally, the expert use of atmosphere along with first class acting will make you feel uncomfortable throughout the film.

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