Web Series review: Typewriter -- Of watered-down frights

Rainy afternoon and one mom and one teenaged son sit down to watch Sujoy Ghosh’s Typewriter — and compare notes. This five-part Netflix series is about three young friends (the middle-school type) in Goa who plan to search an old villa for ghosts, but things go haywire when a new family moves in and ‘the home’s buried past resurfaces in chilling ways’. Sounds promising as you nuggle under the sheets and wait for the fright-fest to begin.

The beginning lives up to expectation...the sprawling old Bardez Villa, an elderly novelist grandpa, a little girl who cannot sleep because of someone crying underneath her bed...Grandpa goes forth to calm her fears but well...let’s not spoil that superb stroke of surprise.

Unfortunately, the note of ominous mystery is watered down considerably by the sunny appearance of the three-find-outers, our spirited band of spirit-detectives, whose mission it is to ‘catch ghosts’. But then suddenly, you’re also introduced to some interesting new adult characters, some of whom are professional killers who don’t need a weapon but can use a bathroom washbasin to do the dirty!

The action keeps returning to Bardez Villa, the root of all things mysterious and yes, downright evil. Trust we aren’t spoiling any surprise by revealing that yes, the eponymous typewriter is the source and receptacle of the vile spirit.

And yes, our li’l gaggle of kiddos does seem hopelessly out of their league, but then thank god for supportive adults like the police inspector dad, who help make things right, even as some of the adults are behaving in a manner that’s bizarre.

Speaking of ‘audience reaction’, mommy does jump up in fright occasionally and actually seems a tad befuddled by the plot at times. The exact opposite reaction is forthcoming from the teenaged boy, who breaks into laughter at some of the most ‘scary’ moments, when he isn’t second-guessing the action well before it happens — and it occurs exactly like he says it!

Bottomline: It’s a tad—okay, make that ‘extremely’ — difficult to suspend disbelief and give in to the premise of this horror show, which seems unable to make up its mind about which age demographic to address.

Childish antics on one hand and some real adult shockers (a ghost biting off a chunk of lip of its human doppelganger) on the other, leads to a confused and less than satisfactory viewing experience. Also, the sight of blood pouring out of facial orifices including the eyes, is really not a sight for childish eyes.

There are unmistakable elements that seem to borrow from Harry Potter, including the concept of horcruxes, and the awaiting of the dark one’s resurrection, which will render him invincible...create a deja vu experience.

Of course, if it’s just some not-too-intense yet occasionally spooky moments you’re looking for, sit back and enjoy with your loved ones.

Coming back to the action at hand, for the moment, the evil has been evaded but this ‘typewriter’ clearly awaits positive audience reaction to take rebirth.

Cast: Aarna Sharma, Aaryansh Malviya, Mikail Gandhi, Palash Kamble, Jishu Sengupta, Palomi Ghosh, Purab Kohli, Sameer Kochhar, Sara Gesawat