The first trailer for new Tamil language horror film Aval (The House Next Door) is out and it looks very solid. Tamil Nadu has been the center of a recent Indian horror boom for about the last decade, and while this film appears to utilize familiar elements - ghosts, haunted houses, etc. - the execution of the film looks far more accomplished and serious than most of its antecedents. There's precious little story in the trailer, but there is plenty of solid imagery to convince me that it's worth checking out, and that's before even talking about the pedigree.
Aval is a co-production of Viacom18 and Etaki Entertainment, the latter being the production company of the film's star Siddharth. While that would often be a warning sign - vanity projects are often missteps - Siddharth has a very solid track record as not only one of Tamil cinemas most solid mainstream actors, and Etaki's previous film, Jil Jung Juk was one of my favorite films of 2016. Siddharth is not afraid to take chances on cinema that pushes the limits of what has become expected in Tamil Nadu and India at large, and he's largely successful.
In Aval, Siddharth stars with Andrea Jeremiah, an actress with an impressive track record of her own. She's starred alongside some of the industry's biggest performers in films like Vishwaroopam, Aranmanai, and Mankatha. However, most recently she was seen as the lead in the film Taramani, which received critical kudos for being one of Tamil cinemas first forthrightly feminist films. The duo is joined by popular character actor Atul Kulkarni, who is always dependable.
Director Milind Rau makes his feature debut with Aval after working as a second unit director on a number of projects from one of India's leading filmmakers Mani Ratnam, so he has plenty of on-the-job experience that looks like it's put to good use here.
I haven't seen a solid release date yet for the film, but I'd imagine they'll try to get in to screens by the end of the year. I'll be there opening night!