Fantasia 2015: Ludo
In Kolkata, it is nearly impossible for teens like Ria (Subolina Sen) to have a little privacy. Her parents constantly check her phone, force her to dress conservatively, and threaten potential suitors. Living under such strict confines, it is understandable that Ria and her pals – her best friend Payal (Ananya Biswas), Payal’s boyfriend Babai (Ranodeep Bose), and his buddy Pele (Soumendra Bhattacharya) – would revel in any opportunity to let loose when they can get.
Riding their mopeds around own town, the foursome hit all the hot nightclubs, pound back drinks and encounter corrupt cops looking to make a quick buck. However, what the group really wants is to find a spot for some intimate fun. When their fake ID’s do not score them a hotel room, Payal suggests that they break into a nearby shopping mall. Closed for the night, the teens initially think they have found their personal love nest. Of course all this changes when a frail couple appears out of nowhere holding a board game called Ludo. While the game seems simple on the surface, it carries deadly consequences for all who play it.
Despite their best efforts, directors Quashiq Muckherjee and Nikon lose sight of their narrative early in the second act. What starts off as a straightforward tale of hormonal teens in search of a secluded spot – a common trope in horror films – turns into an overly convoluted exploration into an ancient demonic artifact. Part of the problem is that the film introduces a key subplot, involving a pair of siblings (played by Joyraj Bhattacharya and Rii respectively) who are eternally linked to the board game, far too late. By forcing the sibling arc down the viewers’ throat, the audience cannot help but long to spend more time with the main foursome who drew them into the story in the first place.
Furthermore, the filming of the actual playing of the board game in extremely repetitive and dull. Every turn is the same, players sit transfixed at a board with no discernible markings. They are only so many ways the directors can make characters shaking weathered dice in a glass bottle even remotely interesting.
Filled with familiar tropes, and an uninteresting plot, Ludo is a film that fails on multiple levels. The story simply gets bogged down under the mythology it is trying to construct. There are some elements that hint at a better film within the narrative, unfortunately it is ultimately buried under this jumbled and flawed plot. Needless to say, Ludo is not a film worth your time.