The fifth instalment in the 1920 film franchise, 1920: Horrors of the Heart marks the debut of two women — its lead actress Avika Gor, who had shot to fame on television in and as Balika Vadhu, and its director Krishna Bhatt, who has taken on the filmmaking mantle from her filmmaker father Vikram Bhatt.
While the plotline holds the promise of a blend of suspense and supernatural, the film ends up cobbling together horror cliches that neither make the family drama angle engaging nor give you a good fright.
The story centres around Meghna (Avika Gor), who is devastated after her father dies by suicide. Consumed by grief, she embarks on a journey to uncover the truth and stumbles upon her father’s diary, where he pins the blame on her estranged mother.
Driven by anger, Meghna decides to take revenge on her mother Radhika (Barkha Bisht) and stepfather Shantanu (Rahul Dev). She moves in with them under the pretence that she has no place to go and creates an environment for her father’s spirit to inhabit the house, leading to eerie events that compel Meghna to confront a chilling hidden truth.
The treatment in 1920: Horrors of the Heart makes you feel like you are watching a horror film that is at least a decade old. The film relies heavily on jump scares, a ploy that is dated and which loses its effectiveness after the first few times.
Then there are those horror elements that you have had enough of over the years — secluded mansions, bluish haze, creaking doors, mirrors and flickering candles. The atmosphere, which should have been the film’s strongest point, falls flat from lack of imagination in the set design as well as cinematography. The ghostly apparitions and supernatural occurrences are so poorly executed that they make you laugh rather than stiffen in fear.
The characters in 1920: Horrors of the Heart are underdeveloped and cliched too. Avika’s Meghna is a textbook example of a damsel in distress. Her every action is predictable and her lack of agency is simply infuriating. She has a love interest, Arjun (Danish Pandor), who is supposed to add emotional depth to her story but is nothing more than a brooding figure with no discernible personality. Barkha Bisht and Rahul Dev try to do as much as they can given the limited scope their characters have.
Vikram Bhatt's films are known for their outstanding music; remember the soundtrack of Raaz? 1920: Horrors of the Heart has a forgettable album, save the song Lori sung by Shreya Ghoshal.