To be fair, the opening credits of Balloon does start with a list of movies the film is ‘inspired’ from. But I felt a faint trace of involuntary outrage as a scene from ‘It’ is almost recreated and this is even before the name of the film appears. It felt like a warning — a signal to lower our expectations as the movie progresses. Balloon’s story or scares aren’t novel but the laughs are. The humour and the one-liners are the saving grace in this film that is a predictable mish-mash of some memorable horror moments from the past.
Balloon’s star is undoubtedly Yogi Babu (and his t-shirts as well). His dialogues, especially with the kid and the other assistant, are a riot. However, at times they prove to be counterproductive and further diffuse the tension. Also, the film is sonically good. It is a task to startle you when you know how the scare is placed. However, Balloon manages to do that at places purely due to the sound that goes beyond to scare us.
There is effort to make the movie likeable to the youth. Thus, cue lines referring to Ajith, Vijay, Bigg Boss, Oviya, and even Vijay Sethupathi. Jeevanandam (Jai) is an aspiring filmmaker who is asked to do a horror film. Balloon documents what happens when he visits a haunted house for research. Jeevanandam is a person who doesn’t believe in Ghosts or in the Lord. Looking for inspiration, he says “Only a person who gets scared will be able to write a story that will scare other people”, a line borrowed from Vijay Sethupathi’s Pizza.
The fact that the film is a mosaic shouldn’t be a surprise to me, considering that the director openly admitted that the script was written in 20 days. He also admitted that he watched around 30-40 films to get the story done. At that time I remember being surprised at his honesty. But maybe I should be worried. I thought the increased audience awareness would lead to creators widening their horizons, instead has it lead to filmmakers openly admitting their ‘inspirations’?
I liked the way the film ended; when we realise what we see is the film Jeevanandham made. We know that it is dramatised reality in the world Balloon is set in. Which leads me to was a predominant thought that was in mind as I was watching Balloon — is the story a dramatised version of how Sinish made the film? It looks and feels like it does. If it is, I would be interested to see the film Jeevanandam wanted to be made in the first place — interestingly titled as Aram.