Game Over’s strong thrilling introductory scene sets the tone for its chronicles. It starts like your typical home attack thriller, with a camouflaged offender standing outside a teenager’s house, closely monitoring her actions. He breaks into the home to find her taking a bath – Hitchcock’s Psycho arises to mind. Ashwin swiftly cuts the section to display the woman’s misery; her face enclosed with a plastic bag and fingers tied. It doesn’t finish there. Then comes the bravest and well-thought-out shot – of a headless figure being burnt. It doesn’t end there as well. He treats her skull like a football, pocketing it at a near goalpost. The stretch is realistic and is not seen in cinema before. Its interesting facts make it one of the unique and captivating opening scenes.
A game designer by profession, Swapna (Taapsee Pannu in an extraordinary performance with great struggle) stays in a bubble, isolated from human interaction. She hasn’t seen her parents in ages and lives with her housemaid Kala (Vinodhini Vaidhyanathan), who, gratefully, brings light to her dark life. Swapna has premonitions about New Year’s Eve and she’s busy by those disturbed feelings. We study about this when she’s devastated by the existence of darkness. She is nyctophobic and search for help from a psychologist, who puts her disorder in medical terms:
Anniversary reaction – a consequence of a post-traumatic event. This means that every day closer to the New Year, her state worsens. We loved Ashwin’s idea of collaborating this through a simple poster. Swapna and Kala are outside the hospital and the background has a sequence of pictures, screening different stages of the lunar eclipse. Feasibly to describe Swapna’s emotional state?
One way to look at Game Over is from the viewpoint of a gamer. It’s basically set in an imaginary world, where the actions that reveal in the story are genuine plan points of a video game. In fact, an artwork says, “What if life-cycle is a video game and déjà vu are just check points?” Is she hallucinating? We don’t know this for sure, but fact that Swapna is an obsessive gamer, and frequently finds her obsession over Pac-Man. It’s a fascinating choice of a game, for Pac-Man is a superb metaphor on her. Organized like a game, she’s bounded in a maze called life, with three Gothic-like figures after her head. There’s a continuous suggestion about Swapna’s past that leaks into the tale more than once. It’s symbolic of a disturbing event that exposed Swapna of her stability. Her past is assisted through voice-overs and Swapna says, “I wish I could go back and fix things. Though, lifecycle doesn’t work that way.”
But what if there was an opportunity to resume, like in the gaming world? Would Swapna fight? Game Over is basically an all-women world, where men barely exist. Writers Ashwin Saravanan and Kavvya Ramkumar avoid labels and make an influential statement about fighting your internal demons.
Game Over starts off as a killing mystery story, but halfway into the movie; it comes across as psychological horror. Obviously, category is irrelevant for a movie, whose creative ideas are wider and huge. Take this act for example. When we are presented to Swapna’s routine, there’s a split-second shot of a swipe outside her house. You may feel it’s strangely set, but the shot has an incredible significance in the second half. And it’s scary and terrifying when you think about it. The film isn’t free from storytelling issues. We were not too influenced by the tattoo angle. While you could argue that it is an everlasting stain/mark left on Swapna. Anything more would spoil the entertainment for you. We truly wanted Ashwin to give Swapna a conclusion. But in life, we don’t have a resume button, do we?