Evil Eye (2020)

Pallavi (Sunita Mani) is an attractive, unmarried Indian-America woman who is pushing 30, much to the dismay of her superstitious mother Usha (Sarita Choudhury) back in India. Though mother and daughter are extremely close, talking on the phone every day, the fact that Pallavi has not found a nice Indian boy to settle down with is a sore spot for both. But Usha has other worries: she thinks her daughter might be cursed because of a horrific incident that Usha survived when she was pregnant with her daughter. To appease and quell her mother’s paranoia, Pallavi has always worn an evil eye bracelet to protect her from the unspecified bad forces that her mother has always warned her of… But when Pallavi finally meets a handsome (Indian boy!) stranger named Sandeep (Omar Maskati), she thinks her luck and fate has changed.

I enjoyed the multi-cultural aspect of Evil Eye. As a kid of an immigrant myself, I appreciated the foreign-to-Americans loaded superstitions that Pallavi carries with her. She adores her mother and appreciates her concern, and even though she is American, she respects (if not believes in) the cultural expectations that her mother tries to instill upon her. When Usha decides that too many coincidences have lined up via Sandeep’s appearance in her daughter’s life, she decides that he is literally the reincarnation of evil. For an American, that is kind of a jump of assumption, so it is easy to see why Pallavi draws the line and decides to choose her own fate.

But this is a thriller, so we know that mom will be proven right by the end!

The actors do the best they can with the material, considering this is basically a by-the-book ’90s woman-in-peril B-movie. Pallavi is frustratingly naïve with how fast the relationship is going, despite the hysteria-on-level-10 phone calls from her mom. Sandeep is smooth but very cryptic, and I’d like to think any woman would put on the brakes real hard in response to some of the possessive creep signals he emits. Poor Sarita Choudhury is stuck acting with a phone for about 95% of the movie, pushing her overly-controlling mom role over the top to try to make it interesting. The only character I really liked was dad Krishnan (Bernard White) who pops in and out of scenes to offer some warmth and depth in a limited role.

Evil Eye, despite giving glimpses of intriguing cultural superstitions, ends up playing by the book. As soon as Pallavi’s evil eye bracelet is introduced as her protective force, it’s just a matter of setting your watch to see how long it takes for her to remove it. And… there [check!]. It’s too bad that the movie itself ended up not being as interesting as its fresh premise.

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