I’d like to start off by saying that I’m a huge Jacqueline Fernandez fan and I’ve been rooting for her since her first film, Aladdin in 2009. I genuinely think she’s talented. During multiple interviews over the past year, she spoke about how she was taking a break to take acting workshops in Los Angeles to prepare for her upcoming film, Mrs. Serial Killer. I was really looking forward to ‘Jacqueline 2.0’. Sadly, I was disappointed. She seems to do a great job getting the primary emotion right, but contextually, they just feel out of place. There’s no good reason to be walking into court for your husband’s trial like it’s Fashion Week in New York. I genuinely want to believe that it was just bad direction and she was doing what she was told. Either way, the film is unintentionally comical and just strange. It makes you wonder why so many of these talented and popular actors were drawn to this bizarre murder mystery.
The film starts in an unnamed hill station where protagonist Sona (Jacqueline Fernandez) is telling her husband Mritunjay (Manoj Bajpayee) that she is pregnant over webcam. Moments after, an inspector named Imran Shahid (Mohit Raina) walks in the house looking for evidence against Mrityunjay in the case of six missing unmarried pregnant women. The film largely focuses on figuring out who committed these crimes. The premise could have been interesting, but the execution just leaves you feeling confused and dissatisfied.
Is This Supposed to be Taken Seriously?
Mrs. Serial Killer is so abstract and unintentionally funny that I was unsure if the director, Shirish Kunder, intended us to take his film seriously. In many of his films, Shirish uses bright theatrical lighting, and loud background music to bring his audience’s attention to things (the most aggressive use of this was in his first film ‘Jaan-e-mann.’). An unintended consequence of this tool is that we start to not invest in the story or the characters. For example, nineteen minutes into the film, we’re taken to a sick lawyer’s house who is breathing through a ventilator in his living room that has a bunch of purple lights. The scene escalates and ends with the lawyer saying, “If we can’t get me to the court, we’ll get the court to me,” and the scene shifts to a courtroom where the lawyer is video chatting with the judge through an iPad. How am I supposed to take any of this seriously?
The film is filled with these bizarre situations that prevent even the biggest Jacqueline fan from being invested in the film. The cinematography executed by Ravi K. Chandran and Kiran Deohans (“Baar Baar Dekho” “OK Jaanu”) is awkward. Their attempt at creating a creepy town with mysterious places through diagonal camera angles and extreme close-ups just look tacky. Even the set design was trying ‘too hard’ to be creepy. Why is the ceiling of an empty hospital’s operation theater covered with oxygen masks? My response to many of the poor choices made with the film’s cinematography, set design and editing can be summed up with “it’s not creepy, it’s just weird.”
Capable Actors, Bad Direction?
You can see that the actors are working hard here. Jacqueline Fernandez, Manoj Bajpayee and Mohit Raina execute their emotions well in the immediate scenes. However, in the larger context of the film, their character choices just don’t make sense. An hour into the film, Jacqueline realizes she can get what she wants by negotiating with someone she’s kidnapped. This leads to her twirling, skipping and giggling in what’s supposed to be a tense moment in the film. She gets the emotions right; they just don’t make sense. Similar incidents occur with Manoj Bajpayee and Mohit Raina: it’s a struggle to watch these capable actors give their 100% for this.
We’re amid a pandemic and some of us may have a lot of time to watch more content than we usually do. Despite that, I would highly encourage viewers to treat this as a “so bad, it’s good” movie (my other favorites in the category include ‘Hate Story 4’ and ‘The Xpose’). Don’t go into this film looking for a fast-paced suspense thriller. Be prepared to root for Jacqueline in her quest for saving fetuses in a hill station. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.