Ram Gopal Varma loves to scare people because they like to be scared. In his endeavour to send a shiver down the spine, he takes recourse to his characteristic floor-level camera shots (but much less than his last outing Department). Otherwise the camera moves through washbasins, handbags and glass tabletops in a bungalow that has a garden swing that keeps oscillating. There is also a doll that keeps peering, bedsheets that keep moving and some feet that keep shuffling in the dead of night.
Is that enough to get you scared? Add to it the ghost being called Shabbo — a name synonymous with red-light district characters in films. But Ramu’s Shabbo is a kid who loves to prance around.
A sequel to his 2003 film 'Bhoot', the only common factor is the doll that is found by the new occupants of the house. No prizes for guessing that the ghost is in the doll. At the outset, the film declares that just as some people can’t wait for new houses, some people can’t wait for new people to get in. And sure enough just as Tarun (Chakravarthy) and Namrata (Koirala) settle in their new abode, the ghost befriends their daughter Nimmi (Alayna). They feel it is her imaginary friend till Tarun’s sister (Madhu Shalini) captures the ghost on camera.
To catch the bhoot, the characters play hide-n-seek behind curtains and mouth some insipid lines about their servant doing some mischief in the house.
The first half drags with an eternal wait for Shabbo to surface. Things happen in rapid succession in the second half with an abrupt end. Not for a nanosecond do you feel that tinge of fear.
The story unfolds only in the house with the handful of characters who are shown sleeping most of the time. Ramu’s 1999 film 'Kaun', too, had few characters but at least it was engaging. 'Bhoot Returns' totally lacks the ability to keep people on tenterhooks. All the 3D wizardry is worthless. B-Town’s horror specialist Ramsay Bros’ blood-n-gore concoctions at least tried hard to display chills. There is no attempt here at all.
Perhaps Ramu should have gone hunting for Manjeet, the ghost from his earlier Bhoot outing. She could have made Bhoot Returns a spook-fest.