Thrillers have always been a hit-and-miss genre for mainstream Malayalam cinema and the last few years have seen the industry churn out countless thrillers that engage with the genre within the confines of popular cinema. Even though the industry is known for its feel-good films and dark character brooding character studies, thrillers have almost been brought back to prominence in the last few years thanks to a stream of new-age filmmakers, well versed with the content overload thanks to the streaming revolution.

Making a list of thriller films itself is a challenge as audiences have already been exposed to the myriad content out there in the OTT space, serving them a taste of the best quality writing and filmmaking in the genre. The best of thriller films are those, that can pull the rug from under the viewer’s feet, even when the basic storytelling beats remain the same.Here are five thrillers from Malayalam cinema that needs to be given a chance:

Here are five thrillers from Malayalam cinema that needs to be given a chance:

Twenty-One Grams
Streaming Platform: Disney + Hotstar

This is one of the most overlooked Malayalam films from the last few years, which had its dedicated fans at the time of release within the Malayalee diaspora. The film directed by Bibin Krishna is a run-of-the-mill serial killer mystery, that is notable for its unique central conceit. The title of the film itself is connected to a specific aspect of the whole narrative in a twisted way. The film starring Anoop Menon and Leona Lishoy, directed by Bibin Krishna was a surprise winner at the box office and is the ideal watch for the crime procedural lover.

Advocate Mukundan Unni Associates
Streaming Platform: Disney + Hotstar

One of the most twisted character studies to have come out of Malayalam cinema in recent times, Advocate Mukundan Unni is a thriller, unlike anything you will watch all season. The film is a biting critique of the sugar-coated, forced feel-good film template and is an antithesis to the kind of mainstream film culture where the protagonist is expected to be the embodiment of all things good and noble. The small indie production starring Vineeth Srinivasan in the main lead was a runaway success at the time of release and the director Abhinav Sundar Nayak already announcing the sequel in the works. If you prefer to take a breather from all the comfy, assuring feel good films to watch a unique vision of the world, look no further.

Streaming Partner: Amazon Prime Video

Only a few directors get associated with a particular genre of films, like Jeethu Joseph with the thriller film. Ever since his early days with films like Detective, Memories, and the groundbreaking classic Dhrishyam series, Jeethu Joseph has always been the go-to person for a quality thrill on screen. He did not disappoint with his latest film, Kooman, released last year. The crime film starring Asif Ali and Hannah Reji Koshy was one of the most deceptively simple thrillers from Malayalam cinema, that revolved around a slightly dysfunctional police officer investigating a strange series of murders in his village, just to prove his identity and standing in the world. The film was one of the biggest blockbusters from Malayalam cinema last year and is a refreshing change to see a culturally rooted crime film that follows the template to the tee but never ends up being predictable.

Streaming Partner: Disney + Hotstar

Rorschach is the most inventive tweak to the revenge thriller template attempted in Indian cinema in recent times. The film starring Mammootty in the central role is a revealing, genre blender that is a creatively structured fever dream of a film about a strange man who walks into a village, searching for his estranged wife. The visual tone and narrative design of the film are unparalleled in the way it explores the headspace of the protagonist stuck in a hellscape of personal demons. The ensemble cast consisting of Jagadeesh, Bindu Panicker, and Grace Anthony among others, all came up with career-altering turns and the film was both a blockbuster success and got rave reviews for its daring experimentation with form and content.

Ela Veezha Poonchira
Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video

This might be the most lowkey and most underrated Malayalam film from recent times, forget a thriller for that. The mood-piece-like film is about a group of policemen on a special police check post on the outskirts of an abandoned valley. The film is designed like a slowly unravelling crime documentary about daily interactions between these isolated cops mostly played out in dialogue scenes but without losing the viewer’s engagement at any point. There is a string commentary layered through the narrative, on the dark sides of human nature, and extends to some truths that can offset disturbing facets of the psyche from deep within. The film starring Soubin Shahir was a dud at the box office, due to its meditative pace but a refreshing detour for Lovers of the thriller genre.

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