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Critic’s Rating: 4/5

Story: After losing his job, Abin and wife Priya shift from Dubai to the latter’s family estate in Kerala to figure things out. However, a host of uninvited troubles confront the couple. Will they tackle them and stay or flee?

Review: Fahadh Faasil’s made a habit of making his fans wait for his films. It’s been almost nine months since his last release Carbon. One thing that fans can be assured of though is that he never repeats himself and for Varathan as well the actor has taken on a completely new avatar for his character that goes through varying emotions, but with a stoic calm in the first half only to unleash a storm later.

The movies starts off in Dubai with Abin (Fahadh), who is let go from his job. He alone with wife Priya (Aishwarya) who has a miscarriage decides to shift to the latter’s estate in Kerala for a few months till they figure things out.

However, the moment they land in the village, their presence is resented by the residents — truly making them the outsiders. From lecherous stares and moral policing glares to malevolent intentions and bullying, the couple have to confront several real world troubles as they reside in their house. All of which seem new to the city-bred and non-confrontational Abin.

As the uninvited hassles keep mounting and Priya faces danger, he is forced to take a stand in his house. But can he do it successfully? This forms the plot.

While the premise is limited, scriptwriters Sharfu and Suhas have kept the proceedings taut. However, the makers have taken a page or two out of the Hollywood movie Straw Dogs and adapted it brilliantly to suit the Kerala context. Sure there might not be the boiling oil scene, oh wait, there is — only with a fuel and flame thrower. Same effect but more stylish.

Credit to Amal Neerad though for letting his signature seep in only during the latter half and keeping the narrative grounded, which such a story warrants.

Aishwarya Lekshmi puts on another mature, realistic performance post Mayaanadhi, and adds authenticity to her part of a confident wife trying to convince her gullible husband of the dangers in and around their house. She also successfully conveys the palpable tension whenever she is alone in the house.

Littil Swayamp chooses a warm tone in the first half, only to make way for intensely grilling visuals in the second. Tapas Nayak’s sound design as well as Sushin Shyam’s music is as much a vital part of the movie as its visuals and cast.

Varathan takes its time to simmer in the first half, with its songs and varied characters, but in the second half it comes all guns blazing and turns into a stylish survival thriller worth watching.