404, directed by Prawaal Raman, is the third film in three weeks that features the spirit of a dead person as a prominent character. 

Set on a medical campus, this psychological thriller stars newcomer Rajvvir Aroraa as Abhimanyu, a freshman who stands up against the harsh ragging meted out to younger students at the hands of college seniors. When campus bully Chris (played by Imaad Shah) disregards Abhimanyu’s complaints and continues to harass the juniors, our young hero decides to move into Room 404 of the college hostel. This room has remained locked since a student committed suicide inside a few years ago. Rejecting his friends’ theories that the room is haunted, and insisting that he doesn’t believe in ghosts and spirits, Abhimanyu earns the respect of the visiting psychology professor (played by Nishikant Kamath) who encourages him to falsify these supernatural stories. But as the ragging only intensifies, Abhimanyu finds himself being visited by the spirit of the room’s last occupant, leaving him to question what is real and what is imagined. 

Ominously shot, but without the standard tropes of bad horror films, 404 unfolds a little too lazily for its own good. Director Prawaal Raman relies heavily on atmospherics and gives us a moody thriller for the most part, till too much dialoguebaazi undoes all the good. There is some nice understated acting too, but the film never succeeds in spooking you out completely because of its overbearing background score.

I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for director Prawaal Raman’s 404. It’s tense and eerily treated; and it almost works.

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