The Red Suitcase: A Psychological Thriller or a Horror Movie?

KATHMANDU: The Red Suitcase, a movie directed by Fidel Devkota, belongs to the psychological thriller genre. When viewed superficially, it looks like a horror movie. But when we deeply delve into the plot and conversations, which happened at a very slow pace between the characters, we come to the conclusion that the red suitcase puller [Praveen Khatiwada] was, in fact, a hallucination of a pick-up van driver [Saugat Malla].

Only after the movie concludes do we realize that the seed of hallucination began to sprout in Malla’s mind soon after he loaded a coffin with the dead body of a Nepali migrant worker and the red suitcase of the deceased man into his van.

In a short scene, we can see a man in a blue jumpsuit with a red suitcase in his hand standing in a bus station. The video is shot in such a way that the viewer can assume he might have taken a vehicle passing by. By the middle of the movie, it becomes clear that he had climbed onto the van driven by Malla. That was Malla’s first hallucination.

As he was driving the van on the highway, he listened to a phone-in program on the radio, where he heard a man telling how he saw a mysterious man in a bus station, who vanished all of a sudden. That conversation in the phone-in program was another hallucination of Malla.

Some people peeped inside his van, suggesting that someone else was there. But Malla didn’t bother to give a look. It is because that too was his hallucination.

As the night fell, he went to the hotel which lies by the side of the highway. That hotel happens to be owned by a retired army personnel [Bipin Karki] serving in the Indian army, who offered him liquor and food. The hotel and the host both were Malla’s hallucination. It becomes clearer when we analyze the conversation between Malla and Karki in the light of the happenings by the end of the movie.

During the conversation, Malla said that after seeing the dead body of his teacher Mukti Nath Adhikari, who was murdered in a ruthless way by the Maoist guerrillas, he was deeply traumatized, and it changed the course of his life. He feels very sorry for those Nepali workers who died abroad. He has deep sympathy for the dead bodies. We can infer that such sympathy was a result of his trauma, which had left a deeper scar in his mind after seeing the dead body of his teacher.

During the conversation, he says that he wishes no migrant workers die abroad. It means that he wants to correct their course by making them alive, at least in his imagination. That day too, he must have wanted the dead body inside the coffin to visit his house being alive, along with his red suitcase. Exactly the same scene is shown in the movie. It was another hallucination of Malla.

Despite Karki’s plea for him to spend the night in his house, Malla insists on sleeping inside the van. By the end of the movie, it becomes clear that the house was abandoned and in a wrecked state. It was in no condition to accommodate him. We can assume that that’s why he slept in the van. Malla said to Karki that spending nights in the van had become his routine as he has to deliver about 20-25 dead bodies of the migrant workers to their relatives every month, and for this, he has to travel the highways almost on a daily basis. It does indicate that he had been hallucinating in a similar way in the past also. That night was just another hallucinating night for him.

As a driver with deep sympathy for the dead people who very frequently rides across the highways, it is highly likely that he must be aware of the retired army personnel who had committed suicide. He might have wished him to remain alive. That’s why he made him alive and had a conversation with him in a hallucinating state.

As the van reached its destination, Malla opened the coffin. Inside the coffin, there was a dead body wrapped in a blue jumpsuit. As Malla has been delivering dead bodies for a long time, he was aware that the bodies are wrapped in the blue jumpsuit. That’s why he hallucinated the dead body in the blue jumpsuit approaching his home by rolling his red suitcase to meet his dear ones.

After he returns by delivering the dead body, a couple of scenes suggest that he believes in the ghosts. Firstly, he gets off from the van, plucks a branch of a thorny bush, and lays it on the road, suggesting that he believes it blocks the spirit of the dead body from approaching him. After a while, he goes to a river, washes the van, and lights a sacred flame to completely do away with the spirit. Only a person who believes in ghosts is more likely to hallucinate in that way.

All these events suggest that The Red Suitcase is a psychological thriller. When you watch the movie and come out of the theater, you will be carrying its deep effect in your mind, which will take at least some weeks to fade.


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