It's really difficult to discuss Go Goa Gone without talking about my expectations for it. This was on my radar for a number of reasons: the directors had hit home-runs with both of their previous ventures, 99 and Shor in the City, Saif Ali Khan was involved (and I was hopeful that these two directors would bring out the best in him, as he was obviously passionate about the project, having a producer credit and all), the mix of stoner comedy meets zombie film seemed interesting, and finally, Kunal Khemu was among the cast. All signs pointed to this being an awesome film, especially when the first trailer made me chuckle a lot.
Three friends (the stoner loser, the nerd and the average guy trying to improve himself) go to Goa, one of them finds a girl, one of them gets laid, and all of them find themselves in a zombie apocalypse with a Delhiwalla gangster who pretends to be Russian. Surely this situation is fertile ground for some jump scares and some comedy, but what is truly disappointing about Go Goa Gone is exactly how it fails to live up to its premise at all.
The characters are the film's first failure. They're dumb but not lovable, and most importantly, they're flimsy. We're supposed to care about them, so it matters to us that they're in this desperate peril, and we're meant to chuckle at their idiocy, but the story fails to establish the characters as protagonists you could actually root for. Simply put, they're all pretty unlikable. Saif Ali Khan's odd badass Boris should be the kind of quirky side character who makes the film, but instead he too comes off as slightly tired. Are there funny one liners? Yes, but they're all the ones you saw in the trailer.
I admit one reason for my disappointment might just be zombie fatigue. By the time this trend hit Indian cinema, English entertainment is absolutely inundated with zombie fiction, be it riffs on Pride and Prejudice (now with zombies!) or Brad Pitt saving the world from zombies, or Walking Dead exploring human drama (amidst zombies). But I also think that this could've felt fresh in the Indian context, and it's sad that it doesn't.
One reading of the zombies in GGG is that the provide a metaphor for excessive drug use, but this is a very accommodating way of looking at it – the film is not exactly rich with social commentary, as some of the best zombie films are. The extras don't make for very good zombies, even though the make up work was commendable, but perhaps the worst failing of the zombie genre is that it never feels like the protagonists are truly in danger. It's not scary, nor is it comically over the top enough to be funny. There are bits and pieces where the premise of zombies and stoner comedy come together, but those little sparks of life just aren't enough to liven up this film.
I'm glad I saw it, in the sense that I didn't really believe others who said it wasn't that good, before witnessing this limp piece of film myself. It could've been so awesome, and yet it's just maybe okay at best, boring at worst.