Sputnik

Vampire Owl: The title does remind everyone to get vaccinated.

Vampire Bat: It should originally inspire people to go to space.

Vampire Owl: It has surely inspired me to watch the movie.

Vampire Bat: Despite the name, this is a horror film.

Vampire Owl: So there is nothing about the achievements in space programmes.

Vampire Bat: Well, horror is the best genre for movies in space.

Vampire Owl: Horror is the best genre for vampire movies.

Vampire Bat: Horror is more effective in reality though.

Vampire Owl: COVID-19 had already brought that.

Vampire Bat: Doctor Frankenstein is already having new experiments regarding the same.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three glasses of mango shake].

What is the movie about? :: In 1983, as the Cold War has reached its last stages, two cosmonauts who are exploring space come up against something strange on their way back. As there is some problem with their spacecraft, they crash lands in Soviet Kazakhstan. Konstantin (Pyotr Fyodorov) is the only survivor of the crash, and he is taken to an isolated military facility for observation. Dr Tatyana Yuryevna Klimova (Oksana Akinshina) who is known for some unorthodox methods of psychological treatment including almost drowning a young boy doesn’t accept that she was wrong, and for the same, she is not considered a good choice. But that changes when she is given another mission by Colonel Semiradov (Fyodor Bondarchuk) who is in charge of the facility where Konsantin is kept. This scientific research facility is located far away from civilization, and she feels that there is more to this than what meets the eye, but in a different way.

So, what happens with the events here as some twist is coming up? :: The psychologists at the facility had already tried a lot with him, but there is not much progress about anything, and it is up to Tatyana to make a difference. She talks to the man, but doesn’t find anything out of the ordinary – yet, talking is only the first step, as she would realize later. It turns out that the cosmonaut has been affected by something terrifying, an alien creature which lives inside him. The creature has formed a symbiotic relationship with the man, and it comes out at night when he is asleep. It feeds on whatever he eats, and uses his body as if it is a spacesuit for survival. It had helped him to survive the crash, and helped him regenerate very quickly, making him fit in about two days. Her mission is to separate the host and the creature which lives inside him, and it has to be done without causing him any problems. The man never knew about such an existence inside him as he was feeling even healthier than before, and this seems to be an impossible task.

The defence of Sputnik :: The tension and anxiety is built from the beginning itself, when we see the film. The beginning scenes in space are reminders of what is to come, a foreshadowing of the monstrous entities to be unleashed later. Even though similarities with other alien films are there, this film doesn’t focus on the same, but generates its own monstrosity. The creature design is good, and the deviation from other similar aliens are managed well too. The environment here is also really good, and being at the Cold War Soviet facility does feel different from the usual secret scientific facilities. There is also some fine music going in the background that supports things on the screen, and we also see no shortage of blood and gore. There are also some interesting revelations made in between, and as a Russian film, it seems to have some tranquil quality which the loud alien films from Hollywood don’t usually display.

Positives and negatives :: The film stays further away from the Hollywood style, and therefore if you are looking for people to go around fighting aliens and defeating them in face to face battles, this will not be that much satisfying for you. This one is a rather slower thing, but it still has these moments to be enjoyed – the slowing down does add some beauty to it. You remember that it is usually the United States that is shown as experimenting with aliens, but here we have the change. It is to be noted the film also manage a certain amount of realism even with an alien at the centre here. It also has a small subplot with a child which was totally unnecessary in a film like this – the same was more suited to a flick like Proxima, and here it is out of bounds. One also wonders if it could have had a little bit of more time spent in space, with Gravity-like effects. The ending could have also been stronger, as there are ideas running through here too.

Performers of the soul :: Oksana Akinshina leads the film as a strong character who is more of a person than what meets the eye. She is steady in her role, and has some special moments in store too. The scene with her meeting the alien face to face, and her moments during the alien feeding all provide her with shots to remember in the film. Pyotr Fyodorov has some good work as the cosmonaut who was affected by the alien, and there are some solid moments with him and the leading actress. He fits into the role nicely, and each moment seems to have something for him. Fyodor Bondarchuk plays the antagonist who is planning something sinister with the alien inside human, and he has that determined soldier played to perfection. Anton Vasiliev’s character stand differently, and it is nice to see that one working on a divergent path compared to the others. If alien was more human in nature, that would have made a fine character too.

How it finishes :: This is one Soviet-age film with aliens from space, and that is a special change, unlike X-Men and Captain America which could be set in the same time period – horror has a certain advantage while dealing with the time period, and this Russian film make good use of the same. You can find similarities with another alien film from Hollywood, Life, and surely the references to Alien and its sequels can be seen, as that particular alien life-form has been the model for many more which followed. As sputnik means fellow traveler, the film nicely alludes to the alien as much as the successful Soviet space programme of the space race time period. Now, it has also come to refer to the vaccine looking forward to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and here it is the alien that needs to be taken care of instead of the virus. If you have liked films space travel films with aliens coming to Earth, this is another movie to grab your attention, and with this setting, it has much more of an advantage above the other movies.

Release date: 23rd April 2020
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Egor Abramenko
Starring: Oksana Akinshina, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Pyotr Fyodorov, Anton Vasiliev, Vitaliya Korniyenko, Anna Nazarova, Aleksey Demidov, Aleksandr Marushev, Albrecht Zander, Pavel Ustinov, Natalya Shvets, Vasiliy Zotov

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nobody Sleeps

Full titleNobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight.

Vampire Owl: People should actually sleep in the woods.

Vampire Bat: Why would they do that? These days people prefer big cities.

Vampire Owl: It is easier to hunt humans that way.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that they would be taking enough preparations if they are to sleep in the woods at some point.

Vampire Owl: There is no preparation that can stop a vampire with night vision.

Vampire Bat: Well, people are not really concerned about stopping vampires either.

Vampire Owl: It is the doing of Twilight. People used to be afraid of us.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that they have many more things to be afraid of now.

Vampire Owl: Tell me that we are still in the top ten of that list.

Vampire Bat: I am afraid that I can give you no guarantee regarding the same.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of oreo shake].

What is the movie about? :: A postman is seen as delivering a letter to some remote area, somewhere around a forest. As nobody answers the door bell, he goes on to look on the other side of the house, and hears some noises from the basement. He feels that there is someone there, and while trying to help, he dragged down the basement. His cries can be heard, and at the same time, there is someone washing bloody clothes inside the house. Then the scene shifts to thirty years later, as a group of youngsters arrive at an area near a forest for a camp. In the camp, mobiles are confiscated, as the organizers attempt to keep them offline, away from technology and close to nature. It is supposed to be a kind of rediscovery for the students who woul have the advanture of their life, meeting local people and even some of the creatures of the forest. Some of the youngsters do feel that it is nice to be away from Instagram because they don’t have to see some of the moronic posts which keep coming up there.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Iza (Izabela Dabrowska) is the leader of a group which goes for a three day hike in the forest. They are supposed to reveal facts about themselves and get to know about each other, a change from what they had been doing on the internet with strangers. Zosia (Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz) and Aniela (Wiktoria Gasiewska) are the only other two female members of the group. The other members are Julek (Michał Lupa) confirmed as the slowest and the least athletic among the groupm being attached to gaming, as well as Daniel (Sebastian Dela) and Bartek (Stanisław Cywka). Soon enough, they feel that something in the forest which they won’t like to face, and they had already seen a dead deer, seemingly a cruel work. Aniela and Daniel soon get to be together, but the former is soon killed while others look for him as he had disappeared all of a sudden. But is this the last of the disappearances which is to happen in the forest? What is the secret that the forest have in store?

The defence of Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight :: Bringing a group of youngsters who have spent most of their lives on the internet to a forest is pretty much a fine idea for horror films. During these times when the youngsters are more into online friendships and trying to get more views on Instagram and Youtube at any cost, this tale of them being in real life is much relevant. We do see people being unable to separate online life from the offline, but this is a warning about exploring the less explored too. The horror does feel real, as much as any film of the genre shot in a forest, and the environment does provide a real boost. There are some nice shots of the forest shown with all its beauty, and the terror that lurks beneath. It is this setting that serves the purpose, even though not that much as it would for an Evil Dead movie. The terror here does feel and the melancholy of the main character is also felt very strongly throughout the movie.

The claws of flaw :: It is natural that the characters here move on the lines of usual horror films, and the mistakes that they make are close to what is repeated. The film doesn’t take that much of an innovation into its slasher mode, as horror always had a better chance in this particular film too. So much was to be done here with the monsters in the forest and with no help coming up any time soon. When we look at the deaths in the film, they are pretty much expected, and predictability is surely there – one wouldn’t hope to go beyond that in a film with slasher mode on. You also feel that this has ended with a need to have a sequel, and a grand finish was always possible. The seemingly invincible murderers here could have been replaced with something else for a change, and the sinister presence here had the opportunity to be something of much bigger scope – yet this one takes the predictable enjoyable route quite well.

Performances of the soul :: Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz plays the character that seems to be the lead from the beginning itself. She maintains a certain amount of melancholy throughout her time, and yet the character remains a strong presence. Her character has gone through a tragedy in the past, and the same is also reflected with flashbacks throughout her journey. Wiktoria Gasiewska plays more or less the character that we usually see in horror films, and she has managed the same with more charm than such characters usually have, and maintains a more realistic stance in comparison with others. She plays that character who is surely going to get killed at some point in a horror movie, and that will be the case here too. Michał Lupa plays a strong character despite seemingly the weaker link among them all. Sebastian Dela and Stanisław Cywka play their part well as the two other usual characters of the horror genre. Gabriela Muskała also remains pretty good when she is there. The lesser characters do their part well.

How it finishes :: Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight keeps the horror genre alive, and we do need to keep the category strong. For the same, this is a welcome addition. All the horror fans would be seeing a regeneration of horror here, as well as the slasher subgenre which hasn’t had too many big movies in the recent past in comparison to what was there earlier. As of now, we need all the horror that we can take, especially when we see all the nonsense which could make it way forward in this world. We are very close to descending into chaos, and therefore horror is the only reality that we have in front of us. Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight doesn’t bring that kind of horror, but does have some effective horror to remind us that the old style scares are still alive. The Polish film does manage to rise above a good number of Hollywood films here. I remember watching Dark, Almost Night which was another Polish horror movie, and now we have this one for the genre.

Release date: 28th October 2020
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Bartosz M Kowalski
Starring: Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz, Wiktoria Gasiewska, Michał Lupa, Stanisław Cywka, Gabriela Muskała, Sebastian Dela, Mirosław Zbrojewicz, Michał Zbroja, Piotr Cyrwus, Olaf Lubaszenko, Wojciech Mecwaldowski, Bartłomiej Kotschedoff, Bartłomiej Firlet, Małgorzata Szczerbowska, Izabela Dąbrowska

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Intuition

Vampire Owl: I remember having an intuition myself.

Vampire Bat: Vampires don’t have intuitions, for we have the vampire sense.

Vampire Owl: I thought that it was called the vampire instinct.

Vampire Bat: It was changed after the film, Basic Instinct released.

Vampire Owl: I didn’t find anything wrong about that movie.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but vampires used to be very prude at that time.

Vampire Owl: It was because of Doctor Frankenstein. He had his strange habits.

Vampire Bat: Well, he is creating a COVID-19 vaccine with zero side effects.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that there can be a vaccine which works with vampires.

Vampire Bat: A vaccine among the undead has its own possibilities. We are forever, and there won’t be the need for a second dose.

[Gets a red velvet cake and three glasses of pineapple shake].

What is the movie about? :: Francisco Juanez (Joaquin Furriel) had solved a case involving a serial killer who murdered young girls just recently. The murderer had killed himself before being caught. Due to an injury caused to a police officer on duty, a new recruit, Manuela Pelari (Luisana Lopilato) is assigned to investigate the murder of a woman who was assaulted with a sharp weapon. She is considered to be a VIP case, and the police are not able to find the weapon, as Francisco joins the team. The dead woman is Gloriana Marquez (Delfina Chaves), the daughter of a business magnate with many media connections, political contacts and the support of many big businessmen, and the police needs to be very careful about this case, or things could go out of control for the department whose reputation is at stake. Their first suspect is her boyfriend who has been in a relationship with her for two years, and was also the first person to find her body. Then her best friend is also added to that list.

So, what happens with the events here? :: At the same time, the head of the police department asks Manuela to keep an eye on Francisco who hasn’t been himself since his wife died, and it seems that the man who murdered her was killed earlier, and they suspect Francisco on that particular case. Manuela doesn’t believe that he might have committed the murder, but decides to investigate anyway. At the same time, the investigation on Gloriana’s death seems to go in a complex path. More information is added to Gloriana’s life is revealed by talking to her close contacts. Manuela tries to find where Francisco happened to be, at the time when the man’s murder had taken place. At the same time, the dead man’s family hopes to have vengeance, as they are sure that it was Francisco who murdered him. They are just waiting to pounce on the police officer as soon as there is clarity on who was really responsible for the death. El Zorro (Abel Ayala), his brother is ready for blood. Minerva del Valle (Maite Lanata) confesses to the murder of Gloriana, but Francisco is not convinced, or is he?

The defence of Intuition :: This one works as an interesting investigative thriller, without any doubt at all. Everything here seems to be perfectly arranged, and there is fine quality about how things go forward. There is no exaggeration being added here, and even if this is about a strange investigation, there is so much that we feel is close to reality around here. With two murders being investigated at the same time, and with the police officer also being a suspect, this one has more to guess than what originally meets the eye. The main character also serves as a mystery all by himself. The visuals are really good, and we see the beauty of the Argentine city with some good shots, just as it shows the area outside the urban area. The background score is also very much suitable and keeps us interested. There is also more about the murders than what meets the eye, and twists are there while suspense is maintained throughout the film, making one wonder who is one which side, and how all these would be coming together. It keeps you interested in what is happening, even when things get slow.

The claws of flaw :: There are moments when it seem a little confusing, and there are more dialogues than it was needed. There was no need to complicate things beyond the need for the case itself. The pace keeps getting higher and lower, even though the pace is mostly slow. The beginning stages are also badly used, and it doesn’t have much to do with the later case, and if they couldn’t use that to their advantage, it could have been removed – a serial killer would have suited this film really well too. This kind of initial cases not that useful for plot has been seen in different movies all around the world, for example, the Malayalam film, Abrahaminte Santhathikal. All these distractions occur when the better thrillers like Memories, Forensic and Anjaam Pathira focuses on what is to follow rather than providing an introduction which seems to be of grand focus, but doesn’t come into the picture after that except for some mentions. In the end, one feels that there is some missing out on the thrilling elements which should have been there in the film.

Performances of the soul :: The performances here and very good, and that includes so many of them who are involved. Joaquin Furriel whom we know for his film, The Son, leads the way as a police officer with a mystery surrounding him, and at the same time, also makes a perfect and determined cop. There are some nice dialogues to add to the same too. Luisana Lopilato matches the same in skills, and she remains solid as the rookie police officer too. She could have been parts of similar Hollywood films at some point of time, because she has that kind of a performance delivered throughout the film. Their moments together are really good, with some moments as well as dialogues to remember. Maite Lanata plays another character who is connected to the crime, and she plays well into the mystery of the whole thing. Her interrogations have more than what seems when we look forward to find more than what meets the eye. Rafael Ferro plays the cop with his own secrets very well. Abel Ayala’s character has short stay, and so does Delfina Chaves, whose death sets things in motion here.

How it finishes :: Intuition makes it to list of interesting Spanish films to watch, especially those thrillers that we would like to watch carefully. These are the kind of thrillers which have something special about them for everyone if we look at them closer. Even with its slower pace, and some complications, it manages to be another thriller with more than one mystery to be solved. As the first Argentine original Netflix film, it does have the quality to go to the international audience. Based on the novel called La Virgen en tus Ojos in Spanish and translated as The Virgin in your Eyes, written by Florencia Etcheves, it also works as a prequel to the 2018 thriller Perdida a.k.a. Missing. As the original novel is in Spanish, the idea about the book that we can have here is minimum, but without that, we can surely enjoy the movie, and can see how it has managed to work here. When we think about Argentina, the first thing that comes to our mind is surely the Argentinian football team with Lionel Messi, and Maradona from the past, and maybe the fans should also have a look into the Spanish films from Argentina and enjoy them.

Release date: 28th May 2020
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Alejandro Montiel
Starring: Luisana Lopilato, Joaquin Furriel, Rafael Ferro, Delfina Chaves, Maite Lanata, Marita Ballesteros, Juan Manuel Guilera, Sebastian Mogordo, Abel Ayala

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Baba Yaga

Vampire Owl: So, we are having a new monster list.

Vampire Bat: I don’t feel that any more creatures from legends need to be added to the castle’s list.

Vampire Owl: So, you think that this monster won’t make its way into the castle?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Doctor Frankenstein has enough monsters locked in there in his lab for experiments and there is no room for any more.

Vampire Owl: Well, they don’t seem to have a castle of their own.

Vampire Bat: These are creatures of the forest. They don’t need castles.

Vampire Owl: Everyone can use a castle, or rather two of them.

Vampire Bat: What can a monster do with two castles?

Vampire Owl: Well, you can always rent one of the two.

Vampire Bat: Do not give such ideas to Uncle Dracula.

[Gets a paneer samosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Egor (Oleg Chugunov) has moved to their new home with his father Alexey (Aleksey Rozin) and stepmother Yuliya (Maryana Spivak), as well as the newly born stepsister. It is quite a strange place, with a highly advanced township with modern buildings very close to a very thick forest, separated with the help of walls. This new apartment in the outskirts don’t really have people mingling much with each other, as they keep away, not really thinking about visiting the neighbours. Egor also finds it difficult to make friends in the strange new place, except for Dania a.k.a. Dasha (Glafira Golubeva) who is also an outcast. But their relationship also goes a strange path due to the influence of a sinister force, and their parents also never cease to be hostile to them, most of the time, for no reason at all. Things are just not normal about the new township and the forests surrounding the same.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Soon, the newly moved family has a new nanny, Tatyana (Svetlana Ustinova), whom Egor doesn’t trust at all, and within no time, the baby goes missing. But it turns out that Alexey and Yuliya don’t remember ever having a child. The baby also disappears from the photos, which makes it extremely difficult to make them believe about the existence of their child. In the forest, the kid meets a man who is supposed to have lost his daughter, but somehow remember about his loss. They understand that it is a Slavic demon who lives at the border between the living and the dead, often known by the name, Baba Yaga. They feel that the real presence of the demon is somewhere near an abandoned power station. But finding the lost babies won’t be that easy, as there is more than what the legends have told them from the internet. They do find strange things in the forest, and having another boy, as Anton (Artyom Zhigulin) with them doesn’t help at all. Back home, things have managed to be worse.

And what more happens here as things go out of control for humanity? :: The demon which has taken the shape of different people has control over people in their world, and they won’t find peace back there either. They have many visions, thanks to the demon’s influence, and now their survival should concern them more than that of the babies. As they wander around the place, they soon realize that may be they are not really at home, and is stuck within a world of chaos. Alexey has already been made to make sure that his son is dead as soon as he arrive. Soon, they will have to fight their own minds to get out of what seems to be a prison created by the demon. But there are other creatures which they have to deal with. Now the question remains if they are matured enough to lead an assault into the lair of this demon, or the witch as some people call her. The fate all the babies of the future depends on their success.

The defence of Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest :: The best part of the film is the visual beauty itself, as we get to see the modernity on one side, well maintained, and on the other side, we have the natural beauty of the forests, and the use of lighting and darkness is very effective in the movie. There is a lot of divergence in how the lights are used to bring a certain mood to the setting. The use of the legend works well, and leaves scope for a possible sequel in the future, which can bring a more interesting work. There seems to be some nice similarities with Stephen King’s It too, but surely has that divergent side. The Slavic legends do have something special about them. We have already heard about Russian movies bringing these tales out there, and may be it is the Slavic vampire that we are all waiting for – after all, we do read a lot about vampires of the past before they became rather too fashionable.

The claws of flaw :: The movie should have used its ideas better, because there was so much that could have achieved here. Well, not everyone can establish a setting like this, and begin to work on the same so early. It could have left some of those confusing moments behind, and kept things straight, staying close to what should be strength here too – the fear generation. When the film seems that it is going to achieve something, it just comes down, and when it gets a lot interesting, it just losses focus – it is certainly a movie of ups and downs, and also without enough background to the tale which it is dealing with. The heroic deeds of the kids are also half baked in nature. The movie is surely not performance oriented, and the cast just has to play along with the horror here. It could have surely been more captivating, but is not that bad as some of the ratings have been worked out in different websites.

How it finishes :: Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest could have been something bigger and smarter in scope, even though it is not without its entertainment. The atmosphere makes the whole thing more interesting, and it does seem like a variant among similar flicks. It is always good to take ideas some different myths and legends, and this is something which we are surely not familiar with. Well, not everything can be that global as the Corona virus epidemic. The theatre itself has been a place of horror during the times of the virus though, as almost everyone wanted to not go into the theatres and watch the movie, instead choosing those OTT platforms. Well, let us watch all those movies as we can, and hope for a later surge in the theatres. Until then, we have the lesser known movies like this one that can make a different kind of impact in comparison with other horror films.

Release date: 27th February 2020
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Svyatoslav Podgaevsky
Starring: Oleg Chugunov, Glafira Golubeva, Artyom Zhigulin, Svetlana Ustinova, Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Ilya Ludin, Olga Makeeva, Evgeniya Evstigneeva, Marta Timofeeva, Igor Khripunov

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Coma

Vampire Owl: I have been in a vampire coma for quite a long time.

Vampire Bat: I am pretty sure that the coma about which they are talking about here is not the same at all.

Vampire Owl: Well, all comas are pretty much similar in nature when you look deep enough.

Vampire Bat: At least, you should understand that being in a coffin and resting is not really the coma which is supposed to be significant.

Vampire Owl: What about that case when we were attacked by the werewolves and I went into coma?

Vampire Bat: You went for rest, and you had asked for it. There was no real coma.

Vampire Owl: Well, it is quite unfair, you know, for vampires not really having real comas.

Vampire Bat: Why would you want to go on a coma? It is quite absurd.

Vampire Owl: I had placed a bet with Vampire Penguin.

Vampire Bat: I thought that you were finished with that nonsense already!

[Gets an apple cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Viktor (Rinal Mukhametov) awakens on a bed inside a strange room, and he is surprised to find that there is something wrong with the objects in the room, and as he walks out, he finds out that everything around there is weird, with people as well as the objects – the rules of gravity itself doesn’t apply there as buildings from different parts of the world also seems floating around along with the usual kind of buildings and roads. As he walks around and witnesses more strange things, he is attacked by a creature, but is saved by a group of people and he accompanies them as they run away from what seems to be monster with no real shape. The newly found friends explain to him that he should be in a coma in original life, and what they are experiencing are the memories of the people who are in coma. Building, objects, people or whatever they remember are there in this world, but in a chaotic arrangement. Whatever is not remembered, doesn’t exist there at all. The new world had picked up these memories like radio signals.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The one whom Viktor meets first is Fly (Lyubov Aksyonova) a soldier who seems to have healing skills, and explains to him on his newly found situation in between San Francisco Bridge, St. Peter’s Basilica, Burj Khalifa, Kremlin, Big Ben and others. The mixed up memories being more and more chaos to world as not much makes sense in this new world. He feels that this is all just a dream, and he would wake up from it at some point, but Fly tells him that it is not going to happen, and they are all stuck there, in the world of coma, and they are all hunted by the creatures known as reapers, which make their existence there as unsafe, until they find a new place of refuge. If they die in that particular world of coma, there would be no return to the real world for them, and they decide to play it safe. Fly feels that Viktor will play a major role in making sure about their safety, but not everyone is that confident about it.

And what more is there in this strange world which seems to have no meaning? :: The leader of the military team is Phantom (Phantom) who has developed his strength and agility, while Spirit (Polina Kuzminskaya) has developed mind power. Almost everyone out there seems to have developed some powers during their stay at the place. Yet, Viktor seems to develop none despite all the hype surrounding him, and the only thing he remembers about him is that he used to be an architect, and had a car accident which brought him into the coma. Still, they have to keep searching in different memories which have become entangled as so many people in coma have left their part in there. With reapers everywhere hunting for people who have reached this world, they are indeed running out of time. The creatures can sense them, and there is a good chance that they will be turned into one of the monsters. But they really have no option, but to try, right? Can they figure things out and finally get out of the coma, or will they meet their ends there itself?

The defence of Coma :: You will notice in the beginning itself that this is a movie which looks just fantastic, with a magnificent world with great detail. There seems to be a lot of top level work done in the designing and graphics departments. We have many areas in this movie which can make a nice wallpaper, from the simplest to the most complicated details. There are so many places which look stunning with real world mingling into the artificial. We do see a fantasy world with a remarkable, yet chaotic design. The reapers also make interesting creatures, nicely suitable for the world that they are part of. You will also come across some fine twists, and there is more than what meets the eye about this idea and the world which has been created here. Even the real world outside coma has its own charm, and the actors do a pretty good job in total. Even though Rinal Mukhametov does pretty good, the two people who catch our attention more are Lyubov Aksyonova and Anton Pampushnyy who have some fine moments even though they don’t really make the protagonists or antagonists here.

The claws of flaw :: There are many movies that this one keep reminding us about. It has the elements of dreams replaced by comas on one side, and we are into another world which feels longer even when the real life’s time is shorter in duration. The Matrix also comes to your mind, with the possibility of a chosen one, and a world being created where the impossible seems to be possible while you have logged into the coma instead of the world of the matrix code. It doesn’t really keep up to the pace maintained by those science-fiction movies from the past either. The movie also has some confusing moments, and unlike the other movies of the genre, the flashback and the explanations are not that well done – we feel that when we look for more of knowledge about the laws of that particular world. The action sequences could have also been better used, as we find the same limited, just like the horror related to those creatures who also weaken over time.

How it finishes :: Coma will be liked by the fans of science fiction who had earlier liked films like Inception which had set a different trend going with its release. Even the love for The Matrix which we have missed for a long time can trigger the interest in this movie, even though this is not that innovative as that flick which changed our idea about science fiction action a long time ago. Still, this movie might need a sequel to further develop its idea to a better state. The world does require better utilization here, because this one feels more or less like an origin story. Well, we are never really without need for some good science-fiction movies, as it is one genre for which the demand never gets too low. After all, Russia has brought us interesting science-fiction before, and most of the time, it has been about aliens. Here, we see the attempt to go divergent, seemingly inspired from some of the ideas on dreams and machine simulation.

Release date: 29th November 2019
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: Nikita Argunov
Starring: Rinal Mukhametov, Lyubov Aksyonova, Anton Pampushnyy, Milos Bikovic, Polina Kuzminskaya, Konstantin Lavronenko, Rostislav Gulbis, Leonid Timtsunik, Vilen Babichev, Evgeniya Karatygina, Alexey Lubchenko, Sergei Gilev, Oleg Akkuzin, Igor Sigaev, Albert Kobrovsky

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Gundala

What is the movie about? :: In a world of corruption, poverty, exploitation and income inequality, people struggle to keep their lives going forward despite working so hard throughout the day. None of the hardworking people earns enough to provide to their family members. A number of factories in the city make their workers continue their jobs under terrible conditions without paying them much. A boy watches as his father leads his co-workers in protests against the low wages of the factory where they are working, leading to violence beginning between the people and the security guards employed by the corporates. But the workers bribed by their bosses kill the leader, much to the dismay of the son who witnesses the sequence of events. The worst is that the boy is also struck by lightning and develops a fear for the dark clouds and rain – along with the same, his mother who had left for the city also doesn’t come back, leaving him to live in the streets with no hope to pay the rent for the house. There, he is regularly attacked by other street children.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The boy who is consistently beaten up for trying to help others, finds a helper who teaches him how to defend against others, an advices him to stay out of others’ business, and in a world like this, not minding one’s own business can get the person into big trouble. Even though they decide to catch a train and leave the place, the boy is not able to get to his teacher who boarded the train as he can’t run fast enough to reach the train’s door. Many years later, Sancaka (Abimana Aryasatya) works as a security guard as well as a part-time mechanic in a printing factory, while trying to keep away from trouble as much as possible, due to his experiences during the childhood. But when the girl living next door, Sedhah Esti Wulan (Tara Basro) and her little brother are threatened by a group of thugs, he interferes and throws them away from the apartment. Later, the thugs retaliate as a group, and after beating him up, throws him down from the top of a tall building.

And what more is to follow in this superhero world? :: But Sancaka is hit by lightning on that rainy day, and he awakens, even healing himself completely with the power of the lightning which had struck him. As he saves the helpless Wulan and her friends in a market from the same thugs, she asks him to join her as well as the many poor people who are under threat from the thugs. But things are not that direct as it would seem there. A legislator and crime lord named Pengkor (Bront Palarae) has everything under his control in the lower level of the city, with a gang of orphans under his command. He knows each and every crime which has happened in the city, and is planning to come up with something huge to create chaos and destruction in the city. With a scar and a limp which he had from his childhood, he would stop at nothing to hurt anyone who stand against him. Sooner or later, Sancaka will have to become Gundala, while his friends including Wulan who is falling in love with him are also under threat. Can he live up to the expectation and be the symbol of hope for everyone?

The defence of Gundala :: We have always been in need of superheroes, especially those who are not from Hollywood, especially not from Marvel or DC. We have always loved Shaktimaan from our childhood, and so the need has always been there. With Avengers finishing the job, and the biggest superheroes Iron Man and Captain America out of he equation, we are always looking for possible alternatives. We can gladly say that this is indeed one, and this time, we have a realistic one in a believable world, with less use of powers and more of martial arts. The action is all done in very well, and there is enough of it, especially when we consider this as an origin story. The dystopian setting is also really well done, and we get to be with the people who undergo the struggle against those people who forces them to stay at the lowest level. In one way or the other, these people are having their own Batman, but with some superpowers – maybe he is a little bit of Captain America with the ideology he later develops, but these are all nicely evolved, and developed to fit our interests here.

Positives and negatives :: This is not to be checked out like you do for those big CGI filled movies like Avengers and the others, because of its existence closer to realism. It has to be noted that Gundala Putra Petir was also the first comic book adaptation in the nation, and it dealt with the same superhero in 1981. Indonesia is supposed to have a superhero movie franchise like Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) called the BumiLangit Cinematic Universe (BCU), from what we read about them, and with one more superhero introduced with our main hero, we can be sure that there will be more to come in the next few years, even though the Corona Virus delay could still be there. We haven’t really been aware of the same, but there are some fine superheroes who could come to be big screen, and it would be nice to watch them all, just like we had supported the heroes of Marvel and DC. If they are to be like our hero here, we can be sure that all of them can feel close to our lives than the extra dose of metahuman-alien stuff that Hollywood has been providing with the CGI. Here, the nicely created world works with minimum CGI, and connects so well.

Performers of the soul :: Tara Basro played the protagonist in Impetigore, and she is here too, as the actress who has just turned thirty and also got married this year, brings another fine performance to her credit. As we look at it, we know that she is also supposed to play a superhero which she is to become in another movie in the franchise. She has already done enough to prove here as the Hollywood style scream queen, and here, her existence in the action movies seems to be able to provide the same wonderful effect – we would need to see her as the superhero soon enough, along with other popular names who are to be part of the upcoming projects of this franchise’s universe. Abimana Aryasatya is a solid superhero here, and he makes the Indonesian Batman in Jakarta City instead of Gotham City, taking on crime and saving innocent citizens. He makes us go through his emotions and ideology as we wealk his path. We also have some strong villain with Bront Palarae being very much menacing, along with assassins including Kelly Tandiono, Asmara Abigail, Hannah Al Rashid and others. Ario Bayu whom we had seen in Impetigore is also here, making an impact.

How it finishes :: This movie comes from Joko Anwar, who is the same director that brought us, the high quality horror thriller named Impetigore. Even though this movie belongs to a completely different genre, we can see the director’s skills at work yet again. We have known many superheroes already, and this one is based on the Indonesian comics character Gundala created by Harya Suraminata in 1969 – it is nice to know that we do have more of superheroes with variety in store. It is always great to have some home-grown superheroes, but not like that ridiculous thing called Krrish which doesn’t feel Indian, original or really heroic in any way, but Shaktimaan type are always welcome. Indonesia has achieved that so well, and this movie is also fine work, not just as an entertainer, but also in many other ways, as this is more than your usual superhero movie. After my last visit to Bali, this is the closest that I have managed to get to loving Indonesia, and we are to fall in love with Indonesian movies if there are more films like this one. After all, this one stays closer to the values of the common man that even the Dark Knight could ever do.

Release date: 28th August 2019
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Joko Anwar
Starring: Abimana Aryasatya, Tara Basro, Bront Palarae, Ario Bayu, Rio Dewanto, Lukman Sardi, Fariz Fadjar, Aqi Singgih, Marissa Anita, Hannah Al Rashid, Asmara Abigail, Daniel Adnan, Cornelio Sunny, Kelly Tandiono

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lake of Death

Vampire Owl: I thought that it was originally the river of death.

Vampire Bat: The river of death has already gone dry.

Vampire Owl: What about the pond of death behind the castle then?

Vampire Bat: That pond is originally something related to life and not death.

Vampire Owl: Yet, it is named the pond of death.

Vampire Bat: So, you feel that this lake might not be about death?

Vampire Owl: There is surely something strange about this movie.

Vampire Bat: This is a Norwegian movie, and the first one of the kind we are watching.

Vampire Owl: Well, the idea does seem to be pretty good when we have look from a distance.

Vampire Bat: The first movie which we watch is often too good, no matter what the language happens to be.

[Gets an orange cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Lillian (Iben Akerlie) had lived the early parts of her life with her brother Bjorn (Patrick Walshe McBride), who had lost his ability to talk in the later stages of his childhood, after former had left him with nobody to take care of, as they were both orphans, The two only had a cabin in the woods for them to live, and Bjorn had lived there beside the lake for most of his life, which Lillian had left the place for the city. Bjorn had no friends in the isolated place, and used to sit near the lake doing nothing for most of his life. One day, she gets the news that her brother had drowned in the same lake, and that was shocking and depressing for her, as it was her who left him behind, deciding not to spend much time with him. Seeing her depressed state, her friends decide to accompany her to the cabin in the woods beside the lake for the last time she is going there, as she intends to sell it, and get rid of her memories forever, moving on with her life in the city.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The four friends include the beautiful Sonja (Sophia Lie) and three men, Gabriel (Jonathan Harboe), Harald ( Elias Munk) and Bernhard (Jakob Schoyen Andersen), who feels that along with helping Lillian in getting rid of her depression and the memories of the cabin, they can also have some fun in the woods, as they had heard about the beautiful lake and the lovely setting of the cabin. They reach the place and meet Kai (Ulric von der Esch), Lillian’s former lover and friend, a local guy who arranges everything for her. Sonja is quick to turn into the party mood and get into her bikini for the much needed cooling time in the lake, but with people seemingly pulled down under water and the dog going missing, something is wrong, and spoils the holiday mood for all of them. They also find breakfast already there when they wake up, and Lillian has some strange visions, as she begind sleepwalking. The five of them begin to doubt each other as well as another presence which they wonder whether is supernatural in nature.

The defence of Lake of Death :: The movie has a beautiful setting indeed, and the advantage of having such a cabin in the woods setting is that along with that natural beauty which we see at almost every point, we can also find the scope for the creepy effects, for the lake itself has a well-known history of violence happening around it as well as the cabin. There are also some fine scares to go with, and we are left with what is to happen next, even though in the beginning, the horror is not really that direct. The feeling is always there, as horror is present with creepiness wherever you look at it. We do have a few final moments under the lake, and it is beautifully shot, with the protagonist moving underneath like a fish or rather a mermaid, escaping the evil – a site to behold, just like the beauty of nature surely requiring a nymph or a wood elf of its own. There are some other interesting moments of terror which had come earlier – those which we remember include the protagonist sleepwalking through the room, her trying to get away from the bathtub, her awakening beside the lake, as well as the way she looks at other on different occasions.

The claws of flaw :: This is indeed a slow moving movie, and the lack of pace can be seen from the beginning itself. There is some inconsistency in the characters too, except for the two girls who remain the same, and they are well-defined. It does go into the usual traps, with elements which we have seen in other movies, and even those things which didn’t work in those films either. The cliches are indeed there, and most of them work as red herrings, as we move away from what we should focus on, but that too, when it comes in the end, fades away too easily – it could have been longer, especially the moments under the lake which are beautiful, but are over as we begin to get a touch of the same. The movie could have actually been more like The Cabin in the Woods, one of the best horror movies of all-time, which didn’t really get a screen in the malls around here. This Norwegian movie, for some reason, decides not to be that, or even Evil Dead – the scope was really there, as elements of old horror sneaks in so well around here.

Performers of the soul :: The movie’s spirit is entangled into Iben Akerlie who actually becomes a reflection of the atmosphere itself, and she perfectly fits into the role and setting with ease. There is something about her at all times, and we are drawn to the way she looks and acts throughout the movie, like that fairy-tale nymph who reached the world of humans all of a sudden. The way she looks at everything, from the cabin and the woods to people, as well as her simple actions give us a feeling that she is not of this world. She nicely blends into that strange girl whom nobody can easily figure out. Patrick Walshe McBride’s brotherly figure is even more weird, but we don’t really see much of him around here. Then, it is Sophia Lie who has our attention as one of those characters who are better defined than the others. As the only other female character in the movie, she is the one whom we can consider to be the sane one among the other unpredictable ones. The other actors do just the usual in a horror movie as we look at them.

How it finishes :: Lake of Death, the first Norwegian movie which I have watched, has managed to be an interesting horror movie, even though moving on at quite slow pace from the beginning itself. This could have actually worked better as a usual horror movie with this kind of an atmosphere without complicating things too much or lowering the pace rather too much. We could have had the feeling of terror always being there directly rather than bringing them in the form of strange events which don’t seem to be that much dangerous, or through those hallucinations which makes us feel not to be considered serious. Yet, this can begin your movie watching procedure in style as far as Norwegian movies are concerned, because a horror flick with such a setting is always the best option to begin with. You can go through this world of creepiness, beauty and fear, all mingled into one, and then follow up with more Norwegian horror at some other point. After all, horror is the most real thing that you can ever experience in life.

Release date: 1st November 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Nini Bull Robsahm
Starring: Patrick Walshe McBride, Ulric von der Esch, Iben Akerlie, Sophia Lie, Elias Munk, Jonathan Harboe, Jakob Schoyen Andersen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Impetigore

Vampire Owl: This should be one strange case of gore.

Vampire Bat: The original title in Indonesian is rather too long.

Vampire Owl: Well, at least we get to review an Indonesian movie this time.

Vampire Bat: Yes, after that visit to Bali last year, it was needed to happen at some point.

Vampire Owl: Corona Virus did make sure that it was one final foreign trip.

Vampire Bat: Well, we are now more distant from other parts of the world than ever.

Vampire Owl: At least the human pride in their technology is now crushed.

Vampire Bat: Yes, now they know that science cannot bring them everything.

Vampire Owl: You cannot take science to attack nature, for it is too dumb an action.

Vampire Bat: Well, the vampire elders have made that clear too.

[Gets a mango cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Maya (Tara Basro) with her best friend, Dini (Marissa Anita), are trying to survive in a city without family or relatives to support them, as they work at expressway tolls. But they never really earns enough money to keep them going in the big city. On a fateful night, Maya is attacked by a man who had been stalking her for a long time, and as he discovers a mark on her right thigh, tells her that he should kill her to keep a curse away, but the police arrives in time and shoots the man. A few days later, the two girls leave their jobs and start a small clothes store in a corner of a market, and nobody really visits their place. The business is making them no profit at all, and they keep thinking about a way out. It is then that Maya comes up against a photo from her childhood which shows her standing with her parents in front of a big house, and she also manages to get an address at a remote village which is not in the Google Maps, but is part of the territory.

So, what happens with the events here? :: They travel all the way there, and finds out that not many people wants to go to the village area, except for one young man who charges them a lot. When they reach the village, they find the house to be locked and deserted, with nature taken over parts of it. The lack of maintenance was surely there as far as the house was concerned, but it was indeed a lot spacious inside, and it also had all the furniture there, as well as some lighting which could be used along with the option for getting some water. Yet there is something wrong with the village and the house where Maya had lived with her parents. The villagers believe that the house belonged the demons and there was a curse associated with it from a long time ago. There are also deaths happening in the village, and it seems to be children who are facing death. The two girls are afraid that if they tell the truth, it might be troublesome, and they pretend to be research students from a nearby university. But who long can they keep the lie going against terror awaiting to unleash on them?

The defence of Impetigore :: There is a talented cast which makes sure that this movie never losses its strength, and the lead Tara Basro seems to be that king of an actress who would be part of a horror movie instantly if it was in Hollywood, and Marissa Anita as well as Asmara Abigail also maintains such qualities. If you have a look at it, you will know that Indonesian movies are also superior in horror, and among the East Asian movies, you just can’t give all the credit to the Korean movies only, with the level being consistently increased with those from different languages. The atmosphere of the movie is just too good, and we feel that mystery and horror running through the stylish, abandoned, rural world. The setting is such a big advantage that you are going to get immersed in it. The visuals are really good, and you can see the environment coming up with natural beauty as well as the horror of the world that lies at almost every corner.

Positives and negatives :: As a stable mystery horror thriller, Impetigore is that kind of a movie which is difficult to find faults with, having the same level maintained for most part of it. Still, people can always find some problem with horror movies, and here also they would wonder about how the main characters are acting when facing certain terror being present all around there – but, that kind of a judgment has always been flawed in the soul itself because people are basically supposed to be like that, being evil as well as dumb whenever the emotional side takes on. The building can be considered slow, but it is more or less expected because the grandeur of terror had to rise step by step to create the best of impact. The familiar horror contents have more additions here too. The superstitions and the beliefs in curses and spells also gets a place, and it stays close to more of Indonesian style as we look at it, and we feel that it is nice to understand a different folklore. The beautiful shots along with the shadow puppetry can make some people strange with its beauty, but they add to this being one of the best shot movies of all-time.

Performers of the soul :: We do have our focus on how well Tara Basro is handling her work here as the protagonist, the grown up child who is supposed to be cursed with something which she has no clue about. Marissa Anita who plays her friend also has her moments which make a difference, and she even has a funny side here which brings a smile on the face as humour strikes against the horror which is always present. It is still a shame that we don’t see her throughout the movie, or at least until the last few moments of the tale. Faradina Mufti also has her charm in the flashbacks, and we see that added to the beauty of the visuals of the grand past. You would also love Asmara Abigail who might be the best noticed supporting character who seem not important in the beginning, but elevates the level when she gets a part to play in the final stages. Then you have Ario Bayu who has the best role of to play among the male characters in a female dominated movie, and he does very well, and so does Christine Hakim here.

How it finishes :: Among all the common horror movies in Hollywood and its lame partial adaptations in Bollywood, Impetigore stands apart. It shows how horror can be done using the local legend and after building a flashback out of possible folklore which might have always been there. A number of Malayalam movies from the past had successfully attained success with the use of local legends and myths, and Impetigore is one Indonesian movie which does the same, maybe in a more effective way than any other horror movie has done in the last few years. You are taken into the atmosphere of the movie, as you become part of that setting, which is not just strange, but also terrifying even without showing that much of horror on the screen. What is seen might be scary, but what is not seen or implied feels even scarier in this film which is also about what doesn’t meet the eye. This is the first Indonesian movie that I ever watched, and it is highly effective indeed. I am watching this movie an year after my visit to Indonesia too!

Release date: 17th October 2019
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Joko Anwar
Starring: Tara Basro, Ario Bayu, Marissa Anita, Christine Hakim, Asmara Abigail, Kiki Narendra, Zidni Hakim, Faradina Mufti, Abdurrahman Arif, Muhammad Abe Baasyin, Mursiyanto, Aura Agna, Ahmad Ramadhan, Devona Queeny, Sindris Ogiska G

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Dark Almost Night

Vampire Owl: And, we are getting some dark movies.

Vampire Bat: This is only the second Polish movie that we are watching.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and it should be a really dark one, as seen in the title.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that it could be related to the vampires in anyway though.

Vampire Owl: Who else can have the darkness around them without fear?

Vampire Bat: Ghosts, witches, demons, dark elves, orcs, goblins?

Vampire Owl: Okay, but there can still be something vampiric about it.

Vampire Bat: I am actually sensing a serial killer around here.

Vampire Owl: Well, there are heroes being made out of such killers.

Vampire Bat: Actually, we are not at that part, just not yet.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Reporter Alicja Tabor (Magdalena Cielecka) returns to the city from her childhood, Walbrzych after a long time. A series of mysterious child kidnappings are occuring in the city, and nobody has any clue about what is happening. Using her skills as an experienced reporter, Alicja tries to solve at least a part of this strange mystery which has become quite baffling for the police department. She would have to meet the families of the missing children and solve a mystery which puzzles even the smartest, but at the same time, she also has a past which strangles her reasoning skills, as her childhood has that kind of memories which won’t let her sleep in peace. There are some of dramatic events which started decades earlier, at the same place. Now, she will have to face whatever she had been running away from during her earlier life – the terrifying secrets of her family and the horrors of her own childhood. Everything seems to be linked in one way or the other, and can she go beyond her own demons to solve the mystery?

The defence of Dark Almost Night :: This is one atmospheric movie like no other, as the setting and the environment that we see around raises this movie to a much higher level, better than any other quality. You can feel the invisible terror at all times, even though it is certainly not the kind of danger that is shown that much on the screen to bring the horror. Magdalena Cielecka nicely fits into that atmosphere, as the blending is perfect as far as her highly vulnerable character with a troubled childhood is concerned. Adapted from a much appreciated novel of the same name by Joanna Bator which is supposed to be a satisfying version, the movie does focus on the visuals really well and has found the perfect actresses to bring it to the screen. With such quality adaptation, we can say that the trauma and the emotional side are strong even when we don’t see them shown as melodrama – it is here that the beauty lies, as we can feel the same even when they are not focusing on it, for the movie has the feelings running through at all times.

The claws of flaw :: The movie lacks enough dialogues of significance to keep the tale going forward. There is also the presence of some confusing elements, and as the story keeps on going here and there, we will find the requirement for better explanations. There are moments when the movie should have been more direct with things, and as we are from another distant part of the world and another culture with no knowledge about the language, we do have some trouble, especially when the subtitles are not that great either. A good number of scenes are shown, and suddenly, they disappear, leading us to the present, past and the lives of different people without having enough focus on the necessary moments. The final moments could have also been stronger, as we just get there all of a sudden, and things end too fast. Instead, the focus should have been on the protagonist, and she should have been facing her demons in a highly emotional moments which could have no parallels by any means – the slower moments earlier could have been thus justified.

Performers of the soul :: Magdalena Cielecka, the almost fifty year old actress plays her role to perfection with such passive energy which would make the younger generation of actresses feel weak – Virginie Efira who is a little younger than her did the same in Sibyl, and her passivity was also stronger than a much younger secondary female character played by the lead from the much acclaimed Blue Is the Warmest Colour. Both are actually vulnerable characters, but don’t really show that to others, with some extreme feeling lying deep inside them which forces them to take some strange decisions. Magdalena actually shows that on so many occasions, and the melancholic reflection which can be seen on her face as well as a body with scars, in a believable manner. Eliza Rycembel who plays Ewa as well as Helena Norowicz who plays Rosemarie also gets into the creepy mystery really well, even though the film is very much Magdalena-based. The atmosphere itself is a fine performer, as you look around here.

How it finishes :: Dark Almost Night is not your usual kind of movie, and therefore, won’t satisfy all kinds of audience. The value of the film as an entertainer might be questioned by many people due to the divergent way in which it deals with the subject. Magdalena Cielecka has things in control, but the pace will still trouble people. But you are sure to love being transported to this particular dark world of mysteries and possible terror. This is the kind of atmosphere which Hollywood should use, as they already have the special effects to take the best advantage of it. Maybe, The Conjuring universe can combine it with the supernatural to create magnificence. We can wait for that, and for now, it is up to us to enjoy Dark Almost Night, something of visual quality that we will remember. I am surely hoping to watch more Polish movies after this, especially those which have the same leading actress. We are never that short of such a need during the COVID-19 crisis.

[Gets a vegetable puffs along with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: This movie could have scored better in things other than atmosphere.

Vampire Bat: Yes, they could have better used the potential which was there.

Vampire Owl: This is a movie which was surely not watched by many people, and so, not many people know about it.

Vampire Bat: But the leading lady here is perfect fit for such a mystery, don’t you think?

Vampire Owl: Yes, and she needs a usual type of horror movie to add to her list.

Vampire Bat: The melancholic emotions that she display has a certain amount of beauty.

Vampire Owl: There are so many talented actresses whom we never knew about.

Vampire Bat: She is just one of the many such actresses with high quality skills.

Vampire Owl: There are so many performers we should know about.

Vampire Bat: As knowledge doesn’t come with immortality, we need to look forward to other areas including books.

[Vanishes into the shadows behind the teak tree].

Release date: 22nd March 2019
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Borys Lankosz
Starring: Magdalena Cielecka, Rafal Mackowiak, Modest Rucinski, Eliza Rycembel, Antonina Litwiniak, Roma Gasiorowska, Aleksandra Konieczna, Wlodzimierz Dyla, Jerzy Trela, Nikola Karwowska, Helena Norowicz, Malgorzata Hajewska, Mateusz Czulowski, Marcin Dorocinski, Piotr Polak

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Rising Hawk

Vampire Owl: Hawks are not part of any vampire army as far as I know.

Vampire Bat: I am still not letting go of the possibility of having a Vampire Hawk.

Vampire Owl: Hawks do not make good vampires. It was proven a long time ago.

Vampire Bat: It is a myth. There is no real history behind the same.

Vampire Owl: It is written in the Great Vampire Scrolls. So, it has to be true.

Vampire Bat: Everything written on it need not be true, as it also says that owls are dumb.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that they had excluded that chapter from the scrolls.

Vampire Bat: The scrolls have been edited many time since its inception into the Vampire Hall of Fame, which makes it flawed.

Vampire Owl: Well, I don’t really like the hawks anyway.

Vampire Bat: You don’t really need to invite them home, do you?

[Gets a blueberry cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: The Mongol army is leaving a trail of destruction on its path, as it is led by Burunda Khan (Tserenbold Tsegmid) – the terror spreads towards the west, devastating everything on its path as it reaches the Carptathian mountains. Zakhar Berkut (Robert Patrick) and Rada (Alison Doody) had led their group of villagers to the highlands, but the terror doesn’t seem to end. The Mongols, with their vast army, is looking for new lands to conquer and pillage, with nobody able to stand against them, as the largest empire of the time would stop at nothing with only destruction to be found on their path. They had trained their sons Maksym (Alex MacNicoll) and Ivan (Rocky Myers) in combat seeing this moment before them, but they do know that they won’t be able to fight this battle alone, as stopping Mongols is a near-impossible task, with so many tribes, villages and kingdoms trying and failing miserably in the last few years.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Tuhar Vovk (Tommy Flanagan) is the person who can make the different there, and his daughter Myroslava (Poppy Drayton) is in love with Maksym after he saves her from a bear during a hunting expedition, but it is not something the rich and influential Tuhar wouldn’t approve, as he considers Zakhar Berkut and his sons as mere commoners with no real achievement to boast about. At the same time, there are brutal raids from the Mongol cavalry, which the villagers consider as demons on horseback. As everything they know being threatened, they would need to unite and make a last stand here. But fighting the forces of Burunda Khan would need near perfect military tactics because there is no possibility of matching the Mongols in number and regular fighting methods. What would be their plan now, as death stares at them right on the face, as a Mongol arrow could come in at any moment?

The defence of The Rising Hawk :: The visuals of the places are surely good, especially with the nature having a fine say here. You cannot blame the idea there, because the underdogs fighting a large group of expert military force consisting of specialized archers, agile cavalry and ruthless swordsmen who wouldn’t stop until they get to leave a trail of terror, is indeed something to think about. The big tales of valour have always impressed us, and it is the same which this movie also tries to achieve. Tales of such courage without that much of an exaggeration was always needed. Ever since we had read the tales like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we have always been interested in stories around Carpathian mountains – we have desired to visit Eastern Europe for long, and at least watching this movie gives us some happiness, and the hope that we can get to be there at some point. What you see around here is more beautiful than the rest, indeed.

The claws of flaw :: The Rising Hawk doesn’t live up to its premise, which is so huge – there were so many possibilities with the underdogs fighting the vast army of Mongols who are clearly unstoppable by all means. The beginning stages of the movie are quite slow too, and we await the action, and some change from the predictability, but the leading hero, his brother, the lady love, the parental affection – all these go through the predictable patterns. Many of the moments here do remind us of many other previous films. The problem with the low budget can also be seen here, by just looking around. It should have also had some classic fighting scene or a grand scene to remember, and that is not provided here. A movie focusing on war against a near invincible enemy cannot afford to be ordinary with its fights, unless it is a love story with just background in store. The romance in this movie also struggles to reach the height. It has to be noted that the Mongols are also not exactly as we had known them.

Performers of the soul :: Most of the performances are satisfactory, even though it is not without the flaws. The two elder actors do the best job around here, as Robert Patrick and Tommy Flanagan clearly has the advantage as they are more or less like another form of Professor X and Magneto – old friends who now stand divided, even though the chance of coming together again is always there. Then we have Poppy Drayton, the British actress who also has her moments in this movie – she is a lovely presence, and excels in emotional sequences, along with managing the action scenes well enough, especially with the bow and arrow in hand. Alex MacNicoll does a pretty good job too. The others just seem to blend into the whole thing, not doing that much, including the Mongol king himself, who could have been a scarier figure, a terror that could have had no replacement. Alison Doody who plays the mother is also just enough for the purpose.

How it finishes :: The Rising Hawk is certainly not trying to rise above the usual historic films that we have been watching for a long time. Supposed to be based on the historical fiction book Zakhar Berkut by popular Ukrainian writer and poet Ivan Franko, a work which hasn’t reached this part of the world. If we look further at it, there are many historical films which have dealt with the same idea of the underdogs fighting against hordes, and winning an impossible battle or two. The tales about the Kingdom of Travancore standing tall against the much larger country and military power, the invading Kingdom of Mysore lead by Tipu Sultan is well known in the South Indian states. Such tales of the smaller defending force winning against the bigger, invading force are always inspirational. We have had similar situations in all parts of the world, and when you look into history, when you are fighting an invading Mongol force, you just cannot stop being the underdog.

Release date: 10th October 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: John Wynn, Akhtem Seitablayev
Starring: Robert Patrick, Alison Doody, Tommy Flanagan, Poppy Drayton, Alex MacNicoll, Alina Kovalenko, Rocky Myers, Oliver Trevena, Oleh Voloshchenko, Andriy Isayenko, Erzhan Nurymbet, Tserenbold Tsegmid

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Atlantics

Vampire Owl: Have you tried flying over the Atlantic Ocean?

Vampire Bat: Why would we do that when we have so many portals?

Vampire Owl: Do all these portals serve as gateways now?

Vampire Bat: Not everyone. But the rest are also being repaired by Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Owl: I don’t know why you keep calling that inefficient person for repairs.

Vampire Bat: Well, you don’t get many undead doctors with multiple skills.

Vampire Owl: But most of his qualifications are fake, and I am sure about that.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that all of these will be important related to this movie.

Vampire Owl: There seems to be something strange about this film though.

Vampire Bat: It is not set in France or even Europe, and that does make a difference.

[Gets a strawberry cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: In a popular suburb of Dakar, the capital and largest city of the African nation of Senegal, people are forced to work on the construction site of a futuristic tower, without payment even after long hours of continuous toil. The high-rising ultra-modern tower is exactly the opposite of the rest of the city which is seen around there. The tower keep getting taller, but there is no hope for the people working there, as they go on for days without getting paid the proposed wages. As there is no hope for people like them, the only option remains running away from there and finding a job elsewhere, maybe in another nation. Adding to that, the climate change has led to a consistent decline in rainfall and a certain increase in temperature. The climate change and further environmental concerns also greatly impact the very weak economy and the already struggling population. The city no longer remains an option for the young man Souleiman (Ibrahima Traore) who is in love with the charming young lady, Ada (Mame Bineta Sane) who is from the same neighbourhood.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The workers decide to leave the nation by sea, in search of a brighter future in Spain, and Souleiman accompanies them so that he can come back and try to marry his lady love who is to be married to Omar (Babacar Sylla), a rich man who seems to be the better option for Ada in the eyes of everyone. Ada’s family has almost everything set for the big function, which they hope to arrange in a few days. Spain is quite far away, and it is to be a tiring and risky journey, but that doesn’t hold Souleiman back from making the choice. Ada is highly disappointed about the fact that Souleiman decided to leave without giving her an idea. Her friends like Mariama (Mariama Gassama) does try to console her, and even for her friends, Omar is the right person for her, while Souleiman is just a hindrance in front of her objective of marrying the right man. But would he choose to wait for him for years instead of getting into wedlock? Would that be the right decision, or is it something that would go as far as eternity?

The defence of Atlantics :: There are two sides to this movie, one being the social commentary which is not far away from life, and the other one is something which you wouldn’t expect from a movie like this, a supernatural drama which is rather unpredictable. Unlike what the posters seem to suggest, this is a movie which cannot be restricted to such smaller displays. The problems of poverty, unemployment, class divide, forced migration, lack of hope and many others are shown in the movie, even though they are not always staying in the front. The visuals feel different, and beautiful even in the absence of any spectacular scene being made. We do feel the culture of the area, and there is also that feeling of inherent terror of not being among those who are supposed to be born into the advantage. It also reminds one of the 2013 Tamil movie, Maryan, the Dhanush starrer set in Kanyakumari and parts of Sudan, which had the habit of growing on you, after watching the same, a reminder that the tale of the subaltern remains the same at all places.

The claws of flaw :: You do have so much scope as far as this movie with such a setting is concerned, and the movie doesn’t use its core elements well enough. It is also quite slow, especially in the beginning stages. There was enough with this idea to speed up things, but the movie decides not to take it. The handling of pace would have a much bigger role to play inthe middle stages of the flick. The idea itself could have been clearer, and it might have helped to add some extra polishing here, but the movie doesn’t use the same either – you feel that there could be something bigger at moments, but that is not provided here. They could have also made sure that the story-line made more sense for everyone. The strange feeling of this movie might not be interesting for everyone, and it makes very much a subjective experience leading to polarised opinions among common men despite winning it completely with the critics. It is also quite surprising that their possible destination is Spain, as the location makes it a difficult place to reach by the sea.

Performers of the soul :: The cast is an unknown one, even for us who watch a lot of movies, including English, and those multiple foreign languages. But it is to be noted that they are often better than most of those so called superstars who are sons and daughters of those bigger superstars who bring them into the movie industry just because they can do whatever they please – the terrible plight of Bollywood; but here, we have a skilled cast. Mame Bineta Sane who plays Ada leads the way with ease here. Amadou Mbow also follows the procedure well to make his role memorable enough. The characters played by Aminata Kane and Mariama Gassama are also memorable as you look at them. Babacar Sylla as Omar makes a usual character which you see in the romantic movies with separation as a major theme, and he does his job quite well. In this movie, you feel more or less like the setting itself becomes a character, especially the tower and the sea, which reflects the human situation there in an interesting manner, as you look deep.

How it finishes :: As a movie which was selected as the Senegalese entry earlier for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, this movie does make a pretty good impact, as it already did in the Cannes Film Festival. It is also said that the former United States President Barack Obama had named this film among his favorite films and television series of 2019 in Twitter. It would be difficult to bring the supernatural even in the normal situations, and this one tries to do the same against all odds in a situation which is based on multiple real life themes, but manages to come through well enough in the end. You are sure to feel that there is more than what meets the eye, as far as this movie is concerned. It is surely not your usual kind of film, and this divergence definitely sets it apart. This is the time when we celebrate the variety, and for the same, the movie becomes the kind of flick that one should watch and take the ideas back home.

Release date: 29th November 2019
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Mati Diop
Starring: Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow, Nicole Sougou, Aminata Kane, Traore, Coumba Dieng, Ibrahima Mbaye, Diankou Sembene, Abdou Balde, Babacar Sylla, Arame Fall Faye, Ya Arame Mousse Sene, Babacar Samba, Astou N’Diaye, Khouda Fall

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ema

Vampire Owl: I almost didn’t notice the absence of one “M” here.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this is not the Emma we know from the novels or its adaptations.

Vampire Owl: I had guessed the same because this was a Spanish one from Chile.

Vampire Bat: Even though a movie with the real Emma Woodhouse did release this year.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the movie which has the girl from The Witch, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, Anya Taylor‑Joy who was also seen in Shyamalan’s Split.

Vampire Owl: I haven’t read the Jane Austen novel yet, and that is a disappointment.

Vampire Bat: I would definitely agree to that, because I consider it to be her best work.

Vampire Owl: Even better than Pride and Prejudice, the much appreciated and adapted one?

Vampire Bat: Yes, indeed. My doubt is just regarding this Ema with a missing “M”.

[Gets a beetroot cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo) and her husband Gaston (Gael Garcia Bernal) were leading a fine life and had dance as part of their world. But their adopted son Polo (Cristian Suarez) is the big problem which they invited into their life, and he has an attitude bigger than her mother who has already been strange enough as far as Gaston is concerned. The boy was becoming more and more violent every day, and had caused a fire which had burned the face of Ema’s sister. Polo was not asked to change, but was sent back to the orphanage from where he came from, but Ema just can’t stop thinking about him, even though Gaston blames her for making the boy what he had become. They do not hate each other yet, but are not able to stop blaming each other for the situation where they had reached, from a premise which was good enough for both. It has been a long way down, and it was achieved too quickly.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Ema is quick to begin some new relationships, as she plans to file for a divorce, and the lawayer she chooses is Raquel (Paola Giannini). At the same time, she becomes very close to Anibal (Santiago Cabrera), a firefighter, and she also begins to live with Sonia (Giannina Fruttero), leaving her husband behind after a talk related to the boy who set fire to the house. She had also left the dance troupe run by her husband, and Sonia was with her along with a few friends in doing the same, as they begin dancing in the streets, following the form which her husband considered to be inferior. They find joy in the same, while Ema plans to get closer to Polo, even though the child security services forbids her from going anywhere near him, as he is now adopted by a new family where he is having a good life. But Ema is not someone who would stay behind, as she has her own plans with her life, and would stop at nothing to get what she wants. But will she choose the right path for the same?

The defence of Ema :: Whenever you look at the movie, it is a visually beautifully thing, whether the dance moves or the world which they live in – the flames are also as beautiful as it can get. The world is full of some lovely colours, and the streets with the buildings have some special charm – this is the first movie from Chile that most of us would be watching, even though we might have watched Spanish flicks from Spain and Argentina before, and in that case, this is a special experience too. The dance moves are particularly charming, as the lead character is specialized in the same, along with her friends too. The music is also lovely. There is the idea of parenting and motherhood being talked about, even though the mother-son relationship remains strange throughout the movie’s run. The twists happening throughout the movie which comes to that even more weird end is indeed a satisfactory thing. There is that wonderfully strange feeling which runs through here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel too strange for most of the people, and it does travel a twisted path which doesn’t really bring the justification or poetic justice as one would expect to have. There is no positive message given here even though you did feel that there would be something coming up soon. The flick also feels rather indirect on many occasions. You also see that it is difficult to care for the characters here, and the motives are rather strange, not just for the main character, but also for a kid. We don’t really like the people in here, and when it applies to so many people, we will see this to be too uncommon. Some characters just feel unnecessary in the scheme of things. The manipulation seen here seems to be too complex as well as strange. It is also the kind of movie which cannot be put into any category. Some of the imagery are rather going too far, and a few of the dialogues could have been avoided.

Performers of the soul :: You just cannot take your eyes off Mariana Di Girolamo playing the titular character Ema here. We have a very complex character here, but she has made it feel perfect, and with the dance moves she has further perfection in moving her body around with the delightful music. She seems to be come the character with such precision that if we look at her on Google otherwise, it feels that she is an entirely different person, nothing from her beyond the movie coming into this particular character. Gael Garcia Bernal has a lesser role in comparison, and he manages that fine. This makes Paola Giannini the next person whom we get to focus on, and she is lovely as her character who goes through another path, but nicely has herself attached to the main character with the help of a little bit of manipulation. She is also joy to watch, while Giannina Fruttero seems to play another character which has some more change than one would expect – we see her contributions to be delightful too, as female characters score high in this movie, thanks to the performances.

How it finishes :: Not to be confused with Jane Austen’s Emma, this Ema comes with something very much divergent when you look at many other movies which have dealt with a premise like this, with an adopted child as the centre of attraction. The film’s biggest advantages are its visuals, music and an unpredictable character in the centre who is more than what meets the eye. Ema might not be the movie for everyone, but it is the kind of film that we would consider to be a successful experiment, even with its troubles which comes from the same areas where it has its positives. Chile is another South American country that you feel the need to visit, and you get to see some of it in this movie, even though the film doesn’t go on to show us the glorious side much – until we visit those charming areas like Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception on San Cristobal Hill and many others, we will be happy with having watched one Chilean movie, and another Spanish film to the credit.

Release date: 26th September 2019
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Pablo Larrain
Starring: Mariana Di Girolamo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Paola Giannini, Santiago Cabrera, Giannina Fruttero, Josefina Fiebelkorn, Paula Hofmann, Paula Luchsinger, Antonia Giesen, Catalina Saavedra, Mariana Loyola, Susana Hidalgo, Cristian Felipe Suarez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Proxima

Vampire Owl: Have you heard about the vampire team planning to travel to Proxima Centauri?

Vampire Bat: No, such a plan was discarded after Doctor Frankenstein created a portal and ended up being crazy for three weeks.

Vampire Owl: It is depressing, because vampire space travel was only beginning to get popular.

Vampire Bat: You could have some temporary relief by watching a movie on space travel.

Vampire Owl: This one seems to be drama and not really science fiction.

Vampire Bat: Drama is more close to life than science fiction as far as humans are concerned.

Vampire Owl: I wouldn’t disagree with that statement. They always create some drama.

Vampire Bat: It is also the one reason why humans stopped evolving.

Vampire Owl: I do feel that they can still evolve like some of the alien species which we had met while traveling through one of those portals.

Vampire Bat: Well, lets see how far they can go and fight their own upcoming extinction.

[Gets a carrot cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sarah Loreau (Eva Green) is preparing herself for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station, after different stages of training on Earth, and a final quarantine which would follow. She is very excited about it, as she finally had the chance which she was waiting for, throughout these years. She had kept so many things away just for this special opportunity which rarely comes to her field. But her daughter Stella Akerman Loreau (Zelie Boulant-Lemesle) is certainly not even close to being happy about it. She does like the idea that her mother is going to the stars, but hates the fact that she has to leave her for such a long period of time, first out of the nation and then far away from Earth itself. This would mean that Stella and her cat would have to stay in a new house in a new neighbourhood in a distant city, with her father Thomas Akerman (Lars Eidinger) as the parents had separated, despite falling in love while working at the same space agency.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But things have to go as planned, and they have to follow the procedure, as she has qualified with great difficulty, and now there will be no replacement in her place. Sarah leaves for further training, much to the dismay of Stella who is left to adjust with the new home and the new school were she keeps struggling with Mathematics and also in making new friends, being a new loner. At the same time, Sarah has some initial struggles with keeping up, and her colleague from the United States, Mike Shannon (Matt Dillon) considers her to be more of a space tourist, as he is a war veteran who has served in Irag and Afghanistan. But he does appreciate her hard work as time progresses, but as she develops an infection in a new wound, Sarah has further struggles to go with. At the same time, the bond between the mother and daughter which was very strong and special seems to be having some cracks here and there. Now, Sarah has to keep up both her lives going, and it is a question whether she can do the same.

The defence of Proxima :: As one would expect, the movie thrives in the work of Eva Green, who excels as the astronaut mother who struggles to keep the two sides of her life going. The movie serves as a reflection of anyone who is trying to seek new heights, but cannot let go of the old world to which the person belongs to. The training sequences are nice, and the emotional moments are all in control, with everything safely handled by Eva herself, for this is her movie. As the movie was shot in different original training facilities of the European Space Agency, everything feels more real, just like the feelings. The movie’s progress is also steady, even though we are given the idea of what to expect in the beginning stages itself. As the movie chooses to go realistic over everything else, we do have the interesting family drama which depicts the mother-daughter relationship without much of a trouble. In the same, there is quality guaranteed.

The claws of flaw :: Proxima had scope to be something more, with both its dramatic side and it could have been an action thriller of a lesser level too, with more twists being added to the training sessions and time of quarantine. People who are looking for some science fiction are going to be disappointed, because the same is not there, and we can say the same about the action and thriller side too. It could have also had more of emotional moments together, and there could have been more of bonding scenes between the astronauts in the facility. The fact that it keeps changing the language in between is a little bit strange, as it remaining a French movie with English subtitles would have been fair enough. It could have also used some flashback to add to the tale, because our protagonist here does seem to have had a long interesting past. If it had used all the elements perfectly, there was chance for a flawless film here, but Proxima does come somewhat close.

Performers of the soul :: With birthday on the 6th of July, it is a good time to give Eva Green some lovely birthday wishes, as she is one actress who has been special throughout her career, reminding us of some fine roles which she had played so well – this movie is not that much of an exception in that case too. The lovely actress has that kind of movies in her list which I have loved to watch, with the last few being my personal favourite Dark Shadows, the grand sequel 300: Rise of an Empire, the much different Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to be added to the list. She is fantastic in this movie, and we see the emotions running wild on one side, and the determination of the character on the other – Eva is delightful to watch in this film too, and she carries the movie on her shoulders with so much of ease. Zelie Boulant who plays the daughter also comes up with a fine performance. Matt Dillon does a fine job in the supporting role too. The rest just working along, as this one is indeed the Eva Green show from the first moment to the time when the credits starts rolling.

How it finishes :: It is no surprise that Proxima‘s biggest asset is Eva Green, and the same is reflected throughout the flick, with the focus never really shifting from her, as she brings the magnificent performance to elevate this movie to where it would have been, with another actress in her place. But those who watch this movie should note that it is not science fiction unlike some idea being given here. As the movie stays as close to a realistic world as possible even with an upcoming space travel, Proxima does deliver a strong drama which works with the mother-daughter relationship very well. It is the kind of movie that one can choose to watch during Eva Green’s birthday week, and the French actress’ work is reason enough to go for it. If you are going for science fiction in space or other planets, we do have those other titles, and expecting a Gravity, Interstellar or The Martian in this case will be wrong, as the tendency will be there as people see the lady wearing the spacesuit on the poster, but that is just one side of the tale.

Release date: 27th November 2019
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Alice Winocour
Starring: Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Zelie Boulant, Lars Eidinger, Sandra Huller, Aleksey Fateev, Nancy Tate, Svetlana Nekhoroshikh, Anna Sherbinina, Vitaly Jay, Lionel Ferra, Manuela Aguzzi, Gregoire Colin, Trond-Erik Vassal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pinocchio

Vampire Owl: I know this person very well from childhood itself.

Vampire Bat: It is a fictional character from the children’s novel The Adventures of written by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence.

Vampire Owl: Okay, so it is from the land of Renaissance indeed,

Vampire Bat: Yes, most people don’t really know that this tale is not really English.

Vampire Owl: But it went on to become so popular all around the world.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is that kind of a story that appeals to everyone.

Vampire Owl: And it is a fine story to read for the children of all ages.

Vampire Bat: We also add an Italian movie dealing with the same story to our list on this day.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this one will become a fine deviation from our usual path.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and takes us back to childhood too, at least in parts.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Geppetto (Roberto Benigni), a poor Italian carpenter has a hard time making his living, as he rarely gets any work, and nobody appreciates him for the quality products which he come up with. But one day, he sees a puppet theatre in the town, and becomes a lot interested in creating a puppet all by himself. He feels that he could create something special which would be appreciated all around the world for its beauty on wood. He manages to get a log of wood which its owner wanted to leave behind because it seemed to have some kind of magic associated with it. Geppetto spends all his time creating the perfect puppet, and in the end, when he finishes the same, he finds out that it can talk. After naming the puppet Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi), he decides to take him as his son. But the newfound son out of the log isn’t really an obedient one, as he keeps exercising his freedom against the wishes of his father.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Pinocchio does get into trouble due to his actions, and Geppetto decides to send him to school, so that he would study well and also mingle with the other children of the town. Geppetto sells his inherited jacket to buy Pinocchio an ABC book which is necessary to accepted into the school. Pinocchio does go for his first day at school, but notices a puppet theater, and he ends up selling the book to buy the ticket. In the theater, the other puppets notice Pinocchio among the viewers and calls him up the stage, thus messing up the show. A furious puppeteer Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti) catches Pinocchio and locks him in his caravan with the others puppets, and leaves the town. Mangiafuoco who has been very angry about what had happened, plans to use Pinocchio as firewood to help cooking his dinner. Pinocchio begs him to release him in order to return home from his father, who would be very much worried by then.

And what else is to follow around here with the puppet? :: Mangiafuoco decides to let him go, and seeing his compassion towards the other puppets who he saves from being burned, he gives him five gold coins to give to the poor carpenter whom he calls father. Pinocchio is really happy about it, and tries to get home as soon as possible, but is lost in his way, not sure where he is heading. As he tries to find the right directions, he meets Fox (Massimo Ceccherini) and Cat (Rocco Papaleo) who discovers that the puppet has some gold coins with him which they can use during their jobless ways. They tell him a tale about the Field of Miracles, a special place where they can bury the coins, and a tree full of money will grow rapidly. But they intend to murder the puppet and take the money. They make some fine plans for the same, and takes a room in the nearby tavern. Pinocchio is not aware of such sinister plans, and despite being warned by Talking Cricket (Davide Marotta). Can the puppet keep the money and finally get to his father who is looking for him?

The defence of Pinocchio :: The movie, as expected is a journey to a special world, and those who have known the tale before, will relate to the same very well. There is a beautiful world that provides a certain amount of enchantment close to the original version, and we have one puppet who is not familiar with the ways of humans going through. Roberto Benigni whom we know from the movie Life is Beautiful is here again playing the father figure, and that is indeed beautiful, as we remember how he managed to be a great father there – here, he is not far behind either. The one who used his imagination to shield his son from the terror within a Nazi concentration camp is not to be forgotten that easily. Marine Vacth who plays the fairy and many others also catch our attention, being out of the usual world, getting close to fantasy. With the cat, fox, snail, cricket, characters, the movie is as child-friendly as anything can get, and therefore makes itself a fine watch for the families. Well, a journey through rural Italy of those times never really gets to be less interesting for the eyes.

The claws of flaw :: Pinocchio might be different in looks from what many people might have imagined him earlier. The movie could have had a certain amount of visible magic in there too, not as being regular part of the proceedings, but as something completely out of the world. For the same, more special effects could have been used to create a visual extravaganza, because even lesser films these days seem to display the grandeur – after all, this is a children’s classic of a higher level on print. The fact that the puppet keeps falling into trouble due to not listening to the good advice makes it feel repetitive, especially for the adults who would be a long way past this tale by now – even I don’t remember most of what I read during my childhood. It could have also had more focus on the father-son relationship because the puppet as the adventurer is not of that much interest as a person, and we have to look forward to the fairy to find the next lovable character, followed by the snail. The growing nose could have also been used better.

How it finishes :: As far as the idea of Pinocchio from The Adventures of Pinocchio by the Italian author Carlo Collodi is concerned, this one manages the same well, and it is to be noted that usually the adaptations are supposed to come in the form of cartoons. Making a live-action movie with this type of characters is indeed difficult, but we can see that they have managed everything pretty well here. The Adventures of Pinocchio has been the world’s most translated book excluding religious works and had such a great impact on different cultures, also being a children’s favourite. But we see that it also explores the human condition, about what it means to be human, right here. We do have that usual child who doesn’t like to go to the school, and is not interested in obeying parents, with a certain love for entertainment and adventure over the rest, and is naive when facing the dangers of the outside world. Yes, this version is a successful one too, and you can choose to watch it, without expecting anything too special or highly innovative.

Release date: 19th December 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Matteo Garrone
Starring: Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi, Rocco Papaleo, Massimo Ceccherini, Marine Vacth, Gigi Proietti, Paolo Graziosi, Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Timo, Davide Marotta, Alessio Di Domenicantonio

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Warning: Do Not Play

Vampire Owl: I have watched a movie with the name Warning, some years back.

Vampire Bat: Yes, that was in the year 2013. We watched that Hindi movie with the same name.

Vampire Owl: So, this one provides another warning.

Vampire Bat: Well, horror movies do come up with many warnings.

Vampire Owl: Yes, those warnings which the people in the movie ignores.

Vampire Bat: Without such foolish actions, the horror movie losses the charm.

Vampire Owl: I would always support such actions though.

Vampire Bat: There is no need to overdo the same thing again and again though.

Vampire Owl: Yes, even being foolish for the sake of horror has its limits.

Vampire Bat: Let us see what the characters in this movie manage to do.

[Gets a vancho cake and three glasses of vanilla-strawberry shake].

What is the movie about? :: Mi-Jung (Seo Ye-Ji) is an aspiring film director has been preparing a horror film for many years, but is not able to find the right story despite watching many movies of the same genre, and reading many short stories and novels belonging to the same category, and that leaves her in a desperate need for something. As an young and energetic girl looking to shine in her field, she decides to go after a news about one short-film which was taken in a university by a student as part of the person’s project. It is supposed to have caused some strange incidents in the university, and people say that the movie was originally filmed by a ghost. She does travel all the way there, but from the professor who has been working in the film department for about ten years, she gets no information regarding the same. This leads to her looking for some information from the students of the university, but manages to get very little.

So, what happens with the events here? :: It is then that she gets something from a film festival which was supposed to screen the movie, and as she posts the same online, she is approached by a strange man who is supposed to have created the movie. He forces her to delete her post, and tells her nothing. But she follows him to his house, and manages to steal a copy of the movie, as she has to create her film as soon as possible. But these sequence of events does bring her much trouble. She does manage to see a strange figure lurking in the shadows, and within the darkness. She struggles hard to get whole of the movie retrieved, as some part of it was destroyed. After she is successful in doing the same, she hopes to bring a new version of the same story with a lot of edits. But the question remains if she will be alive or with enough sanity to continue what she has been doing. There is something coming right after her, and it is not good – now, it is more about survival.

The defence of Warning: Do Not Play :: It is clear that this movie chooses to go on through the usual horror path, with one video tape at the centre, reminding one of the Ring series of movies which went on producing many sequels after the grand success with the first flick. The idea of a movie which kills people itself is always something of interest. There are some nice scares which comes in the later stages of the movie, and the settings are also pretty well managed, but what scares more might be the selfishness of someone who looks forward to get what the person wants. If you have watched those usual horror movies, this one can be added to that list – we had seen what an electronic device can do with the help of a ghost, as shown Polaroid, and this one also seems to share some similarities with that particular flick. Still, it is nice that this one is not a found footage movie, because that would have brought the level of the film further down in this case.

The claws of flaw :: Warning: Do Not Play did have many paths to choose from, and for some reason, it decides to go with the usual one without surprises, and it is not a good sign. It leaves the horror behind for the mystery elements on too many occasions despite being branded as a horror movie, and it surely has some problem with bringing the scares to the screen, which takes too much time to come, and doesn’t elevate itself above those usual horror films. As it makes the attempt to bring the past and the present together for a future horror movie, it seemed to be in a certain amount of confusion at times. Even though it is usual in its basic methods of horror, this complication which comes in here and there causes a certain amount of confusion. When you look at it closer, you can see that one more opportunity for a grand horror thing is lost here, and only a sequel can bring it back. The movie is also too short to bring a story like this to further strength.

Performers of the soul :: Seo Ye-Ji plays the protagonist looking forward to get her movie idea working, but is not able to write well enough to reach anywhere with the script. We see the perfect choice for the cast as her, as we see her worries reflected in her actions and face itself, really well – the determination to do something more is also with her, all the time. The rest of the cast just plays according to the needs of the protagonist. She is the only character in this movie that matters, and the only one person who needs our attention. She takes us through the journey of a struggling film maker who would do anything to have her movie idea working. As she looks younger than her age, it is easy to have her in this role. There is energy, and the emotions are all very well reflected on her face. The obsession that she shows is as clear as the desperation which could be seen in her earlier. Still, the movie could have developed the other characters a little bit more for support, as this one is more or less the one-woman show throughout the run.

How it finishes :: There is always space for another Korean movie around here. During the time of Corona virus lock-down, nothing has kept people entertained like the works from South Korea on the screen. During this time of COVID-19, we are always looking for the other types of horror, and we have it again in this form. We still need work to be done in the usual horror movies like this one, and prepare a better work, even though we do have something pretty good around here. At the same time, I hope that all the readers of Movies of the Soul are safe from the Corona virus during this time. Stay safe, and let us hope that things which are getting worse all around the world as well as the nation now can get better – after all, we are all better prepared now. Let us believe that everyone will contribute to preventing this crisis from getting worse, with people coming from outside keeping themselves inside the quarantine as well as people here continuing the social distancing practice. Well, horror is indeed real in life.

Release date: 15th August 2019
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Kim Jin-won
Starring: Seo Ye-Ji, Seon-kyu Jin, Bo-ra Kim, Cha Yub, Yoon-ho Ji, Jae-Young Joe, Mi-kyung Kim, Kim Jae-In, Yoon Jeong-ro, Tae-boo Nam, So-Yi Shin

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.