Sweet and Sour

Vampire Owl: I see that they are now exploring two shades of life.

Vampire Bat: Life has millions of shades as of now, towards infinity.

Vampire Owl: There are not many shades for the undead.

Vampire Bat: We have stayed in the grey, not light or dark, not sweet and sour area.

Vampire Owl: Well, humans do consider us to be very much evil.

Vampire Bat: You have never really cared for their opinions.

Vampire Owl: If they are going to cross over to our realm, we will have to care.

Vampire Bat: Nobody can come through the portal without identification. They shall meet their doom even if they manage to do so.

Vampire Owl: Well, you cannot be sure about humans and evil – both always find a way to spread the terror.

Vampire Bat: Evil shall spread, but random humans crossing the portal are the least of our worries. An army of the dead led by the lich queen should worry us more. It would give even Uncle Dracula a jolt.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jang-Hyuk (Lee Woo-je) is hospitalized due to Hepatitis B, and his own relatives as well as parents keep away from him. They keep their masks and glvoes at all times and makes him very uncomfortable. A nurse Da-eun (Chae Soo-bin) ignores the advice of others and takes good care of him. Soon, they become close, and spends some time time together after he saves her from being caught for smoking. She is annoyed that she has to work all the time, and often eats with him or falls asleep on his bed. He helps her to take a nap in his space while setting a timer. Jang-Hyuk is unhappy that he has to be in bed at a time right after he got a permanent job, but the presence of Da-eun makes him feel better. Even though he feels that she the two are really close, the time for his discharge is almost there, and Da-eun seems to be getting distant from him. On the day on which he leaves, his favourite nurse is nowhere to be found, and his friends and family returns to him as he is now cured. His friends also tells him that people like him won’t be able to get beautiful girls like her as girlfriends.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He goes back to the hospital and find the first part of her number, and calls a good number of phone numbers until he finally finds that it is her on the other side. She invites him to come to her home, and he stays with her for the night – he spends the night repairing the broken lamps and preparing breakfast. The two seem to be attracted to each other, and after they go on a trip to Jeju Island together. He decides that he would lose weight and in that way, they can wear similar clothing and look cuter together. A slim Jang-Hyuk (Jang Ki-yong) comes into the picture soon. As he has been a hard working engineer, he is intimated by his superior that he will be sent to a big firm in Seoul where he will have some grand opportunities with chances to earn more. This means that he will have to travel from Incheon to Seoul so that the couple can still be together. But when he reaches there, he discovers that there is another candidate for the permanent post, and he would not be assured about holding the position because she is tough competition.

And how does life go on with the new changes :: The other candidate for the permanent post, Bo-yeong (Krystal Jung), seems to be always trying to make him look worse than her. But when Bo-yeong comes up with a new bridge design, Jang-Hyuk comes up with a critical flaw in the design. She is forced to sort it out with him. Initially, he is happy about her not able to solve the problem, and thus not able to go home. Soon enough, he takes pity on her, and helps her in solving the problem – the two begin to have a bond, and with their success, gets more projects to work together. The relationship between Jang-Hyuk and Da-eun seems to be more strained though, as both of them have to work late, and traveling all the way between the two cities in the heavy traffic is even more strained. He arrives late, and even though he does not come home every day anymore, shows less interested in Da-eun. He even refuses to do the small things at home. Soon, it turns out that Da-eun is pregnant, and he wishes to spend more time with her, but it also seems near impossible. Then it seems that he has feelings for Bo-yeong. Life becomes more complicated for all of them.

The defence of Sweet and Sour :: Chae Soo-bin raises the level of this movie with her performance, and it can be seen that she is always one step ahead – it becomes clear by the end of the film. The cuteness factor also serves well towards the performance, and the initial moments at the hospital are so good. Krystal Jung and Jang Ki-yong plays the other two main characters, and their work also contributes well here – the combination scenes at the office are very much interesting; there is some humour related to that too. I am seeing all these three main performers in any movie for the first time. Lee Woo-je, despite lesser screen space, adds some humour to the movie early too, along with a feel-good factor – the early incidents featuring him are very relevant to how the movie ends. The movie is more drama and less romance, and it is evident after half an hour into the proceedings itself. It has to be best appreciated for how it brings the twist in the end, how it brings everything together to have a feel-good even within break-up – a little bit of tampering with the narrative helps it to achieve the same with efficiency.

Positives and negatives :: The movie nicely move away from the cliché which would have been expected with this movie. As things come around, the audience is reminded of the situations when work and family are not easy to manage together. With the stress that comes as the result of work, and the desire to reach newer heights as part of the job, the relationships are very much destroyed with ease as shown here. The endless work and no appreciation is no stranger to any of us even in India – as it has been evident for years, the situation of nurses never got to be any better, despite the service that they have provided during the corona virus pandemic and beyond. The movie keeps reminding us about the every day problems which become part of relationships. The physical exhaustion as part of a competitive world is something that would feel real for almost everyone; unless you are a politician who can get whatever is needed with least work. The movie should have still focused on the romance as much as the drama. There are also moments when the film seems to repeat things, and does a little extra when not needed. People who missed the first few minutes will also fail to catch up with the finish.

How it finishes :: Sweet and Sour is the romantic drama with a twist that makes us feel that it is more than just the usual drama of life – yet, it is as close to reality as it can be. The last fifteen minutes or so becomes the big finish that elevates the movie. It serves as a reminder to what can happen when more importance is given to things other than relationships. Yet, in a world which seeks success in work for the definition of an ideal person, especially men, you just cannot stop working as if your life depends on it. You will never stop thinking about how the world has transformed, and about the difficulties to battle the competition, and still be available to do anything other than work. It is the curse that has come across the profit-seeking world, which never stops asking for more; profits matter more than lives, and there are not many things that can substitute money in a world which favors nothing over a huge bank balance. The idea that simple romantic drama can bring something different makes us think a lot about the possibilities that we can have even in a realistic world. The reality of romance strikes hard.

Release date: 4th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Lee Gye-byeok
Starring: Jang Ki-yong, Chae Soo-bin, Krystal Jung, Lee Woo-je, Choi Hwan-yi, Shin Joon-hang, Park Chul-min, Yeo Min-joo, Park Ji-hoon, Yoon Byung-hee, Lee Geung-young, Yoo Sun, Choi-hyeong, Kim Mi-hye, Ahn Gil-kang, Kim Mi-kyung

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nothing Serious

Vampire Owl: Vampires do take everything seriously.

Vampire Bat: This is about humans not taking relationships seriously.

Vampire Owl: Well, for us, even the dirt in the graves are serious matter.

Vampire Bat: You are forgetting the dirt in the coffin.

Vampire Owl: Well, humans should at least take the planet seriously.

Vampire Bat: I have heard that they are all prepared to migrate to the next.

Vampire Owl: What? I hope they don’t choose our realm.

Vampire Bat: Well, they were specifically saying that they choose planets.

Vampire Owl: Let us just close the portals to the vampire realm. They will end up destroying our natural world with rivers of blood and graveyards filled with skeletons.

Vampire Bat: You need not worry about it. Uncle Dracula has taken all necessary precautions.

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

What is the movie about? :: Woo-ri (Son Seok-koo) is thirty three years old and single, feeling alone all the time after the woman who was so close to being his girlfriend finds herself a boyfriend. He working at a magazine where he is forced to take over the sex column instead of culture, politics and sports with which he used to be comfortable. Ja-young (Jeon Jong-seo) is a twenty nine year old woman almost turning thirty, and she has had many problems with previous relationships. Woo-ri has his account created on a dating app which Ja-young had created after her breakup with the boyfriend. Ja-young is warned by some of her friends about using the app, but she decides to go on with it, as she finds out that her former boyfriend is getting married, and she would be left single – one of their friends had also found a good partner with the app. She had tried having a relationship in the gym, but that doesn’t work, and neither does her idea of finding someone at the bookshop. Even the random good-looking guy she meets during mountaineering turns out to be the wrong choice, while her debts remain high.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: It is basically the big number of alerts that makes her get back into the dating app, and most of the people there seems to be creepy for her. Woo-ri feels that he will also get something to write in the sex column, and his friend tells him that it will be like having multiple advantages with one single choice with the app. The two meet on the New Year Day and after having a long period of talk over some food, they realize that they do get along quickly enough, only to get their friends curious. She tries to make herself believe that it was a temporary relationship which is not going to last for long, while he is genuinely interested in her. His sex column becomes an instant hit among the readers, as he uses his creative imagination with his experiences, making it like an entertaining story. There is also a lot of appreciation from the higher officials. Despite not getting into a relationship, they do meet each other again and again, and move close to that. Even though they go on with the idea of friends with benefits with nothing serious, there could be more.

The defence of Nothing Serious a.k.a. Romance Without Love :: The movie tries to be the cute romantic love story that does not leave one with much to think about, as the usual romance gets some extra additions here. The visuals of the city are good, and they have chosen some nice places, from restaurants, hotels and cafes to random outdoor places to bring some beauty on the screen. The leading performers of the movie are always there throughout the movie, and for most of the time, both of them are also on the screen, and there is that kind of a dependence on the two characters, which actually works in favour of the film. The fact that these two breathe life and enthusiasm into the main characters is to be appreciated – these are two characters that bring the movie together. Even though there is the usual in here, we also have the divergence also in store – the movie is a combination of the expected and the unexpected, both coming together to create something which is not that far away from life of this century in the big cities. The movie is free-spirited, straight-forward and smart with how it deals with the leading cast, and such collection of qualities are rarely seen in dumb Bollywood romance and others.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does deviate from the cuteness factor at times, as if there is a certain amount of confusion related to which audience the movies is serving. This film should have stayed close to the sweeter side, and could have left some moments for the imagination. All its opportunities are not really sued by the movie, as the first few minutes would make us feel that this movie is up for more. The logic should have been served, but as we know, love story would require less of it, for we know how even the real world tales of love are going and often leading to murders and suicides of the partners before or after the marriage. The movie might not appeal to all kinds of audience, and it seems to be more focused on the newer generation, even though good enough for those generations which are just behind. Even though lasting only one and half hours, there is a certain amount of drag in between, especially with a lot of dialogues coming up. The predictability also has its say, and some melodrama was certainly not needed. The ending also seems forced, even though pretty good to be a finisher to the movie.

The performers of the soul :: Jeon Jong-seo leads the way in this romantic movie, and this is the first time that I am seeing her in a movie. There is a certain amount of cuteness related to her performance here, and there is also some humorous side along with the romantic one. She seems to handle the different emotions of her role quite well. Son Seok-koo contributes in a similar manner, and the chemistry between the two works really well, and seems to raise the movie further. The cuteness factor also relates to their relationship till it gets rather too serious in the last few minutes, only to get back to the same stage by the end. He was part of the supporting cast of the movie, Hit-and-Run Squad among others. Kim Seul-gi and Gong Min-jeung also appear in memorable supporting roles. Kim Young-ok as the grandmother and Kim Jae-hwa as the editor in chief of the magazine also have their moments to be remembered. Along with the same, Kim Kwang-gyu plays the father figure which would also be noted. The supporting cast seems to be quite big, and most of them are going to leave some impact here.

How it finishes :: Nothing Serious a.k.a. Romance Without Love is one of those romantic movies which manages to hold its ground despite not clear with its path, and without bringing anything special. The cuteness factor related to the chemistry between the leading performers seems to drive the movie forward more than anything else. South Korean movies have managed to bring at least some quality in almost every genre that they seem to be part of, and with horror and thriller being the perfect categories, romance and drama also got the power to support. This movie also maintains that quality, and even when there doesn’t seem to be that much of a story, it won’t come down that much in content, and the leading pair elevates it. Jeon Jong-seo who has become part of this genre so well, is often the single reason for the same. It is a much shorter, but interesting idea to spend one and half hours, as there is no shortage of some fun-filled moments. No one can deny the need for some love in the air after the corona virus pandemic.

Release date: 24th November 2021
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Jeong Ga-young
Starring: Jeon Jong-seo, Son Seok-gu, Gong Min-jung, Kim Seul-gi, Kim Young-ok, Kim Jae-hwa, Bae Yoo-ram, Im Sung-jae, Kim Kwang-gyu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Midnight

Vampire Owl: There are not many mediums that vampires can use at midnight.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we can use an Ouija board at midnight instead.

Vampire Owl: That board is a fake medium invented by humans.

Vampire Bat: So, you think that there is no hope with the board.

Vampire Owl: Yes, we need to look forward to finding an undead conductor.

Vampire Bat: You cannot have any of the undead allow something from the other side to pass through it.

Vampire Owl: The undead is greater than any spirit.

Vampire Bat: Getting possessed by a spirit is not a great experience.

Vampire Owl: So, you think that there can be possessions.

Vampire Bat: Well, you know the thing about demonic possessions.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of Munnar tea].

What is the movie about? :: Kim Kyung-mi (Jin Ki-joo), is a mute and deaf woman who works as a sign language customer service executive at a sign language call center. Her mother Kyung-mi’s mother (Gil Hae-yeon) is also dumb and deaf. As some of the employees have to go for a dinner with the clients, she chooses to go with her employers and return late at midnight. Jung-eun’s (Kim Hye-yoon) goes out on a date at night, and her brother Jong-tak (Park Hoon) who works as a security guard after serving in the army, is worried because she would arrive late, almost at midnight, especially as a man and woman were found dead during an earlier night. Coming back home late after dinner and visiting her mother, Kim witnesses the sister bleeding after being stabbed by an unknown man and becomes the new target for this particular serial killer Do-sik (Wi Ha-joon) who had been hunting women, and sometimes unsuspecting men some time around midnight. She runs further away from the area when her mother is standing and tries to hide, but the killer is someone who knows the area really well.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The killer needs to find the young woman to make sure that there are no trails that lead to her. At the same time, Jong-tak is in the streets, searching for his sister who has not returned home yet. As Kim reaches her car and enters it, she is shocked to find him inside the vehicle, and after being forced to drive at knifepoint, she jumps out the car, once again chased by the killer, only to connect to the cops, but as she cannot sleep, it does not work at all. When the police finally arrive, it seems that the killer had already manipulated all the evidence, and there are no suitable clues in the CCTV cameras either. The killer had also joined them in making things more confusing for the mother and daughter duo. As the brother also arrives in the police station with the photo of his sister, Kim identifies her as the woman who was abducted, stabbed and kept in the vehicle by the stranger. But the killer is someone who knows when to manipulate and when to kill with all the brutality – does this mean that the killer will go on with the murders and the sister and the witness would also have to die?

The defence of Midnight :: In the beginning, this movie might seem to be just another serial killer movie with its antagonists targeting random people on the streets, but it becomes much more than that, as it uses almost everything at its disposal to the best effect. The night itself has been used to its best advantage, and this is also not the kind of movie when there is a long investigation going on, and the police has to go for clues which they acquire over days, and the result is that there would be more victims. Instead, this movie has so many thrilling moments set in a night, which has the serial killer’s smartness displayed in an interesting manner, but we are not bothered with the flashbacks or the motive that would have been there in other movies – this becomes more of a survival movie where there is the need to make sure that a missing woman survives, and at the same time, the leading lady further struggles to survive. As things unfold with a night that progresses, there is the idea that two of the main characters cannot speak and hear, which drives this movie to bringing things to light in a different manner. There is no shortage of thrills around here, and silence is nicely used with sound effects in a visual treat of terror.

Positives and negatives :: There are moments when one would feel that the movie could have elevated the status a little bit. But the final moments are just too good, as finally the serial killer understands that more than one person can play his game. The movie is a survival thriller for the main protagonist, and Jin Ki-joo, with her performance, has us backing her to survive against all odds. The characters do no get to be that smart as they should be though, as they create opportunities for the killer to come back and get them, multiple times. There are many co-incidences in here too, and those are used a little more than needed. But there is no shortage of the feeling of danger around here, as night seems to be used as a medium for the serial killer terror to spread – it always seems that he is in control, even when he gets beaten up. We did not know about this movie when it released, but we know it now, and we have that serial killer whom we have been waiting. The movie is also a reminder that in a busy world, nobody has time to check on others, and a serial killer could always be hiding among us, undetected until captured.

The performers of the soul :: Jin Ki-joo is leading lady and the protagonist of this movie, and she comes up with a performance to remember as the woman who cannot speak or hear, but has to rise above her limitations as she faces one of smartest and most brutal serial killer who is good at hiding his motives. She has presented the character so well that the audience keep believing that she has no hope, but continues to see that slight ray of hope that she could stay alive despite the odds being very much against her. She seems to be better known for the South Korean television series and the drama, but the way in which she displays the hopelessness and fear to replace it with courage, is something that will catch our eyes – the ending with her character gaining the advantage is too good. Wi Ha-joon makes a fantastic serial killer, and I won’t be surprised if someone would try to copy this character, as the killer works so well. Park Hoon also join in very well. Then there is Gil Hae-yeon who comes up with the mother figure really well. At the same time, Kim Hye-yoon is lovely addition, and becomes the reason for the events of the movie to start moving forward.

How it finishes :: Midnight is a reminder that Korean films still possess the top quality with horror thrillers featuring serial killers. It will be a good idea to watch the movie on Amazon Prime Video before someone from Bollywood copies the film and shows it as a much lesser version with the brother of the victim and the girl who witnesses the crime dancing to songs at a party while the serial killer kills the abducted girl, and we would also have to listen to some very sad songs with the brother grieving for the sister. The quality of this movie will always be higher as it does have all the emotions, but never does it overdo them, or come up with irrelevant subplots or exaggerating the villain. We directly enter this world which is all about that particular night, and the audience is also as much part of the events that happen during midnight, and everyone goes on this journey with the main characters. You are also reminded that you need to go back to these kind of movies, and even though we do have our own serial killers with films like Forensic, Anjaam Pathiraa, Memories and Antakshari, but none so classically determined in the form of a stranger as this one.

Release date: 30th June 2021
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Kwon Oh-seung
Starring: Jin Ki-joo, Wi Ha-joon, Kim Hye-yoon, Gil Hae-yeon, Park Hoon, Kang In-seo, Noh Su-min, Na Eun-saem, Lee Jae-seok, Park Ji-hoon, Song Yoo-hyun, Bae Eun-woo, Kwon Young-min, Jung Wo Chang

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Squared Love

Vampire Owl: I hope that blood drinking can also be squared.

Vampire Bat: Drinking blood does not work like that.

Vampire Owl: You should understand that there are many ways of drinking blood.

Vampire Bat: The act has its own value for the soul.

Vampire Owl: Well, that is only if you follow the procedure.

Vampire Bat: Nobody follows the procedure these days.

Vampire Owl: I was not talking about the Twilight vampires.

Vampire Bat: I was not referring to fictional vampires either.

Vampire Owl: I have heard that new vampire tales are not fictional, but related to the lives of humans who are too hungry.

Vampire Bat: Well, it means some fine creative imagination.

[Gets a vegetable cutlet and three cups of orange tea].

What is the movie about? :: Monika Grabarczyk (Adrianna Chlebicka) lives a double life, as she works as a school teacher as well as reputed model, with or without the wig and makeup. She also wears glasses, and changes the colour of her eyes to make sure that people don’t easily recognize her. She does not really like both jobs, as she is scolded by the headmaster due to the unruly children and all the exposing as the model in swimwear does not appeal to her either – but she still has to pay back her loans in time. Stefan Tkaczyk (Mateusz Banasiuk), also known as Enzo is a journalist who is also in multiple relationships with many different women – he remains popular with the women despite making some unwanted mistakes in his articles. His firm still keeps him due to his popularity. The company decides to make good use of his popularity in an upcoming ad, as things works the best for him with his face on the television. He is soon kicked out of his live-in relationship, the one which he was pursuing with many others at the same time, but this one makes him basically homeless.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He ends up living with his brother for the time being, as his wife is has gone on a trip from which she might not return to him, and there is the need for someone to look after the child. Even though neither Monika or Stefan wants to continue with that ad, the agencies are adamant that they are the ones suitable for the job. Monika particularly does not want to be seen with Stefan on the posters and billboards all around the city, which are already full of her pictures in swimwear. But her father’s debt keep following her even at school, and she is forced to go back to shooting the ad again. The company is looking for something for something special from the two leads of the campaign, and they feel that without it, they are done. They keep trying for something different, and they manage to get something working in their favour after a long time of brainstorming. Meanwhile, Monika is warned that her students have to score well, or she would lose her job. Now, what awaits both Monika and also Stefan who seems to be beginning to get along with her both versions?

The defence of Squared Love :: The one thing that you would love more than the other things is that the movie maintains its status as a romantic comedy really well, and it never gets melodramatic, even though there are those emotional moments – the feel-good elements maintain a certain amount of strength, and it can be seen at its best by the end of the movie. There is something about this light-hearted romance which will make you wish to watch it with admiration for the proceedings rather than the usual feelings. Despite the whole thing being related to modeling, we do notice a certain amount of cuteness related the proceedings – the leading lady remains differently beautiful in those avatars, as one would find it difficult to recognize one as better than the other; yet the teacher avatar is indeed more suitable to her. The movie is indeed a modern age fairy-tale which can be watched by everyone in the family; it is the kind of film which is good for everyone. The experience is indeed beautiful, without ever falling into melodrama or sadness at any point – we remain happy to watch this one, and remain so throughout it.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does keep us reminded that this kind of ideas have been used many times, and it does not really try to come up with any innovation with the basic idea. The subtitles might not be exact too, as some people seems to have commented about the film in different platforms; I would have expected some nice romantic dialogues translated with poetic beauty to English with the right use of words. It is also surprising that people are not able to recognize the young lady as the common school teacher and not the swimsuit model, but the situation is still better than some of the Bollywood movies in which the wife is not even able to recognize the husband – the students whom she teaches are able to know that both are the same without taking much of time. The role of the other protagonist is also not that well defined, as only his nature seems somewhat established – as about one quarter of the film is done, he is more of a model than a journalist; one would be forced to guess whether he is some Youtube, Instagram or Facebook influencer due to which he has the fans and admirers.

The performers of the soul :: The proceedings are led well by Adrianna Chlebicka, who is perfect in two identities of the character – there is excellence in her work as the model which she might have already been familiar with, and she does even better as the teacher who takes care of the children so well. She has her emotions expressed with beauty and quality like not many actresses have done in relation to such a role, and there are many close-up shots which seems to favour her. She should be part of some romantic flick in Hollywood at some point of time. Mateusz Banasiuk seems to suit the role well, even though the character is not that clearly defined related to what he does for a living, as he writes, models, lives with girlfriends and in the end, has a lot of fans, a number which only increases in time. Then, there is the chemistry between the two, which works like a dream – there is even a certain amount of cuteness related to it. Mirosław Baka as the leading lady’s father and Tomasz Karolak as the school principal have their notable roles. Helena Mazur who plays the child is also a lovely addition to the film.

How it finishes :: Squared Love feels like the usual romantic love story which one would like to keep watching again and again in different forms. I have not really been fans of romantic comedies, especially when they are not in Malayalam – the Bollywood ones with romance are the strangest and the dumbest of them all, with infinite ridiculous scenes and some really dumb music. It seems that without nepotism, acting also gets to a higher level. After all, there is nothing worse than watching a Bollywood romance with the so called superstars dancing and showing lust in the name of pure love; that would make this one a fresh breath of air in comparison. At least Poland knows knows how to make a fairy-tale kind of love story work. Bollywood could give it a match when it learns something from the Malayalam films, not just with the evergreen Romantic classics like Summer in Bethlehem, Niram and Aniyathipravu of the past, but also those which came in the modern age like Anarkali. Until then, we have the movies from Eastern Europe in support too.

Release date: 11th February 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Filip Zylber
Starring: Adrianna Chlebicka, Mateusz Banasiuk, Agnieszka Żulewska, Anna Smołowik, Krzysztof Czeczot, Mirosław Baka, Tomasz Karolak

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Last Mercenary

Vampire Owl: I thought we were done with the vampire mercenaries.

Vampire Bat: Vampires haven’t been mercenaries for a very long time.

Vampire Owl: So the last mercenary is not the last vampire.

Vampire Bat: Well, humans are the best mercenaries as murder is easy for them.

Vampire Owl: At least we have kept them away from the realm for now.

Vampire Bat: They are still very close to getting here through the portal.

Vampire Owl: I thought that the portal was sealed by the selected team of witches, sorcerers and the new necromancers.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but with the human greed letting them achieve more at all times, you never know.
Vampire Owl: Should I inform Doctor Frankenstein then?

Vampire Bat: Well, never inform Mr Frankenstein who always makes things worse.

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

What is the movie about? :: Richard Brumere (Jean-Claude Van Damme), also known as The Mist is a former secret service agent presently working as a mercenary, one of the best of his category during his time – he is forced to return to France, as his son with an Arabic woman named Farah (Ouidad Elma), Archibald Al Mahmoud (Samir Decazza) is falsely accused of arms and drug trafficking. Meanwhile, people are also looking for him to come back so that they can finish the trouble which is him. After getting back to Paris, he meets Dalila (Assa Sylla) who has been a friend. He realizes that someone is using the immunity that Archibald received from Richard, and there are weapons involved. It seems that someone named Simyon Novak (Nassim Lyes) was involved, and he had used this particular immunity. The police is preparing for Richard to come and try to free his son, so that they can shoot and kill him in self-defence. But he takes the unexpected path, and with the help of his former friends in the secret service, manages to get his son out of prison.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The man who was taking care of Archibald, Fernand (Michel Cremades) is also dead. Archibald who is not ready to take that death, and also not prepared to take another father, doesn’t want to heard about Richard at all. Alexandre Lazare (Alban Ivanov) at the ministry seems to have something about the present situation. Then there is Paul Lesueur (Eric Judor) who seems to have even more in mind. His plans seem to go deeper than ever. Their plan is to kidnap Alexandre and gather enough information. But Archibald, wanting only to be known as Archie is not really the co-operating type. He is the one irritating child resembling his more irritating mother, the one who refuses to grow up, and doesn’t even take responsibility for his own foolish actions. They are basically up against a nation named Taarghistan, and those who support them are former agents who are basically too old for most of the operations. Can Richard and his team fight against all odds and be successful? At least Dalila and her brother seems to be confident about that. Well, lack experience brings more confidence, doesn’t it?

The defence of The Last Mercenary :: The movie focuses on both action and comedy at the same time, and it does manage to hold the two sides together. The focus here seems to be in making an entertaining journey with the usual comic-like spy, but not in a serious manner. The movie does bring some innovation into the usual stuff too. The memorable moments of the film including the protagonists driving a learner’s school car and the fight with two unsuspecting women guards wearing gold. Then there is the last fight which is kept funny, without losing out on style. Most of the performers also seem to be nicely chosen. The visuals are really good, and you never really get tired of seeing Paris on the screen – the big city which is on everyone’s list of places to visit, and another one of those places, most of us might never visit due to the big amount of money that people in this part of the world will have to spend to get there and enjoy the glory. Along with the humour during most of the time, the action is also effective, and this is the combination that successfully brings the entertainment here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does get slow at times, as there are lot of unnecessary moments – it could have surely done without a few minutes; we do have the feeling that it has been stretched to become longer without any real need for the same. There is the humour for sure, but there are those foolish scenes which are rather too dumb to take. It is okay to make use of that to add to the comic side, but there is the need for some borders to be set. Having the high official on the road like a clown feels very much ridiculous. The son spends rather too much time in being irritating too, and some of the other characters here feel rather unnecessary considering how the movie progresses. Some of the dialogues feel strange rather than anything else. Even when taking it as a parody, there is rather too much here to keep us away from being interested in some of these characters. It could have also had some more of serious action from the protagonist, because we are always looking for that, considering what a big name he has been in the past – some people might be watching the film just for him.

The performers of the soul :: We see Jean-Claude Van Damme back here again, and he is one actor who wish to see coming back like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger – one among the three big action stars from the childhood. After all, he has been the Cyborg, Kickboxer and the Universal Soldier from those nostalgic times of childhood. Well, one would feel that he hadn’t really left, but none of his movies made it to the big screen around here for a very long time, except for those in which he was side-lined. He has that classic entry here too, even though there is never that big an action sequence for him to perform, with the movie never getting that serious. Well, he is never really short of the moments, as we look around. The one performer who seems to be of fine support here is Assa Sylla. At the same time, Alban Ivanov brings the comic side to a stronger level. Samir Decazza just goes along as the irritating son, and manages well for most of the time. Eric Judor has the villainy at work quite well.

How it finishes :: The Last Mercenary, as an action comedy flick, feels like a parody. We enjoy the world that the French setting brings us, as we still ruminate and be sad about the fact that most of us might never visit Paris, considering the fact that we will never have that much money to spare, visiting from this part of the world. Well, being the rich bourgeois from here seems to be a long way away, unless you are part of any reserved category or somehow land on a government job – being the politician is the next refuge. The enjoyable ride here adds to the list of action movies that has enough of the humour and action to keep it moving strong. It has Van Damme in action, and this is more or less like seeing some nostalgia coming back again like we had seen past coming back again like in Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Escape Plan and Terminator: Genisys or Terminator: Dark Fate. Then there was The Expendables to have them all together. You are never that far away from the action stars you witnessed on the screen as a child.

Release date: 30th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: David Charhon
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Alban Ivanov, Assa Sylla, Samir Decazza, Eric Judor, Ouidad Elma, Miou-Miou, Valerie Kaprisky, Michel Cremades, Nassim Lyes, Oleksiy Gorbunov

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

<<< Click here to go to the previous review before the same.

<<< Click here to go to the first French film review here.

<<< Click here to go to the first big French film review here.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Black Island

Vampire Owl: Are we talking about the island near the Northern Witches territory?

Vampire Bat: That one is called the Dark Island of Magic.

Vampire Owl: Well, that depends on the translation.

Vampire Bat: Let the vampire elders deal with the translation of ancient languages.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein is good with languages.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr Frankenstein was talking about computer languages.

Vampire Owl: He has worked with the Northern Witches in relation to creating new magic potions through scientific experiments.

Vampire Bat: This is why I told you that he is a pseudo-scientist of no real value.

Vampire Owl: You should say the same thing when he wins the Vampire Nobel Prize,  and gets elected to the Vampire Science Academy.

Vampire Bat: There is no Vampire Nobel Prize for pure nonsense.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Jonas Hansen (Philip Froissant) is an orphan who lives under the sponsorship of the last member of his family. He recently lost his grandmother to the attack of a dog on a beach, while his parents had died in a car crash caused by another driver, both incidents seemingly having something strange about it. Nina Cohrs (Mercedes Muller) who lives in the island is instantly attracted to Jonas, and they become good friends. Most of the girls of the island do have some attraction towards him. It is that kind of a place where there is not that much of a modernity – beautiful scenery seems to make the best out of tourism, but even then, not many tourists visit the area. The place doesn’t have a lot of things happening around there either, and it remains a place of serenity throughout the year. Helena Jung (Alice Dwyer) takes over the German classes in an island which is located far away from the mainland in Europe. She is the replacement for a teacher who just had an accident, and would take a lot of time to make a return.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The new teacher feels like someone whom everyone would like, and she remains friendly with almost every student. She asks the students to call her by her first name when they are not at the educational institution, or when nobody else is listening. She also shows great interest in making the students write poetry and improve their creative writing skills, and with the friendly attitude, becomes a favourite of almost all the students. Soon, Helena seems to get really close to Jonas, or rather too close for a teacher and student, while Nina maintains a certain amount of dislike for her. Nina’s suspicions are at place, but the relationship between the teacher and the student only becomes more intimate. There are too many secrets related to the new teacher, and any attempt to venture any deeper into it will put Nina in peril. But can she stay away from this mystery as she cares too much about Jonas? Will Jonas really understand what is going on here? What is the motive of Helena, and why would she choose to be in a remote island instead of the city from where she arrived?

The defence of Black Island :: The movie does work as a mystery thriller a few minutes into action itself. There is the eerie feeling that spreads through the movie especially due to the setting on an island which reminds one of that strange world surrounded by water shown in Sacrifice. The twists await us, and the movement forward, even though slow, is rather smooth. It also makes sure that there is no falling into that usual pit of nonsense with the relationship at the centre. The visuals are really good, as we are introduced into a world with natural beauty within, and surrounded by beaches and crystal clear ocean water, reminding us to go for a journey soon enough. Well, after that COVID-19 scenario, travel hasn’t really opened up for most of us, and it is nice to see this world of beauty at least on the screen. The atmosphere does suit the thirst for revenge, and we know that this kind of a world can have even a serial killer on the loose with maximum effect. There will be the moments to cherish right in between.

The claws of flaw :: This is not the kind of idea that one would need to appreciate for theme – elder teachers falling in love with too young a student is not something that should be encouraged, even with seemingly decent movies like Premam which would use pretensions to play with the minds of the unsuspecting people – as part of a plan of vengeance, that wouldn’t look that bad in this case; there is enough of a past around here. Still, the relationship should have looked more convincing, and the things around here looks rather too easy. These are the kind of things which are to be dealt with more intensity. The movie also kills off one of the most interesting characters in there rather too early. The investigation into all of these should have also been stronger, and people in this movie are not as smart as they should have been. The moments which are of importance here should have also been edited better, showing them as the parts which shouldn’t be missed. The movie could have also picked up pace too.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is mostly an Alice Dwyer work, with her as the centre of attraction. There are still moments when one would feel that she could have been completely into this case of revenge, but at times, she seems be not in focus at more than one thing. It could be more because of her character not being written with that vision that a revenge-seeker should have. A stronger character would have been better for our eyes and the rest of the senses. Yet, she maintains that mystery about her well, especially during the first half of the flick. Mercedes Muller plays a strong role, and she is lovely in her infatuation towards her long-time friend. She seems to be the one intelligent and determined person like nobody else in the movie, and she surely required a screen presence throughout the movie. Philip Froissant plays a usual character who surprisingly has too less to do other than listening to his teacher who became the lover and the friends around him – he is reduced into a person of not that much of importance. The other performers are of not that importance in this small world.

How it finishes :: I have come across some of the interesting German movies in the last few years, and they seem to keep a certain level with the thrillers. Whether it was Blood Red Sky, Freaks or Breakdown Forest, there is some attempt at thinking differently instead of going with the usual things. Well, horror movies and thrillers are the only things which seem to keep me going in this world of chaos and hopelessness. There has been the down-feeling which came with the Corona virus which doesn’t seem to leave, and it feels worse as we are going back to the society. Still, when we see the hatred that is seen in movies like these, we feel that this is real, a reflection of the society that we know, the one full of liars and cheaters. We have to accept horror as a normal part of life, more real than romance and drama which are considered too real. With some more focus, this movie could have done better, and as of now, it goes on as a thriller which also a work of drama and mystery that takes over on many occasions. The movie works better than what some of the reviews had talked about.

Release date: 18th August 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Miguel Alexandre
Starring: Jolene Andersen, Alice Dwyer, Susan Angelo, Hanns Zischler, Mercedes Muller, Jonas Hansen

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

<<< Click here to go to the first German film reviewed here.

<<< Click here to go to the first full-length German film reviewed here.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Don’t Kill Me

Vampire Owl: At some point, a werewolf asked me not to kill him.

Vampire Bat: So, you have started fighting werewolves on your own.

Vampire Owl: No, it was an arena battle during the last carnival.

Vampire Bat: Why would you kill a werewolf on an arena?

Vampire Owl: It was part of a great, memorable drama.

Vampire Bat: I knew it. You wouldn’t even slay a zombie juggernaut.

Vampire Owl: Why would I? Let them eat the brains of evil humans.

Vampire Bat: All zombies are not interested in human brains. Some of them just sleep in their graves at all times.

Vampire Owl: They are not undead – they are just the dead.

Vampire Bat: Well, zombies do have the right to make their choices too. Some of them even fall in love.

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

What is the movie about? :: Mirta (Alica Pagani) is madly in love with her boyfriend and drug addict Robin (Rocco Fasano) who is detested by her parents. One day, she decides to have drugs with him, and an overdose leads to the death of both of them. But soon enough, she finds herself waking up in the tomb. She escapes from her tomb in the mausoleum where she was laid to rest and starts walking towards her home. But she understands that she is dead, and leaves the house soon enough. The police informs her parents that someone has stolen her parents. She knows that her body has started decaying, and there are also people hunting her. A strange person also visits her home, and says that they are going to protect the living from the dead – he adds that the parents are going to see their child very soon, but she won’t be the person whom they knew earlier. Soon, she ends up committing her first murder, and after eating the man, feels much better.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: But soon enough, she will understand that there is something more going on out there. There is a sect that has been hunting her kind from 1600s – destroying those who come back to life instead of staying dead, known to the secret organizations as the overdead. The group seems to be heavily organized, with lots of money, weapons and other resources. Mirta does find some help, but she wishes to go back and find Robin, hoping that he will also wake up at some point, as they died in almost the same way. But she is captured by the group, and is put in chains. It is then that she realizes that Robin has also come back to life. But that would also leave her with more revelations about what has happened with her life. It will also mean that she will have to make her own decisions against her heart. Where will that lead her in the end? Is there a war coming between the humans and the overdead? Will she choose one of those sides?

The defence of Don’t Kill Me a.k.a. Non Mi Uccidere :: This is a movie which comes up with some fine surprises, and even shocks in relation to its zombie world. It doesn’t hesitate to try something different, and take a few risks with its progression and scenes. The ability to stay unique in a world of repetitions is to appreciated. There are a few bloody moments in the final scene of the movie, and that result of an undead fighting the hunters has some quality setting which is going to stay for long. The moments of the protagonists meeting after dead are strangely interesting too, and there was that twist that worked out there. The bath scene seemed to point to some of the tales of the witches from the past, and maybe this will also come up with more links if there is a sequel. The visuals are really good here, not just with the scenery, but also with people and objects. The environment has worked in favour of the movie too. The message here seems to be about being careful about whom you are obsessed with, and that it is not about looks in a relationship. The movie also encourages one to take the path required instead of going with the flow.

Positives and negatives :: Don’t Kill Me does more than what was expected from it, and we are only to witness the same. It doesn’t overuse any of the special effects, and keep them to the minimum, but in an effective way. The idea here seems to be about using lower budget to achieve more. It does leave a few things to the imagination, without trying to explain them all. It could have also linked its sequences better, instead of seemingly straying from the path to come up with one scene or the other. Despite the zombie existence, you would still imagine Alice Pagani in a vampire movie, because the looks seem to work well with such an option – the Gothic world seems to suit her well. I would like to see her as part of an Underworld movie at some point of time. She is also suitable for the mood of Byzantium and Interview with the Vampire. The ability to move away from silly romance and keeping it natural also helps here – this movie could have easily been Twilight, but thankfully it is not. This one is a serious adventure at hand. The blood and gore is present, and still continues to be in control.

The performers of the soul :: The movie has its soul fixed on Alice Pagani, an actress who has made the transformation into the undead very smooth and believable – you don’t become the undead that easily and make it feel natural. She has this one in control throughout its run, as the confused youngster in love who doesn’t know much about what she has been forced to go through. Even in a decayed zombie form, she remains beautiful, and displaying the human confusion seemingly in an attempt to retain her humanity. She is there in every key moment of this movie, as if she is this movie, and it is all about her. Despite the thriving human beauty, she will make a fine undead, maybe even a vampire – Hollywood should have her. Rocco Fasano, for most of the movie, is the Robert Pattinson of this movie, the much liked Edward Cullen who is without his Twilight – has the looks of the undead working for him. They have some interesting scenes together, but there are not that much either – the romance doesn’t get overdone, and that is a nice way to keep away from the commonly expected undead infatuation.

How it finishes :: There are the usual romantic zombie movies like Warm Bodies which try to go the Twilight way, and then there is this one, which tries to be as divergent as possible. It knows that it has to be innovative in the zombie horror genre, as the idea has been repeated too many times. This is the realization which makes the whole thing better. One can only feel that Andrea De Sica is a visionary director who has brought another zombie origins story which can have a prequel or a sequel according to the need, as this one doesn’t end here at all. Italian movies have had some quality works in the last few months, like Security and A Classic Horror Story, both of them coming up with their own divergence in the process. When we look at these movies, despite the genres to which they belong, there is no exaggeration at all. Well, you know how wrong you can go with the zombies, and how much nonsense can be added in the name of the undead – here, we get them in our world, without those unnecessary ornaments or overdose of romance. The low ratings seem to be from those who expected a Twilight, but the beauty of this movie is that it is not here.

Release date: 21st April 2021 (Italy); 21st February 2022 (Netflix)
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Andrea De Sica
Starring: Alice Pagani, Rocco Fasano, Silvia Calderoni, Fabrizio Ferracane, Anita Caprioli, Sergio Albelli, Giacomo Ferrara, Esther Elisha, Kateryna Aresi, Francesca Alice Antonini, Federico Ielapi, Marco Boriero, Marco Matteo Donat-Cattin, Marco Pancrazi

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

<<< Click here to go to the first Italian film review here.

<<< Click here to go to the last Italian film review here.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Yara

Vampire Owl: Another Italian film? This is very soon.

Vampire Bat: Security was such a movie of higher class.

Vampire Owl: A Classic Horror Story was also a movie of class.

Vampire Bat: I am very much interested in investigations more.

Vampire Owl: Well, not all investigations work well enough.

Vampire Bat: Some can still be Memories or Cold Case.

Vampire Owl: And the others are just lost without any trace.

Vampire Bat: Some movies deserve to be lost completely.

Vampire Owl: Yet, some dumb mass masala movies become blockbusters of a life-time.

Vampire Bat: The dumb human fans. We don’t really need them to watch good movies. They are bloody disgrace to any civilized society.

[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: In 2010, a 13 year old Yara Gambirasio (Chiara Bono), who is trying to be a rhythmic gymnast goes missing, after leaving Brembate di Sopra Sport Centre alone. On that snowy evening, she doesn’t reach her home which is less than a kilometres away. As she doesn’t pick up her phone either, her mother Maura Gambirasio (Sandra Toffolatti) goes searching for her in and around the sport centre, but is able to find no trace, except for the fact that she had left at 6:30 itself. Her father Fulvio Gambirasio (Mario Pirrello) is quick to report to the police station. All attempts to find her seems to reach nowhere, as if she had vanished into thin air. The police is not able to find any clue, as the signal of the mobile phone can’t be tracked, and nobody seems to have seen her on the way. She was actually not at the sports centre for her usual training, but to leave a radio there for practice.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Her friends tell the police officers that she didn’t spend that much of time there, and didn’t even stay to talk. The officer in charge, Letizia Ruggeri (Isabella Ragonese) decides to go to any extent to find the killer, even though there is not enough proof available. Then there is a story about a pervert who might have been spying on the girls, and therefore all male visitors were banned, even from visiting the boys who were practicing there. The police dogs seem to be on to something, but with no result – the CCTV all around the area is no exception. The family of Yara is disheartened, especially her sister who was very close to her. The police wonders if the family made some enemies, but that also ends without any positive results. They find the dairy of Yara which has some usual details, and no clue to someone who might be looking forward to kidnap her. Yara was never involved in anything terrible, as she was the near perfect girl in her actions. The people at the school and neighbours were also very happy about her.

And where does these search procedures lead as time is running out? :: Yara might be the one person who had the least probability of getting kidnapped, and the search goes on. Later, her dead body is found in the middle of nowhere, in an advanced state of decay, as if it has been there since the time when the girl had gone missing. This makes the situation more serious. Her head and body has blows with some blunt instrument, and the attacks feel to be continuous. But there has been so sexual violence, and that baffles the investigators. Letizia feels that the man who did this was insecure, and they should continue to be afraid of him doing the same thing again and again, unless they catch him soon enough. They have the DNA of the man who is supposed to be the attacker, but will that be enough? How big should the database would be in that case, as almost everyone who were in that area in those days needs to tested? Are these investigators good enough to find the culprit even then, as it has been too long, and enough time was there for the person to escape?

The defence of Yara :: The movie has an interesting investigation going on throughout its run, and there is no place for anything else. It is directly into the same, and any other incident or unrelated character won’t matter around here. In doing the same, Isabella Ragonese is successful as she portrays the main character, but she is all about the investigation only, as we look at the character. Chiara Bono’s presence as the teenage victim is small, but remains likable. Those who play the parents of the child, Mario Pirrello and Sandra Toffolatti also come up with some good work. Those who are familiar with the real-life incident might find the movie to be a lot more interesting. The ability of the movie to never go over dramatic can be appreciated, but that leaves it without emotions. A killer without a motive like in Forensic is always better than the vengeful fool in Anjaam Pathira – this film also gets that right with the reason. The murderer could be anyone, and the person should be found by procedure like shown here, and not by a psycho father with fascination for shades and coats like in The Great Father. Then you do love the locations here too.

The claws of flaw :: It is surprising that the police is providing too much of data about an unknown killer to the press – the murderer should be watching that, I would believe. When everything about a possible serial killer is left on the media, he should just be escaping or trying to murder the investigating officer in the usual movies. The film also goes slowly for any kind of thriller, and there is no real attempt to speed up things around here. At least decreasing the length of the already short movie would have been a fine choice – it is something that can go for a maximum of one and a quarter hours with this content before getting into the lagging level, without adding more moments of creative recreation. There were so many scenes which could have made the movie better, and they could have done that without making anyone angry – the small details can always come in, or some other unrelated, but still interesting incident could be of use. We know that the makers of movies don’t listen to us, but we the audience see the opportunities all the time.

How it finishes :: There is no doubt about the fact that Yara could have achieved more, as it already has the content ready with a real-life case – being inspired from real-life incidents do bring some restrictions on the creative imagination, but brings a better base to start working on. I would have expected the police department to do better in the early stages of working on the case too – being duped by a random person who don’t have that much of an intellect, money or influence feels rather strange; getting no clue is a little bit too much for any office. The movie’s closeness to a documentary might not be liked by everyone either – there is not much of a development of the main characters; one wonders if that is because of the feeling that there is the need to keep close to reality as much as possible. Even in a place where things can get controversial at all times, Virus based on real-life incidents did well, and so that can’t be an excuse. Still, this one goes through the procedures effectively, and comes out well out of the whole thing as a pretty well done investigation.

Release date: 18th October 2021 (Italy); 5th November 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Marco Tullio Giordana
Starring: Isabella Ragonese, Chiara Bono, Alessio Boni, Roberto Zibetti, Aiman Machhour, Mario Pirrello, Sandra Toffolatti, Thomas Trabacchi, Lorenzo Acquaviva, Donatella Bartoli, Andrea Bruschi, Guglielmo Favilla, Nicole Fornaro, Miro Landoni

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Photocopier

Vampire Owl: I remember taking the photocopy of the Vampire Deed of Blood.

Vampire Bat: It is originally called the Nocturnal Crimson Deed.

Vampire Owl: That reminds me of the movie, Nocturnal Animals.

Vampire Bat: Do you remember the other Indonesian movies we had watched?

Vampire Owl: Yes, two of them – Impetigore and Gundala.

Vampire Bat: They were some very interesting flicks with a divergence.

Vampire Owl: Yes, one horror film and a superhero flick.

Vampire Bat: It took us some time to watch another Indonesian movie.

Vampire Owl: Well, we can’t watch them all, right?

Vampire Bat: We never get to watch enough of them after the arrival of corona virus and the following warning.

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

What is the movie about? :: Suryani (Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon) is a college student who is also part of the theatre group at the campus, named Mata Hari. After the performance, she returns home to a very strict father and a mother who is always working, far away from the city. At home, she finds out that their performance called Medusa et Perseus in the Student Theatre Festical was accepted for the Asian Student Festival in Kyoto, Japan; her father asks her to focus on her studies. There is a party at the house of their leader Rama Soemarno (Giulio Parengkuan) to celebrate the triumph, but her father does warn her against it, especially related to consuming alcohol and wearing revealing dress. Another girl, a senior named Farah (Lutesha) also asks her not to go to the party, and advices her to instead focus on getting the scholarship that she had always wanted. She feels that Farah is saying so because he was kicked out of the theatre group. The group also finds the suitable sponsors for their flight tickets to Japan.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The party feels more wild than she had expected, and forgetting what her father had told her, she decides to have the alcohol, even though not without difficulty in drinking it for the first time. She also forgets the earlier decision to leave the party before it gets too late, as she enjoys a lot under the influence of the alcoholic drinks. In the morning, she wakes up very late, and arrives for the scholarship interview on the next day just in time. But she is embarrassed in front of the interviewers who had checked her social media, which had her pictures of drinking alcohol and enjoying the party. Even though she has good scores and attendance, they reiterate to her that drinking alcohol and attending late night parties are not Indonesian culture; they are looking forward to give scholarships to students who set good examples and not those who could go on to become nuisance for the society in the future. They also added that instead of doing work within her department which was Computer Science, she was wasting time with theatre. She had also attended the interview in party wear, and has to walk out of the room humiliated.

And what more is there for the girl in trouble right now? :: The teacher asks her to join the class only after paying her fees, which she can only do with the scholarship. Back at home, she comes to know that her parents had received the message that her scholarship was terminated due to inappropriate conduct. Her father throws her out of the house for breaking the religious laws by drinking alcohol, and tells her that everybody knows about it now, as some guy was carrying her back home, knocking on each door on the way to know her residence. That had caused a big mess in the neighbourhood as it was three in the morning, causing humiliation to the whole family. He asks her to leave and spend time in repentence. The leading performer of the theatre, Anggun (Dea Panendra), the party host Rama (Giulio Parengkuan) and the group leader Tariq (Jerome Kurnia), are all ready to help her, but nobody knows what exactly happened in the drunken state and who uploaded those pictures of her being drunk at the party. Now, she has to find it out herself, can she?

The defence of Photocopier a.k.a. Penyalin Cahaya :: Photocopier nicely goes through the adventure from the beginning to end, keeping us curious, and as a part of the whole mystery that is happening around here. Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon nicely goes through the role of the desperate student hoping to prove to everyone that she didn’t do what she was accused of doing, also desperate to get her scholarship back. The feeling of a curious as well as a sad and depressed girl is always there. Lutesha plays the next person to be of interest here, and her role is also worked out with quality. Dea Panendra as Anggun and Jerome Kurnia as Tariq remain strong parts of the work too. Ruth Marini and Lukman Sardi who plays the protagonist’s father are strong with the emotional side. There is no questioning the movie’s emotional strength as much as its strong elements of mystery, which seems to be almost impossible to solve, unless passed on as hallucinations or with a high dose of luck added here and there. Giulio Parengkuan and Chicco Kurniawan also have their moments.

Positives and negatives :: This is one of those movies which could have actually gone darker with its contents – instead it chooses the safe path. It still has its dark side hiding in plain sight, but strong enough. There seems to be a certain amount of hesitation in taking the risks with this film too. The movie has its fine setting in different parts of Indonesia, and this is a tale which could be put in the worlds of a few other nations too. With a few red herrings, it makes one feel that the innocents and the culprits and vice versa, while also making one wonder if there is actually any mystery about all of these or if it is already in the head. In a movie which feels close enough to reality, you won’t expect this many twists and turns, but there are many, and most of the characters here are not really what they seem. The movie talks about privacy in a world of mobile, CCTV and hidden cameras as well as the factors working on physical and mental health. The movie ponders on life, friendships, trust and betrayal at the same time. Still, there is the question about the uploading of the photos in social media that remains – the film seems to be too abstract about that.

How it finishes :: This is the third Indonesian movie that I am watching, and there was a certain interest in watching such a movie during our earlier trip to Bali too. This is that kind of a movie which doesn’t want us to skip forward even if it is not that quick – we do feel the need to be part of it. The negative effects of social media and lack of safety during night parties are the two things that this movie adds along with the interesting investigation that goes on here with the thrills and twists. It is also a reminder that people and things around are not the same as what we think they are. The movie reminds us that nobody is safe, and not everything that you hear from the most trusted people are true. Well, we know that those who are too rich and influential always gets away unless facing someone of a similar or higher status – in the case of celebrities, we have seen how people get away with everything. Well, not with Photocopier, as it does have the power of many. As it follows a realistic route, there is no stopping it from being something we can connect at points.

Release date: 8th October 2021 (Indonesia); 13th January 2022 (Netflix)
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Wregas Bhanuteja
Starring: Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon, Lutesha, Chicco Kurniawan, Dea Panendra, Jerome Kurnia, Giulio Parengkuan, Lukman Sardi, Ruth Marini, Mian Tiara, Yayan Ruhian, Landung Simatupang, Rukman Rosadi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ghost Lab

Vampire Owl: Now, the ghosts are in need of labs too?

Vampire Bat: Well, even your favourite pseudo-scientist has a lab.

Vampire Owl: It seems that you are not done making fun of Doctor Frankenstein, the greatest inventor of them all.

Vampire Bat: Mr Frankenstein is not a true immortal. He will be dead soon.

Vampire Owl: He has prepared and drunk the elixir of immortality. He is sure to live forever, at least when he is part of this realm.

Vampire Bat: You think that a human can be equal to us.

Vampire Owl: He hasn’t been human for a very long time!

Vampire Bat: Well, you will know the true immortals after watching this film.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about the second Thai film we will be watching to be part of this website.

Vampire Bat: Yes, The Whole Truth then, and now this one.

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

What is the movie about? :: Wee (Thanapob Leeratanakachorn) and Gla (Paris Intarakomalyasut) are two doctors who are highly obsessed about getting some scientific proof that the ghosts are real, after they had witnessed a certain haunting occuring in their hospital. They were the kind of people who wouldn’t believe in the existence of spirits before that, but not anymore. They wouldn’t be making fun of the shamans or any ghost hunter after the incident. Wee’s mother has been in the hospital for a very long time, and it also one reason why he had decided to become a doctor. He would keep saying that if there was something like ghosts, science would have detected them early enough, like detecting those particles from space. Gla still thinks that it is absurd for someone like him to not to believe in ghosts as he believes in aliens. It was the apparition of man who was burned to his death that appeared with a body of burns. The two doctors were the only people who save the creature, and it didn’t appear on camera at all.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Wee wonders if that was a case of hallucination, but two people can’t hallucinate the same thing at the same time, which leaves many questions. Gla is only happy to have seen a ghost in the end, as he did have his own doubts about the supernatural existence. He feels that he had seen the ghost of his dad, a few days after his death, but as he was a child then and as it was for just a second too, he couldn’t be so sure. Wee decides to join his friend in proving that there are really ghosts wandering around the human world. They call it the Northern Lights Quest. They want it to be that great an experiment and discovery as Newton or Einstein had come up with, and people will study about them. It turns out that Gla has already done a lot of field work in secret, visiting all the famous haunted places as well as local cemeteries, accident scenes and mortuaries. The fact that cameras can’t record the mechanism doesn’t help them in finding the proof.

And more is to happen with this particular search for ghosts? :: The absence of cameras means that they have to make the ghosts appear to other people too, but there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to how the creatures appear. They understand that they just can’t write some fiction like the authors of the past and make people that it is close to reality; they won’t be able to share the realities of others who would say that they have seen something supernatural. Even the once popular vampires and demons don’t seem to have that market anymore. But it turns out that there are some invisible ghosts too, and they might be making things happen – maybe, a few random things in the hospital might be caused by them. Well, they feel that the best place to find a ghost might always be a hospital, and not anywhere else, as so many people die in the building, and the morgue has the bodies that might bring the ghosts out. But none of these would count as solid proof. With these late night experiments affecting the quality of work for the doctors, there seems to be the need to find a clue as soon as possible, but can they?

The defence of Ghost Lab :: This movie does have an interesting beginning that serves well to keep us engaged in the whole thing, as if something grand is worth waiting for. Thanapob Leeratanakachorn and Paris Intarakomalyasut come up with a good performance, especially a team. The former’s continued presence means that he would always have more to do on screen throughout the movie. Nuttanicha Dungwattanawanich only has a smaller role in the first half, in a movie which is so much about the two leading actors – yet she is there for enough time especially in the second half, and handles the emotional side really well, as she seems to be very good with those emotions. She surely has a lovely and serene way of handling the things around even with the overflow of emotions. There are also the mother-sister roles which are minute in length, but performed very well. The movie makes one wonder about the borders which one is not supposed to cross, especially in the name of ambition or pride. There is something innovative about how it tries to get the ghost world to be in contact with the humans.

The claws of flaw :: The film doesn’t make the best of use of the ghosts which appear around there, and the horror itself is not strong enough, as we move forward. Some scenes don’t seem to make much of sense though, even within a movie about the supernatural. With some science involved people would always be looking for a certain amount of logic though. Even though the protagonists are trying to cross the line with all that they have, the movie is not trying enough especially with the possibility of further divergence always present. The film was never supposed to go that much normal – it should have brought the mysterious and the spectacular to a high level instead. There could have also been so much to think about, and different things to have as messages, but it pauses with that thought. Some of the terrifying moments in the end could have done more for the film, and it seems to try to end without that expected blast, as if they are already tired of what has happened so far. The seemingly unnecessary deviation from the genre and subgenres have done it no good, as we look closer.

How it finishes :: There are some interesting points being made here in the form of the different horror movie here – Ghost Lab is a search for ghosts that goes on and on. We are not strangers to experiments in horror, and the movies like Malignant, It Follows, A Quite Place, Don’t Breathe and Lights Out are fine examples of the same. This movie from Thailand does shows the divergence which our usual Hollywood movies are often not sure about. It comes from the beautiful country, a mixture of magnificent modernity and charming natural beauty which I had witnessed during my visit to Bangkok and Pattaya, two years before the Corona virus pandemic had its viral say about tourism. During our visit to the malls, I did want to give a try to one or two of the Thai movies, as there was enough time to spend in Bangkok during the last two days of our presence there. The film did have the possibility of going the The Lazarus Effect way, but that path is not taken. Instead, it has a life of its own, and manages to make things working well with a certain amount of mystery always present.

Release date: 26th May 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Paween Purijitpanya
Starring: Thanapob Leeratanakachorn, Paris Intarakomalyasut, Nuttanicha Dungwattanawanich, Suquan Bulakul, Pearachanee Siralert, Natthawut Jenmana, Chaleeda Gilbert, Jinjuta Rattanaburi, Alanta Potjes, Prem Fakseemuang, Sombat Inopast, Pranya Sakiyalak

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rurouni Kenshin

Vampire Owl: Isn’t this the second Japanese movie that we are watching?

Vampire Bat: Yes, they were mostly overshadowed by Korean and Chinese films.

Vampire Owl: The name is quite tough here.

Vampire Bat: Your soul will get used to such names.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Japan is my dream country?

Vampire Bat: Japan is everyone’s dream country.

Vampire Owl: Except for the common vampires of our times.

Vampire Bat: Are you talking about the never-ending need to go to Romania?

Vampire Owl: Yes, the holy land dedicated to Uncle Dracula, especially on Halloween.

Vampire Bat: That trend had come down since the Russia invaded its neighbouring country, Ukraine. We, vampires are supposed to stay kilometres away from any terrible war caused by human kind. We are not violent people.

[Gets a porotta roll and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: The year is 1864, and Japan is now open to foreign trade. This means that a few people seek to end the rule of Shoguns and bring back the authority of the empire, with some of the being ambitious and the others filled with ideals. They are forced to face each other, and fighting goes on only to make the situation worse in the island nation which seeks progress with trade and commerce. Himura Kenshin (Takeru Satoh) who is also known as Hitokiri Battosai serves as a political assassin to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate which would eventually lead to the Meji Restoration and the later rise of Imperial Japan, finally leading to their participation in the Second World War and fall with the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The history goes a long way, and this is more like a civil war which will begin the events which will finally lead to a detailed epoch in the Japanese history with no security or value for human life. The young man of concern here, who is a skilled fighter with swords, joins the clan of Choshu, and begins to work with Katsura Kogoro (Issey Takahashi), their leader.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: During one of the fights in which he kills all the men, a member of the opposite gang refuses to die, and despite being impaled by sword multiple times, gives the assassin a cut on his face. This has Himura clearly disturbed instead of being cold with all the killings. Katsura understands that even after so many years of killing hundreds of men, his assassin is still not comfortable with killing people, a process which he keeps repeating. He feels that the young man hasn’t really grown up yet, and remains pure at heart, which means that there is no peace at heart. He is still the best fighter that he has known in years, but that wouldn’t change the heart. When Himura had earlier joined the group in a bid to overthrow the Shoguns, he hadn’t killed anyone, but the promise that he had shown was immense, unlike anyone whom he had seen among their fighters. He would keep on wondering if the man has finally has had enough of the fights and the brutal killings.

And what can bring a change to world which has only gotten worse with the civil wars? :: Katsura feels that there is the need to find a solution, as there is the need to end this continuous war, for which he needs as many hands holding the swords with expertise. Himura is still haunted by the memories of the man who refused to die, citing the reason of love in his life. One night, he goes on to have a drink of his own, and interferes when a lone woman named Yukishiro Tomoe (Kasumi Arimura) is bothered by a group of men who demand that the woman treats them with respect, and consider them as their heroes. After leaving the tavern, he is almost attacked by two drunkards from the tavern who are killed by an assassin with a chain. He manages to kill the assassin, but finds Yukishiro who had come to thank him, drenched in the blood of assassin, and she soon faints as a result of the shock from what she had just witnessed. He takes her back to his hideout, a place for the revolutionaries. The girl who feel thankful, decides to stay, much to his surprise, as he wonders why.

The defence of Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning :: The stylish action sequences begin the film’s progress very soon. The fights with the swords remain memorable, as there seems to be so much of speed and control related to them – it is like you take your eyes away from the screen for less than a second, and still you end up missing something. You are going to find it difficult to follow the pace of the very thin and agile swords which keep moving in all directions, but you enjoy what happens around. The characters remain interesting, and there seems to be something about almost everyone out there. The performers seem to be chosen with care, and the way they come up with the action scenes makes one wonder if they are really that well trained in all of these. Takeru Satoh leads well, Kasumi Arimura does the job with integrity. The movie nicely takes the fictional world and combines it with history. The emotional side also gains strength at times. The visuals are nice, not just with the big towns, but also with the nice little villages and the small homes surrounded by nature.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel to be too violent for at least a few people who are expecting more fights on the scene with blood and gore being hidden, but this is not really that martial arts or superhero movie to go through that route. This is also a little bit too long, considering the fact that the story is very much a predictable one, with not that much of innovation added here by looking at the possibilities in history. When action becomes the first and the one great choice, the plot suffers – it is quite a natural thing as we have seen in other movies – you just can’t satisfy everyone, and then the makers would prefer to go with what the crowd would like to see here. It seems to be very much hesitant to take the risk in different areas, when the challenges were present. The romance, even though present there, feels somewhat forced, even though the performers make it work without any trouble – after all, a love affair changing people all of a sudden is a stereotype which has been used for too long that we don’t really care about that anymore; then the ending which we can feel good enough to make a guess.

How it finishes :: This is not the franchise that we are familiar with, even though people of Japan should be very much familiar with the same. It is also based upon the manga series of the same name, which means more Japanese familiarity for sure – films inspired by comics have its own space like the video-game based works of our times. The movie takes the old style sword-fighting action to the next level, within its own charming setting – there will be no shortage of such action here. This is supposed to the fifth and final installment of this particular franchise about a nineteenth century assassin. But as it is also a prequel, it serves as a stand-alone movie which can be watched first, in the middle or last, and there is the placing in history which makes things easier to understand. Historical setting serve well when used with clarity and skill. We do feel that this a usual tragic tale about friendship and love in a world of war and chaos, but as we have the same arranged really well with the setting, the idea works effectively.

Release date: 4th June 2021 (Japan); 30th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Keishi Otomo
Starring: Takeru Satoh, Kasumi Arimura, Issey Takahashi, Nijiro Murakami, Masanobu Ando, Kazuki Kitamura Yosuke Eguchi

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

<<< Click here to go to the previous Japanese movie review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Security

What is the movie about? :: Roberto Santini (Marco D’Amore) is at the head of a security surveillance company, which takes care of the safety of some of the wealthiest people in the area. As the whole area is more or less like a beach resort, there are lots of tourists around, and due to its proximity to sea, there is also the possibility of having some ilegal immigrants running around, which makes the installment of security cameras rather necessary. His daughter, Angela Raffaelli Santini (Ludovica Martino) doesn’t listen to her parents. His wife Claudia Raffaelli Santini (Maya Sansa) is running for the post of mayor, and vows to make the place a safer area. But on an eventful night, a local girl, Maria Spezi (Beatrice Granno) is found with a bloody face on one of the cameras. She also seems to faint soon. The girl lands in the hospital with a dislocated shoulder, while Roberto’s marriage is not going great – their daughter, Angela is in a relationship with her much older creative writing professor, Steffano Thomassi (Silvio Muccino) who is recently divorced. Roberto is also in a relationship with Elena Ventini (Valeria Bilello), a single mother.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: As Roberto spends most of his time with the security cameras, even in the night, he rarely gets any sleep at all. Claudia is a conservative candidate, who is determined to become the first female mayor of the town, whatever it takes. Walter Spezi (Tommaso Ragno), Maria’s father is considered to be the man who was responsible for beating her up, but as she comes to her senses, she tells everyone that it was someone else, and a boy was involved. Walter is freed, but he does have a history of sexual assault and other abuses. Roberto doubts if Elena’s son Dario Ventini (Giulio Pranno) who was found drunk and driving was involved in the crime. Roberto and Claudia understand that Angela is in a relationship with an older man, and they feel that she is sleeping at his place while telling them that she was studying with her classmate (Lavinia Cafaro). Roberto tries to find out the secrets of Angela and Maria, while trying his best to keep Elena out of it, but can he really do that?

The defence of Security :: This is the fourth Italian movie on this website after Piranhas, Pinocchio and A Classic Horror Story, and my venture through the movies from Italy has only gotten more and more interesting – this movie should be a high point in that case. The thriller in this movie works smoothly, and even when slowing down, maintains its strength very well. The emotions are really strong, and there is an effective picture of individuals as well as their relationships, portrayed with efficiency around here. The visuals are nothing less than stunning, and that makes this particular beach town a place we should visit for sure. The pain, grief and regret in this movie can be felt, and at times, even seen. Marco D’Amore surely reflects the same, and it is a similar reflection that can be seen on the face of Valeria Bilello, but nothing matches the suffering of the character played by Tommaso Ragno, who seems to have no way out even at his old age. The movie is a poetry of grief set in motion, even though there is something to be relieved in the end.

Positives and negatives :: For those people who fail to get immersed in this world, this can feel slower and complicated – the attention is required. Some people might also want an exaggerated ending, but for everyone else, this feels close to reality. As the film stays close to one’s emotional with never overdoing the drama, the audience can easily go through what these character go through. Even when the movie shows that relationships are fragile, and pain and suffering becomes part of one’s life for no reason, there is always a chance for healing and redemption; but only those humans who take the right step can provide assurance about the same. The movie knows that lives can be ruined for no reason, or redeemed with care. To show the same, the movie has performers of different age groups, which serves perfectly – they let things unfold and come together in the end, and that works beautifully. There are not many movies which caught my interest like this in a long time other than the Chinese movie, The Soul, and this also serves as a reminder to me to watch more Italian movies – maybe even to visit the beautiful town of Forte dei Marmi in northern Tuscany of Italy.

The performers of the soul :: Marco D’Amore has a solid performance to his credit around here. The whole thing finds some good time resting on his capable shoulders. He goes through the whole situation in a very much believable as well as emotional manner, as the less celebrated hero whom the small town has always deserved. He plays a hardworking commoner whom we can recognize as our own. Even though not forced to go after truth, he becomes the truth seeker. Valeria Bilello and Maya Sansa plays the two women in the life of the main character. The former is the symbol of the protagonist’s future while the latter belongs to his past. Maya Sansa who plays his wife as part of a marriage which is breaking apart, depicts the ambitious and adamant lady well enough to leave an impression. She is the kind of lady who would do anything to reach the top of the food chain, no matter what loss she has to suffer in the process. The two makes the not-so-suitable marriage seem to work to the outside world, but it is evident that they are not even trying in reality. They do have a number of intense and emotional moments together.

Further performers of the soul :: Valeria Bilello has a perfect act performed here, as the struggling mother with two children, one of whom not liking or listening to her, and the other one not able to live without her being around him. She might also be playing the one character with whom we will be connecting with a lot of empathy, but is still left with less screen time in comparison to others. She seems to be the main character’s future, and has close and intimate moments with him – the protagonist is also very much serious with her. Ludovica Martino who plays the daughter, is the one girl who keeps feeling that she has been wronged by everyone, a job well reflected in her performance. It can be seen that her acts of rebellion means something in the end too. Beatrice Granno plays the girl wronged here, and she displays the pain that she always had to go through, really well, even though she could have been given chance for more. Silvio Muccino and Fabrizio Bentivoglio plays the roles with negative shades effectively. Tommaso Ragno is memorable at the man who is always in trouble, and wronged regularly.

How it finishes :: There are not many movies which serve as a perfect package like this one – you won’t be missing much with this film, and there is not much to complaint about it. Whatever you expect from a movie like this, can be seen here, worked out efficiently. An emotional adventure of a thriller with suspense and twists on one side has further reflections on the drama of humanity which it also has running. This is not that much of a well-known movie, and I was also not expecting this to be that good; but it serves something grand, which means that we have a film of quality here. There are so many characters with which you can relate, especially with grief and remorse like in the Spanish film Adios – we also see a lot of things happening with the characters, and none of them are exaggerated or beyond our grasp. As this tale unfolds with beautiful people in an even more beautiful landscape, you are always immersed in this one, no matter how much the pace changes. This is the kind of movie which Hollywood should also try, with all those ingredients including the special one.

Release date: 16th June 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Peter Chelsom
Starring: Marco D’Amore, Valeria Bilello, Maya Sansa, Ludovica Martino, Beatrice Granno, Silvio Muccino, Tomasso Ragno, Giulio Pranno, Anna Della Rosa, Antonio Zavatteri, Lavinia Cafaro, Gaia Bavaro, Doris Von Thury

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lamb

Vampire Owl: I think that they are talking about the Vampire Lamb.

Vampire Bat: A Vampire Lamb from Iceland? That is new.

Vampire Owl: We never had any Vampire Lamb so far?

Vampire Bat: Lambs do not usually go well with the vampires.

Vampire Owl: What about a black lamb with fangs?

Vampire Bat: We already lost the Vampire Wolf to the werewolves. We don’t really need another animal.

Vampire Owl: Wolves belonging to that side of the border. It is not the case of others.

Vampire Bat: You think that every creature other than a wolf would declare allegiance to the vampire kind?

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why they wouldn’t do that.

Vampire Bat: Well, what about the reason that they don’t really need that?

[Gets a paneer paratha and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Somewhere in the remote area of Iceland, a strange entity seems to make its way to a barn which is located a long distance from the traces of civilization. With the terrifying climatic situation, things seem to get worse. The owners of the barn, Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Guonason) soon finds one of their pregnant sheep giving birth to a creature with a lamb’s head and human body, along with its other children. The two takes the creature into the house and names her after their dead daughter, Ada. The creature’s biological mother keeps trying to contact her, and as she is later found with the sheep, Maria shoots the mother sheep and buries it in a grave further away. Despite having some nightmares about sheep, Maria takes very good care of Ada. Ingvar’s brother Petur (Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson) who arrives at the barn witnessing the incident feels that this newly found creature is only an animal, and wishes to get rid of it, to which the couple doesn’t agree at all.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Petur who always had certain love interest with Maria, decides to get rid of Ada for the best interest of everyone in the house, even if other won’t recognize the same. He takes her on a morning walk in the early morning, hoping to shoot her dead and bury the body far away. But he has a change of heart decides to become the uncle-figure to her – Ada also gets along with him really well. But soon, things seems to get different, and something creepy seems to make its way home, which Ada seems to notice. Petur is still fond of Maria, and after drinking a little too much that he should have, makes sexual advances to her, even using the secret that he knows, that she killed Ada’s real mother. She sends him away on the very next day. With only Ada and Ingvar left around there, the strange entity makes its first appearance. What does this creature want, and how can Ingvar and Maria defend against it? What are the secrets that Ada holds here? What fate awaits the couple and their half-sheep child?

The defence of Lamb :: Powered by the performance led by Noomi Rapace who is one of the best actresses of all-time to be part of movies like this, this film can be considered as thriving on the atmosphere on which it builds its pillars. It is indeed a strange movie when we look at it – there is a creature with a lamb’s head and a human body, and it is raised as a child by humans; not the usual kind of story that you keep seeing around. It has a certain horror side, but also an emotional one, all of them being present there, often in an indirect manner. It deals with the strange nature of people, and their lack of understanding of the realities which they face. Providing the feeling of a pastoral world well enough, it provides a certain amount of haunting experience with the slow movement forward too. It wouldn’t have been that easy to work on this material, but with the right cast and the visuals that work perfectly with the atmosphere, the movie manages to march on. It is a reminder that almost everything in life comes at a price.

The claws of flaw :: Lamb is one movie which has decided to go very much divergent, and there is not that much of horror to celebrate it. The film deviates from the general idea about the genre which comes out from movies like The Conjuring, The Nun, Annabelle, Ouija, Insidious, Sinister and others which work on a formula which has been tested and appreciated by too many people who have identified themselves as fans of the category. Moving away from the original horror ideas, and leaving less to be scared, this wouldn’t be that much appreciated by such fans. Along with the same, the ending doesn’t bring that huge effect which was expected. The movie could have been better marketed as a drama thriller indeed, as one creature which does so less has its limitations. Also, the movie slows down a little too much for anyone’s liking, and it is only right to feel that the movie could be twenty or thirty minutes short in length. The grief in this movie could have been also more evident.

The performers of the soul :: Noomi Rapace is one actress whom we can always rely on. The Swedish actress might be best remembered by the people in this part of the world for her work in Prometheus, and she is no stranger to playing motherly figures, as we have seen the same in Angel of Mine. She has a similar mother role here, and she is as determined as she was in that movie. As we miss seeing her in Alien Covenant, and as a good number of her movies didn’t come here, we can only be glad to watch this particular performance from her, which deserves the appreciation too. Most of you might still remember her for the Millennium series: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. Well, as the mother who takes care of her lamb girl child, this is another work which you are going to remember her for. Hilmir Snaer Guonason plays the father figure very well too – after all both parents are part of this lamb love. Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson makes a good contribution in between too.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to have similarities to another flick, Sacrifice, with the atmosphere which is seen around. Even though an English movie, it is also set in such a Scandinavian world. The themes of loneliness and depression, as well as a reflection of people who treat their pets as kids also seem to have some say around here. The story seems to have taken something from the Icelandic folklore too, and the one other movie which seems to stay close to this one is The Witch. The film doesn’t use that many dialogues to make its point, and that would mean that even without subtitles, you can understand most part of the flick. The movie surely had the positive opinion of critics, and was selected as the entry from Iceland for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards which took place in Los Angeles in 2022. So, you know that this movie surely has enough to make an impression – it is a mystery set far away from the everyman’s busy world that will have your attention early.

Release date: 24th September 2021
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Valdimar Johannsson
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Hilmir Snaer Guonason, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Red Dot

Vampire Owl: It is nice to have a Swedish movie on the list too, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, we only have Norwegian from Scandinavia until now.

Vampire Owl: Well, Netflix knows how to choose the right movies.

Vampire Bat: We have known that the best with Minnal Murali premiering there.

Vampire Owl: So many interesting movies in foreign languages too.

Vampire Bat: Those are the kind of collections which Amazon Prime Video should have too.

Vampire Owl: They could always have more of those lesser known foreign movies.

Vampire Bat: Scandinavia is a fine area to build a castle right now.

Vampire Owl: There should be our kind already in existence there.

Vampire Bat: Why don’t you take a trip there and find out?

[Gets a sweet puffs and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: David (Anastasios Soulis) proposes to his girlfriend, Nadja (Nanna Blondell) in public on the day of their graduation at the university. She accepts it gladly, even though the proposal turns out to be very much awkward, despite having a certain amount of cuteness related to it. They make a promise that they will always be together, no matter what happens. But one year and half later, due to the need to study and work at the same time, they are no longer happy at their apartment in Stockholm, the busy capital of Sweden. Soon, she finds out that she is also pregnant, and she is not sure if they should be parents, as she is studying to become a doctor – this would not be helpful for her future either. She feels that if she has a child any time soon, she will end up being a housewife taking care of the kid, as David is working all the time. Despite being assured by their neighbour that they will be great parents, she doesn’t inform David about the pregnancy, and decides to keep it a secret as long as possible.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: David arranges a trip to the northern lights so that they can have some happy time together. This is also the one tour which they are having after a very long time. On the way, they meet two locals, Jarmo (Kalled Mustonen) and Rolle (Tomas Bergstrom) at the gas station, but are comfortable with their presence and their strange dialogues about the dog and the lady. While leaving too soon, David’s car also leaves a scratch on the pick-up truck of the locals, but they go on moving without saying anything about it. Einar (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) seems to be the only person who is friendly to them, as he runs the inn where they are supposed to stay. He says that the people there are not used to seeing interracial couples. Nadja soon finds their car scratched, also leaving few racists words, which makes her angry enough to leave a scratch on the truck of the locals which they earlier encounter, as she is sure that they are the ones who did it. But the two locals seem to be much surprised by the same.

And what awaits them with the northern lights in the wilderness? :: David feels strange about the actions of Nadja, but she feels that this is how one should deal with racists. After a long drive, they finally reach an area beneath the northern lights, and it gets really cold. There, she reveals to him that she is pregnant, and that makes him very much nervous, as he is not sure what is to be done next. But their conversation about it is soon interrupted by a red dot on the wall of their tent, which keeps moving. They first feel that it is a prank done by some local kids with a laser pointer. But with a jolt, they soon understand that it is a laser view from a gun, as they are shot at. Nadja is sure that it is the brothers who are attacking them in revenge for her action, and David remembers that he had seen a weapon in their truck. Their dog which tries to find the attackers, is killed and as they return to the camp after searching for it, finds its head, a trap, and their belongings including the mobile phone missing. With the snow coming down slowly, they have to somehow make it out of there, but can they? Is there hope within so much of cold?

The defence of Red Dot :: The movie uses its landscape to its advantage, and the locations here are all beautiful enough. Whether it is the beauty of nature or the terror of it, we have things going well. Scandinavia is the area which almost everyone wishes to wish to visit, and maybe spend most of the life – I would have done that if there was the opportunity, and there is no shortage of such motivation with the world for eyes within this film too. It also has some interesting twists in the last few moments of the film, and also leaves a message that many things are lost as people just randomly points a few actions as a result of racism, often because it seems to be the easiest thing to do, along with adding things as misogyny or part of religious beliefs – sometimes, things are just personal to the core, and nothing more than that. As the movie is less than one and half hours long, things don’t get dragged or slow down at any point of time. There is no loss of pace at any moment, and it takes the deviation from the usual well enough, but never turning to melodrama even when it could have used the chance.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have achieved more with a couple being hunted in the snow, with no hope seemingly around. It also seems that none of the characters are likable, with a mostly irresponsible couple, and the lady seemingly attributing most things to racism, and randomly blame the mentality. The snow as well as the red dots could have been used more, and there could have more twists over the incidents. There are times when the movie seems to be unwilling to take the risk with most of the things. The romantic side is often forced rather than having any intimate or lovable side to the same. When thinking about Vikings from Denmark, Norway and Sweden, we are always expecting an intense ride with the movies from there, even with the realization that it is not that age any more. There were so many moments for some horror to be added here and there, and this could have transcended the genres with ease. Some more red blood on white ice along with some shocks added here and there would be been worthy enough – more action too.

How it finishes :: The movie has the strength throughout its run, thanks to the performances which are appreciable – there are only a few characters of significance in this movie, and they had to do well, which does happen around here. With people being hunted, this would feel like Wrong Turn in the snow at some point of time, but that idea is lifted during the last few moments of the film. Maybe, we could also have a similar movie shot during the corona virus times, hunted in the lockdown, with nobody around to help. At least, the viral pandemic did provide us with opportunity to watch movies like this one on the OTT platforms. It is always better to have them on the laptop screen, as you can also type on another laptop at the same time. I would also like not to know how much the popcorns, puffs and tea would cost in a multiplex after the lockdowns. Yet, we all know that the rise in petrol price won’t serve the purpose at all, and hope is only with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar, Sony LIV, Manorama MAX and others.

Release date: 11th February 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 85 minutes
Directed by: Alain Darborg
Starring: Johannes Kuhnke, Nanna Blondell, Anastasios Soulis, Kalled Mustonen, Tomas Bergstrom

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Soul

Vampire Owl: Do you think that vampires can have an extra soul?

Vampire Bat: I don’t understand why one would require one as extra.

Vampire Owl: What if a soul is lost? We can use the other one.

Vampire Bat: The souls are not lost as long as we are living dead.

Vampire Owl: When did we start referring to the undead as living dead?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we have always been the living dead.

Vampire Owl: Well, I wouldn’t argue as death is only the beginning.

Vampire Bat: There is no undead without the appropriate kind of death.

Vampire Owl: Maybe humans will also understand that death is the true solution.

Vampire Bat: They are less afraid to kill than to die, which is strange.

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

What is the movie about? :: Wang Shi-Cong (Samuel Ku), a very rich man and the founder of a medical firm developing cancer treatment based on ultra-modern technology is found murdered. His wife who has also remained a respectable figure, Li Yan (Sun Anke) is discovered to be holding the weapon used for the brutal murder, quite a strange knife-like blunt thing indeed. There are also some strange writings on the door and all over the walls. At the same time, Ah-Bao (Janine Chang), a detective is expecting a child very soon. Liang Wen-Chao (Chang Chen), her husband is having an advanced stage of cancer, and it doesn’t seem to get any better. His cancer seems to be spreading and resisting the existing modes of treatment, and the doctor gives them the advice to consider doing a RNA restoration technology. Liang, who has been working as a prosecutor, decides to join back, as a lot of money is required for his treatment – he had asked her to let him skip that costly treatment, but she has been very adamant in keeping him alive.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Ah-Bao is assigned the case of Wang’s murder, and Liang goes on to become the prosecutor once again, much to the surprise of his wife who was expecting him to take rest. Li Yang tells them that it was their son, Wang Tian-You (Erek Lin) who committed some strange rituals in the same room and murdered his father who had earlier disinherited him because of his strange and unacceptable behaviour. They remember that he only comes back home rarely, and has the same symbol which was seen in the room, tattooed on his body. He has a lot of magical symbols tattooed on his body, and talks about some particular gods and spirits which are not that well-known. He was heartbroken after his mother, the first wife of Wang died, and has been talking about vengeance since then. It seems that other than his wife, the dead man had left another inheritance as the next in line. The detective also understands that the dead man used to have different affairs with many women, which had ruined their world. The first wife also had enough information about hier husband’s life.

What lies beneath the secrets which are unveiled around here? :: There is also the talk about the first wife placing a curse on Wang before death, and about the second wife coming out of an orphanage, with no roots. But they do understand that this particular woman had changed a lot after coming to the mansion. In the beginning, she was very nice to everyone around, and very careful in her behaviour. It felt as if she wanted to be good to make an impression. But that seems to change soon, as they look through the CCTV cameras for some old footages. She wasn’t the person whom she used to be, as she even started talking to nothingness, which she understood as ghosts. They wonder if it was a case of possession or the result of some drugs which were introduced by the medical firm. A bigger surprise is that she who was a right-hander is now a left-hander. Is it science or some dark curse which is behind all of these? After all, isn’t science the modern necromancy? How many secrets can this particular world hold? There seems to be something really strange going on around here, and is anyone good enough to find the truth?

The defence of The Soul a.k.a. Ji Hun :: The movie never stops keeping us interested in the mystery of science or magic, whichever seems to surround a grand investigation. It does keep us guessing through its run, and is very much effective in doing the same. The twists are very much unpredictable, and with so many red herrings around, one only keeps wondering about how good are the characters who have figured it out inside the tale. At a specific point, you make a guess about the characters, and then you have to think differently about them. At one point, you feel that there is the talk about soul in its original form, but then all you see is science. You wonder about psychological problems and demonic possession at the same time. In the end, it is not anywhere close to what you were thinking in the early stages, and there is so much going on around there. Any more revealing would annihilate the beauty of the surprise and twists in here. The movie moves forward beautifully, as if it is poetry in motion, and the level of immersion of the audience that it provides is simply magnificent. The emotional side does help further in its movement forward – you do feel them running strong. The visuals and the music also remains extraordinary and contributes well to the dark beauty.

Positives and negatives :: The movie’s slowness also has a certain amount of beauty related to it, and we watch it move as if part of an elegy written in memory. Well, there is no doubt that it could have traveled somewhat a quicker path as it seems to be in need of being called a thriller rather than anything else – yet, it can be said that The Soul keeps us immersed around here, even without picking up the pace that much when it could have done the same. The details in each moment will still make sure that you are always attentive around here, and there are some top performers to support the same. Chang Chen gets into this character so well that we become attached to the same – there is a lot of immersion into the plight of the character taking place here, and that feels unbelievably realistic. In the beginning, one feels that Janine Chang is the one playing the protagonist, and even though she is not the one doing that, blends in perfectly, and excels in the emotional moments. Then there is Sun Anke who plays the woman in identity crisis with a lot of perfection – it is a role which requires a lot of dedication, and her different expressions are so much of the reflection of her calibre.

How it finishes :: The movie has one of the most complicated plots than any film has had in a long time, and it makes sure that we are always guessing. There has not been many movies which had our guesses going wrong by such a long way. By the end of the film, you are standing on a lot different ground than where you found yourself in the beginning. Well, the world of science and spiritual beliefs can both be strange enough, and this one makes use of both, while placing them in a corporate world where the only thing that reigns supreme is selfishness and a display of a fake “normal” image. I would consider this to be the best movie of the year and also the best film which I have found on Netflix among the last few years’ releases. Then, there is also those final questions which the movie leaves for all of us – what makes one a person? Is it the soul? In that case, where does the soul lie? In the memories of the brain or the emotions of the heart? Or is it something which has no real shape or size to be seen? Well, we will never know, that seems to be a surety. Until then, there are some fine Chinese movies to watch.

Release date: 29th January 2021 (China); 14th April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Cheng Wei-hao
Starring: Chang Chen, Janine Chang, Sun Anke, Christopher Lee, Baijia Zhang, Erek Lin, Samuel Ku, Daniel Chang, Lu Hsueh-feng

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.