Vampire Owl: I had earlier heard that vampires no longer required oxygen to survive.

Vampire Bat: Is this a result of one of the experiments of Doctor Frankenstein?

Vampire Owl: Yes, he has actually found a substitute this time.

Vampire Bat: You shouldn’t really trust him about controversial inventions.

Vampire Owl: You have been talking about our best scientist for so long.

Vampire Bat: I wonder why you are not able to understand the difference between a scientist and an alchemist.

Vampire Owl: Well, alchemist degree is no longer a valid one.

Vampire Bat: He has passed only BSc. Alchemy, I am telling you.

Vampire Owl: When he cleared the degree, it was a valid subject.

Vampire Bat: You are going to be struggling for survival, if you go with what he provides.

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

What is the movie about? :: Elizabeth Hansen (Melanie Laurent) wakes up in a medical cryogenic unit with no memory of who she is, and how she got there. The Artificial Intelligence machines which was supposed to take care of the system informs her that the oxygen level is low, and her request to go out of the unit will not be accepted. She is also informed that despite the failure of the unit being reported, nobody has come up with a reply. The advanced Artificial Intelligence with which she communicates is named MILO (Medical Interface Liaison Officer) tells her that she is identified as Omicron 267, and is not known by any other name. Her medical report is not available, even though she is there to get better after being sick after some point of time. External communication is not available, but she is finally able to transmit the details of her situation outside the unit through emergency services. The police are confused as she can give them no information of use about herself or her present location. She is able to provide them with the unit’s model and serial number, which are printed on the interior. But she is told the unit was destroyed three years prior.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: A DNA analysis provides a match for her though, and it shows pictures of her, which helps her to identify her name as well as an an idea of her work, and up-to an extent, some idea about her family. She is told that she has forty three to seventy two minutes remaining with her Oxygen level. When her medical report finally becomes available, she is shown as perfectly healthy, much to her dismay. She does find the number of her husband, but another woman answers, and that doesn’t help her cause at all. Some of the memories seem to come back to her, but she is not certain about them. Soon, palliative care is ready to be deployed, but she stops the same, even though threatened against doing the same. She tries to cause destruction to the unit, but gets an electric shock in return. With only a few minutes of oxygen left, how long can she stay strong enough, and alive? Is there something sinister behind her being locked in the cryo unit? Who could be find all the trouble that she has to face? Is there some secret which only she knew before being locked in there, or is there an even bigger mystery that involves many people?

The defence of Oxygen :: The movie keeps us interested in the protagonist, as we hope for information about her, and it moves between optimism and pessimism at regular intervals, with more and more knowledge about the person coming to light. There are questions being asked here, about life, what is means to be human, and how memories make a person or destroy one. There is always more and more doubts about the nature of humanity and its existence, and one is reminded of minuteness with one grand shot of the whole space with the chamber unit – it is a thing of glory, well-designed and of quality. We do make many guesses about what is happening out there, and where the protagonist is, but there are twists which are good enough to bring another series of guesses – only a very few of those guesses come true in this case. There is the mystery to be solved and revelations to be made, as we look forward to finding the truth and hoping that our protagonist is saved. The progression of this movie a reminder to many people on how to use the minimum materials to the maximum effect – as long as you have a leading actress who can do wonders.

Positives and negatives :: The movie can feel a little too long because all the action is set in the chamber unit which feels like a coffin. Some of the initial moments are the ones which provides that particular feeling, and the rest has us discovering more and more about the protagonist well enough. The pace is never really increased as we look at it, and there are similarities with other movies, even though this has the feeling of a perfect new space which is not explored as it is, ever before. People might have also wanted this movie to progress in some other ways instead how it has gone forward. There could have also been more visuals of the world by the end, but I would guess that they didn’t want the scenes to move outside much at all. One also feels the need to see the life on the new planet instead of just one scene – there have been many films which have people traveling to another planet, but there is not even one which shows what happens after they reach there and start a civilization. Well, we are the fans of Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, Warcraft and others – we need to see that one in another world, and we are yet to see the same on the screen with effectiveness.

Performers of the soul :: We know Melanie Laurent the most from two movies, the critically acclaimed Enemy and the crowd favourite Now You See Me, both being films which can be watched many times. She has been part of other movies to remember, and this one is going to have bigger status among such films, with a performance which is focused on her. Even though there are some people being shown in flashback memories, the present is all about her, and she makes sure that there is perfection when it is about her. The other people whom we notice are one in the form of the Artificial Intelligence and the other is the person who are regular in the flashbacks. The success of this performance from Melanie lies in the fact that she makes us go through the different emotions of her with ease. We are able to relate to the person and what she is going through, thanks to her perfect run through the emotions, the journey from not knowing to what she comes to know, as well as what she comes against, as wrong information. We also have the doubts that she has, and sometimes even more than what she comes up against, in a small world resembling a coffin. It is not just her character battling out there, as we are also part of the same.

How it finishes :: The director of this movie is known for some of the most memorable thrillers, with the last one being Crawl, with one crocodile on the hunt – you remember that his first English film was The Hills Have Eyes, and movies like Mirrors and Maniac provide further testimony to his skills, even though those were closer to horror rather than any other genre of significance. This one comes as a science fiction thriller, and it is also one effective thing in the genre, adding to Gravity, The Interstellar and The Martian from one angle, while it is also a survival thriller like The Shallows and Buried. Yet, one movie which this one reminds us of, is Meander, considering being locked in small spaces, and having almost no idea of what is happening around. Related to these movies, our movie here also has a solid status for sure. With its surprises, and possessing a fine performance from one person at the centre of all of these, the movie is a thing of quality. It might feel long due to being located at one place at all times, but this is one film which you feel the need to keep going as you hope for a person’s survival against all odds.

Release date: 12th May 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Starring: Melanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric, Malik Zidi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.


What is the movie about? :: Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) who studies in the University of Florida hopes to gain new heights as a swimmer, and she had been trained for the sport by her father Dave Keller (Barry Pepper) since childhood, when she used to break all challenges underwater. It is during one of those swimming training sessions at the university that she comes to know about a Category 5 Hurricane Wendy which is on a collision course with Florida, as her elder sister Beth Keller (Morfydd Clark) who lives with her family in Boston calls her, and advises her to get out of the state as soon as possible. But it turns out that she can’t reach her father, and she decides to go to her family home, make a quick visit and leave the state with him. As she gets close to her hometown, Wayne Taylor (Ross Anderson), a police officer and Beth’s ex-boyfriend asks her to go back as the cops are trying to lockdown the place.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Even though most of the roads on the way are partially flooded with heavy rain still coming down, she quickly takes a deviation, and goes to her house much to the dismay of Wayne. She gets to the place where he was supposed to be staying, but finds only their dog, Sugar. Then she leaves for the family home where she grew up, hoping to find him there – she also takes the dog with her, and finds the water level on the roads to have risen further, and the rain not seeming to lessen at all. She finds his truck at Coral Lake house, but he doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the house, leading her to search in the basement. There, she finds her father wounded and without consciousness. But she is attacked and is cornered by a group of alligators seemingly arriving there due to flooding. Now, their exit is locked, and there is no option of calling anyone.

And what else follows with the happenings? :: The mobile phone is destroyed in the process, and everyone in the neighborhood seems to have left the place due to flooding, and the hurricane expected to pass through the middle of the town, with further flooding almost there. More water comes into the basement, and the place starts getting flooded, making their safe corner behind the pipes to be accessible for the alligators by swimming. Both are injured, and Haley being a swimming champion seems to have a better chance of swimming out of it, but not with the alligators around. Through the window, she gets the attention of three young thieves (Anson Boon, George Somner and Ami Metcalf) who are stealing things from the flooded petrol pump and shop on the opposite side of the road. But as they look to the other side, they are caught by another group of alligators and killed. Now, Haley and her father are left with just the option to swim – but isn’t that suicide?

The defence of Crawl :: The movie does provide thrills with some nail-biting moments, and we are with the protagonists from the beginning itself, as a natural disaster along with some alligators are coming to get her and her father. There is her skills in water being focused with all the action, and the father-daughter bonding is also there to be taken. The atmosphere of the movie is very well done, as the flooding, the dark clouds and the powerful wind creates the feeling of the impossible escape throughout the flick. The same can be said about the characters whom we can relate with, especially as we have had our lockdown, and an invisible enemy in the form of a virus instead of the alligators. There are some quick scares with the alligators around, and there is the blood and gore associated with alligator attacks. The alligators coming out of nowhere adds to the much needed scares and there is fear present through out the movie.

The claws of flaw :: Crawl might still pale in comparison to grand survival movies like The Shallows. But this one doesn’t have that much of a perfect realism to go with it, as our protagonist fights many alligators and ends up surviving while that movie was one true survival flick with the main character taking days to final get rid of one shark. So, there is a little bit of extra added here in Crawl as far as surviving is concerned, and there it goes in the path of movies like Jaws. It could have also had more deaths to add to its tally, or at least some dead bodies to add to the scary moments. If these moments of fear had also lasted longer regarding the in-movie time, that would have also been nice – the movie is also very short in total run-time, and this is the kind of alligator attack that we can go through if we have less than one and half hours to spare, thus never dragging or wasting time.

The performers of the soul :: Alexandre Aja, the director is known for violent French slasher cult movies like Haute Tension, and master horror movies in English like The Hills Have Eyes and Mirrors. There is horror staying on here, with his skills. Kaya Scodelario does a fantastic job here as the protagonist. She seems to be perfectly suited for this role in more than one way. I remember seeing her for the first time in The Maze Runner, and she was a special addition there. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales also had her presence, and she surely has one performance to remember. There are some fine dialogues and her moving through water evading the alligators as the apex predator – the moments that rise above all. Barry Pepper also has his moments as the father. The rest of the cast members don’t have much to do except for being food to the alligators, or being part of the world outside.

How it finishes :: During the time of Corona Virus, Crawl becomes another movie to watch with another natural disaster causing people to face the wrath of nature and its creatures. At these times, we have faced terror in one way and went to lockdown, and with this movie, lets see what awaits us in bigger size, as we become nothing facing mother nature. The movie has nicely captured the fury of nature, not just with the creatures, but also with the flooding and the coming hurricane. The special effects make sure that we are engaged to this atmosphere in more than one way – well, flooding is coming during these monsoons in different parts of India just like last years, and this movie is something that we can watch again during those time. With the climate changes, we always have to be ready for more.

Release date: 12th July 2019
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark, Ross Anderson, Anson Boon, Jose Palma, George Somner, Ami Metcalf, Annamaria Serda, Savannah Steyn

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<— Click here to go to a recent Hollywood review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.