The Wolf Hour

Vampire Owl: I am not happy about the fact that the werewolves are getting more attention.

Vampire Bat: It is pretty much clear that they are not referring to those creatures.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that it could be about other wolves.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why not. You can refer to animated or survival movies.

Vampire Owl: There is only one kind of wolf which is interesting for the movie-makers.

Vampire Bat: The season of the werewolves is over. They have lost it.

Vampire Owl: Such monsters are never out of the equation.

Vampire Bat: They survived in both Underworld and Twilight because the movies had vampires playing the bigger roles.

Vampire Owl: I have news that they are looking for something more.

Vampire Bat: Well, I can assure you that it is not about this particular movie.

[Gets a pineapple cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: June Leigh (Naomi Watts) is no longer what she used to be, as she lives alone in a small apartment in the middle of the city, in the shadows of the books she had written a long time ago, and some of her words had turned her family against her – the rebellious nature had made her an outcast, but she still lives in the apartment owned by her grandmother who is no more. The year is 1977, and there are lots of uncertainties, especially in the neighbourhood where she is living. It is not supposed a nice place for a good-looking lady to live alone, as she is indeed troubled by many things, and the feeling that she is being stalked is just one of them. There seems to be looting and other acts of criminal activity, including arson and murder happening at parts of the neighbourhood, and June keeps herself inside the apartment room at all times, only meeting a grocery delivery boy named Freddie (Kelvin Harrison Jr) whom she trusts to take the trash outside without having to get out or take it down with a rope.

So, what happens with the events here? :: She is supposed to finish her manuscript and publish a book, because she had taken an advance, but that doesn’t really happen as expected, with her burning many pages which she had written. She calls her old friend Margot (Jennifer Ehle) who genuinely tries to help her with the needed support along with some money, but she turns her away soon enough. There is someone who keeps calling her on the buzzer at all times, but doesn’t respond, and she feels that someone wants to break in. She tries to call the police, but Officer Blake (Jeremy Bobb) who comes there is not interested in treating it as a genuine threat. But she can’t stop feeling something terrible happening outside, and even though she wants some money from the publishers, decides to stay inside the room. But things are getting more terrible outside, and with her psychological problems also seemingly getting worse, she would need to think about it deeply and come up with a solution.

The defence of The Wolf Hour :: Naomi Watts’ perfect one lady show makes the movie itself rise above all the possible limitations in a world of confusion and chaos running through the background. The atmosphere created here is also prefect, and we live with the lady within that room, and it nicely maintains two out of the three classical Aristotelian unities of place time and action, with only the second one moving out of line. It does have one principal action and you will find that it exist in a single physical location, the apartment which the protagonist never wants to leave – the only other places we see are in the television interviews of the same person coming in as a flashback, and after the end of action. You have the opportunity to go through the life of a strange, eccentric writer, proving yet again that the most creative writers and other artists can have a certain amount of madness in them, or the society might think so. You also see how Naomi Watts rises to become the character with such ease that we can’t expect anyone else in her place here.

The claws of flaw :: Even though there is the idea given, this is not really that mystery thriller with a touch of horror to go with it. You will feel a little bit misguided regarding the same, as drama keeps on having the upper hand. But whenever the movie struggles, and it does on a number of occasions, there is Naomi Watts to lift it a long way up, and it seems to have made the tale go lazy at times. The movie title also leaves the people confused, and even the description for the film given in different websites are not really accurate, as it stays away from the soul as well as the essence of the movie. It is also quite slow, and you have to admire the leading actress’ skill in not letting us feel the drag much. There could have been many more things in this film, and the fear could have been more real and close to life – there could have been someone psychotic behind the main character or even something supernatural in nature, but this film leaves all of those possibilities behind to make this one just the drama and nothing else.

Performers of the soul :: Naomi Watts is once again brilliant in playing this kind of a role. She had been in an isolated area during a deadly winter storm in the highly underrated thriller movie Shut In which had a twist to remember – the feeling of being stalked or haunted was there too, but here, it feels more psychological, and it gives her more opportunities as almost everything in this movie is about her, even more than any other previous flick. If you go further back, you had Funny Games, where she was taken hostage by psychopaths, and the danger was real at that time. So, she is no stranger to the genre or with playing with this kind of setting – the same is reflected really well here too. Well, for someone who was in The Ring and King Kong, this one is smaller kind of danger, but the scope for performance never gets small. Jennifer Ehle who plays her friend also contributes nicely when she is there. Among the other characters, Kelvin Harrison Jr plays his role nicely to be noted the most, and others also follow in this all-Naomi movie focusing on each element of her.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to show a certain dark side of living through the 1970s in the Unites States of America, especially in the urban area – it is something that would be different even if we consider the scenario in our world in this part of the world, because we remember the 1990s to be much different from the situation we have now. It makes us feel the danger, as well as the imagination of the main character, and we can feel the strange thoughts of the character running through there. We get to have a deep character study of a woman with a magnificent past, someone who let her insecurities take everything out of her, and it becomes another stage of bildungsroman for her, even though quite late in her career. The Wolf Hour is to be watched while taking the same into consideration, instead of what is seen or what is heard – what you might have thought about the film earlier won’t count as you go through this journey as it is indeed different from your thoughts about a mystery thriller.

Release date: 6th December 2019
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Alistair Banks Griffin
Starring: Naomi Watts, Emory Cohen, Jennifer Ehle, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Jeremy Bobb, Brennan Brown

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Blackout

Vampire Owl: I usually have my own personal blackouts, and here we get one in a movie.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the movie deals with a more serious issue.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I know that it deals with aliens causing blackouts.

Vampire Bat: Indeed. But there should be more about than what we know.

Vampire Owl: We have known aliens very well, for there is nothing better than Alien.

Vampire Bat: We will always have more than one type of alien.

Vampire Owl: Yes, we will always have predator and the others.

Vampire Bat: There could be millions of types of alien species out there, and the movies come up with only a few.

Vampire Owl: I hope that this one will be an interesting one.

Vampire Bat: Russian movies have been doing something special every time, and so this one might also bring something like that.

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

What is the movie about? :: Something has gone seriously wrong with Planet Earth. Nobody is sure about what has happened, but there is a total blackout with all electronic equipment ceasing to work, and the communication with different part of the world is lost, except for a small circle in a part of Russia. All of the world’s major cities have fallen, and the troops which were sent outside the small circle do not usually come back either, and the survivors make the defence of the area strong by upgrading the existing forces and technology, while looking through the areas just outside the borders. But nothing gives them a clue about what has changed the world they knew, and what is happening now. There seems to be some strange forces at work outside, and many suspicions are there, including alien attack, demonic presence, humans with a weapon with they have not known about before, and many others. The religious groups all around the world feel that the end of the world is near.

So, what happens with the events here? :: There are terrifying sights of corpses everywhere, and it doesn’t seem to have stopped with anyone, except for one person whom they see, that manages to run through the bullets without being hit even once. The biggest problem is that they still have no idea what they are dealing with, and what kind of enemy is present on the other side. There is a man whom they see at times, a bald man who keeps covering his face, and seems to have some sinister motives, but disappears too soon for people to find him close enough. Who or what is destroying everything on Earth, seemingly attempting to end all traces of civilization and life? What has happened outside the area which has electricity? How long will the final outpost of mankind and the last hope for humanity survive against all odds? What can stop this unknown enemy who knows everything about the survivors, but nothing is known in return? Is surrendering to fate even an option for the remaining small number of people?

The defence of The Blackout :: The first thing that you notice about this particular movie is that it looks fantastic on the screen, in more than one way. We have a futuristic world with a nicely detailed future city, as well as the weapons being more high-tech than normal. The detailing in all of them are really good too. The background music is really good, and it gives us that feeling of some futuristic danger. The environment is also nicely created, and we have some fine fight scenes, all of them too good. The idea is also working really well, as this one goes beyond the usual style of terror from the paranormal and the supernatural, as Russian movies seem to do that quite often these days. There are lots of fight scenes going on here, and there is one scene which comes in the beginning, as all the soldiers and automated turrets are focusing only on one thing, the darkness – it is one intense sequence, and nothing which comes later in the movie matches that.

The claws of flaw :: The problems that we see with The are a few, one of them surely being its length, as it does have a little stretch in between with moments which were not needed. Then, the ending is also not that good, and we cannot approve of the final moments with the film’s idea of a hero being different from what we understand. The truth is that the characters which they fight in the end has better points to make, and those who pretend to be heroes or heroines have no idea about what is the best for the planet or about how to ensure human survival. We differ in opinion right there, and the female characters are rather forced into action here, and how they change all of a sudden become a little bit strange. There were also many ways in which the movie could have gone forward too. It seemed to be creating a certain amount of mythology involving a higher being, but it is not done in the best possible manner. There is always more to have with an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic movie, as we see the possibilities being endless.

Performers of the soul :: The characters were well established in the beginning, and bringing some fine performances, until in the end, they are everywhere. The two women Lukerya Ilyashenko and Svetlana Ivanova had their characters perfectly defined in the beginning, but as the movie progresses, they become some strange civilians, and in the end, they become not so much of that they were – both actresses are caught by the flaws in characterization. The main male actors Aleksey Chadov and Pyotr Fyodorov also have problems from the same, but they work really well until those last moments. Except for those last few moments, there is nothing much being lost in the acting department, because there is a flow which leads to that ending. Kseniya Kutepova is another solid female around here, as she leads her forces towards the possible victory against the impossible enemy. The non-human entities also have their moments with the performers being good.

How it finishes :: It is nice to be in contact with some Russian movies, which seem to be rising above Hollywood which is more or less depending on the same formula, even though not as much as Bollywood. Among such movies which don’t think about coming up with different ideas, this Russian film does seem to feel the need, and does manage to do things well enough. We all had our experience of lock-down and did hear about quarantine – this one does provide a similar kind of an effect even though for slightly different reasons. A little more care with the ending, and its ideology by the finish, would have surely made this movie very much closer to reaching the highest quality. But until then, The Blackout is there for some entertainment from the future, and it has those edge of the seat moments like some of those self-proclaimed fantastic action movies from Hollywood never really had. I would go for more of movies like this one.

Release date: 21st November 2019
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Egor Baranov
Starring: Elena Lyadova, Svetlana Ivanova, Pyotr Fyodorov, Konstantin Lavronenko, Aleksey Chadov, Kseniya Kutepova, Filipp Avdeev, Ilya Volkov, Artyom Tkachenko, Sergey Godin, Ksenia Kutepova, Anastasiya Venkova, Angelina Strechina, Aleksandr Nedorezov

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<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.