Pet Sematary

Vampire Owl: This is the cemetery where most the people we know shall go.

Vampire Bat: Most people don’t go to cemeteries. They are taken there.

Vampire Owl: We, the undead can just walk all the way there though.

Vampire Bat: The Stephen King’s novel might have other ideas about the cemetery.

Vampire Owl: Well, there is nothing like being buried in a grave far away from the town. It is so calm and peaceful.

Vampire Bat: It has always been calm and peaceful under the surface, except for some worms.

Vampire Owl: You can listen to those foot steps if you stay awake for long. It is not that peaceful in cemeteries of the city.

Vampire Bat: There is no hope in the cities anymore.

Vampire Owl: Does that mean hope among humans otherwise.

Vampire Bat: There is none. There is no goodness in them even during the time of a virus which has killed a good number of them, and sent them to lockdown.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) moves to the countryside with his wife Rachel Creed (Amy Seimetz) and his children Ellie Creed (Jete Laurence) and Gage Creed (Lucas Lavoie). The move from the busy city of Boston to the calm and quiet town of Ludlow seemed to be a much needed change for them to settle down and slow things down. Ellie’s cat, Church named after Winston Churchill is the only other person who is with them. They find out that there is a pet sematary as a part of their property, as they have bought a large section of land of which finding all the borders is a tough job. Children taking their dead pets to the cemetery had become a common sight there, seemingly having a ritual significance. Despite being asked not to venture through the woods and the deserted areas, a curious Ellie makes her way through the cemetry and meets Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), an old widower.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Ellie becomes friendly with Jud, and the family also invites him for food. One day, a student who struck by an automobile, Victor Pascow (Obssa Ahmed) is taken to the hospital, and Louis try to save him only in vain. After the incident, he has visions of the same person trying to warn him about certain danger which is to happen if he decides to go beyond the limits. One day, Church is killed by a truck, and Jud takes Louis past the pet cemetery to an ancient burial ground and asks him to bury the cat there, putting a stone over it. The next day, Church returns home alive. But it can be seen that he is different -the cat had become very aggressive and violent, brutally attacking a bird, and eating it alive, as well as attacking the kids. Jud tells Louis that it might be a spirit that came back from the dead, even though he had expected the cat to return in the same manner.

The defence of Pet Sematary :: There is no questioning the ability of this particular movie to use the terrifying atmosphere to its advantage, as the common “cabin the woods” setting serves as the perfect place, with one cemetery built around an ancient burial ground creates too perfect a world for a horror movie here. The feeling of mystery is always there, and we keep expecting something terrifying to be revealed at different steps. There is also that scary past and legend that goes a long way back beyond colonization to go with it, and there is some creepy music to add here. The movie also has a certain amount of blood and gore even though not too much, and a violent kid is always scarier than the rest, especially when returning from the dead – demon kids never stop being impactful with or without the presence of the demon spirit. You will also love the choice of cat being made here, and the speeding trucks also add to the effect.

The claws of flaw :: This version of Pet Sematary does have some differences with the Stephen King novel, and such a deviation might not be liked by everyone. After all, King is the god-figure for so many readers of horror, especially those who started reading much earlier. Changes from the 1989 film version can also be seen here. The movie also doesn’t explore all the spookiness that can be associated with the cemetery, especially with an area which has an even longer history to go with it. In these types of movies, elements of nature can play a better role, but this one decides not to touch the same much. There is a lot of scope for horror in each moment and each part of this movie’s visual and audible part, and those elements are not exploited enough. The movie is also slow paced, and it does take its own time to keep the horror moving.

Performers of the soul :: Jason Clarke is there as the protagonist, a name which we have known throughout popular movies including Terminator Genisys and Everest among many other flicks. He plays the loving father very well, and faces the troubles making some hard decisions nicely. Amy Seimetz was there in Alien Covenant, in one of those roles. She is really good here, as the character works on the memories, and there is the past that catches up to her. Jete Laurence as Ellie Creed is fantastic as the cute little kid as well as the undead child looking forward to violence. John Lithgow plays the good old guy in the neighborhood who knows that evil is eternally present, but can do nothing about it. Along with these, the masked kids having a procession to the pet sematary and the cat do seem to add to the performances just in some short period of time.

How it finishes :: Pet Sematary moves on like any other Stephen King book inspired movie with ease, and with the written material at the base, there is no difficulty here. With the mis-spelled cemetery in the name, the novel takes the idea to the visual level too, and it becomes another version of the much appreciated novel that needs a watch. In the world of The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, Insidious, Child’s Play and other popular movies becoming part of a series of flicks in a franchise, there is always scope for the old style horror, as much as the new generation horror like It Follows, Lights Out and Don’t Breathe. After all, good horror is the need of the time, especially with one virus spreading all over the world, and bringing the terror without adding anything that is out of this world. Everyone stay safe, stay at home, and watch more movies.

Release date: 5th April 2019
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jete Laurence, Sonia Maria Chirila, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine, Suzy Stingl, Maria Herrera, Lucas Lavoie

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Drama

What is the movie about? :: Rosamma John Chacko (Arundathi Nag) has always had a desire to be buried in Kattappana, next to her husband, at their own parish cemetery where their ancestors were buried. But as she is in London with her youngest daughter Mercy (Kaniha), she is afraid that she can’t go back home if she is dead, as none of her children are in Kerala or even India. Mercy who used to be a nurse, is married to Dr Mukundhanunni (Shyamaprasad) who is a reputed cardiac surgeon in London after falling in love, and they are settled in United Kingdom with their two little children. Her eldest son Philip (Suresh Krishna) is a millionaire settled in the United States of America while her second son Benny (Tini Tom) is now in Australia with his wife who is a nurse. Her another daughter Ammini (Subi Suresh) is a nurse working in Canada, and has been living there with her jobless husband Anto (Johny Antony).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: She also has her youngest son whom she loves more than the others, and Jomon (Niranj S) who is living in Dubai has no say in anything. His presence at United Arab Emirates itself is at the mercy of his good friends. So, with her sons and daughters in the United Kingdom, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Australia and Canada, she is found dead on her bed while asleep. So, now the question remains about her funeral. The idea to which almost everyone agrees to, is that she is to have a funeral at London. For the same, the two elder brothers assign Dixon (Dileesh Pothan), a funeral director who runs his own funeral services in partnership with Rajagopalan (Mohanlal). The desire of the sons to have their mother’s funeral programme to be grand gives Dixon the idea that this is his chance to make it big.

And what else is to follow here? :: Everything seems to be going smoothly, but then, Jomon resists this idea, and asks for a funeral in Kattappana, at the cemetery where his mother had always wanted to be buried. Even though Mercy, as well as Mukundhanunni who is afraid of his mother-in-law’s spirit wandering around the house without attaining peace does agree to the same, none of them has the voice against the elder brothers who decide on it. It is then that Rajagopalan decides to have a say in the process. He feels that the old lady should get the funeral that she had always desired. But Dixon who has taken the advance payment for the funeral function won’t agree to it, and neither will the lady’s sons who got all of these planned very well. So can Rajagopalan find a way to make things happen as well as re-unite with his wife Rekha (Asha Sarath) who had thrown him out of the house in the name of a poem from the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda?

The defence of Drama :: The movie does deal with a situation that could happen very often in future – it is more or less something which has been dealt with in a realistic manner. When we consider the number of our relatives outside India, it makes about twenty five percent, and if it is about someone who is outside Kerala, that can make up to seventy five percent of the total number of people. The movie certainly shows a reality that a lot of people are going to face. The older generation will have their houses and funerals in trouble soon enough. There will be those busy times at some point, when their opinions will not ever come to being something that the new generation will listen to. But it is all based on money, isn’t it? The movie is also a morality tale, with money finally becoming the least important thing. The flick also has some comedy in there, and the visuals when showing England, is pretty good.

The claws of flaw :: The movie seems stretched, without doubt. It does seem too long, and should have been kept short by removing certain parts. Maybe the introduction of Mohanlal could have happened much earlier, and things could have started happening as early as possible. There is also a certain amount of repetition here, and we can see some struggle with the flow. More focus could have been there with the characters, especially the sons and daughters of the deceased lady, and the problem that a new generation of money and career seeking youth gives to the old generation could have been focused better. Also, considering the fact that this movie comes from the director who gave us the flicks like Pranchiyettan and The Saint, Indian Rupee, Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha, Spirit and Thirakkatha, this is not really the movie that we expected.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal doesn’t have any problems with this character as it seems usual and natural for him – there is special to be done or to be divergent. Asha Sarath doesn’t have that much to do here. We note that there are directors here coming in notable roles – Dileesh Pothan, Shyamaprasad, Johny Anony, Renji Panicker, all of them having their interesting moments. Suresh Krishna and Tini Tom plays the two siblings based in United States of America and Australia nicely in their own styles. Kaniha had a rather irrelevant role in Abrahaminte Santhathikal, but here she has a nice role, and has the emotions running strong with this one. Baiju has the funny side to handle, even though the department struggles most of the time. Arundathi Nag plays the corpse for most of the time, but has her moments when not inside the box. Jayaraj Warrier, Shaalin Zoya and Jaffer Idukki got some smaller roles here, but they are notable despite the short stay there.

How it finishes :: How many young men and women go in search of jobs elsewhere, and how many of them remain in Kerala? Do they really settle outside because there are zero opportunities here? It is nice that they show those five nations – United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia and United Arab Emirates. These are those places where our people will never cease to try to go and work, along with more nations in the Middle East as well as New Zealand. But is it always worth it? You will have to think over that with the situations created in this flick. It does leave one with a few things to keep thinking, and that seems to have the focus over the entertaining side. With the challenge there with Kayamkulam Kochunni, Drama seems to have just enough to keep going, and it seems to be a choice not to try to have more.

Release date: 1st November 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith
Starring: Mohanlal, Asha Sarath, Arundathi Nag, Dileesh Pothan, Shyamaprasad, Kaniha, Baiju Santhosh, Johny Antony, Tini Tom, Shaalin Zoya, Subi Suresh, Niranj S, Suresh Krishna, Renji Panicker, Jaffer Idukki, Jayaraj Warrier, Shankar Panicker

<— Click here to go to the previous review, and the review before that.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mooniloraal

Vampire Owl: But there are only two of us.

Vampire Bat: When we are there, the presence of four can be seen.

Vampire Owl: I don’t understand. How can there be four when we are only two people?

Vampire Bat: You need to count the guardian angel too.

Vampire Owl: Doesn’t that make the total as three?

Vampire Bat: No, my guardian angel and yours. It makes a total of four.

Vampire Owl: Are you sure that vampires also have guardian angels? It is never mentioned in the books at the great vampire libraries?

Vampire Bat: Yes, guardian angels are provided without discrimination.

Vampire Owl: Is it a new guardian angel or is it the same as we had before we died and became undead?

Vampire Bat: You are surely angelophobic. The fear for angels is quite common in the case of owlish vampires.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: The three are best friends – Sam (Don James), Jithu (Steve Antony) and the more philosophical of them, Vishnu (Johns Mathew) who is living with the realization that change is necessary, and will happen, as they ponder about their life at Winnipeg in Canada, far away from home. It is a friendship which has been going on for a long time, and is what they consider is forever. Sam and Vishnu meet a restaurant over a cup of coffee, after which they go on a ride in former’s car who tells his friend that their destination is a place where he hasn’t gone, but needs to go at some point. The road through which the car goes is something of scenic beauty, and they enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way, and Vishnu is interested in the surprise which is in store for him in between the busy and rather too modern life they are living.

So, what happens next? :: Their families need them to come back home leaving their life away from home and settle down at their hometown, but they have settled down rather too much to make their return. On their way, their car meets with an accident, but there seems to be no big problem after the collision. At the same time, Vishnu gets a call from Jithu talking about the death of Sam which had just happened in a car accident. This leaves Vishnu confused about the person who is with him in the car and their destination. A rather weird and frightening feeling comes up right from within him. He then shouts to get the car stopped and runs away only to reach a cemetery which has only fallen leaves and tombstones to give company. So, is it true that Sam had died in a car crash? If it is so, who is the one with him? Which kind of demons or spirits are Vishnu hiding from? What is the thing with being at a cemetery far away from the city?

Soul exploration 1: A case of reality and illusion :: Coming up with the tagline “The Strangest Imagination is Reality”, the movie exactly about the same, bringing a mystery in which one is doubtful about what is reality and what an illusion would be. Along with the illusions spread by media and fake news, we also have our own personal illusions which come back to us depending on the situations – on some cases, it is even bigger. The line between reality and imagination is so thin in so many cases that illusions tend to take over. We ourselves have had such feelings more than once, but we are hesitant to talk further about it in fear of the world. We live in that kind of a world where logic gets a better spot compared to imagination and creativity; money gets more value than values – it is a world which is closer to chaos than order, even if it pretends to hold on to the latter.

Soul exploration 2: Friendship and alienation in a land far away :: It feels strange being away from your roots, and even if it is to another city just a few hundred kilometres away, there is that feeling to get back home – the nostalgia and homesickness are things that humans usually can’t live without. It makes people do stranger things, and despite denying the same, there is that feeling about our own lands that come back – unless you are orcs forced to leave your world like in Warcraft, or humans looking for hope in new planets like in the case of Pandorum and Passengers. You have seen similar complications in the underrated Ivide too. In a land a long way away from home, it is friendship that matters the most, and here we have three of them, and their friendship which has something strangely working within – it is what becomes nicely solved by the end. Alienation in an alien land is another level, when you look at it.

How it finishes :: Not to be confused with the 2006 movie Moonnamathoral, Mooniloraal is a short-film which keeps you wondering about what is to happen next. It is the perfect example of another short-film which is smarter than a good number of those full-length movies which have been arriving in the theatres with the labels of being thrillers. Malayalam short-films are coming up with more ideas these days, and Mooniloraal is the reflection of something that has even enough to be made into a full-length movie, as we notice the friendship, thrills and twists maintained in the right balance bringing the clarity between the two, but certainly not radically ending the cycle – it is fittingly established that there are a few things that will never end. Mooniloraal from Triune Productions is the kind of movie that brings the twists nicely, but not without leaving clues – the final twist brings things together, and we once again understand that there is more than what meets the eye.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: This is why I told you that I am not going to the lands of the dark elves even if it is on a diplomatic mission.

Vampire Bat: Dark Elves play no role in such cases.

Vampire Owl: Dark Elves use dark magic to cause disruptions in the bridge connecting life and death, leaving some souls trapped in between. It is a crime.

Vampire Bat: But how is it related to this short-film?

Vampire Owl: Didn’t you see the supernatural forces affecting even technology? It is something which only the Dark Elves can do, joining magic with science.

Vampire Bat: You don’t have any proof for that. The other world always finds a way.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but when they are aided by Dark Elves, it is easier. As the Wood Elves, or the High Elves – they will tell you the stories.

Vampire Bat: There is caste-related violence going on between the three groups of elves – do you think that any of them will tell you the truth about the other?

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that they are no more united against the joint forces of orcs and goblins?

Vampire Bat: Well, you need to read The Great Vampire Imperial Times at some point. These days, they even have a special offer for free coffins.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 25th January 2017
Running time: 19 minutes
Directed by (DOP): Jessay Gopuran
Starring: Don James, Steve Antony, Johns Mathew, Rosamma Nelson (voice)

Watch the movie Mooniloraal here:

Other recommended short-films from India: Red Jacket, Mangalyam Thanthunanena, Moonnamathe Vazhi, Invisible Actor, Grace Villa, Culprit, Ima, Mrithyumjayam.

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

3G

The Vampire Bat’s desire for horror has been getting stronger and stronger every day. The procedure of watching Murder 3 actually accelerated it to the maximum and therefore 3G was not to be missed. Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, The Cabin in the Woods, House at the End of the Street or The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia never came to the theatres here. There was no question of The Woman in Black. For Paranormal Activity 4, they might have had an early heart attack. But unfortunately, Piranha 3DD did arrive as pseudo-horror. The only hope was to adjust with the Resident Evil and the Underworld series as horror even as they could no longer fit into that category. This ridiculous attitude towards horror might be the worst thing about the theatres and malls around here, as they don’t really mind the local language horror movies, not checking if they are any good. At least 3G made it to most of the theatres around here, even if it is no material of Silent Hill quality. The silence of depression which every horror fan faces around here needs to be treated, and therefore, this review is going to be quite lenient – there will be no hard measures taken on this movie and it will be given a free pass in many departments.

“Wherever you go i am there: Gadha Jam” said Mohanlal in the 1989 Malayalam movie Vandanam. Here, it is a mobile phone which says the same. It is an advanced phone for a spirit to try and infect, with touch screen and 3G facility. The movie begins with a guy murdering his girlfriend stabbing her through the right eye right after proposing to her in an abandoned area. Then the screen shifts to a stylish opening credits shown in a very innovative way in the beginning. There is the mention of the billions of phone users in the world. It also talks about the large number of phantom calls which are received worldwide which cannot be traced. Here, these calls are related to spirits of the other world trying to connect to this world. That did sound a little overreaching for me, but that also gave a push both to the expectations and the skepticism. This is the beginning of an ambitious plot and we might be talking more about its ambiguity later, but for now lets get on with it.

The 3rd generation of mobile telecommunications technology makes way for Sheena (Sonal Chauhan) who comes out of the saline water of Fiji in a red bikini; and that much talked-about scene ends with a not-so-happy conversation with her lover Sam (Neil Nitin Mukesh). But all the minute problems are solved as he comes to Fiji to be with her, losing his mobile in the process and initiating the “Kaise Bataaoon” song. There are surely in love, but are always interrupted, first by Sam’s own hallucinations which makes him see demonic faces not only on others, but also as a ghost – something which interferes with their relationship. The second stage makes him near-possessed and almost makes him strangle Sheena in her bath tub and also to take his own life by hanging. Then the spirit seems to take over him completely. To add to it, there is a video of a girl getting murdered inside the phone while strange sights and voices happen on the outside. The attempt to get rid of the phone has already failed, as it came back from being deposited in the sea as well as being broken into pieces. That should have been expected when there are dead people involved.

Neil’s territory is divided into two, one of a passionate lover and the other of the possessed. His performance as the former is never under doubt and the as the latter is incredible at times and okay on the other occasions. One of those moments is when he is seen possessed over the bath tub of his lover and the other when he asks a priest, “Have you forgiven yourself?”. The moments are strange, but effective enough. There is also a scene of bloody murder which is strange, but still powered by his thrilling performance. Sonal has the supporting role, looking gorgeous and playing the character who hesitates to leave her lover despite of the haunting that happens around him and inside his mind. She never looks less than stunning throughout the movie. Her presence here only does the movie good, even though it is surely not for giving a big performance that she is there. I wouldn’t guess that people were expecting something else around here.

This movie is less of a thriller and more of a horror flick, and in that case, this one is far ahead of any of the movies in Bollywood. I would not deny that Murder 2 and Murder 3 were better in wholeness, but the fact remains that 3G better in parts. But, the problem is that this lack of wholeness makes this one inferior to the other two I mentioned. Still, the advantages of 3G includes its ability and its use of that ability to successfully generate the visual and audible fear supported by good use of sound effects & camera, in a much spookier way compared to its predecessors. The creepy environment is successfully created even in the presence of two of the best looking people on the screen, and the attention successfully shifts more to the horror elements than them. The fact that things get kind of absurd and fails to make much sense as a movie with its weaker logic still makes it good in parts. 3G certainly has its moments of horror glory, but there also those of extreme stupidity creating moments of unintentional comedy. This is more of a minor oasis in the desert of romantic comedies and mindless action for the starving horror fans in India.

There was a lot of scope for this movie, but the ghost who tries to be Miss India and a grown-up version of The Ring girl at the same time, along with the fluctuations in the story has left the audience with more to ask for. There is a certain absence of intellect as well as the presence of ambiguity throughout the movie, even as the first half rarely explains anything. The best not-so-hot, not-so-intimate scene in the movie still came in the first half, when our hero is playing a game of car race in a taxi in the mobile and with a crash in the game comes a car crash in real life, as they land in the hospital with the spirit mobile which is left unscratched. Well, watch it for Neil Nitin Mukesh’s depiction of two personalities, the possessed and the unpossessed, the dazzling beauty that is Sonal Chauhan and the interesting concept of horror which hasn’t been tried this effectively in Indian movies. There is also a message against porn in the movie, and the presence of a hidden message against the effect of technology in our lives, especially that of the mobile phones. I hope you can recollect that much remembered scene from The Ring when Samara crawls from the tv and kills Noah with fear. Nobody crawls out of the mobile though, as the ghost is both inside and outside; but keep that in mind.

The need for horror has reached its highest point right now. Unless, the multiplexes and regular theatres do not hesitate to show the bloody movies of International horror standards, there will be no satisfaction for the common horror fan. The movies like 3G, Murder 3 and Table No.21 might serve as satisfactory thrillers or sources of horror which might give a small, but certain amount of relief. If one thinks about Dracula 2012 3D in Malayalam, no lets just leave the literary works alone; for they are to be more classics than just horror and the vampire life would just be like a random Twilight unless the soul of the work makes it way to the screen. Well, how can you reach the heart even when you cut incredibly deep if there is none? How can you influence the brain if it is already frozen and unavailable? 3G doesn’t really appeal to the brain, but for the heart, it is another story. It won’t really matter how this one would turn out to be, but there will be no stopping the horror genre. If the best horror movies are brought to the theatres, that would be incredibly satisfying, or otherwise there is 3G.

Release date: 15th March 2013
Running time: 120 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Sheershak Anand-Shantanu Ray Chibber
Starring: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Sonal Chauhan, Mrinalini Sharma, Asheesh Kapur

3G

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.