Metamorphosis

Vampire Owl: Do you know that some of the vampires in our group are having a great metamorphosis these days?

Vampire Bat: Vampires are having metamorphosis nowadays? I thought that it was more or less of a werewolf thing.

Vampire Owl: Yes, it used to be. Only the zombies and witches had a small share of the same in the recent past.

Vampire Bat: So, vampires are becoming more or less similar to those people.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but our metamorphosis is rather different in comparison. We metamorphose into something greater, or rather magnificent.

Vampire Bat: Aren’t we magnificent creatures already?

Vampire Owl: Magnificence is no longed counter in the same terms. We are using a new unit to measure it.

Vampire Bat: But, a metamorphosis now is not something that we can afford.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but Doctor Frankenstein has discovered a different method which is cheaper and of a better quality.

Vampire Bat: Mr. Frankenstein! I know that there was someone like him behind all these happenings in the castle.

[Gets an onion vada and three cups of mixed tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie begins with an attempted exorcism on a young girl who is tied to the bed inside her room. In the beginning, things seem to go on without much of a trouble, and the demon seems to be a weak entity, listening to all the prayers in Korean and Latin, not taking over the girl’s actions or words. But all of a sudden, it turns violent, leading the girl’s mother to come in, making the priest lose his control over the incantations as well as the demon, which takes the girl to the window, making her suicide. But before commiting suicide, the girl and the mother of the girl, both mocks the priest, and tells him that they are as old as God, and the Supreme Power has forsaken him, all these being the will of the Almighty. The priest who is originally named Joong-Soo (Sung-Woo Bae) decides to leave priesthood after being blamed for the girl’s death, but the diocese and his superiors do not approve of it.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As Joong-Soo who has struggled to keep the memories of the demons away, his brother and family moves into a new home in the countryside. Gang-goo (Dong-il Sung), his wife Myung-joo (Young-nam Jang) and the children, Sun-woo (Hye-Jun Kim), Hyun-joo (Yi-Hyun Cho) and Woo-jong (Kang-Hoon Kim) have a bigger home at the countryside with a lot of space both inside and outside, but things do not go as expected in the new place, as there is there is something strange going on there. The problem start with their neighbours itself, and there seems to be something weird going on with the person who is staying at the place too. There is undoubtedly a demon out there who is taking possessing people and taking the shape of humans. The family only has one person to turn to now, but if that person can do the exorcism or not is something that is to be seen.

The defence of Metamorphosis :: Being a movie about demons and exorcisms, it does have that, even though there is a certain shortage for sure. The power of exorcism is shown in the beginning as well as the end, and there is some fine display of creepiness with the neighbour’s house and the talk of the demons. It has blood nicely used, and having the evil entity more powerful than everything has more to be lost in this flick. Well, this time, the demons go personal, and it has more powers than one can imagine, making the idea of defeating it rather difficult and complex, especially with a failed exorcist trying to do the same. The scares are there, but there are limitations considering the fact that not many things scare people these days. The demons don’t have the belief in them coming from people in the modern world, but the movie does manage to rise above it, thanks to the visuals and the performances.

The claws of flaw :: It seems that the Korean film industry is trying a little too hard to find its perfect exorcist movie, just like the zombie movie was found in Train to Busan – the signs can be seen in this movie, where it struggles at times to keep it as what the flick was supposed to be. When you have a shape-shifting demon in your pocket, you are supposed to make more out of it, especially with the scares regarding who is who, and more like who is the demon and who is not. It was that demon who could have had its origin stories and had the strength to keep the whole thing creepy throughout its presence, but that is not done here. The movie also doesn’t use the protagonist’s guilt that much, and comes up that creepy scene in the shower, another one over the bed and another one in the dining room, all of them needing a boost to rise above the usual. Yes, cliches are going to be found here, and repetitions too.

Peformers of the soul :: Metamorphosis, as many other horror movies, has to depend on its demons and exorcists more than anything else. With the demons, it remains safe as usual, as they never stops doing what they were to do in a world of horror and demonic presence. Sung-Woo Bae plays the priest and the exorcist, and we see that he makes a fine priest in the movie, working through the terror very well. Dong-il Sung plays the father figure really well, with the concerns over his daughter worked nicely. Young-nam Jang plays the mother, and that is also done well enough. Among the children, Hye-Jun Kim stands out, as she plays the responsible elder sister, and she also gets to be part of more of the exorcism – she is the believer and the one with most faith than anyone else. Yi-Hyun Cho plays the younger sister who is not the kind of person who is happy with the family, and that also works out well. The rest of the cast adds on well too.

How it finishes :: Another interesting movie about demonic possession comes into the picture with Metamorphosis, and it is something which you can depend on, because it mostly follows the usual pattern, but is not without some divergence here and there. It can be considered as that kind of a movie which stays close to Hollywood flicks like The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, Insidious and The Vatican Tapes, but still manages to bring something which the regular English movie won’t dare to bring, unless it is something like It Follows, Lights Out, Don’t Breathe or The Autopsy of Jane Doe – the movie which could show full divergence. Metamorphosis is the kind of movie which can at least give the usual horror movie with demonic possession horror, even if you don’t like the deviations brought about here, and so the movie makes a safe title to watch among the rest. But you are most probably going to find it to be something more, depending on your taste.

Release date: 21st August 2019
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Hong-seon Kim
Starring: Sung-Woo Bae, Dong-il Sung, Young-nam Jang, Hye-Jun Kim, Yi-Hyun Cho, Kang-Hoon Kim, Se-hee Kim, Jeon Mi Do, Kwi-seon Kim, Dae-han Ji

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Porinju Mariyam Jose

What is the movie about? :: Porinju (Joju George), Mariyam (Nyla Usha) and Jose (Chemban Vinod Jose) used to be close friends from childhood days itself. Porinju has been in love with Mariyam since then with the support of Jose. She continued her studies at school even though her friends dropped out, and found one or two reasons to meet Porinju every time. But because of her dead father’s opposition, she has been keeping Porinju waiting. Porinju is the butcher of the village while Jose did even smaller jobs to support his family which included his father, brother, wife and daughter. Both of them never really missed a chance to enjoy life though, with some local alcohol and cigarettes. They are much loved by the people of the village, as they look forward to the local church festival to have the best of fun. Mariyam has been the village’s money lender since her father Varghese’s (Nandhu) death.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Set in one of the villages in the outskirts of Thrissur town in the 1980s, there is a lot of focus on the church festival which forms the basis of everything. It is during such a festival that something happens, which changes the equation. As Prince (Rahul Madhav), the young blood of the house of the rich and powerful Iype (Vijayaraghavan) falls for Mariya, chaos errupts. As he grabs her backside, Jose is there to beat him up, only to find the members of Iype’s family beating him up together. Porinju who has been in good terms with Iype decides to help his friend, but this fight doesn’t end there. Prince is a typical spoiled brat who wouldn’t stand being beaten up by someone of lesser social status, as he decides to return during the next festival, and teach Porinju and Jose a lesson, much to the dismay of Iype.

The defence of Porinju Mariyam Jose :: It can be clearly seen that Porinju Mariyam Jose is not a typical mass masala movie which is often expected when knowing about a premise like this. There are some fine introductions in the beginning stages, and we come to know about the incidents in the movie from the common village people themselves. The spirit of the age and people are nicely captured here, and the setting is nothing less than catching one’s attention. The action scenes are violent, but feels realistic with the intensity that surrounds it. There are some thrilling moments, and we have the funny sequences here and there. The romantic side remains emotional, and we feel its effect that would go through decades and into the grave. The touch of realism keeps this movie apart from the other movies from the same director, and we become part of this world with ease.

The claws of flaw :: There might be the feeling that Porinju Mariyam Jose is more suited for the time period of 1980s and 1990s, but I would say that it wouldn’t have this much of a beauty if it was presented then. A certain amount of stretching can also be seen in the second half, and the story doesn’t rise to go further away from the usual stuff – there is no special ingredient regarding that. This movie could have actually had more, with other happenings of the village, and a solid reason for all these twist of events. The messages could have been stronger, and this never-ending cycle of violence could have been given a pause at some point. Some people might say that this is not as good as the veteran director’s earlier movies, but I would consider that to be a case of personal opinion, because this movie’s case is to be considered separately, like a deviation.

The performers of the soul :: Joju George had greatness written all over Joseph, and here is back with another lead role, and something else to remember in a different way. He had also won the National Film Award – Special Mention for that flick which is considered to among the best emotional investigative thrillers of all-time. As we also remember two other emotional roles from him in Virus and June, it can be seen that this movie explores another side of him with the character of Porinju. The man here plays a lovable character even though he is always there in the middle of the fights. The emotional moments once again has the best here, and we see that the same touch our hearts again, and the ending does provide that Joseph-like feeling for us. From the release of Joseph itself, we have been aware that there is really nothing that Joju can’t do, and only he can make it better each and every time.

Further performers of the soul :: As a movie which thrives with its performances, Joju is not the only person who serves as the lighthouse, the fixed mark and guiding light to this movie. Nyla Usha, who is best known for Punyalan Agarbathis, was not to be seen in its sequel Punyalan Private Limited, but we did see her in Lucifer. We knew how well she could suit this role from the trailer itself. She plays a strong character, and she does that with so much ease, and makes us believe the same with a realistic side. Chemban Vinod Jose is a master of many things, as he had proven with the award winning Ee Ma Yau, but that was just one part of it. He blends into some roles so well that we feel that he is providing another flawed character to be loved by all. Vijayaraghavan plays the man caught between two loyalties very well that we feel for him, no matter what he does. Rahul Madhav’s role is rather small, and with too weak an antagonist, he serves okay.

How it finishes :: The first half of the movie is indeed better than the second, when things get kind of slower and predictable. Maybe a little bit more of an effort could have made everything better, but we can say with confidence that Porinju Mariyam Jose jumps far ahead of the director’s last few movies with ease. One can also have no doubt about the fact that this movie thrives on its performances with the best possible cast for each role. We are taken to that world of rivalry and revenge, as we also become part of it. Porinju Mariyam Jose is a movie which is there to stay in the mind for long – it doesn’t have to pretend to gain that recognition. It is a movie which is there to stay, and go on strong until the Onam releases try to take over, but as of now, special appreciation is needed for this movie which is kept family-friendly even with the different themes which could have been explored in another raw manner.

Release date: 23rd August 2019
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Joshiy
Starring: Joju George, Chemban Vinod Jose, Nyla Usha, Sudhi Koppa, Sinoj Varghese, Rahul Madhav, TG Ravi, Swasika, Vijayaraghavan, Salim Kumar, Malavika Menon, Kalabhavan Niyas, IM Vijayan, Sarasa Balussery, Nandhu, Jayaraj Warrier, Disney James

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam

What is the movie about? :: Fr. Vincent Kombana (Amith Chakalakkal) is the parish priest and also a much respected figure in the small remote island of Arayamthuruth. Being an ex-policeman, he believes in getting things right in his own way, and how to have control over the small law and order problems that happen in the island. He is determinted to make sure that everyone around him walks the right path. For the same, he walks around at night, and checks if nobody causes any trouble. One night, while going through his usual walk, he witnesses a murder, but it turns out that he just can’t speak about it. But he has to let the people and the police know about this crime without talking about it. Being a trained ex-policeman, he plans on finding the reason behind the murder and about how the victim ended up being one.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: On the other side of the events is Joy Kattukkaran (Dileesh Pothan), a man with many secrets. Part of the same parish, he is one of the richest men in the village, and with his wife Lissy (Lena), seems to live a happy life. The other seemingly nice men in the village (Nandhu and Nedumudi Venu) also have their own secrets. The seemingly Victorian Compromise, was not working in anyone’s favour, as most people out there were not what they seemed to be. Caught between them, and hoping to solve a mystery won’t be Fr. Vincent Kombana, but Komban Vincent, a man with a long past during his life at Mattanchery. Now the question remains about how far the priest can go to bring the murderer to justice while staying within the borders of religion. Before the feast occurs at the church, he has to do it.

The defence of Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam :: The trailers had showed that there is something out there to be witnessed in this movie with grandeur. There is no lack of style here, and we are also introduced to a different kind of priest, and a beautiful remote island which brings a lot of beautiful visuals. There are some nice moments to go with it too. After Paippin Chuvattile Pranayam and Kumbalangi Nights, this is another movie to bring that kind of a setting with backwaters and showing simple lives along with problems faced by the locals. There are some nice twists happening here, and the interval punch is a perfect one. There are some funny moments, but the focus shifts, and we are given the idea that there is more to come with a major shift in the proceedings – the movie goes forward with the links being connected nicely. Things come together nicely in the end, and we are left with something to guess too.

The claws of flaw :: With the premise and the idea, Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam could have surely achieved much more. There are moments when the movie go extra-stylish and with some more drama than needed. It also shows a certain shift from the major point at times, and also takes some time to get into the mood – it is with the interval that the movie gets clearly into that path. With a murder mystery at the centre, and having a number of talented actors for support, this could have gone forward with many twists and turns as well as shocking revelations, instead of revealing a little too much early. When choosing an unconventional path, going for something special is easier, as things will easily blend in – it hasn’t been focused on, that much. Some of the jokes were also less effective, and there was chance to add more in that department too.

The performers of the soul :: Amith Chakalakkal brings life to the role of an ex-policeman and priest nicely. We have seen him in some notable roles, but the most significant one was surely as the leader of the gang of youngsters in Pretham 2. He remains strong throughout this movie, and even goes rather extra-stylish at some moments. The character could have done with less heroism, and without that stylish hero image. Among the senior actors, it is Dileesh Pothan who is there for more than anyone else. With certain negative shades, this is something that he does with ease, in his usual style. We know what he can make out of even the simplest of roles, and the director leaves something for us in the acting department too, every time. The negative side is safe with him, in a way that it rises when needed, so well.

Further performers of the soul :: Lena is there for a short time, but leaves her mark with ease – maybe she could have been there for more, one would feel so. Anjali Nair has that kind of a role which she has done a lot of times before – her smaller roles have remained notable. Shammi Thilakan provides some fine support in between, staying close to the protagonist. This is one role that becomes significant in more than one way concerning the story. Nedumudi Vendu doesn’t have much to do though – his character itself could have been replaced by any other doing the same kind of actions. Sudhi Koppa is also left with a small role, and Nandu has more though. The second outing of the director Rejishh Midhila after Lal Bahadhur Shastri of 2015 also helps him to make a point, as the whole level has advanced from there.

How it finishes :: It is always great to have movies like this without the so called superstars doing so well – Joseph did the same, rising out of its low budget status to become the best Malayalam movie of the year 2018, something which nobody expected with so many big budget movies releasing in the year with many big names associated with them. This one won’t be the same for this year, but the effort has been good to go this far, with its title coming from Manianpilla Raju’s character Hitchcock Kanjikkuzhi in the movie No. 20 Madras Mail. During these times when good thrillers are hard to come, Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam takes the pain to bring something different, and it is to be appreciated. It is to be noted that we have had some good time with Malayalam movie industry so far, and it has been just near 2 months.

Release date: 22nd February 2019
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Rejishh Midhila
Starring: Amith Chakalakkal, Dileesh Pothan, Lal, Anjana Appukuttan, Baby, Dheeraj Denny, Gokulan, Sudhi Koppa, Anjali Nair, Nandu, Kainakary Thankaraj, Shammi Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Memories

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Memories enter this week of Malayalam movie overdose fighting for a place with four movies, all of them creating bigger hype than this one. This movie had more of a release of silence compared to what Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukutty, Neelaakasam Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum have been coming up with. All three of them were much awaited, but this movie was not that much of a subject during those talks. But it is that type of silence that grows on you, and makes an impact. As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tse had said, “Silence is a source of great strength”. Remember the quote by Aldous Huxley, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music” – now there comes the continuity of the movie connecting with the silence, for there is that background score as well as the music with which the movie begins, before going deep into the silence and breaking it again, powering itself from its slowness to the incredible strength and agility that it possesses within. The movie is a little silent dynamite which shows its signs of efficiency in the beginning itself, and explodes to bring out its best in the second half.

Jeethu Joseph had given us Detective – one of the best investigative thrillers in Malayalam, Mummy & Me – the movie which could change lives in a good way, and the big laugh riot which was My Boss. The same director has given us another treat in the form of Memories, and in the process, he might have provided us with the best of Eid. The movie goes through life of a police officer (as they say, an episode in the life of a cop), and brings that world to the audience. Sam Alex (Prithviraj Sukumaran) gets through the credit scenes supported by great background music, and stylish action before we come to the scene three years later when he is addicted to alcohol and walking around aimlessly, stretching from the bars to the beginning of the long beverages queues. He has memories of his wife and daughter who were murdered by a terrorist as a revenge for him killing his gangster brother in an encounter. He keeps himself to perpetual damnation on Earth, feeling that he and his police department are responsible for their death. He resorts to alcohol and moments of lazy depression to keep himself away from the world of the common man, drinking so much that he can hardly walk until he falls. The memories wake him up, and to keep them away, he drinks again, a procedure which would seem to last for eternity.

Meanwhile, his brother leaves the house and his mother is left worried due to his drinking habits. Meanwhile, a senior officer comes home and invites the former efficient cop to investigate the case of a possible serial killer on the loose. Even as Sam disagrees first, his mother convinces him to go through it. In doing so, he is assisted by a journalist Varsha Mathews (Mia George) and Inspector Antony (Sreejith Ravi). He investigates about the two murders, and at the same time, a third murder takes place. He has to deal with his own alcoholism along with the memories of the death of his beloved ones, which keep flashing into his mind. He fails to keep them away, as they continues to haunt them along with his love for alcohol, but the man makes great turning points in the case right from the beginning itself. As the murderer captures his victims who look very much as if they are not connected to each other, and tortures them to death, the time is running out for the police force. There is brilliance on both sides, and there remains the question if the hand of the law or the unknown force of evil wins the clash of the titans. As this is an investigative thriller leaning on the suspense factor, anything more might deal a spoiler blow.  Meanwhile, look out for Christian imagery and symbolism, that’s all I can say for now.

Prithviraj Sukumaran has had a great time since Ayalum Njanum Thammil. This year he came up with a great performance in what was undoubtedly the best movie of the year – Celluloid. While his Mumbai Police had much critical acclaim, his Bollywood movie Aurangzeb was a movie with a difference and reflected that effort which he has been putting into his job. If the questions are asked if this character is like Mumbai Police‘s Antony Moses, the answer would be a clear no. Sam Alex is clearly superior to Antony Moses, who was an empty shell which was filled only to the disappointment of the viewers. But Sam Alex is a near-perfect dynamic character, more like that Solomon whom Prithviraj portrayed in Vargam. There are not many characters who would seem to exhibit such pain as this one, even as there could be doubts if there is so much of it that the dosage could be decreased. Our protagonist never goes the wrong way, even as he doesn’t go the right path. It has been the right path for our leading actor who had not that effective police roles in The Thriller, Police, Sathyam and Khakhee. Aurangzeb, Mumbai Police and now Memories have brought to us the one man who makes an excellent police officer on screen.

Prithviraj is brilliant right from the beginning. He undergoes that transformation in a grand style, and here is that character which sheds all the power and is left with just intelligence and vulnerability. This is that type of role which brings instant likable element to the character. He is not that police officer who comes out and beats fourty or fifty people up in slow motion, and even makes them falls kilometres apart. The age of such a superhero policeman is over for sure, and what we have here is a more genuine version, and hundred percent better than the one we saw in Mumbai Police. Here, we have a protagonist who can’t shoot down one man, nor can he chase him down. In another parallel world created by the much earlier movies, the hero would have been so untouchable that one gets to be sure about how the world inside the movie is supposed to go on. In such a perfect world, there is no real scope for suspense, even as a few drops can be added according to the availability of some rather less important characters to be murdered. This is not your perfect world of superhero, as the perfection here belongs to Prithviraj, and as a whole, it belongs to our director. Nobody defies gravity and takes the form of flying mutant humans or throws the normality away.

There are the others who add to this normality in the right and the most appropriate manner. The villain is the best of the other guys for sure. Even as the shadow of doubt falls on many people from doctors to policemen, the real killer, the psychopath who is placed against the cop in a game of cat and mouse happens to be a man totally unexpected. Revealing the man would be a cruel thing right now, and I shall control myself from doing the same. But this villain is an excellent choice, as he becomes that psychopath murder who makes a striking impact on the viewers. There was the need for such a villain in Malayalam movies, coming out nowhere to strike with the element of fear and uncertainty. Meghana Raj has a striking effect in the memories, even as she doesn’t really exist during the current timeline displayed in the movie. Mia George’s character has an influential existence throughout the movie, but not that much of a presence on the screen. The veterans Vijayaraghavan and Nedumudi Venu adds to the value of the movie with their usual creative performances as the concerned superior police officer and the caring parish priest. Suresh Krishna is also there with his usual best.

The movie’s surely has a slow first half, but it still remains faster than many other appreciated bad movies like Annayum Rasoolum on any day. The ambience it creates, rules this little world of memories. When Prithviraj walks away right here with his head held high, there is a lot of claps from the audience and Memories is a beautiful, successful experience. It is the result of how well this canvas has been set, and how much mastery can be associated with the protagonist’s depiction. We had the cop age in movies during the time of Suresh Gopi, and this might be a resurrection in a different manner. There was the need for the memories to stay strong to make that inception into our minds, and there has been such a thing indeed. There is a certain amount of neatness maintained throughout, even though some computer imagery used was rather unnecessary. It was good to watch a houseful show in the local theatres on a weekday in the morning, something which has rarely happened. The necessity for a very good thrilling atmosphere has been realized, and one has to thank Jeethu Joseph and Prithviraj Sukumaran for this wonderful piece of art which has come this way.

Release date: 9th August 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Mia George, Meghana Raj, Vijayaraghavan, Rahul Madhav, Suresh Krishna, Sreejith Ravi, Nedumudi Venu, Praveena, Madhupal, Irshad

memories copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.