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.

Kimi

Vampire Owl: I know a witch by this name.

Vampire Bat: Witches don’t have such names – it should be nickname.

Vampire Owl: Northern Witches are now known by some special names.

Vampire Bat: Are you trying to say that they are going to modernize soon?

Vampire Owl: Yes, their covens are all with electricity now.

Vampire Bat: The witches no longer use magic to light their covens?

Vampire Owl: No, they are now deviating the power taken from the nodes elsewhere.

Vampire Bat: So, they are now deriving cent percent of power from their chaos node.

Vampire Owl: Yes, they are now more powerful than ever. Two of them now serve as sources of unlimited chaos energy.

Vampire Bat: You have to warn the vampire border fortresses. Nobody can stop a fully chaos charged witch, not even a full werewolf army with armour on a full moon.

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

What is the movie about? :: Bradley Hasling (Derek DelGaudio) is the CEO of a technological firm known as Amygdala, and the newest product in their list is Kimi, a smart speaker which makes use of human monitoring to improve its search algorithm. They are planning to have a stock launch which will help them to earn a good fortune. Sharon (India de Beaufort), a journalist is suspicious about the same, and considers it to be a case of controversy. Angela Childs (Zoe Kravitz) is an employee who works for the same company as part of the Seattle division’s work from home policy. She is supposed to monitor incoming data streams from Kimi devices and make the needed corrections to the code, so that the software can be upgraded and improved. But she continues to stay at home at all times, as she has agoraphobia, and due to the anxiety disorder reaching new heights, things only get worse for her. COVID-19 pandemic did make it almost impossible for her already. Her mother’s advice doesn’t really help either.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: She does stalk people living the apartments and Terry Hughes (Byron Bowers) is her man of interest, whom she end up calling into her apartment as she also feels sex starved. Yet, she is not able to start a romantic relationship with him, as it is no longer her point of concern, living all by herself and not caring about anybody else. One day, as she is working, she goes through a recording that she feels is a sexual assault. As her co-workder Darius (Alex Dobrenko) who is initially suspicious that it is just an argument helps her, she is able to find information about the account holder, a lady named Samantha Gerrity (Erika Christensen). She later finds out that the lady was also killed, and there is a hitman associated with it. She intends to talk about this to Natalie Chowdhury (Rita Wilson), a high ranked executive who is in charge of the operations there, but she doesn’t want to go out. But considering her state of mind, will they be ready to listen to her? Is there something sinister about this particular company? Should she be worried about all of these?

The defence of Kimi :: There is something about Kimi that will keep us going. The protagonist and his struggles are quite close to what the introverts might come across, and in the current world, it is only appropriate not to trust another human being. There are some fine camera angles which make things better too – how her situation inside the house and also when she ventures outside are all nicely taken. The first exit out of the place after a shower and brushing is to be appreciated further. The talk in the bedroom had nicely served to let us understand her character already. They have also served a happy ending here, and there is never a situation of too much of danger around – it seems like she can handle them all by herself even though she does get unexpected help. Even with so many complex happening in between, what we see on the screen is kept simple and things get solved also with a certain amount of luck here. As the movie is on Amazon Prime Video, more people will watch this lesser known interesting thing.

The claws of flaw :: There seems to be a dark side to the main character’s past, but it is not shown well enough for anyone to believe if that really happened or if she was hallucinating, having mental problems for a long time. The use of flashbacks doesn’t seem to be something of importance around here. We also have times when the main character is just an irritating person rather than anything else. After all, the movie itself focuses on her all the time, and the other characters seem like people with no identities for most of the time. Well, humans have the right to be irritating and evil, and therefore we go through that. There were many moments when some action could have been added – fight scenes can serve fine around here. This would have also been a big thriller with a few moments given better focus. This could have been the girl on the run, and throughout the process, there could have been a big adventure, with some funny moments to add to it – the humour could have been used more effectively here.

The performers of the soul :: You will not be able to take your eyes off Zoe Kravitz in this film which is all about her – it is clear that she is so good, as she adapts so well into this character, evolved a lot from Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant. This wouldn’t be a role that can be easy to play for the usual celebrities who are so much used to being part of the public fame. This is the same reason why almost nobody from this part of the world will find it easy to play this kind of a role, except what you had seen in North 24 Kaatham. The moments of her going out for the first time after a long time is among the best scenes – from a shower and electric toothpaste to how she goes on unnoticed by the the public is something worth noting for sure. For all celebrities, this kind of roles would require more work, and she has has surely nailed it. The other performances are of so much less significance in comparison here. Byron Bowers has a few dialogues and some moments to add. At the same time, Jaime Camil makes an interesting killer, and it would have been nice if there was more of the action with him around – some fight scenes could have been added here and there with him and the gang around.

How it finishes :: Kimi seems to remind one of Amazon Alexa, and the movie also serves as a cautionary tale about the possibilities of secrets being leaked through some of the newer technologies, which seems to offer more, but is also doing something else in the process. It also gives a nice picture of anxiety and agoraphobia, both being blended in here. It is also something which most of the introverts would love, and being at home all the time is not considered strange anymore with the Corona virus pandemic and work from home establishment changing things. Well, one wouldn’t be able to live a life like the protagonist of this movie though, as the person would considered mentally unstable and forced to an institution, or will be forced by the family, friends and locals to go out and talk with people. Being at those so called developed countries does have more advantages. Then you remember that this is the least of the advantages that you can have there.

Release date: 10th February 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Zoe Kravitz, Betsy Brantley, Rita Wilson, India de Beaufort, Emily Kuroda, Byron Bowers, Alex Dobrenko, Jaime Camil, Jacob Vargas, Derek DelGaudio, Erika Christensen, Devin Ratray, Andy Daly, Robin Givens, Charles Halford, David Wain

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Boss Baby

Vampire Owl: More bosses and more babies? I thought we were done with them as Storks finished.

Vampire Bat: Well, the boss is a baby, and the baby is a boss. There is no more to add to it.

Vampire Owl: I have a feeling that this could be about Mavis. You remember our time with her earlier.

Vampire Bat: She is not a boss. And the baby here is human.

Vampire Owl: Dude, every human is just a simple bite away from not being human.

Vampire Bat: What? You bite babies and kids these days? When did you start doing it?

Vampire Owl: No! I was referring to the werewolves and zombies.

Vampire Bat: There has been no zombie infection since last redmoon, when the witches threw that beach party.
Werewolves are just too angry to go out of their territory. You will find no chance of humans getting bitten.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein had informed us that humans were developing new vaccines leading to zombie outbreaks.

Vampire Bat: Even Frankenstein can’t stop humans and their perpetual greed. I am sure that he knows about that too ever since he turned undead.

[Gets some jackfruit chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Templeton (Tobey Maguire) tells the story of his childhood, from the time when he was seven years old, living with his parents, Ted (Jimmy Kimmel) and Janice (Lisa Kudrow). He lives a happy life as their only son, getting all their love, and is not ready to share the same with a brother or sister. He keeps an imaginary world with himself, where he goes on missions, mostly saving the day all by himself, and this fictional world is a significant part of his existence. It is due to the same that he is not able to believe when a baby arrives there dressed in a black suit. He feels that his new brother, the baby (Alec Baldwin) receives rather too much attention while he is ignored by his parents. They keep dealing with the baby’s needs and Templeton gets almost nothing. He is frustrated and envious of this new person who has stolen his world, and the love which only he is to receive.

So, what happens next? :: Templeton also feels that the baby is acting strange, but the parents are not ready to check that due to their love for the new arrival into their family. He is also shocked to know that the baby can talk like an adult. One day, he listens to the baby talking to the other babies of the neighbourhood and understands that they are on a mission. He tries to get the evidence, but gets grounded. So this baby, who turns out to the the boss of the rest of the babies in the neighbourhood, the Boss Baby, after their confrontations, decides to tell Templeton the truth. He makes Templeton suck on a pacifier which takes them to Baby Corp, a place where babies are doing business, sending infant love right after the babies are produced. Only a selected group of babies are chosen into business there, and there they try to keep the love for babies active. But now, they are facing a crisis, with puppy love overtaking the love for babies.

And what is to follow with this adventure? :: It has been a global phenomenon, as puppies having been taking over everything, more than doubling the love humans have for babies, leaving very little for cats, birds and the others. If the Boss Baby doesn’t succeed in finding the secret files regarding what Puppy Co, the big puppy supplying organization is planning to do as a surprise which will completely eliminate all others including babies from the love list of humans. The Boss Baby is at the house because Templeton’s parents work at the Puppy Co, and he says that he will go back to business at Baby Corp after his mission is accomplished. But if he fails to do what he is assigned to do, he won’t be taken back into business, and will have to settle in with Templeton as his brother, his memories about Baby Corp gone. Templeton, wanting the Boss Baby to go away, decides to help him. But with puppies dominating further, can babies finally get the love the deserve?

The defence of The Boss Baby :: The visuals are really good, and the cuteness is clearly visible throughout this one. The kids are going to love this one from the beginning itself. It doesn’t matter how much close to reality this one has intended to get, the truth is that a lot of people these days love puppies more than babies. There are people who even make the public statement about the same, and don’t want to have babies – it makes this movie even more relevant to our world. How some people manage to hate babies, and still love puppies is a surprise to many, but we know how people are, and what they are capable of. The funny side remains mostly strong with this one – how the baby works with his suit and suitcase is so much fun to watch. The message is to spread love, and not to keep it inside, or limited to someone – there is always more than one person who deserve the love, which only multiplies and comes back when given.

The claws of flaw :: There is the certainty of strangeness concerning this movie which has a baby as the boss – it is rather the next level of having something that doesn’t really come together. It keeps itself far away from reality all the time, and it never even tries to come back and be normal for a second. We have already seen the baby factories in Storks too. There are moments when the comedy doesn’t work too, and the world of imagination shown within this movie is rather a little too stretched and not needed. By the end, The Boss Baby gets rather predictable though, and its surprise regarding the villain is not that much of a shocker either. Well, this much was set, and we wonder why not some more here. It is the world of wonderful animated movies, and here they have a baby as the main character, and there should have been more, I am sure that a lot of people will agree to getting more with the movie’s little protagonist brothers.

How it finishes :: The Boss Baby will also have a sequel coming up, and it will be interesting to see how this tale of baby business magnet will go on. Based on the 2010 picture book of the same name, which was written and illustrated by the American author Marla Frazee, this one surely has developed a lot from the material. The looks of The Boss Baby is of the level of big animated movies like Zootopia, Moana, Frozen, Epic, How to Train Your Dragon, Big Hero 6, Inside Out and Kung Fu Panda, but is never close to getting around that level in its content. This is the kind of world in which the lost fish as well as martial arts expert Panda gets sequels, and so whatever the baby gets is a bonus – after all, we don’t want fishes and pandas taking over the place of babies like those puppies did. This one doesn’t seem to be going for the Academy Awards with this, but with the entertainment side, The Boss Baby is a leader.

Release date: 31st March 2017
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Tom McGrath
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Miles Bakshi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Tobey Maguire, Lisa Kudrow, Conrad Vernon, James McGrath, David Soren, Nina Zoe Bakshi, Tom McGrath, Walt Dohrn, James Ryan Eric Bell Jr, ViviAnn Yee, Edie Mirman, James McGrath, James Izzo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Belko Experiment

Vampire Owl: I hope this doesn’t turn out to be something like those experiments from Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: Well, Mr. Frankenstein has not equal, and so, there is no relevance for such a question.

Vampire Owl: I have never really liked him. You know how much blood the vampire community has to donate for his cause. A number of blood banks have been left with minimum resources.

Vampire Bat: But, it is for building a better future, of the vampire community.

Vampire Owl: Why would he even try to do that? He is no vampire, and he is not even distantly related to our community.

Vampire Bat: He is a good scientist. He made a monster, and now he wants to make something good.

Vampire Owl: He experimented on himself to keep staying alive for this long!

Vampire Bat: Yes, which is how he became very useful to us.

Vampire Owl: But I doubt his inner motives, which he isn’t showing to us.

Vampire Bat: Even if there is something, it is going to be nothing in front of the Belko Experiment. I am sure about that.

[Gets three cups of Vagamon tea with a piece of green apple cake].

What is the movie about? :: Belko Industries a vey famous American-based non-profit organisation which has branches all over the world, and facilitates American companies in South America in hiring American workers. It is a popular choice among freshers when looking for jobs, and has a high reputation everywhere. It is at one of its lesser known branches, the office building in Bogota, Colombia, which is located at a rural or rather remote setting that Mike Milch (John Gallagher Jr) and his girlfriend Leandra Florez (Adria Arjona) works. They find it strange tha there is a long queue in front of the office with the Colombian local workers being sent back, and new people being in charge of security. The two, along with the other employees including the newest employee Dany (Melonie Diaz) are all there, and when the last of the employees get into the office, things change.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: After the final employee is inside the office, a voice asks everyone to kill two of the co-workers in half an hour of time, or they will randomly chosen and killed. The building is covered by steel shutters from all sides, and all phones including the mobiles stop working – everything is cut off, including the air conditioning. The company’s chief operating officer Barry Norris (Tony Goldwyn) try to tell everyone that there is nothing to panic. But it is him who panics first as the head of four employees are blown, and he, along with two other workers, Wendell Dukes (John C. McGinley) and Terry Winters (Owain Yeoman) decide that it is only fair that they kill a few people if it is all that takes to make sure that they keep living for a longer period of time. Mike tries to take the tracer off with a knife, but the people in control finds out what is being done to the tag, and warns him against doing the same.

And what is to follow with a twist of events? :: They realise that the Colombian workers were sent back home, because only the American employees had the tracer put in them to find them in case they were kidnapped in another nation, and so only they could be manipulated here. The announcement is no longer considered a prank, as things turn too serious – thirty of them are to be dead within two hours in one way or the other, or sixty people will be killed, according to the voice. Barry, along with this newfound friends tries to get the weapons stored within, so that they can kill according to the demands of the voice, while Mike who is against it, along with his girlfriend, and the only remaining security guard Evan Smith (James Earl), as well as the tech worker Keith McLure (Josh Brener), tries to hang banners from the top of the building, only to get shot at, by the special guards outside. With people losing patience as well as hope, how many will be dead, and who all will survive?

The defence of The Belko Experiment :: This is one movie that begins the adventure right from the initial stages itself, and goes on to continue well right into the experiment within the building. There are so many thrilling moments in this movie, and it has us guessing what is to happen next for most of the time – as we know that there is no escape, and with a short run-time, things are surely progressing rather quickly. There is a fine concept at work here, and we once again get to see how much each person wishes to live, at the cost of the lives of others around. It is quite thought-provoking without doubt, and we keep wondering about our situation. Maybe this movie is more human than the rest of the movies, with people looking to earn money, and survive, with that survival getting a new meaning here – some of them just live up-to that too. The cast, as a whole works pretty good for this one, even though there is nothing big.

The claws of flaw :: There is a certain kind of predictability that comes in through the middle, going on, and there is also the limitation coming in, with not that much tried with its setting right inside a building. With people caught inside a huge building without any option to escape, and having chips inside their heads ready to be blasted, there was not that much of an option left – if there was at least one path left free, it would have been more interesting; without escape routes, this is rather one-sided, thus the movie removing its own options. There is a certain amount of sadism in this movie, which puts people against one another, and in the situation which make them kill or be killed, we feel the survival of the fittest in an office. The inherent evil in man comes out with a number of people here too. In this movie, we are without hope, and its sadistic experiment on human nature is something that not many people can stand. Better execution to keep the balance, maybe?

How it finishes :: The Belko Experiment is another one of those movies involving experiments, but not on the lines of Morgan or Ex Machina, as this one looks out for social behaviour rather than anything else. But in the end, we humans just got to give in to one thing or the other, whether it is is science, politics, religion or whatever else. There is all the action that happens in a building, the thrills, and along the violence, this movie leaves you with something to think about. Those people who are looking for some different horror or more of thrillers, are surely going to love this one. Among those movies which seem to go rather the same way, there is The Belko Experiment which travels a strange and depressing path, which is is more or less a reflection of human nature – darkness falls into humanity too easily when facing terror, doesn’t it? You don’t need much of an experiment to prove the same on most occasions.

Release date: 17th March 2017
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Greg McLean
Starring: John Gallagher Jr, Adria Arjona, Melonie Diaz, Tony Goldwyn, John C. McGinley, Josh Brener, Michael Rooker, David Del Rio, Stephen Blackehart, Rusty Schwimmer, Owain Yeoman, Sean Gunn, Abraham Benrubi, David Dastmalchian, Gail Bean, Valentine Miele, Joe Fria, Benjamin Byron Davis, James Earl. Cindy Better, Kristina Lilley, Maruia Shelton, Brent Sexton, Mikaela Hoover, Lorena Tobar, Gamal Dillard, Gregg Henry

PS: The best of lesser known horror is at The Autopsy of Jane Doe.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.