Lamb

Vampire Owl: I think that they are talking about the Vampire Lamb.

Vampire Bat: A Vampire Lamb from Iceland? That is new.

Vampire Owl: We never had any Vampire Lamb so far?

Vampire Bat: Lambs do not usually go well with the vampires.

Vampire Owl: What about a black lamb with fangs?

Vampire Bat: We already lost the Vampire Wolf to the werewolves. We don’t really need another animal.

Vampire Owl: Wolves belonging to that side of the border. It is not the case of others.

Vampire Bat: You think that every creature other than a wolf would declare allegiance to the vampire kind?

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why they wouldn’t do that.

Vampire Bat: Well, what about the reason that they don’t really need that?

[Gets a paneer paratha and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Somewhere in the remote area of Iceland, a strange entity seems to make its way to a barn which is located a long distance from the traces of civilization. With the terrifying climatic situation, things seem to get worse. The owners of the barn, Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Guonason) soon finds one of their pregnant sheep giving birth to a creature with a lamb’s head and human body, along with its other children. The two takes the creature into the house and names her after their dead daughter, Ada. The creature’s biological mother keeps trying to contact her, and as she is later found with the sheep, Maria shoots the mother sheep and buries it in a grave further away. Despite having some nightmares about sheep, Maria takes very good care of Ada. Ingvar’s brother Petur (Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson) who arrives at the barn witnessing the incident feels that this newly found creature is only an animal, and wishes to get rid of it, to which the couple doesn’t agree at all.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Petur who always had certain love interest with Maria, decides to get rid of Ada for the best interest of everyone in the house, even if other won’t recognize the same. He takes her on a morning walk in the early morning, hoping to shoot her dead and bury the body far away. But he has a change of heart decides to become the uncle-figure to her – Ada also gets along with him really well. But soon, things seems to get different, and something creepy seems to make its way home, which Ada seems to notice. Petur is still fond of Maria, and after drinking a little too much that he should have, makes sexual advances to her, even using the secret that he knows, that she killed Ada’s real mother. She sends him away on the very next day. With only Ada and Ingvar left around there, the strange entity makes its first appearance. What does this creature want, and how can Ingvar and Maria defend against it? What are the secrets that Ada holds here? What fate awaits the couple and their half-sheep child?

The defence of Lamb :: Powered by the performance led by Noomi Rapace who is one of the best actresses of all-time to be part of movies like this, this film can be considered as thriving on the atmosphere on which it builds its pillars. It is indeed a strange movie when we look at it – there is a creature with a lamb’s head and a human body, and it is raised as a child by humans; not the usual kind of story that you keep seeing around. It has a certain horror side, but also an emotional one, all of them being present there, often in an indirect manner. It deals with the strange nature of people, and their lack of understanding of the realities which they face. Providing the feeling of a pastoral world well enough, it provides a certain amount of haunting experience with the slow movement forward too. It wouldn’t have been that easy to work on this material, but with the right cast and the visuals that work perfectly with the atmosphere, the movie manages to march on. It is a reminder that almost everything in life comes at a price.

The claws of flaw :: Lamb is one movie which has decided to go very much divergent, and there is not that much of horror to celebrate it. The film deviates from the general idea about the genre which comes out from movies like The Conjuring, The Nun, Annabelle, Ouija, Insidious, Sinister and others which work on a formula which has been tested and appreciated by too many people who have identified themselves as fans of the category. Moving away from the original horror ideas, and leaving less to be scared, this wouldn’t be that much appreciated by such fans. Along with the same, the ending doesn’t bring that huge effect which was expected. The movie could have been better marketed as a drama thriller indeed, as one creature which does so less has its limitations. Also, the movie slows down a little too much for anyone’s liking, and it is only right to feel that the movie could be twenty or thirty minutes short in length. The grief in this movie could have been also more evident.

The performers of the soul :: Noomi Rapace is one actress whom we can always rely on. The Swedish actress might be best remembered by the people in this part of the world for her work in Prometheus, and she is no stranger to playing motherly figures, as we have seen the same in Angel of Mine. She has a similar mother role here, and she is as determined as she was in that movie. As we miss seeing her in Alien Covenant, and as a good number of her movies didn’t come here, we can only be glad to watch this particular performance from her, which deserves the appreciation too. Most of you might still remember her for the Millennium series: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. Well, as the mother who takes care of her lamb girl child, this is another work which you are going to remember her for. Hilmir Snaer Guonason plays the father figure very well too – after all both parents are part of this lamb love. Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson makes a good contribution in between too.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to have similarities to another flick, Sacrifice, with the atmosphere which is seen around. Even though an English movie, it is also set in such a Scandinavian world. The themes of loneliness and depression, as well as a reflection of people who treat their pets as kids also seem to have some say around here. The story seems to have taken something from the Icelandic folklore too, and the one other movie which seems to stay close to this one is The Witch. The film doesn’t use that many dialogues to make its point, and that would mean that even without subtitles, you can understand most part of the flick. The movie surely had the positive opinion of critics, and was selected as the entry from Iceland for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards which took place in Los Angeles in 2022. So, you know that this movie surely has enough to make an impression – it is a mystery set far away from the everyman’s busy world that will have your attention early.

Release date: 24th September 2021
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Valdimar Johannsson
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Hilmir Snaer Guonason, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Antlers

Vampire Owl: I haven’t seen a more interesting poster in a very long time.

Vampire Bat: Horror does need such posters to show divergence in fear.

Vampire Owl: Fear should always be the same, right?

Vampire Bat: Unless you are a vampire, or maybe zombie.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about a different smell of fear.

Vampire Bat: You should be aware of the fear potions of the witches.

Vampire Owl: Those potions never really work.

Vampire Bat: I know that you trust the pseudo-scientific elixirs of Mr Frankenstein better.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has opened portals with elixirs.

Vampire Bat: Those were ancient portals found hidden in the caves beneath the castle!

[Gets a red velvet cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: In the beginning, there is a warning that Mother Earth has been pillaged, with her life’s blood taken away, and this terrible act has awakened a spirit which needs to be feared – it would seek the lost, frail and the depraved, and asks the viewers to hope and pray that it won’t take one among them. The scene cuts to Cispus Falls, a small town in Oregon which feels dark with an eerie feeling. There, in an inactive mine, Frank Weaver (Scott Haze) runs a meth lab within an inactive mine which used to serve the town’s economy a long time ago. Frank and his co-worker hears some strange noises from within the mine, and goes on to check the same. As they doubt that it is an animal and tries to escape, find themselves attacked by an unseen creature. Frank’s son Aiden Weaver (Sawyer Jones) waits for him outside the mine, failing to understand what has happened inside. His elder brother as Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T Thomas) is considered to be strange by his classmates and teachers, but Julia Meadows (Keri Russell) who teaches about myths and fables is determined to help him.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Julia remembers the abuse she suffered as a child in the hands of her alcoholic father who was also mentally ill – she feels that he is also suffering from something similar. Paul Meadows (Jesse Plemons), her brother is the local sheriff – she had abandoned him a long time ago, but has now returned home from California following the death of their father. She feels that she shouldn’t have left the place, and tries to help another person as she can, this time, Lucas. She tries to bond with him, but there is no success at all – she tries to visit his house, but leaves after hearing some strange noises from inside. Lucas seems to have some some mystery locked within his house, and also takes dead animals and birds to his home. He stays awake at night and makes strange drawings. Julia feels that she really needs to get to the bottom of this, and also informs her brother, who reaffirms that Frank was considered fit to be the guardian of the two children after the mother’s death – now, what would she do?

The defence of Antlers :: It can be seen that Antlers does take the deviation from the usual horror, and this divergence is taken seriously throughout its narrative – it lets the surroundings contribute to the same really well. The environment and the setting serve effectively for the movie too. The small town with its dark and wet weather really suits the situation presented around here, and there is enough of the woods to keep one going in the mood of terror. The idea of the “diabolic wickedness that devours humans”, the spirit that takes many forms, makes a powerful myth around here. There is also a connection made to the destruction of nature which the humans managed to come up with. One wouldn’t be able to blame the monsters considering how evil the humans happen to be at every point. We also have the moments of scares, and that gets stronger with the understanding that there is a seemingly unstoppable force of nature at work. Add the performance, especially from children, and things only get much darker and scarier in nature.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Antlers had the premise to be something greater, but doesn’t use the same to the best of advantage. We do see the moments which we feel could have been better. When you have such a near-unstoppable monster at the centre, there are many things that can be done – it could have surely been designed better too. The emotional side doesn’t seem to work that much, even though we are waiting for those elements to be effective too. The myth could have also been given a boost with certain elements from the past, and a history to be remembered. One can generate enough fear out of that too. The scope for sequel at the end seems to be forced, as if there was a certain need rather than anything else. One can feel the need to remind the viewer of a myth that goes missing, but that requires more of a better origins story with roots in a mysterious past – let the horror run through there too.

The performers of the soul :: Keri Russell has been among my favourite actresses from a long time ago – she carries a certain amount of charm with her roles, even though horror hasn’t been the genre we would remember her the most for. She would make it to the list of performers who don’t seem to age much as years pass. She blends in really well as this protagonist who has her own problems from childhood itself. Jesse Plemons supports her really well as the brother figure and the policeman. Jeremy T Thomas gets his moments as the struggling child who is forced to make too many decisions at such a young age. Scott Haze gets into the terrifying moments around here well. Sawyer Jones plays the other child of significance in a role which brings a fair challenge to him. Amy Madigan ends up having a smaller role to work with than what was expected. Rory Cochrane’s work is another thing of support here. The monster when shown, works as a performer by itself.

How it finishes :: Antlers keeps on moving the world of horror forward in a different path for a change, and the world of fear continues to make its points in one way or the other. One does feel that the Malayalam movie Odiyan could have learned a few things from this one with the creature attacks and the atmosphere to make it darker – if you see the looks, there seems to a visual connection. The earlier divergent horror movies like Malignant, Lights Out, It Follows and Don’t Breathe had scored better, but this one tries to make it count. Maybe, something like the creature in this movie is the need of environment itself to take care of the humans who are destroying nature as we have known it. Well, Corona virus did try, but they were not successful in getting rid of humanity and its use of science to destroy environment. It does make us feel that there can be the moment when nature can get it back running – The Blackout surely made us think about human extinction. Until something like that happens, let us enjoy this horror out of nature.

Release date: 29th October 2021 (Theatre); 15th December 2021 (Hotstar)
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Scott Cooper
Starring: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

No One Gets Out Alive

Vampire Owl: I used to say this to some of the vampire apprentices.

Vampire Bat: How long ago was that? We haven’t had apprentices for a long time.

Vampire Owl: I don’t count the centuries anymore.

Vampire Bat: You can still count the years well enough.

Vampire Owl: The years mean too much counting for my liking.

Vampire Bat: Well, you don’t really get older every year. You are immortal.

Vampire Owl: Immortality only stops the body from getting old.

Vampire Bat: You cannot continue to take it as a curse.

Vampire Owl: We don’t get to be that evil as humans. It is a curse.

Vampire Bat: We are better without human level of evil. It is too much to handle.

[Gets a sweets puffs and three cups of mixed tea].

What is the movie about? :: Ambar Cruz (Cristina Rodlo) is an undocumented Mexican immigrant, and has no id which restricts her. She moves to Cleveland after the death of her mother, whose illness hadn’t allowed her to lead a normal life. She finds a place to stay at a cheaper rate than usual, with Red (Marc Menchaca) as the caretaker of the boarding house which has a few floors where only her and Freja (Vala Noren) are staying. It seems that Freja is not the kind of person who wishes to talk to people much, but Ambar does hear her crying from her room. She has to pay a good amount of money in advance for the apartment and gives a co-worker the remainder of her savings to obtain a fake ID that will allow her to continue working, but her newfound friend cheats her and leaves with the money. It also seems that Red has a sick brother Becker (David Figlioli) who bangs his head against the door all time, and it is not that only strange sound in the building.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Ambar’s slow working speed doesn’t allow her to get any appreciation from her boss, and as she continues to ask him for some advance pay, she is fired from the job. Now, with no money to pay, the only way forward for her is to get a refund from Red who is hesitant to provide the same. She doesn’t have anything to do with the building either, as she begins having some strange visions, which are nothing less than nightmares. But she returns to ask for the refund again, as she needs the money after being left on her own, not able to contact her distant relatives and having no money to survive, after losing the job. Soon, two Romanian women also seem to join the boarding house, and Red assures her that he will get her the refund from their deposits. She has some relief when she hears that, but that doesn’t stay as a few sinister secrets about the boarding house is revealed to her. Now, this will no longer be all about money and job.

The defence of No One Gets Out Alive :: This movie manages to be effective in more than one way. It is indeed an effective horror film with its own twists, but one can also safely say that No One Gets Out Alive is more than that. It also shows the struggles of an immigrant, which is depicted on the other side of the horror in a way that we appreciate the same. The movie plays with the lights and uses darkness effectively to make the horror effects get better. The eerie feeling is maintained well throughout the movie, and so is danger lurking at the corners of darkness. The film provides the scares in not just one way, but further, as we know that hopelessness can lead to desperate measures being taken. connects the whole thing to the monster nicely, and we see the creature as the movie nears the end. They seems to have worked with this one seeing a possible sequel, as there is that box, and a monster which is nothing less than an ancient demon which reminds us of how Sinister had prepared its premise and proceedings.

Positives and negatives :: There is always something special that can be done about strange houses with secrets, and this boarding house could have brought more innovation to the same. This one has a few things predictable instead, even though it does bring the much unexpected twists too. It also brings to us, some of the creatures from myths which we have no idea about. The creepiness that this movie maintains remains worthy of appreciation at all times, thanks to the atmosphere and surprises that one boarding house brings. The movie is based on a horror novel by British author Adam Nevill which was published in 2014. Having such basic material means that there has been something to work on, and develop all the time. The human antagonists in this movie are more disturbing than the creature that does what it is supposed to do – it is basically a good turn towards truth, as we knew this all time. Demons are evil because they have no choice, but humans are evil because they choose to be evil, for their selfish needs – that much is once again clear, as depicted in this movie. You can often trust a demon more than a human.

The performers of the soul :: Cristina Rodlo plays the lead here, and it seems only perfect that a Mexican-born actress is chosen for the role. There is something that makes her suitable for all the horror too, seemingly suiting the scream queen situation really well. Other than that, she also deals with the emotional sequences with great skill. I had earlier read the name as Christiano Ronaldo, with a spelling mistake – now that sounds as strange as the monster that we see in this flick. The monster is an entity in itself, and maybe, we can use it as another character of interest, with its origins tale also being told from an archeologist’s point of view. The girls other than the main character could have been used better, especially the Romanian girls who do seem good to contribute further towards the movie – they all look perfectly suited to live through a horror film. Marc Menchaca as Red does come up with a strong performance too, while David Figlioli as Becker manages to be all about muscles, becoming a near unstoppable villain.

How it finishes :: No One Gets Out Alive works well with its horror options, and serves more than what meets eye. The title nicely serves the purpose too, as the film deals with that kind of a monster. Moving away from the usual demonic spirits of The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, Insidious, The Curse of La Llorna and others, we have the variation of a creature here, that makes grand appearance as the movie moves towards the end. Here, we have a horror movie with a human touch, as it shows the struggles that the main character, an immigrant, has to go through. We don’t usually get such a good, detailed background story for the protagonist – here, the focus is mostly on her rather than anyone else. Even though Corona virus pandemic might have other ideas every time, we are always looking for some horror with monsters too. After all, the big monsters from other worlds are as significant as the human monsters and the little viruses causing trouble. As you understand the same, you take this horror into heart.

Release date: 29th September 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Santiago Menghini
Starring: Cristina Rodlo, Marc Menchaca, Joana Borja, Victoria Alcock, Phil Robertson, Moronkẹ Akinola, David Barrera, David Figlioli, Vala Noren, Alejandro Akara, Mitchell Mullen, Jeff Mirza

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Transformania

Vampire Owl: Do you know that they made Van Helsing the bloody scientist here?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I am completely aware of that.

Vampire Owl: They have replaced Doctor Frankenstein. How evil is that?

Vampire Bat: Doctor Frankenstein was never really a true scientist.

Vampire Owl: You should stop saying that. We know his inventions.

Vampire Bat: Your list of his inventions is flawed.

Vampire Owl: But they have been very useful.

Vampire Bat: Van Helsing has always been a real doctor.

Vampire Owl: You cannot support that evil former vampire hunter.

Vampire Bat: Well, you have to appreciate the fact that he is not into hunting again.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Count Dracula (Brian Hull) has the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Hotel Transylvania happening with almost every guest attending the party. His human son-in-law, Jonathan Loughran (Andy Samberg) almost ruins everything though, as he continues to be the moron that he has always been. During the celebrations, he was planning to retire and leave the hotel to Jonathan and Mavis (Selena Gomez), but as Jonathan continues to be the most foolish person on Earth, he decides to pretend that there is a clause that the hotel cannot be transferred to anyone who is not a monster. Jonathan who has no inch of smartness in his small brain decides that the only solution here is to change himself into a monster. It is then that Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) provides him an opportunity become a monster, as he has the device to change people into such creatures. He does successfully test it on a guinea pig, and becomes proud of his grand invention, boasting further about it.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: So, Jonathan a.k.a. Johnny is transformed into a dragon-like monster which breathes fire, and has huge claws. Dracula tries his best to make sure that nobody gets to know about it, and tries to reverse the action, but ends up making himself human in the process, also destroying the device as a result of the events that follow. Abraham Van Helsing tells them that there is a way to change them back, and it is by finding a crystal in South America, which can take the place of the one which was destroyed, and get the device to work again. Dracula’s good old friends Frankenstein (Brad Abrell), Wayne (Steve Buscemi), Griffin (David Spade) and Murray (Keegan-Michael Key) also turn human, as they drink from a fountain contaminated by the ray. Even though Frankenstein feels good about it, as he is now a handsome human being, the others are not really fond of their transformation, and neither is the other monsters who find it to be very strange and unacceptable.

And how can the transformation be reversed now? :: Dracula and Johnny have already travelled all the way to South America, and as Ericka Van Helsing (Kathryn Hahn) sees some news about an old tourist being rescued by a monster in a Latin American country, they figure out that this is related to the father-in-law and son-in-law. They find Abraham Van Helsing hiding from the guinea pig monster, and understand things better, finally deciding to travel to South America and find the two. Meanwhile, Dracula does face the problems of being human again, as he is now old, and much weaker than his original state. They are forced to go through a jungle which seems to have enough dangers in store for them, but the monster finds it easy to go through them. The whole team from the castle are also in South America now, searching for the two. But it won’t be easy to find the two in the forest. Now the question remains if the transformation can actually be reversed, and whether things can now go back to the strange way of being normal. Well, you have to hope for the best, but not always when monsters are involved.

The defence of Hotel Transylvania: Transformania :: The Hotel Transylvania feeling is maintained here again, and the usual stuff gets going once again. The characters do continue to be interesting, as we look at them, and we have always wanted the monster world to be more relevance. The animation remains a thing of quality, and the world within Latin America is also nicely created, and would have looked much better if watched on the big screen with 3D, but we know that Amazon Prime Video is the best option with most of us not having the desire to sit in an air-conditioned hall with possible infected people for one an half hours. Well, the short run-time is still a positive thing, as we look at it. The message is surely given, even though there is the feeling of repetition, making us feel that we have seen all of these already. There is also some humour present around here, even though there is not much around. Well, you have vampires, the mummy, werewolves and the Frankenstein monster in an animated movie and you have to enjoy it up to an extent every time, doesn’t matter what the flaws are.

The claws of flaw :: Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is the fourth film in the franchise, and there hasn’t been any improvement, that is for sure. As we are watching this on Amazon Prime Video, we cannot really know if there is that much of a grandeur set for the big screen. The one young human here continues to be a complete moron, and a character whom we hate more than ever – the fact that he doesn’t die in this movie is the biggest disappointment of the whole franchise, the daughter vampire could have also been dead to add some beauty to the whole thing. The movie’s whole point should have been the end of humans and the rise of the monsters who are less evil, but the franchise still struggles to get to that point. It should take in some ideas of innovation from other successful animated movie franchises and get the creative imagination working – after all, it is about vampires and other interesting monsters, and you can never really have enough of them. You do have the premise to work on, don’t you?

How it finishes :: Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is just another addition to the grand list of similar movies which are part of a franchise, and has dealt with similar things for quite a long time. The first movie was among the very first animated films to be reviewed on this website, and there has been many animated movie reviews which followed. This one is surely a step backward from the original, and I cannot say about the other movies of the franchise as I haven’t watched them yet. With the lack of inspiration to create something better, and lacking further in creative imagination, the movie only continues what it has been doing, and does provide the feeling of repetition throughout its run. Still, it is some fun, and more entertainment for those who haven’t really watched the previous movies. Well, you can just start with Count Dracula who is running a hotel, trying to transfer it to his daughter and son-in-law, for there is not much lost related to it. These are the kind of movies which can always stand alone, as they are supposed to cater to the younger audience better and keep them wanting a sequel or two. Well, not every movie can be Frozen and its sequel.

Release date: 14th January 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Derek Drymon, Jennifer Kluska
Starring: Brian Hull, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Fran Drescher, Brad Abrell, Asher Blinkoff, Richard Blevins

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The 8th Night

Vampire Owl: Another Korean horror film with monsters? That sounds good.

Vampire Bat: Korean movies have some fine monsters.

Vampire Owl: I wish that I could invite a few of them here.

Vampire Bat: Monsters are not allowed here. They are considered the same as werewolves and zombies.

Vampire Owl: But dead monsters are allowed.

Vampire Bat: Well, we do give them honorable burial in the cemetery.

Vampire Owl: Why would a monster come here to be buried?

Vampire Bat: We are now promoting burial tourism.

Vampire Owl: Now you are giving those kinds of ads?

Vampire Bat: Yes, the ads are very popular now.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: A long time ago, a monster roamed free, and intended to create eternal suffering for humans. Unable to kill it, the Buddha was finally able to stop the monster by taking out its eyes, coloured black and red. The red eye continued fighting, and when the Buddha was finally able to stop the red eye, he placed it along with the black one in different caskets. He buried one eye in the great hills of the Far East, and the other eye he buried in the great deserts of the Far West, hoping to make sure that these would never meet and bring the monster back. In the year 2005, a professor Kim Joon-cheol (Choi Jin-ho) wants to prove that the Buddhist myth is real, and finds one of the eyes in the India-Pakistan border. But he is disgraced, and people don’t believe in him. The media makes fun of him, and the authorities say that what he has with him is forged. This angers him, and after many years, he still wants to let everyone know that he was telling the truth.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He reawakens the monster’s red eye, and open the gates of hell, in an attempt to prove that the Buddish myth real, thus also making people realize that he is not a liar. Monk Ha-jung (Lee Eol), a protector of one of the caskets, understands that the red eye has reawakened, as he alwso wakes up from his meditation. He asks another monk Chung-seok (Nam Da-reum) to seek Park Jin-soo (Lee Sung-min), a construction worker who was banished from the monk community – the one who is supposed to be born to stop the eyes’ reunification. All these were foretold, and the prophecy is to be fulfilled – if the eyes are united, on the eighth night, the monster will be unleashed, and it will unstoppable. At the same time, Detective Kim Ho-tae (Park Hae-joon) is also working in the case of the strange corpses that the red eye leaves behind after its grand awakening. But are these people good enough to stop the evil which seems to possess so many people and murder many of them?

The defence of The 8th Night :: The movie has some good divergence with its myth as well as the horror that it brings. There are also the characters who have some interesting past to go with the present, and are defined by past, present and future. The mythological elements about the monster works really well, and its effectiveness only increases as the movie goes forward. There is a certain amount of quality which has been maintained in its use of properties. It uses the settings of the city quite well to gaining advantage in horror. One would initially have the doubt about what a horror movie can do with two eyes lying apart and coming together at some other point of time – how can random eyes be horror? Well, this one answers the same quite well, and has a number of moments which bring some divergent horror, different from what we expect and what we have been seeing. The idea of the ancient prophecies and monsters is used effectively here as the journey never gets less interesting.

Positives and negatives :: The movie could have had more grandeur in the establishment of the characters and terror which is unleashed, and some moments don’t contribute that much like it was intended. It also gets very complicated at times, and also a bit slow in some moments. There is a lot of mystery about what has been happening around here, and with this kind of a monster, you have absolutely no idea what can happen next – it keeps us guessing as well as thinking. There are some shots which are so good and effective that they stay with us for long enough. They have captured the essence of nature, as the movie goes forward with its battle between good and evil too. The eerie feeling which this movie provides, might seem different than the usual, that we would get elsewhere. South Korean movies are pretty much rich in providing some symbolic horror, and this one also does try to deviate from the normal and most traveled course of action for the best. The movie also has some service as an investigative thriller – we know how the spirits and real-life investigations of crimes go together, like in the case of Malayalam movie, Cold Case.

The performers of the soul :: Lee Sung-min whom we have known from Hit-and-Run Squad leads the way as the man who is part of different missions, having violence and non-violence on two different sides, none of them leaving him, as he serves as the guardian. He has moments as he comes out of the past to face the present, in an attempt to the save the future for everyone in this world. It is a solid work that suits the personality that we see here, strong and with better different abilities than an average monk would possess. Park Hae-joon plays the detective, and he does that in a convincing manner, even though he remains a foolish believer in science and logic only. A detective in a movie dealing with magic and myth might feel out of the place, but he does make sure that it is not the case here, and there is a lot to be done from his side too. Kim Yoo-jung plays the female character with most screen presence, and she makes another interesting character of significance. Choi Jin-ho plays the man who begins all of these, and one can only wish that his scenes were more chaotic in nature too. Nam Da-reum is the usual apprentice who doesn’t know enough until he changes in the end.

How it finishes :: The 8th Night has the ability to rise beyond the typical horror story that we have, with all the monsters coming out of hell, as it establishes the myth, and follows it up with enough horror to go with it. With an investigation which is nicely managed, this one goes forward in an interesting manner. There is the message about destiny, and the roles that one is supposed to perform in this world, as well as something about where conscience comes into play. With the visuals adding to the mystery and horror, we know that this could be another classic horror flick like Train to Busan and The Wailing, which could rise above the rest many years ago, and the later arrivals like Svaha, Metamorphosis an The Divine Fury. You are never really short of some interesting Korean movies to watch, and The 8th Night is the film which you can add to the list of what can be recommended to the horror fans. This is also not to be confused with the Malayalam movie, 7th Day which deals with another investigation of murders.

Release date: 2nd July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Kim Tae-hyoung
Starring: Lee Sung-min, Park Hae-joon, Kim Yoo-jung, Nam Da-reum, Choi Jin-ho, Park Se-hyun, Lee Eol, Kim Han-sol

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Blood Red Sky

Vampire Owl: Now, this is the type of title that I would prefer for a movie.

Vampire Bat: You are planning to make a movie too?

Vampire Owl: Yes, Doctor Frankenstein will be directing it.

Vampire Bat: Well, not the best director for our kind of a movie.

Vampire Owl: He has assured us that this movie will be the highest grossing vampire movie in the history of our realm.

Vampire Bat: I assume that it would be science fiction then?

Vampire Owl: You know that Doctor Frankenstein doesn’t talk science outside the laboratory anymore.

Vampire Bat: His type of science is the best when not talked about.

Vampire Owl: You are talking ill about an award winning scientist.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that he paid a million for that particular award.

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

What is the movie about? :: An airplane which was supposed to have been hijacked, lands at an RAF base in Scotland. As the soldiers try to get the people out, Elias (Carl Anton Koch), a little boy is the first person to come out, and he is taken into a room, where he recollects the happenings during the flight, seemingly in terror. Back to the past, Nadja (Peri Baumeister), a widow from Germany, is taking a flight to the United States, where she could be treated for blood cancer better, and Elias, her son, joins her at the airport. They come up against Farid al Adwa (Kais Setti), a physicist, who helps them with their luggage. Nadja continues to look really ill, and taking her medicines doesn’t seem to help at all. As the passengers begin to sleep, a group of men supported by the co-pilot Bastian Buchner (Kai Ivo Baulitz), find and attack the three air marshalls in the flight, murdering them. Soon, the gang take over the flight, after getting rid of the pilot.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The team tells the passengers that their requirement is monetary, and if nobody tries to do anything nasty, it will remain safe for everyone. They also re-programme the black box, after which they deviate the flight towards another path. As Elias tries to run away to a hiding place in the plane, one of the attackers shoots Nadja, and leaves her behind, considering her as dead. But it seems that Nadja has secrets of her own. Nadja, even though weakened, manages to access the cargo hold, and removes the contact lenses and dentures that conceal her mutated eyes and fangs before managing to kill and feed on a dog. It is revealed that she was bitten by a vampire which also killed her husband on a winter night when their car broke down. She regains her strength, and attacks one of the hijackers who come that way, killing him. She realizes that her vampirism is coming back to her, as she also feeds from the hijacker. Now, the hijackers have an adversary that they don’t want. But is she good enough?

The defence of Blood Red Sky :: The idea is good, as there is a vampire on the airplane, and we don’t usually get that – there is a certain amount of creativity in bringing a different vampire world unlike what we usually have. It brings a dangerous situation, and then makes it even more dangerous from multiple sides. Each minute, there is no real relief, as the situation only gets worse for the living characters. The movie has no real heroes, and it doesn’t claim to have some supernatural being saving the day, for the bloodbath won’t leave many people behind if it was a real thing. There are some moments which stand out, including different transformations, and quick as well as gory attacks. The mother-son bonding is also good, especially in the beginning stages. There might not be many other movies which connect motherhood and vampirism, and here, the vampire has its own divergence, even though not by that much of a distance. You are never short of blood and gore with vampirism around.

The claws of flaw :: This premise could have developed into something bigger, and there could have been some fine action sequences as well as moments of horror which would bring the shock and stay for long, but that chance is not taken here. You have a vampire on a flight, and also a few hijackers – things really need to get bigger. While holding on to many elements, it sometimes losses grip on its most valuable asset, the vampire mother who has just unleashed the creature in her. Sometimes, the action doesn’t get the attention that it deserves, and during some moments, horror just takes the backseat, leading to the movie losing the advantage. The hijackers here could have also had better motives, and some of them could have actually had specific characteristics as well as a background tale – here, only one of them seems to have the same. Turning more people into vampires is not always the best option to make a movie better – this film seems to like the idea of having a vampire full-house airplane though.

Performers of the soul :: Peri Baumeister leads the way in this movie here, and she does that in a way that catches our attention a lot in more than one mode. She is strong as the motherly figure, and as a vampire, she takes the creature’s features with ease. It is a performance that many others playing vampire characters can note. She goes through the motherly love and vampire thirst for blood at the same time, or interchangeably. Among the villains, it is Alexander Scheer who gets the most of the villainy, even though the vampire-thing doesn’t work well for him. Dominic Purcell who plays the leader doesn’t get his due at all, as death comes early for him. Roland Moller also has his own different moments, and he could have made one smart villain – leaves a mark as he does now though. Carl Anton Koch who plays the son has his moments, but there are a few which doesn’t suit. Kais Setti is there from the beginning to the end, and he also has some fine job to do. Another one to be noted is Kai Ivo Baulitz.

How it finishes :: Like Train to Busan, this one is Flight to New York, and with vampirism spreading quicker than ever, one could actually replace the vampire here with a zombie, and still have the film working – with a little concern about the slower pace of zombies. Placing vampires on the airplane is an idea that can hold on strong, better than placing them in ships or trains. This film seems to have finished the idea though, without scope for a sequel, but we know that sequels can come out of nowhere. We are never really short of vampires, for we have placed them with werewolves in Underworld series, as mother-daughter duo wandering around the world in Byzantium and at many other places. Anne Rice, the author of The Vampire Chronicles who recently died, had brought some fine works which could be made into movies, taking some fine form in the form of Interview with the Vampire starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas. We have had so many vampire novels, films, series and others in quick succession – this one also adds on. Netflix surely has the better vampire flick, as what Amazon Prime could get was Black as Night.

Release date: 23rd July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Peter Thorwarth
Starring: Roland Moller, Peri Baumeister, Chidi Ajufo, Alexander Scheer, Dominic Purcell, Rebecca Dyson-Smith, Graham McTavish, Kai Ivo Baulitz, David Hurten, Kais Setti, Nader Ben-Abdallah, Jan Loukota, Florian Schmidtke, Jacqueline Macaulay, Holger Hage

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fear Street: 1666

Vampire Owl: And now we have to go back to the year 1666.

Vampire Bat: It is a little too long backwards, don’t you think?

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein is preparing a time machine. So, we can actually do it ourselves now.

Vampire Bat: So, you believe that he is finally going to invent something useful.

Vampire Owl: He is the best scientist the vampire world could ever find.

Vampire Bat: He is not a scientist, but an alchemist. There is a difference.

Vampire Owl: Yet, he has invented so many useful things.

Vampire Bat: These inventions have been useful only to him.

Vampire Owl: What about the portal to different dimensions?

Vampire Bat: The portal could only lead us from one room to the other.

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

What is the movie about? :: As the severed hand of Sarah Fier is reunited with the rest of her corpse, Deena is Sarah Fier (Kiana Madeira) now, as she sees things from her perspective, slowly finding the past revealed to her. She lived with her brother Henry Fier (Benjamin Flores Jr) and father George Fier (Randy Havens) in 1666. Things seem to go well in the original settlement before it was divided into Sunnyvale and Shadyside. Soon, things seem different, as Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch) falls in love with Sarah, something which is discovered by Mad Thomas (McCabe Slye). When Sarah and her friends meet a reclusive widow to gather berries for a party, she also comes against a book of black magic. She witnesses that the world around her does change, with strange things happening. Cyrus Miller (Michael Chandler) who is Hannah’s father, begins to act strange, while the town’s food and water supply are poisoned. The people of town are suspicious about almost everything, especially Sarah.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sarah talks to Solomon Goode (Ashley Zukerman) in person as she wonders if she is responsible for the town’s newly found bad luck. Soon, they discover that Pastor Miller has murdered twelve children in the chapel, after taking their eyes out, and that includes Henry. The town is very much frightened because a man of God himself was responsible for this terrible act. They hope to get rid of the evil, but none of them knows where to find the same. Soon, with a number of witnesses, Hannah Miller and Sarah Fier are considered responsible for what is now happening, and even though they find and decide to execute the former, the latter couldn’t be found. Sarah decides to find the widow’s book of black magic and use it to make a deal with the devil so that she can somehow save Hannah, with whom she declares her love, and begins a lesbian relationship which reflects what happens later in 1994. But while trying to find the devil, she only finds the book missing and the widow murdered. What could be really happening out there now?

The defence of Fear Street: 1666 :: There is an interesting backstory to the origins of the movie, and also a grand return to the present to make sure that things end pretty well. The film does have a pretty good twist coming in between, and has its own interesting surprises as we look at them. The world of 1666 has also been nicely created, not just with the surroundings, but also with the people. There is something about the colonial world as much as the European Middle Ages when it is created well enough. The addition of a deal with the devil element also works in favour of the movie. One would feel that there is a certain amount of confidence running through this movie, which is reflected in the characters, as we quickly move towards the final showdown – it does have a better pace in comparison to the previous movies, as the focus is less in relationships in comparison to the others. The final fight scene has a lot of interesting moments, and as we see all those serial killers out there, we keep asking for a film for each of them.

The claws of flaw :: The romantic nonsense elements continue to haunt this last part of the movie, as it was one thing which didn’t work in the first part either. It also seems that the best villains of the movie seems to be from those time periods of the franchise which didn’t really have a movie to support it. Despite all the elements that it puts in here, the other two movies of the franchise seems to be better than this one – the first one did a fine job in establishing the world, while the second one was the best of the franchise as it felt like a typical slasher with quality. This one lags in comparison, but not by much, as it is saved by the settings in two time periods and with some fine surprises as well as bringing everything together in the end. The romantic side continues to be nonsense, and using that between fight feels even more stupid. This shouldn’t have been about love, for it is not really difficult to know what matters these days. We cannot let some silly teenage love ruin a slasher horror movie which was rising otherwise.

Performers of the soul :: Kiana Madeira has more to do in this film, going through two different timelines, and there is something about her in the seventeenth century that keeps us more interested. She seems to suit in that time period better than the 1990s. This film seems to show her evolution to suit slasher horror films better. Darrell Britt-Gibson as Martin does add some interesting and funny moments in here, while he had only a few moments in the first flick. Ashley Zukerman stays strong, not just in one avatar, but in different forms. Olivia Scott Welch is also better in the seventeenth century, and we see her blending in there well. One would feel that she is also slowly moving towards becoming a scream queen at some point, as horror films becomes the strong point of actors and actresses when least expected. Benjamin Flores Jr adds more in this film, and he is also a memorable person of two different centuries. McCabe Slye adds the much needed creepiness to the past for the film. There are many actors and actresses who play different roles in multiple centuries, which does bring some confusion here though.

How it finishes :: The final movie of the trilogy seems to have ended the film well enough, even though it doesn’t hesitate in leaving the scope for another movie in the series in the final stages of the credits. If you ask me, I would like to see a film which comes in between all these movies instead of having a sequel belonging to the early 2000s or the contemporary world. We have all been looking for some horror, and just like we had expected, the villain here is actually human rather than the supernatural – it is a fine end when we look at it, as it has always been clear that humans are the most evil creatures to walk on Earth. As I have mentioned before, even after facing so many natural disasters and the Corona virus itself, humans of our times haven’t changed either. They are all going for wealth and influence, while considering the others of their species as not worthy, and won’t hesitate to murder them – the killers of slasher horror movies are always better than humans of reality, aren’t they? Well, you never know.

Release date: 16th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Kiana Madeira, Ashley Zukerman, Gillian Jacobs, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr, Darrell Britt-Gibson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fear Street: 1978

Vampire Owl: Most of the vampires were not reborn in 1978.

Vampire Bat: With the exception of the elder vampires.

Vampire Owl: I would say that this franchise did start quite well with the first one.

Vampire Bat: It did bring the nostalgia of 1990s really well.

Vampire Owl: 1990s should be considered as the golden age of vampires.

Vampire Bat: They should have Fear Street Vampire Version at some point.

Vampire Owl: But vampires have been less about horror these days.

Vampire Bat: Vampires have always been about more than just horror.

Vampire Owl: Well, the side-effects of not having enough horror is also affecting us.

Vampire Bat: The first part of this slasher trilogy did bring us some horror.

[Gets a vanilla cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Deena (Kiana Madeira) and Josh Johnson (Benjamin Flores Jr) somehow manage to restrain Samantha Fraser (Olivia Scott Welch) despite being possessed by the supernatural. They tie her up and forcibly take her to C Berman (Gillian Jacobs) who was the last person to survive this attack of the witch, and remains unpossessed and not attacked as of now. She tells her story, and being part of a camp in 1978, Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink), a young girl from Shadyside is accused of stealing by Sheila (Chiara Aurelia), a Sunnyvale camper, and her friends. They also accuse her of being a witch, and ties her up. After hanging her helplessly from a branch where a witch was burnt once, they try to burn her, only to be stopped by other campers. Even though she is saved from being thrown out of the camp by Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland) from Sunnyvale, she remains hostile about people from there. Ziggy’s elder sister, Cindy Berman (Emily Rudd), and her boyfriend Tommy Slater (McCabe Slye) are the responsible ones in the camp.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: It is then that Nurse Mary Lane (Jordana Spiro) attacks Tommy without any reason, and she tells him that he will be dead soon, before being hit on the head. This brings the story of a witch and possession back to the scene. Cindy and Tommy, along with Alice (Ryan Simpkins) and Arnie (Sam Brooks) from the same camp decide to find the secret behind what happened to the nurse who was supposed to be a nice lady, even though her daughter was associated with the witch. When they find the lair of the witch and enters there, a few more secrets are waiting for them. They find the name of Tommy among the names of the killers, and soon, Tommy changes, and splits Arnie’s head into two, instantly killing him. The two girls try to escape, but are caught in a part of the lair as stones are disrupted. Tommy leaves for the camp with the axe to meet the unsuspecting campers.

The defence of Fear Street: 1978 :: The setting and the time period where everything happens, make the whole thing interesting. The situations of horror are created well, and we have some perfectly suited characters here to work accordingly. It is more like an ode to the old slasher horror set in summer camps or lonely house in the woods. We have seen many of similar movies dealing with at least one killer on the loose. The Cabin in the Woods and Evil Dead would accept this one as their lesser mates. The blood and gore remain more in this movie in comparison with the first, and the emotional content is also stronger. The creepiness in such locations has never been so beautiful. It is a reminder that the trilogy can more with the next film, or even extend the whole franchise bigger in scope. As it is now, there is no real shortage of surprises, and how the movie ends to make us wait for the next part is also one of them. In the world where slasher horror has been losing its power, this one strengthens its roots.

The claws of flaw :: There is always something that slasher horror movies can do differently every time, and this one doesn’t really use its opportunities to bring the change. There are many moments which could have been done differently, and some of them could have had some extended versions. Now, it also depends on how the third film comes up, because where it stopped right now is a precarious position from where it can take any turn. Some of the romantic relationships feel unnecessary around here, and the other relationships are also a little bit more than what was required in a movie like this. There were also occasions were more horror could have been added, and an addition of shock would have done more good – you know that some moments required the attack of the serial killer. Even though there are many recognizable characters around here, some of them also miss out at times. You need to watch those older slasher horror movies to make a comparison again, because we have missed the best of the genre for too long.

Performers of the soul :: The one person who seems to be perfect for a slasher horror movie is Sadie Sink, who blends in here so well. She reminds us of many other scream queens from the past, and does her job really well. It is to be noted that there is a long way to go for her, and lets see her further. Emily Rudd is not really far behind in doing the same either, and she basically leads the movie from another angle. The third most important character of the movie is also female, Ryan Simpkins who follows quite well. Jordana Spiro’s short role is memorable for what seems to be madness, but is not really that. Chiara Aurelia plays a typical role, but does leave a mark too. Jacqi Vene also has a little notable role around here. McCabe Slye makes a turn to evil in a nice way too. Ted Sutherland also has some good time around here. Kiana Madeira once again has a similar role, but with less to do here. Olivia Scott Welch and Benjamin Flores Jr also have the smaller roles around here in comparison with the first.

How it finishes :: Fear Street: 1978 is pretty much a continuation of what we had in the earlier movie, and it is the change of setting through the years that makes this one so different. It reminds us of some of those old slasher horror movies well, and with the help of some new effects, seems to make things look better. Making a good second part continuation for the first part of any movie is not a difficult job, and even as movie divided into three, they have managed to make the second part better than the first. With where they ends with this movie, they have made sure that we are all interested in the third part. All these makes sure that the first, second and third parts are not the same as one another. The three slasher movies, even though are part of one grand scheme, are also very much divergent in the content on the screen. During these days when there are so many murders happening around, the effect of slasher horror might be less, but we are sure to take this as an effective piece of work.

Release date: 9th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, McCabe Slye, Ted Sutherland, Gillian Jacobs, Kiana Madeira, Benjamin Flores Jr, Olivia Scott WelchKiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Come Play

Vampire Owl: Strange people calling us to play at this point of time. Why?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I think that they are the brain-repaired zombies.

Vampire Owl: So, zombies now have their brains repaired?

Vampire Bat: Yes, they manage the repair with the brains that they eat.

Vampire Owl: I am still not sure why they would want us to play with them though.

Vampire Bat: Well, they want our vampire brains for further repair.

Vampire Owl: In that case, I would tell them to find some of those evil humans.

Vampire Bat: Well, evil humans are easy to find. We can refer them directly.

Vampire Owl: Yes, almost every one among them qualifies as evil according to the definition.

Vampire Bat: Let the zombies and humans meet each other soon enough through the next viral apocalypse.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three glasses of oreo shake].

What is the movie about? :: Oliver (Azhy Robertson) is an autistic boy who cannot talk either, and uses a smartphone so that he can communicate with people. One night, he finds an app on his mobile named “Misunderstood Monsters” which talks about the story of a monster named Larry who is different, and therefore nobody wants to be his friend, even though the only thing that the creature wants is friendship. He does have his own episodes of screaming at night, and his mother Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) has some tough time with it. She also feels that her husband and the child’s father Marty (John Gallagher Jr) is just not doing enough for the troubled child, as he is almost always working. Oliver is troubled by his classmates who don’t like him as he gets special treatment due his disabilities. They also try bullying him, and also takes away his mobile phone, throwing it into the field near the school. At the same time, the relationship between Sarah and Marty only gets worse.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sarah is not happy because she feels that Oliver only likes Marty, because he is the earning member of the family, and always brings the child the presents. As the tablet which Marty brought for him as a present identifies someone else with Oliver in the room with its face recognition software, there seems to be something wrong. The tablet actually starts talking to him using the same app which he was using to talk to others, and it identifies itself as Larry, who just wants to be a friend. As Marty who is bothered by Sarah’s talks finally decides to move out, the latter organizes a sleepover to help Oliver to become more social. But the chosen friends are the boys who had earlier bullied Oliver. Oliver hides the tablet as he is afraid of it, but the other boys find it, with a boy reading the story. It leads to Larry appearing, and things, as expected, can only get worse. But who would believe that Oliver is not responsible for all that is happening in house, and that there is a supernatural force at work?

The defence of Come Play :: There are some interesting scares added here and there in the movie, and some of them are more effective than the rest. The darkness and the sound effects are used well, as the visual effectiveness gets only better at the later stages of the film. The demon at work here is pretty good, and the idea that it can be seen in its original form through the tablet opens another dimension for horror very well. The idea of loneliness being spread through technology feels real, and as part of our present world. The demons from inside the technology – social media and the internet, mobile phones and laptops, they are all more real than ever. They might not be having an exact form these days, but they are present at all times, and even in the absence of the supernatural, the human evil shows its presence. Come Play’s monster can also be seen as a reflection of such evil humans, and the film also scores with a fine emotional side. It is not that easy to escape from such realistic monsters.

The claws of flaw :: Come Play could have added more effective creature horror rather than focusing more on those quick scares, and use of divergent creatures is nothing new, as we know from movies like Lights Out and It Follows. One does feel that something better could have been added with the creature detail, as better design only means the possibility of something better around here. With such a premise, it is not ready to take the risk, and that is surprising, because there was a lot that could be done with this particular monster. It could have gone beyond one family, and maybe it could have also had a background story – instead, we go for the safe zone with singular focus around here. An appearance of the monster at school, or at shops would have also been useful. The ending of the film also seems forced, and it doesn’t try to take a peek into the other dimension. All the build-up surely required more than this, as we look close here.

Performers of the soul :: Gillian Jacobs is very effective in becoming the motherly figure in a horror movie, and seemingly suiting the horror genre well. She is the one person who is there throughout the film as a mother who tries to understand, and is also the kind of person who would suit a horror film with younger cast, as she looks very much young. She does shine as the mother who has made some mistakes in the past, but does love her child and is ready to make all the sacrifices for him, as she also gets certain emotional moments which are of quality. John Gallagher Jr joins as the father figure well enough too. There are some moments for him too, especially with the creature making it to him. Azhy Robertson plays the child in trouble well, and Winslow Fegley plays his friend without much trouble. Some good performances from children also means that the horror story has better strength. The monster here is a fine performer all by himself, but a creature of electricity is surely capable of more – maybe the creature required a face too.

How it finishes :: Come Play might be a lesser known horror film in comparison to others, but is one effective work anyway. When children are involved, and when there is a monster from another dimension trying to come in through technology, one knows that this cannot be of lesser horror, especially with so many more people getting into technology due to the Corona virus pandemic and the related lock-down, work from home, schooling from home and more. Another film, Chathur Mukham has also dealt with the same thing, in Malayalam. Demons as part of technology can only get worse – we have watched Pretham and its sequel too. Let us have as many monsters are we need, because humans and the one virus spreading all over the world has made it much worse for the world. At least these monsters stick to a routine, but not those whom we see in real life. If you are looking for a similar movie with children and demons, you might also want to watch the Spanish film, Don’t Listen and the Korean one, The Closet.

Release date: 30th October 2020
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Jacob Chase
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr, Azhy Robertson, Winslow Fegley, Rachel Wilson, Jayden Marine as Mateo, Gavin MacIver-Wright, Eboni Booth, Dalmar Abuzeid

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mara

Vampire Owl: This would be a nice name for a new vampire.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that vampires have so many nice names on the official list.

Vampire Owl: I am still confident that we can use one or two more.

Vampire Bat: Even in that case, there is no shortage of names.

Vampire Owl: You know that these names are too old and outdated.

Vampire Bat: There are no outdated names for immortals like us.

Vampire Owl: The world do change, even if vampires do not.

Vampire Bat: Well, we have changed. There are enough examples for the same within the castle itself.

Vampire Owl: Those are not really part of anything that we use.

Vampire Bat: They are all part of us now, even if you don’t realize the same yet.

[Gets a chocolate chake and three glasses of mango shake].

What is the movie about? :: Andrey (Semyon Serzin) wishes for a terrible memory to be erased from the mind of his wife, Olya (Marina Vasileva). For the same, he visits Mara (Aleksandra Revenko) who has some special herbs which could be good enough to do the job for him. Mara realizes that there was a terrible attempt at robbery at their home, and she provides them with some mushrooms which he uses in cake to make sure that she starts forgetting – Mara assures him that she will able to control how much she forgets. That night itself, Olya who was living separately after the incident returns to him. But she still doesn’t want to live with him in the same house where the incident took place, and as Mara had asked him to look after her house after she leaves for a few months, they move to her place which has so many herbs and antique items. She develops a liking for the new place immediately, and is happier than before.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Things seem to go smoother than before from outside. Olya seems to be enjoying her time at the new place, which is strange with its look, but has all the facilities that they need. One night, Andrey does have a dream though, and he sees a child as well as a horse in there, and Olya also sees a person in there, staring at them. Mara assures him that they are ghosts of the previous owners, and that the process does include some side effects, but there is nothing to worry about there, and things can only get better. But Olya begins to experience more, and it only keeps her wishing to get out of there. As a musician, she is not able to practice like she used to, with fear of something being around her. She has her own hallucinations that doesn’t help her at all. Soon, it seems that he is not able to get Mara on the phone again, but it is not all, as he finds out that there is no record of the place as of now, and nobody knows the woman whom he had met. Now he wonders if things are going completely out of control.

The defence of Mara :: There is enough of the feeling of mystery and horror in this particular movie which seems to build, and become stronger with a certain amount of weirdness that is continued to be maintained around here. The atmosphere that is maintained for the same is quite superior, and there are different world being created here, most of them unreal, and bringing a different feeling. It begins very well, providing the idea that we are soon moving to a world of dark fantasy. The film provides the feeling of a twisted fairy-tale which is more than what meets the eye, and the audience are left doubting about many things here. The grief, the melancholy that is present here also feels real, and the whole thing takes enough of deviation to bring the horror, which is less evident, and hidden for us to find. It uses the evil which is off the screen, and generates the fear out of something which is more of a mystery than the usual ghost story.

The claws of flaw :: Mara does have a great beginning, and we were always expecting to see more as it progresses, but there is not that much of terror being unleashed here. The usual quick scares are missing here, even though there were so many opportunities to bring the same, with a certain amount of mystery always present at different areas. It could have also had more of the history of the apartment rather than of the rest. It could have also used the mushrooms in a more terrifying manner rather than with those colours, as the opportunities were many. Being not the usual horror movie, this one could have brought the grandeur that the others would find difficult to bring – that kind of a premise is set in the beginning itself. Mara does miss out on some of such opportunities which were there to be taken, but we appreciate the fact that it could go divergent against all odds. After all, we all have different demons to meet on separate occasions, even though this can be somewhat confusing for regular horror lovers.

Performers of the soul :: Even though not the main character, and even without having that much of time on the screen, it is Aleksandra Revenko who catches our attention from the beginning scenes, and we don’t see much more of her until the end. There is a certain wickedness in her which is clearly visible in the later stages, but the same is also present in her in the beginning too, hidden in her movements. One would have still wanted to use her more in the final stages, in the form of the terrifying antagonist rather than anything else. Semyon Serzin plays a simple, very much confused character, who does some foolish things which come back to haunt him, and that is done fine. At the same time, Marina Vasileva is really good here, and she has blended into this character who goes through different troubles – the emotions are nicely reflected by her. The changes that she goes through are nicely portrayed here, and she also gets more to do by the end of the movie.

How it finishes :: Mara, also known as Side Effect and Pobochnyi Effect reminds us of other Russian horror films like Queen of Spades, Guests and Baba Yaga. The Russian horror movies do have something different in them, just like the science fiction coming from the same area like Coma, Superdeep, Sputnik and The Blackout. There is such grand making quality here. The film also serves as a morality tale, a reminder about how the past cannot be erased, and we can only make things better in the present, for living in past can mean eternal grief and a never ending feeling of melancholy. It is a film of well-made divergent overall, and the same serves as a good cinematic experience with its mystery running directly in the middle. We all need our horror films during the Corona virus pandemic, and this one adds as horror better than most of those flicks which keep repeating the same pattern again and again. After all, we are also having a remake of Ezra coming soon for Bollywood on Amazon Prime Video.

Release date: 5th November 2020
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Aleksey Kazakov
Starring: Semyon Serzin, Marina Vasileva, Aleksandra Revenko, Maria Abramova, Maria Karpova, Anatoliy Zhuravlyov, Stepan Devonin, Sergey Cherdantsev, Natalya Dedeyko, Nikita Tezov

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Superdeep

Vampire Owl: I thought that Meander had gone quite deep with its crawlspaces.

Vampire Bat: We cannot be sure that it was about going deep into the ground.

Vampire Owl: From the final moments, it did give me that feeling.

Vampire Bat: The feeling should most probably be wrong.

Vampire Owl: I am more confident about Russian science fiction than others.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I do remember Sputnik and The Blackout.

Vampire Owl: Russian high budget films seem to have some quality which Hollywood lacks.

Vampire Bat: Hollywood seems to be running out of ideas like Bollywood.

Vampire Owl: Bollywood is not what we usually associate with new ideas.

Vampire Bat: Still, they are so much available everywhere.

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

What is the movie about? :: The action is set in 1984, during the final years of Soviet Union, before its final dissolution into Russia and the other nations. Anna Fedorova (Milena Radulovic) works as an epidemiologist is working for a vaccine for the government, but wishes to resign her post as the head of research, as her research associate is now dead due to trying the vaccine on himself without precautions and no preliminary animal testing. As there is a quick need for the vaccine, the military continues to force her to do what she has been doing, and she is also authorized to continue the human trials, and come up with a result. She still considers herself to be fully responsible for the failure of Vaccine MX23, and the death of her colleague. Her original idea was also to shut down the project immediately, but that wouldn’t be an option in Soviet Union. With the military having an eye over everything, things now have to proceed faster than ever.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The Soviet soldiers in Africa are going to require this vaccine soon, and there is a deadline coming up – the government has never been fans of those who fail to meet the deadline, even if it is by a few days. Soon, Anna is seen as being congratulated on her success in developing the vaccine in a short period of time, much ahead of the deadline. She also receives a call from the military, and she is informed about an incident in a secret underground research facility at Kola Superdeep where sounds of unknown origin were discovered below the surface after twenty people had hone missing. The facility is going to be shut down soon, and there is the need to collect the samples very soon, for which she cab lead a team. For this, some fine rewards are offered to her. She finds the offer to be appointed as the head of the Military Biological Defense Institute to be something which she cannot turn down, and that leads her to the secret facility set in snow.

And things can get only stranger in this world of chaos :: With a group of highly armed soldiers, she reaches there, only to be approached by a strange man who refuses to obey instructions, and is shot. The stranger detonates a hand grenade to kill himself, and there is some damage caused to the helicopter, and the cew is also slightly hurt. This comes as a shock to Anna who feels that there is more to what has happened now. Anna notices the corpse, and finds out that there is something strange about the body, as she continues to collect samples from the remains. The dead man was supposed to be a scientist who came up and lost control of his mind, but according to the crew, he had become so strong that nobody could hold him down. Anna also checks the miners from the mining shaft attached to the secret facility, but she is able to find nothing specific. One of the miners do give her a clue, that this is not about a disease, and it is basically hell down there. Now, it is up to her to find something out of that particular idea.

The defence of The Superdeep :: Milena Radulovic whom we know from The Balkan Line leads the way well in this film which has her as the advantage. The film does have some fine visuals of this particular world which goes a long way underneath the surface of the planet. The fine detail around here does provide us with the feeling of 1980s and the Soviet world. It is different from what we see in the usual Hollywood movies, and that difference works as an advantage to take us to a different universe. It also reminds us of some of those computer games with some fine graphics. This is more or less like a whole world down there to explore, and we can surely make a video game out of this. There are moments when it also reminds one of Prometheus and Alien Covenant, as there is something out of this world at work. There is also a certain amount of alien-like horror working out here. The detailing here is also very good, and unveiling this mystery only makes things scarier. The fear here feels real, and the thrills go on.

Positives and negatives :: The Superdeep doesn’t have good beginning, as we do have our doubts about what is to happen, after the start. Other than the main character, the others don’t contribute that much around here. Once the film gets its setting to the snow-filled world and underneath it, we are quick to know that we are up for something that will keep us glued to the seats. The sound effects nicely contribute to the same as much as the atmosphere created. All these contribute well to the fear generation. The idea of the creature at work here brings more to totality too. There is so much about the creature that is scary, and it is not just the view itself. The limitations and the lack of soul in science can also be seen here, as we see the sinister motives here too. The ending leaves a few things to ponder about, not just about humanity and its survival as well as weakness, but also about what is to happen next, leaving the possibility of having a sequel at some point.

How it finishes :: Russian film industry has been very good in making some special science fiction movies, and this one is the latest addition to the same. It is also like a computer game in which we enters a dangerous new world, and we enjoy this setting a lot. It does reminds one of Doom, but does manage to create its own identity, thanks to the Soviet style which is reinvented really well with a certain amount of quality. The scary elements also work really well here, and the horror that is provided here can stay. If you are into science fiction horror, you have to give a chance to this film too. Among the recent flicks, you might have watched Russian demons, ghosts and witches through Guests, Queen of Spades, Baba Yaga and others, but it seems that the best of horror lies in science fiction. You can take a look back to The Blackout and Sputnik along with this one, and this is a film that I consider at a higher level, somewhat above many Hollywood films dealing with similar elements.

Release date: 4th November 2020
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Arseny Syuhin
Starring: Milena Radulovic, Maksim Radugin, Nikita Dyuvbanov, Vadim Demchog, Kirill Kovbas, Viktor Nizovoy, Sergey Ivanyuk, Albina Chaykina, Artyom Tsukanov, Nikolay Kovbas

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Baba Yaga

Vampire Owl: So, we are having a new monster list.

Vampire Bat: I don’t feel that any more creatures from legends need to be added to the castle’s list.

Vampire Owl: So, you think that this monster won’t make its way into the castle?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Doctor Frankenstein has enough monsters locked in there in his lab for experiments and there is no room for any more.

Vampire Owl: Well, they don’t seem to have a castle of their own.

Vampire Bat: These are creatures of the forest. They don’t need castles.

Vampire Owl: Everyone can use a castle, or rather two of them.

Vampire Bat: What can a monster do with two castles?

Vampire Owl: Well, you can always rent one of the two.

Vampire Bat: Do not give such ideas to Uncle Dracula.

[Gets a paneer samosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Egor (Oleg Chugunov) has moved to their new home with his father Alexey (Aleksey Rozin) and stepmother Yuliya (Maryana Spivak), as well as the newly born stepsister. It is quite a strange place, with a highly advanced township with modern buildings very close to a very thick forest, separated with the help of walls. This new apartment in the outskirts don’t really have people mingling much with each other, as they keep away, not really thinking about visiting the neighbours. Egor also finds it difficult to make friends in the strange new place, except for Dania a.k.a. Dasha (Glafira Golubeva) who is also an outcast. But their relationship also goes a strange path due to the influence of a sinister force, and their parents also never cease to be hostile to them, most of the time, for no reason at all. Things are just not normal about the new township and the forests surrounding the same.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Soon, the newly moved family has a new nanny, Tatyana (Svetlana Ustinova), whom Egor doesn’t trust at all, and within no time, the baby goes missing. But it turns out that Alexey and Yuliya don’t remember ever having a child. The baby also disappears from the photos, which makes it extremely difficult to make them believe about the existence of their child. In the forest, the kid meets a man who is supposed to have lost his daughter, but somehow remember about his loss. They understand that it is a Slavic demon who lives at the border between the living and the dead, often known by the name, Baba Yaga. They feel that the real presence of the demon is somewhere near an abandoned power station. But finding the lost babies won’t be that easy, as there is more than what the legends have told them from the internet. They do find strange things in the forest, and having another boy, as Anton (Artyom Zhigulin) with them doesn’t help at all. Back home, things have managed to be worse.

And what more happens here as things go out of control for humanity? :: The demon which has taken the shape of different people has control over people in their world, and they won’t find peace back there either. They have many visions, thanks to the demon’s influence, and now their survival should concern them more than that of the babies. As they wander around the place, they soon realize that may be they are not really at home, and is stuck within a world of chaos. Alexey has already been made to make sure that his son is dead as soon as he arrive. Soon, they will have to fight their own minds to get out of what seems to be a prison created by the demon. But there are other creatures which they have to deal with. Now the question remains if they are matured enough to lead an assault into the lair of this demon, or the witch as some people call her. The fate all the babies of the future depends on their success.

The defence of Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest :: The best part of the film is the visual beauty itself, as we get to see the modernity on one side, well maintained, and on the other side, we have the natural beauty of the forests, and the use of lighting and darkness is very effective in the movie. There is a lot of divergence in how the lights are used to bring a certain mood to the setting. The use of the legend works well, and leaves scope for a possible sequel in the future, which can bring a more interesting work. There seems to be some nice similarities with Stephen King’s It too, but surely has that divergent side. The Slavic legends do have something special about them. We have already heard about Russian movies bringing these tales out there, and may be it is the Slavic vampire that we are all waiting for – after all, we do read a lot about vampires of the past before they became rather too fashionable.

The claws of flaw :: The movie should have used its ideas better, because there was so much that could have achieved here. Well, not everyone can establish a setting like this, and begin to work on the same so early. It could have left some of those confusing moments behind, and kept things straight, staying close to what should be strength here too – the fear generation. When the film seems that it is going to achieve something, it just comes down, and when it gets a lot interesting, it just losses focus – it is certainly a movie of ups and downs, and also without enough background to the tale which it is dealing with. The heroic deeds of the kids are also half baked in nature. The movie is surely not performance oriented, and the cast just has to play along with the horror here. It could have surely been more captivating, but is not that bad as some of the ratings have been worked out in different websites.

How it finishes :: Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest could have been something bigger and smarter in scope, even though it is not without its entertainment. The atmosphere makes the whole thing more interesting, and it does seem like a variant among similar flicks. It is always good to take ideas some different myths and legends, and this is something which we are surely not familiar with. Well, not everything can be that global as the Corona virus epidemic. The theatre itself has been a place of horror during the times of the virus though, as almost everyone wanted to not go into the theatres and watch the movie, instead choosing those OTT platforms. Well, let us watch all those movies as we can, and hope for a later surge in the theatres. Until then, we have the lesser known movies like this one that can make a different kind of impact in comparison with other horror films.

Release date: 27th February 2020
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Svyatoslav Podgaevsky
Starring: Oleg Chugunov, Glafira Golubeva, Artyom Zhigulin, Svetlana Ustinova, Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Ilya Ludin, Olga Makeeva, Evgeniya Evstigneeva, Marta Timofeeva, Igor Khripunov

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

It: Chapter Two

Vampire Owl: Have you met the vampire clown?

Vampire Bat: We have a vampire clown now?

Vampire Owl: Yes, even the zombies have their own clowns in a zombie-infested theme park, and it was necessary for us to arrange one.

Vampire Bat: Now we have to pay him too. Being a clown is not even a real job in the vampire world with base in horror.

Vampire Owl: It is okay, because he will be playing the It clown only.

Vampire Bat: It clown is a creature that vampires shall not accept as their own.

Vampire Owl: But he has become a trend, and we have to accept him as our own too. This is not child’s play.

Vampire Bat: Well, I am sure that he was not the kind of clown the vampire elders had approved.

Vampire Owl: But he is trending on Vampire Twitter, and it has been so for the last one year.

Vampire Bat: What? Even the vampires are letting a clown trend when we have pure non-vegetarian vampires!

[Gets some tapioca chips and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: In 1988-1989 time period, in the streets of a small and lesser known town Derry, a his six-year-old child was taken into the sewers and eaten by Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard), and a team of children had forgotten their fears to destroy the creature, and send it into hibernation for twenty seven years, hoping that it would starve and die during the time period with no option available. The team of children known as the Losers swears a blood oath that they shall be returning to to the town of Derry as adults if It returns to haunt the place ever again. Twenty seven years later, a young man is murdered by a clown which is said to have eaten his heart. A young girl who was watching a match in a stadium is also lured by It, and murdered under the seats of the gallery. Derry town now has more than what it can handle.

So, what happens with the events here? :: This ancient cosmic evil which preys upon children and possessing a large variety of powers including the ability to shapeshift, manipulate and create illusions has gone unnoticed by the police and the people in charge there, but the same cannot be said about Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) who discovers clues to the presence of the creature. As the only person left in the town out of the children’s team serving as the town librarian, he decides to call the other members of the gang. Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain) who has been going through sexual and physical abuse in the hands of her husband is only happy to come to the town, while the successful novelist Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) is quick to respond. A frightened Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) commits suicide and a lonely Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan) is only happy about a get together. Others, Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone) and Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) also reach there, but are they good enough to face this advanced It?

The defence of It: Chapter Two :: Even in the absence of the quality of the first movie, the second one manages to stay floating against all the ice it had created in the water as hurdles including the dumb humour, silly bonding among friends and the not so scary frightening scenes. There are moments of horror which works in the movie, and in the final fifty to fifty five minutes of action, almost everything works as far as the scares are concerned. The adult replacements are good, but not that much as the children, and not all of them works accordingly. The clown remains a fantastic figure of horror, and it is only when the creature comes out there with all its glory that we realize that there is something special in this movie – whenever It is there, the movie raises its level, and the so called adults don’t really live up to the quality of the clown. Among the scary scenes, the most notable one might be the creepy old woman thing, and then the murder of the two kids.

The claws of flaw :: It can be seen that It: Chapter Two fails to meet the standards of the first movie which had that first scene of the child taken into sewers being among the best scenes ever in a horror movie. It also had a projector scene to stay in our memory along with others. Yes, the old woman scene is creepy, and there is some continuous dose of horror in the last few minutes, but they are more or less for the quick scares rather than being there to stay for long. There is no scene as in the first movie to remember in this second film in comparison, and it also drags a lot. There is a lot of slow movement inside the movie during the first half, and it is during the last one hour or so that the movie picks up its pace. It should have had that kind of horror which keeps us awake at night in the darkness like Lights Out could do when lights were turned off, but this second movie focuses too much on other things, as the bonding is too much and the humour is dumb.

Performers of the soul :: With its flashback, this movie is more or less drama than horror, as the children keep coming back to this film too, with its flashbacks. The young generation of the cast continues to score over the older ones, especially Sophia Lillis who becomes Jessica Chastain as an adult, and stay pretty well throughout the movie. James McAvoy is also very good, and is the next notable character in the flick. Jay Ryan is the one who seems to be completely different from his childhood avatar, and manages to be just okay. James Ransone provides the fun here, even though the humour itself is not that much working. Bill Hader with the comic side is also only somewhat working. Isaiah Mustafa does a good job as the one who brings them all together, the confident one among the Losers. Andy Bean is wasted while Bill Skarsgard as the clown continues to entertain – maybe some more kids would have added more here.

How it finishes :: It: Chapter Two is too long a movie, and has most of its best moments directed to the final one hour. A lot of the movie was rather not needed, including the first scene and the hallucinations when the protagonists come together. The collection of artifacts could have also been shortened to make this a one hundred and twenty minutes movie, which would mean an accurate movie filled with horror at all spaces. Still, with whatever we have, rooted in the Stephen King novel of the same name, the film takes the scary elements to the screen well enough. The predictable moments, silly jokes, and the overdone friendship can be avoided though, and we can quickly move towards the last few minutes to enjoy this movie at its best. After all, an evil clown like this is not to be left behind – for terror is real, whether there is Corona virus or not.

Release date: 6th September 2019
Running time: 169 minutes
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, James Ransone, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, Bill Skarsgard, Andy Bean

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hoax

Vampire Owl: I heard that they are going to search for Bigfoot.

Vampire Bat: Everybody knows that it doesn’t exist. Are they dumb?

Vampire Owl: Well, they think that even us don’t exist.

Vampire Bat: It is another reason why they are to be considered dumb.

Vampire Owl: We shouldn’t be searching for reasons why humans are dumb.

Vampire Bat: Well, a Bigfoot movie seems rather outdated, and not applicable to all areas of the world outside North America and Europe.

Vampire Owl: Well, they should have been running short of monsters.

Vampire Bat: Still, there are many other things you can search for, in a forest.

Vampire Owl: Yes, even serial killers can found out in the wilderness.

Vampire Bat: Let us see if they find this type of monster in the end.

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

What is the movie about? :: A group of young campers who goes to a remote area in the wilderness to enjoy some time alone, away from the city – they go missing, and they are supposed to be killed with some bodies found, and nobody is able to figure out exactly what actually happened at the site. It is then that an investigative team decides to travel all the way there and find out if this was a case of Bigfoot attacking them. These creatures which are also known as Sasquatch had a significant role in the North American folklore. These creatures are supposed to be like apes, and they leave giant footprints. They are supposed to be linked to some of the great apes, and are often considered to exist from a long time ago. There are people who have claimed to have seen the creatures, and some are supposed to have seen the marks of big feet on the ground. As this particualr incident is also related to some unknown, unidentified creatures, it becomes something that can have great news value.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Even though the existence of Bigfoot is dismissed by scientists as a hoax based on some strange old beliefs, the first person to join Rick Paxton’s (Ben Browder) team of Bigfoot hunters is a young doctor, researcher and primate specialist, Dr Ellen Freese (Cheryl Texiera) who gets attached to the dollars Rick had offered to shower on her. Cooper Barnes (Max Decker), father of one of the missing girls is also asked to join the team, because he needed someone who knew the mountains and wilderness – Cooper has been leading many search parties in the area hoping that he could find his daughter. Peter Moore (Schuyler Denham), a renowned cryptologist, also joins the team, and so does Justin Johnson (Hutch Dano), their camera man. John Singer (Brian Thompson) is appointed as the security personnel in charge of their safety. Danny Kent (Brian Landis Folkins) would be assisting, and Bridgette Powers (Shoshana Bush) is supposed to be reporting from the location. But things would be different than they think about it, and will they be able to survive it?

The defence of Hoax :: It is to be noted that Hoax does provide some welcome surprises, and it also has a nice twist in the end, and that is certainly a violent one. Well, there are not many movies which has Bigfoot with the scares, and there are not much that we know about, that is for sure – Bigfoot does need its movies too, for almost all the other creatures, from vampires and zombies to werewolves got them. You know how far they have managed to get in big money-making series like Resident Evil, Underworld and Twilight, even though we can only wonder about how the last one mentioned here made so much of money and fans. The setting of Hoax is really good, and the cast have managed to work through the wilderness really well, whether it is in the morning or at night – it is one beautiful, charming and scary setting, all at the same time. The special effects are avoided to give a realistic touch here, which we never fails to notice. The terrifying events actually come in the end of the movie, and one has the slasher effect in the beginning and the end, stronger than ever.

The claws of flaw :: Bigfoot is not really something which interests people around here, at this part of the world, and it is not even an interesting monster for those who are looking for some serious horror – the name itself provides that funny feeling which works against a movie which is attempted to be a horror thriller in the wilderness, at a location where people went missing or were killed. The creature is also not much seen around here, and therefore, what could have been the movie’s highest points go missing. It also struggles to make the best use of its characters, and the stylish reporter girl character suffers the most. Even they had the setting to do a lot, there is much less being done here. With the title being confusing with another movie which deals with an entirely different subject, this film tries to bring its Bigfoot monster, and it does that without much of a focus. Due to the same, they missed a change to elevate the tales on these creatures to a higher level.

Performers of the soul :: Cheryl Texiera plays the doctor in the team, even though her interest is more in treating the animals. She does a fine job, but it has to be said that her looks suit more of an explorer and adventure on the lines of Lara Croft Tomb Raider. The same can be said about her clothing too, which suits her so well. Brian Thompson is solid around here, with a certain Arnold style of action-love written all over him. Ben Browder’s character progresses as someone like that would do, and he moves through that lane without any problem. Max Decker’s character seems to be the mandatory father character, because he achieves nothing much there, and the mystery itself comes to that kind of a conclusion. We never really get to see more of Ryan Lucy as his lovely daughter lost in the woods. Shoshana Bush does bring some humour around here, but she is rather underused considering such a character’s potential. After a few minutes, she is completely wasted.

How it finishes :: There has been many forest-based slashers, and some of them have gone on to become legendary, including The Cabin in the Woods, one of the best horror movies of all-time with a pinch of satire, as well as the best known horror movie of all-time and its remake, Evil Dead. The lesser known movies like The Forest, and the divergent ones like The Witch also makes use of the wilderness nicely – we are always expecting Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes franchises to explore the same better. Hoax doesn’t use the setting to its best of strengths, and maybe, if they manage to hunt Bigfoot next time, can correct the mistakes. As of now, Hoax makes a pretty good entertainer as a thriller, and there are elements of horror, along with the blood and gore – it is as if the movie is not one movie throughout its run, but has some breaks in between. You can choose to watch it as another usual movie which goes through the safe path throughout its run.

Release date: 20th August 2019
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: Matt Allen
Starring: Cheryl Texiera, Shoshana Bush, Brian Thompson, Ben Browder, Hutch Dano, Ryan Lucy, Matt Riedy, Adrienne Barbeau, Sabrina Stull, Maire Higgins

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Odiyan

What is the movie about? :: Manikyan (Mohanlal) is the last among the odiyans, a group known to know sorcery and had shape-shifting abilities. The skill is passed to him by his grandfather after his father and mother were not ready to stand it, and left the village with their daughter, hoping for a better social and economic status elsewhere. Manikyan is one of the most well-known figures in the village of Thankurissi in Palakkad and also beyond the borders in the Tamil-speaking areas near the Western Ghats – some people consider him to be famous, and the others feel that he is a notorious figure. He is known to lurk in the shadows, with darkness as his ally. As it was the time when there was no electricity in the villages, it was easy for him to induce fear into the minds of the victims. He would take different forms, most commonly that of a bull or a buffalo, to torment those who are given as targets by people who pay a fair amount.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Manikyan’s biggest enemy in the village is Ravunni Menon (Prakash Raj) with whom he has had his problems since childhood. Ravunni’s interest and unrequited love for his cousins Prabha (Manju Warrier) and Meenakshi (Sana Althaf) only makes things worse as Manikyan has been working in their family household and taking care of them for generations. Ravunni decides to make things troublesome for his cousins as well as Manikyan, and with the death of Prabha’s husband Prakashan (Narain) and Meenakshi’s husband Ravi (Kailash), he succeeds in putting the blame on Manikyan. With electricity coming to the village, and almost everyone blaming him for the two deaths, Manikyan is forced to leave for Varanasi. As he is wandering around there, something changes, and he feels the need to return. What would that mean for everyone in the small village?

The defence of Odiyan :: The legend of the people from Kerala folklore with shape-shifting abilities deserved a movie, and it is always nice to have such an adaptation which has its roots in our own historical fantasy. The action scenes are nicely done, and the scenes involving the titular character in the darkness will make sure that we are interested in the whole thing. The setting nicely helps the progress of the movie, and all locations provide some nice visuals. Compared to the 150 crore grand movie Pulimurugan with Mohanlal fighting the tiger, Odiyan is surely a better flick which has a nice background as well as setting – there is also no bad jokes, and the acting itself is of a superior level when we compare the two. Odiyan has moments of class, and it is the quality which that highest grossing Malayalam movie missed in more than one way.

The claws of flaw :: The trailer as well as the hype created with the information provided regarding the movie, might be the one thing which works against the movie more than anything else. The expectations had gone so high that greatness was expected without excuses, and that was one thing which caused so many of early negative reviews. There is no denying the fact that this legend could have been used in an even better way, reducing the mass elements, and adding more mystery, sorcery, twists and horror. The movie is also too long, and the first forty-five minutes might be the least interesting part of the flick. A better beginning would have helped to keep the interest going, and the non-linear narrative disrupts the flow. Flashbacks are good, but not when they are used at inappropriate timings. The final fight could have been better edited. The background music might catch our attention, but the songs never really manage to do so.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal, in more than one avatar during two different ages, displays top form as usual. There are not just the action scenes that make an impact, as the emotional side is also strong with him – the strength as well as the helplessness of the main character is shown nicely here. We remember how he could be both in Villain having the same pair in the lead. Maybe, he could have had more with the shape-shifting idea, resembling that of a werewolf, but that much is not there for him to use his full potential. His last movies Drama and Neerali didn’t make that much of an impact, but I would say that they were better than the common opinions; the case here is also not so different, as Odiyan is certainly better than Pulimurugan, and the hard work that Mohanlal has put in to become this character from the folklore is worth the appreciation.

Further performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier’s previous movie Mohanlal was not really something to be appreciated, whether it was about the flick or regarding her own performance. But she is back once again with her work in this movie. The comments which were made about her one dialogue in this movie is rather strange, because it is a perfectly suited one for the moment – it once again shows that a lot of our viewers are struggling with understanding characters. The lack of empathy that our audience shows at times is rather strange and unacceptable. Prakash Raj is a strong villain indeed, but could have had better dubbing. Sana Althaf has a nice role after Basheerinte Premalekhanam, and she also has her moments. Kailash, Sreejaya Nair and Narain are there only for a few minutes, but they do leave us with something to remember. Siddique, Innocent and Nandhu do provide some good support too.

How it finishes :: Odiyan becomes the second high budget and the most awaited movie of the year after Kayamkulam Kochunni which had great success already. Despite negative opinions, Odiyan also had a strong weekend, with the only challenge coming from Hollywood, in the form of Aquaman, which has lesser number of shows. There is the need for movies like Odiyan, because only such flicks can assure that we will have better exploration of the myths and legends of the lands. We also need people who are ready to go through the less traveled path – we know, as Robert Frost has said, that would make all the difference. Your level of enjoyment would be different according to your expectations from cinema, but Odiyan is surely a movie which you can’t ignore, and is definitely a movie which is better than the highest grossing Malayalam movie of all-time, the Mohanlal starrer Pulimurugan.

Release date: 14th December 2018
Running time: minutes
Directed by: VA Shrikumar Menon
Starring: Mohanlal, Manju Warrier, Innocent, Prakash Raj, Siddique, Manoj Joshi, Nandhu, Narain, Kailash, Sana Althaf, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Sreejaya Nair

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