Night Drive

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time when the vampire team was on a night drive?

Vampire Bat: We only have night drives around here. We don’t go for morning drives.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the night drives have been rare too.

Vampire Bat: That is because we don’t drive, but fly.

Vampire Owl: Not all vampires can fly, or even glide.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we bats and owls do.

Vampire Owl: Yet, we can go for a drive in the vampire-mobile.

Vampire Bat: It is a bat-mobile, and it is my private property.

Vampire Owl: You don’t use it as you can fly.

Vampire Bat: It will not be used for night drives, and that is final.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Georgy Jacob (Roshan Mathew) works as an Uber driver and hopes to migrate to the Middle Easy for a better future. He is in love with Riya Roy (Anna Ben), a very popular news reporter, and they used to be childhood friends for a very long time. They do keep a certain amount of distance between them, as Riya’s father, Roy Mathew (Renju Panicker) who has retired from the military forces is not fond of Georgy. For Riya’s birthday which is also the Christmas evening, they decide to go on a night drive without her father knowing anything about it. At the same time, Rajan Kurup (Siddique) is caught in a gold smuggling scandal which was discovered by Riya and her channel, a case which has been transferred to NIA. He expects to be arrested by the squad on the very next day, and asks Chacko Cherian (Kalabhavan Shajohn) to find a way to get rid of the gold in his home before NIA comes for the raid. Rajan’s trusted aid Jaleel (Sudheer Karamana) assigns the minister’s personal assistant Balu (Kaliash) to get the gold to a safe house.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Meanwhile, Riya who was driving the car gets into a fight with Circle Inspector Benny Moopen (Indrajith Sukumaran) who was doing routine vehicle checking. Benny lets them go so that he can avoid any of the people there spreading the news about him bothering a lady in the middle of the night, but is clearly angry about the incident. Riya who keeps arguing with Georgy over the earlier incident suddenly spots someone in front of their car, and the vehicle seems to have hit that person, who is revealed to be Balu with a bag full of gold. The two manages to take him to the hospital, which brings Francis (Prasanth Alexander) who owns the car they were driving and Ammini (Sreevidya Mullachery) handles that particular Uber fleet operations to the hospital too. The police officer in charge of the case is Benny, who is only happy to torment Riya and Georgy over the incident. He decides to keep them in the hospital, but the arrival of Chacko at the hospital with other motives complicates things.

The defence of Night Drive :: The movie seems to move forward naturally in the beginning stages, with likable characters and the incidents which can be related by different people from various stage of their lives. The beginning stages go on with the usual, and feels like the natural order of things. It does have some fine twists, and a few red herrings are also there to make sure that one doesn’t guess it the right way. The different characters in the movie are not really what they seem to be, as the visages tend to show differently on diferent occasions. There are moments which keep you at the edge of the seat, as these are characters whom you like. The cast has been chosen well here, as you feel that there would have been tendency to go for a few others, but here we have characters getting equal importance instead of the focus shifting to one person. The visuals of Cochin are really good around here. This is the kind of movie which should have released directly on OTT, as there is a certain possibility of this going popular among the audience outside Kerala if it was first released online.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie had built up so well, the final scenes are not that much up to the mark. There is the plan to bring some mass action in the end, but it doesn’t suit the overall mood of the film – a darker version of the final moments would have done better for this particular movie. Let the outdated superstars do the mass action for their brainless fans, and the new generation of actors should go for class and perfection. These are not the times of such fan nonsense in the theatres, as we have the post-corona virus OTT loving audience as a strong force, and this is the flick which will be watch more on such platforms rather than anywhere else. It had a certain realistic side to the proceedings until the makers decided to go full action in the last few minutes with a specific background story added to the main characters. The first few minutes could have been shortened too, as there seems to be an extension of the less important happenings then. The conclusion could have also been kept at a higher level.

The performers of the soul :: Roshan Mathew has been continuously working hard to come up with some memorable performances, last seen in the Amazon Prime Video release, Kuruthi, a thriller with many messages. Coming out of the first big role in Aanandam and the earlier smaller ones in Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Puthiya Niyamam, he has evolved a lot to reach this higher level. His performance in this movie is realistic for most of the time, and something to be appreciated, until the mass moments come in the end. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen has already let Anna Ben set a bar which is difficult for her to overcome – even with a film like Sara’s having her as the life and soul. Indrajith Sukumaran is solid as the police officer who seems strict as well as menacing, and at the same time, likes to have a strong grip on his investigation. Siddique once again plays the corrupt politician with sinister motives well, and reminds one of Jagathy Sreekumar of Passenger. Kaliash once again has a good supporting role and so is Kalabhavan Shajohn, while it is nice to see Sreevidya Mullachery of Star Magic fame playing a memorable role here – she is indeed a lovely talent, and the fair reason for anyone to watch the popular show in Flowers television channel.

How it finishes :: Night Drive becomes a movie of interest without that much of a hype associated with it. It has some fine moments of interest, and successfully deviates from the tendency to go full nonsense like in that Shane Nigam – Shine Tom Chacko film of misery and shame, the pariah of a movie called Ishq. When two lovers are on a night drive, the situation can be tackled well to make a thriller of quality beyond the usual and the expected, as shown around here. This movie seemed to have Roshan instead of Shane, Indrajith instead of Shine and Anna instead of Ann, with the main characters going for a night ride as part of celebrating the lady love’s birthday, and in the process being stopped by the man claiming to be the police officer – seems so familiar for those who have watched that movie, but this one takes a completely different route, and also involves other characters in a journey of twists which are not about just two, three or four people. Night Drive is successful and delivers nicely when we take a fine look.

Release date: 11th March 2022 (Theatre); 10th April 2022 (Netflix/Manorama Max)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Vysakh
Starring: Roshan Mathew, Anna Ben, Indrajith Sukumaran, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Sreevidya Mullachery, Kailash, Muthumani, Prasanth Alexander, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Siddique

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Seance

Vampire Owl: So, more youngsters are trying to make contact with the dead.

Vampire Bat: Yes, you needn’t be bothered as this is not about the undead.

Vampire Owl: Nobody can contact us through the portal. It has natural resistance.

Vampire Bat: There is absolutely nothing natural about the portal.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has arranged for the natural resistance.

Vampire Bat: If the crazy scientist is involved, it is is surely not natural.

Vampire Owl: You continue to underestimate the doctor.

Vampire Bat: I make no estimate of such a pseudo-scientist.

Vampire Owl: You know that the Frankenstein monster is real.

Vampire Bat: So are his 2897 accidental creations, which are of no use.

[Gets a vancho cake and three glasses of strawberry shake].

What is the movie about? :: At Edelvine Academy for Girls, Alice (Inanna Sarkis), Bethany (Madisen Beaty) and other girls play a prank on their friends by faking the appearance of the Edelvine Ghost, an urban legend about a student who killed herself – soon, one of their friends, Kerrie (Megan Best), is found dead in the academy hostel, having fallen from her window. A new student Camille (Suki Waterhouse) who has been on the waiting list for the academy admission for a long time, gets the seat which has been left vacant by the death of Kerrie. The headmistress, Mrs Landry (Marina Stephenson Kerr) considers the death as an unfortunate accident, and is happy to have her there. Camille does feel that there is something wrong with the room. She becomes friends with Helina (Ella-Rae Smith), but gets in a fight with Alice and Bethany’s gang including Yvonne (Stephanie Sy), Rosalind (Djouliet Amara) and Lenora (Jade Michael), and gets beaten up by Alice with the help of her friends. The headmistress sends them to detention in the library until a certain amount of archiving is complete.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The girls, despite their differences, decide to work together for the time being to finish the job as soon as possible and get out of there. It is during the detention that Alice convinces the group including Carmille and Helina to join her in a seance meant to contact Kerrie’s spirit and what actually happened. The two get the feeling that this is only a prank, but everyone finds things go out of control as they really seems to make contact with a spirit which tells them that they are going to be murdered by someone only mentioned as “her”. They are not sure if the spirit belongs to Kerrie or the original spirt which is part of the urban legend. Later in the night, Lenora moves away from the others to a lonely area to text a possible future boyfriend, but ends up seeing a masked figure. Soon, she is attacked and killed by the same strange figure. Mrs Landry feels that Lenora had run away as her personal items are missing along with her. Camille feels that her room might still be haunted by Kerrie, and there are enough dark spaces in the building for them to be scared.

And what more is with the girls and the ghosts around here in a world of chaos? :: The police and the parents feels that Lenora might have run away with the man with whom she became acquainted online. With the help of the man in charge of the rooms, Trevor (Seamus Patterson) who also happens to be the son of the headmistress, they get into Lenora’s room and find a strange cross made out of blood on the bed. They identify the symbol as part of the pendant worn by the girl who had killed herself and became Edelvine Ghost. Soon enough, Rosalind would be next person to be murdered by the unknown figure. Her death is considered to be an accident, but has the girls very much worried about what might happen next. Another one of the girls also notice a masked figure in the room, but the headmistress still dismisses it as a strange dream. The girls feel that time is running out for them, and if a solution is not found out soon enough, they are all going to disappear or die soon enough. Yet, it doesn’t make much of sense.

The defence of Seance :: The effects that this movie seems to use for horror seems to be of great quality. There is a fine atmosphere for the horror to grow at all times. The sound effects also nicely contribute to the same. The music is also very nice, and contributes well to the overall atmosphere of the movie – we do feel that it makes us feel more engaged with the whole thing. You think that this is going in one direction, and then there is another dimension to the whole thing – we notice the music changing accordingly, and there are always some fine settings to contribute to the horror. The presence of something sinister is also there, and with the fine use of darkness, the movie assures one of the same. The makers surely know how to get the best ingredients, and arrange them. There are some dialogues which seem to be coming randomly, but they are all of some significance. There are so many directions which this movie could choose, and we can see that it doesn’t try to go for the usual, which has served right – as Robert Frost would say about the road not that much taken making the difference.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has one nice twist to the killings which is pretty much an interesting surprise as the clues wouldn’t lead to the killings that easily. There are many red herrings present in here, as a ghost isn’t everything that we need to suspect around here. They mystery is strong, and there are enough suspects around here for one to await more deaths to happen. It is strange that there are many negative reviews to keep this one down, as we come to know that there is more to this than what can be seen after the first few minutes itself. You have the feeling that this could be Ouija and its sequels or I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequels – this one has the killer and the ghostly presence, which means that your guess can most probably just go wrong. It could have still made the murders look better – even the shower murder scene goes wasted in here. Yet, the girls are too good, especially Suki Waterhouse, Inanna Sarkis and Madisen Beaty who blends in nicely with a possibility to become bigger scream queens of future, Suki also having some fine action sequences – reminds one of The Hunt fights.

How it finishes :: Seance is one find surprise horror movie that seems to have made an impact out of nowhere. We often have the tendency to underestimate movies like these, but some horror films have the skills to lift themselves up despite what you think, especially with so many negative reviews around. There is more than what meets the eye here, and there is the mixture of more than one genre as things come together. Well, horror is rarely one thing – even in real life, there is more than one kind of terror – we had different ones here, from nipah virus to corona virus, excess rainfall leading to floods, rising prices of fuel and the possibility of descending into chaos from what seemed to be good order. The reality of horror which prevails in this thankless world where evil people get the best results can be often more terrifying for people. Otherwise, we will always have movies like this one. Amazon Prime Video has the right horror movie this time, rising very high above last year’s Madres, The Manor and Black as Night.

Release date: 21st May 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Simon Barrett
Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith Inanna Sarkis, Marina Stephenson-Kerr, Seamus Patterson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Devil Below

Vampire Owl: There is no devil below us. I am sure about it.

Vampire Bat: You know that there was quite a long talk about such a creature’s existence.

Vampire Owl: Well, I would consider it as absurd. There are only the dead below.

Vampire Bat: The dead becomes one with the devil, they say.

Vampire Owl: The devil do not wish for vampires, I am sure about that.

Vampire Bat: I have known about one of his minions meeting Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Owl: It could be Mephistopheles. He is not from under the castle.

Vampire Bat: Well, you can never be sure about the pure evil ones.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that they are teamed up with the witches of the north.

Vampire Bat: Well, those witches belong to another level, don’t they?

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

What is the movie about? :: In a mining station, Schuttmann (Will Patton) has a meeting with a strange, terrifying creature in a mine, where his son is taken by it, after stabbing him on the shoulder, leaving him paralyzed. There has been something about the place, which forced a team of scientists to come there, a few years later. The group including Darren (Adan Canto), Shawn (Chinaza Uche), Terry (Jonathan Sadowski), and Jaime (Zach Avery) are led in the right direction by an adventurer named Arianne (Alicia Sanz). They don’t get any signal on the mobile phone which makes their journey a very difficult for everyone. They are looking for the same mine known as Shookum Hills Coal Mine which seems to have been taken out of the maps since the 1970s. The meet a very few people in the town which doesn’t seem to have too many people living there. The people whom they meet out there asks them to go back, and they are also chased by a car on the way, which she also manages to leave behind, avoiding a possible encounter while driving smartly.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: This seems to be a place nobody wants to talk about, or even think about visiting, but Arianne has agreed to take these, and she will do exactly that, whatever be the circumstances. They do find the entrance in the middle of nowhere, but there is an electric fence being put on their way – they manage to use a rope to get past it, and it seems that the new location doesn’t have any human presence as of now. There are many conspiracy theories among the scientists related to sinkholes, superdeep unidentified creatures, unexpected fire and others, but they finally decide that instead of making speculations, they would just need to find out this thing by themselves. When they do find the actual mine, things don’t go well though, as Terry is dragged into a tunnel. They are not able to find him despite looking into the tunnel, and he won’t be the only person to go missing at that time. There is something extremely dangerous hidden in there, and the locals might be right about asking them not to go to the mines. Is it late to have another warning?

The defence of The Devil Below :: You are introduced into the possible horror awaiting us underground with the initial scene of The Devil Below itself, even though it takes more than an hour to get the scares from deep beneath returning. The elements of horror are provided through the dialogues, and there are some chasing scenes in the dark to add to the things. This is the kind of world where a computer game would work perfectly, especially a first person shooter with one of these characters to choose from. The blinking lights can nicely add to the gameplay, and there can be multitudes of monsters to hunt in different levels. The world of this movie is one without hope for survival, and it adds to the scares really well. The atmosphere contributes to the same with a lot of quality, as the world underneath has been created with skill, and the space above is no happy place either. The scares do work differently with this one, as we hope that a sequel can some day elevate this. It is also effective as a survival movie in parts.

The claws of flaw :: After the first incident involving the creature, the movie does take some time to get a monster for it once again. There is also not enough of the monsters, as we rarely get to see much of them – the darkness and the camera shots don’t really help that much in finding them with all the required terror. The movie could have also had better explanations of the happenings around there, and a Doom model situation could have suited the flick better, with action and fear combining the forces in a balanced way. All these creatures could have had better detail, and the difference between them within the species could have been celebrated. One has to wonder why it doesn’t manage to be clear in what it shows around. There are so many things happening in what seems to be a blurred state around here. All these creatures required more focus on their designs and more screen space in a better, clearer form. The movie can have a sequel with the main character as the big action star, but from the opinions this one received, one has doubts about it.

The performers of the soul :: The Spanish actress, Alicia Sanz plays the lead here, and as the protagonist, she is more or less a figure like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider – she plays an explorer who was recently in Africa, and has traveled all around the world, leading expeditions. She could have more action sequences here, and moments which Lara Croft would be proud of, but she manages to do well with what she gets. She could a promise for a future action or horror movie too, as the signs seem to be pretty much clear. Imagine what she could have done with a few ledges to climb, some ruins to explore, along with a lost city or sunken ship underwater to check out. She has the determination and expressions of a Tomb Raider type explorer too. Will Patton as Schuttmann makes a strong fighter from the looks itself. He also has some fine dialogue to go with it, as he is related to everything that happens around there, one way or the other, and has the mission to protect his world. Adan Canto as Darren is the man with not-so-direct intentions, a job done okay.

How it finishes :: We have seen a similar idea expressed in a better with the Russian movie, Superdeep. Well, Russian movies seem to be able to stay ahead of some good number of Hollywood movies when dealing with horror, war and science fiction, dealing better with ghosts and aliens, creating the better atmosphere. This English version of superdeep monsters does its job for sure, but not that much at the level one would expect it to be. The environment is well set, and with some horror, it makes an interesting flick to watch in a human world which is full of the demonic people, but never has enough horror on the screen. With one Corona virus scaring people enough, it might not be that easy to find horror from some random monsters in a mine which you don’t know about, but we can use all the scares in the world to move away from the real evil creatures of our world, humans. Let us try to add this one to our list of interesting horror which has managed to have the courage to take it underneath the surface.

Release date: 5th March 2021
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Bradley Parker
Starring: Alicia Sanz, Adan Canto, Zach Avery, Chinaza Uche, Jonathan Sadowski, Jesse LaTourette, Will Patton, William Mark McCullough, Alpha Trivette, Tom Proctor, Nathan Phillips

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bhoothakaalam

Vampire Owl: So, the title could mean the days of the past as well as the days of the ghost.

Vampire Bat: It is a nice play on the words being used here.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Malayalam movie industry can have good horror anymore?

Vampire Bat: Well, horror is the only reality of life. So, it is always possible.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the realistic tendencies of the industry can help.

Vampire Bat: Yes, what is life, but a collection of horror of reality?

Vampire Owl: I can’t disagree. I once heard the story of the devil finding the burning hell as a better place to live in comparison to Earth.

Vampire Bat: Well, you know what humans are capable of. They have already made their world a place worse than hell.

Vampire Owl: So, who are the real monsters?

Vampire Bat: Humans are the real monsters, from the day of birth itself. You should see how they torment their own people.

[Gets a chicken biriyani and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: Vinu (Shane Nigam) is a D.Pharm graduate who is living with his mother, Asha (Revathy) in what seems to have been a very unhappy household since the death of Vinu’s father post leaving a lot of money to be paid back for the loans which were taken. His grandmother dies after living most of her life on the bed after a terrible stroke which she barely survived, and the life of mother and son which was full of negativity only gets worse after the demise. Vinu has been looking for a job for a long time, but as he is focusing on getting some work in his field, and is also trying to keep the search close to home, he is not really able to make any progress with that. Depression seems to come naturally to him, as well as his mother, who is a school teacher for small children. Asha is also hesitant to send him anywhere distant, especially to go for a job which is not directly related to the course which he studied. She also temporarily losses her job, as she ends up hitting a child accidently.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The mother and the son continues to have arguments over the past, present and future, as Vinu decides to find a job outside Kerala or even India at some hotels where his friends are working. Asha finds him as a rather useless person, as she originally wanted him to study MBBS, and they had spent a lot of money related to that too. But soon, things get worse, as Vinu feels that he was locked within a room by his dead grandmother, who moves around in the wheel chair. Asha feels that he needs counselling, but he doesn’t agree. George (Saiju Kurup) who runs a counselling centre comes home to help him, but Vinu is not happy about it at all, as he feels that he is being marked as an alcoholic and drug addict. George also feels that the sleeplessness might also be a reason, along with the mental problems which runs within the family. Vinu is in love with Priya (Athira Patel), but has stopped returning her calls, as he does almost nothing, while staying in his room, or in front of the television. But he continues to see and feel things – can this mean something else?

The defence of Bhoothakaalam :: Starting off as a movie which seems to have characters with some mental problems related to trauma, it smoothly enters the horror mode after some time. With many options being left behind, one can make different guesses about what actually happened. The minimum elements are used effectively, and the atmosphere of the house also brings a certain amount nostalgia – like our old houses which had mosaic on the floor along with some old style furniture as well as spaces on the wall. The darkness and shadows are pretty much effective in bringing the scares, and there is much to be felt about the possible presence in the house – they contribute to reaching a point where the title can be justified. The emotional side is also very much working, and there is much of the feelings going through here. Even with all the terror coming from outside, there is also the presence of the depressing past related to regret which continues to haunt everyone – the memories can be disorienting enough, as we move forward through a world of chaotic mind here too.

The claws of flaw :: Bhoothakaalam often restricts itself in the use of horror, except for the finally fifteen to twenty minutes when the film is finally allowed to unleash itself, bringing all the elements which it had in store, but didn’t use early enough. It does take its own time, and one feels that it is moving too slowly during that period of time. There are movies which slowly gets stronger, like Come Play, In Fear and It Follows, and one might feel that this might not feel that new with the early slow movement. The mind could have been given better focus, and the presence in the house could have also been better explained, thus leading to a better final finish. It is surely not that scary as some people seem to talk about it – there is something to be frightened about, but not that much as what the reviews exaggerate here, for only those who haven’t watched Hollywood horror movies at all can be that scared about it. After all, these are not the days when people are scared of ghosts that much, because humans have proven themselves to be more evil, each and every time. Ghosts have to be a special kind of scary to rise about human demonic acts.

The performers of the soul :: Shane Nigam continues his work more out of Kumbalangi Nights rather than the other movies, as he once again plays a similar youth who doesn’t really have a job for a multitude of reason, even though he is better educated this time. Revathy’s work continues to be a thing of quality, as he plays a mother role with a difference. There are moments which rises above the natural so well. James Eliya seems to be the man with logic, and has his moments of advice. Jilu Joseph has a small presence as a psychiatrist, as it is Saiju Kurup who deals with the counselling more, and even finds out a few secrets about the house – one would have loved to see more actions being taken by him here. Manju Pathrose plays the usual nosy neighbour, a role which is quite short. Valsala Menon played the grandmother, and that was the role which also lasted for only a few minutes as the movie continues to focus on the mother-son duo for almost all the time. Athira Patel is more or less the Mamitha Baiju of Operation Java coming in here as the seemingly forced love affair which in this case doesn’t reach anywhere in comparison.

How it finishes :: When we think about ghosts and past, the first movie which comes to our mind is Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, a Gothic romance horror which was not watched by that many people in this part of the world. But the past that haunts this movie is more or less related a good number of other horror movies, with one haunted house as well as a psychological side, both complimenting each other, sometimes from a distance, and at times, getting close enough and going through one another in style. Bhoothakaalam doesn’t hesitate to combine its elements, and then come up with the defining moments in the final stages of the film. This is surely a good deviation from the usual horror movies that we have in the Malayalam movie industry, and just like some of the other Sony LIV movies which released in the last few months, like Madhuram and Kaanekaane, this one also has a strong emotional side to go with. Well, you can also have some interesting horror with relationships running emotional in the background, for the ghosts are better and truer with their emotions than the fake humans.

Release date: 21st January 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Sadasivan
Starring: Shane Nigam, Revathy, Athira Patel, Saiju Kurup, Manju Pathrose, James Eliya, Jilu Joseph, Valsala Menon

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@ 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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Pale Door

Vampire Owl: How pale is the door?

Vampire Bat: It cannot be that pale as the door to Uncle Dracula’s door.

Vampire Owl: It won’t be as pale as life itself.

Vampire Bat: Life will get better after Corona virus ends.

Vampire Owl: There is no life after COVID-19 ends.

Vampire Bat: How can you be so sure about?

Vampire Owl: The world has now become more evil, you know that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but that is related to the humans only.

Vampire Owl: The realms are going to collide at some point of time.

Vampire Bat: When they do, we will be ready to face the evil humans and their weapons including hatred and fear.

[Gets some French fries and three glasses of pista shake].

What is the movie about? :: One day, a home is raided by a gang of thieves who are heavily armed. Two children survive the terrifying incident, while the parents are shot dead. The house is also burnt down, but the two boys decide to move on with the help of an acquaintance. The younger of the two brothers, Jake (Devin Druid) is working in a saloon, while Duncan (Zachary Knighton), the elder brother is leading the Dalton gang, a group of robbers who come up with some big heists all the time. When one their gang members die in a gang fight, they are in need of more manpower for a train heist which might be the best of their career. Even though Duncan is not sure about allowing his younger brother to involved in anything related to guns, Jake doesn’t back down, and the gang finally decides to take him because of the urgent requirement. They find the train heist to quite an easy job, and they find the chest which was being guarded there, and manage to escape with the same.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Instead of finding any gold or money in the chest, they end up finding a young lady tied up inside. The girl introduces herself as Pearl (Natasha Bassett), and tells them that her home is in Potemkin, from where she was taken by these people. She also promises them some fine reward if they take her home. As the gang also wants to have some treatment for the wounded Duncan, they decide to go to her town which is closer than the rest of the civilization. As they reach the town, they try to find a doctor first, but there is nothing in the place, but woods with one small cottage in between, much to their dismay. Pearl does offer them help, as they are forced to follow her deep into the woods, and she tells them that they live in a brothel. As they are welcomed at the brothel by the one who seems to be their leader, Maria (Melora Walters) also promises that they will have the reward soon enough. But soon they realize that there is something different about this brothel, and they won’t really like that.

The defence of The Pale Door :: The movie does have a lot of action with the gun shots, and the witches are also there, which makes this a divergent type of film in comparison to those usual films which have one of these. The transform between the western heist and the world of magic and witchcraft is nicely done with the surprise working well. The message of evil being present at all times, and the final moments after building the atmosphere works pretty well, even though it doesn’t become a full horror movie at any moment as expected. There are moments which come back to the main characters as revelations about the past, and the setting within the forest brings the need for being frightened, in a strong enough manner. Placing the outlaws against the witches is a pretty good idea, as we look at it, and can also have an extended version of the same in a sequel, as the latter can go on forever, and be back for more innocent blood to sustain them. A successful mixing of these genres is exactly what has helped around here.

The claws of flaw :: The problem with this film is that it is too slow for our liking, and there are more dialogues than action on many different occasions. The movie is also really slow to go through its problems, and the beginning moments have too many scenes which keep on dragging the film until we reach the much needed action. Even though the witches are shown in their true forms, there could have been more especially related to one of them bathing in the blood of the victims, a moment that reminds of the ancient legends. The moment required an extended version, and also the hunting which the witches come up with. Just like the vampires, the witches are always capable of more, and this one doesn’t touch those abilities enough around here. The idea of witchcraft always have enough strength to rise as strong as the vampires and zombies who have ruled the world of cinema for quite a long time, and this time, they don’t go for where the strength lies the most – instead, the safe side seems to have more of an attention than anything else.

Performers of the soul :: Devin Druid as Jake and Zachary Knighton as Duncan are given importance in brotherly bond, but beyond that, they don’t work that much within limitations. Stan Shaw as Lester makes a strong impact among the group in comparison. Bill Sage and Pat Healy are fine in what they do. Melora Walters does make a fine witch with a mission here, and there is the past that is related to her, and works fine enough. Natasha Bassett makes a fine witch for the future, and might be one of the most charming of the group. There are other witches added around here, and Ashley Couch appears in the blood bath, the one which had the scope to be the most notable scene in the film, but the same gets limited – she still has one’s attention there though. As a film which deviates to witchcraft early enough, there could have been more focus on each witch character here, but the same is not provided that much of a significance around here. But the witches don’t get their due, and that is somewhat a shame, considering the possibilities.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to have done pretty well as a low budget horror movie, and has enough to keep itself strong with the big reveal that comes later. There is not that much to make a heavy entertaining impact, but the film manages well enough with what they have. Maybe, if this had left idea of the wild west behind, and focused on the witches and their past, with the forest being the permanent setting, things could have been better. Even a medieval setting in England could have lifted this one better. Yet, there is something about the film and its witches which will keep it going. During the time when the Corona virus pandemic is coming up its omicron variant, one can say that this kind of a variant can also serve the purpose. At a time when the supernatural are going down due to the strength of COVID-19 and the evil that the humans are bringing, we all need our original demons, witches, vampires, werewolves, ghosts and zombies – let us take these witches for now and enjoy what we can, while staying safe during the omicron-active Christmas season.

Release date: 21st August 2020
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Aaron B Koontz
Starring: Devin Druid, Zachary Knighton, Melora Walters, Natasha Bassett, Tina Parker, Ashley Couch, Bill Sage, Pat Healy, Stan Shaw, Noah Segan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chhorii

Vampire Owl: More of interesting horror to be unleashed?

Vampire Bat: Yes, Dybbuk was a remake from our world, and this one is remade from another language and industry.

Vampire Owl: Some good original horror is always in need.

Vampire Bat: Horror can be original only in a limited way, as it is universal.

Vampire Owl: Unless we become the one true horror.

Vampire Bat: We are never truly into horror.

Vampire Owl: So, we are not into our true nature.

Vampire Bat: The normal terrifying vampire has already been abolished.

Vampire Owl: You mean that there is no normal anymore.

Vampire Bat: Normal is not real as of now, not in our realm.

[Gets some French fries and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: A pregnant woman is chased in a sugarcane field by unknown forces, and with nowhere to go, they force her to cut their womb. Later, in a city, Sakshi (Nushrratt Bharuccha) is pregnant, and works in an NGO, and lives with her husband Hemant (Saurabh Goyal), who is in trouble for not returning a loan in time, with his business failing. His partner had also disappeared with the money. He feels that he is being stalked by people who needs the money back. She is happy with her work and regarding life in the city, but things don’t get any better with the cash which was borrowed. As people start threatening them, with Hemant even getting beaten at times, this makes the city no longer a safe choice for living. They are given twenty four hours to return the money, and make the decision to leave for their driver’s village which is located in a very remote area, and has a good number of sugarcane fields. Three hundred kilometres away, and a lot distant from civilizations, there are only five houses in the village.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It seems that almost nobody comes there, even by mistake. They have to walk a long way through the sugarcane fields, and after almost losing the way multiple times, reach the area which has no network coverage and almost no shop. There, they meet Bhanno Devi (Mita Vashisht), the driver’s wife, a very orthodox woman who seems to be a person completely belonging to that particular village in more than one way. Hemant leaves the place soon enough, to find a solution to their financial problems, and the two women share a bond with each other. What Sakshi doesn’t understand is that there is more than what meets the eye with the people there, as much as the supernatural. Therefore, the fight will be against the dead, the undead and the living to save her world. But is it possible for her to face such terror in a weakened state? Do they have further secrets which needs to be unveiled for her life to be saved from what seems to be doom in waiting?

The defence of Chhorii :: Chhorii adds to the list of horror movies which are part of a human infested, virus infected world, which is not less terrifying than any film which one will get to see. The atmosphere here is really good, and it is really shot here to create the perfect situation for horror. It looks scary enough during the day time, and in darkness, it is something more. Being at the middle of nowhere, with no place to go, is terrifying enough, and there is more here to add to the same. It is certainly a scarier world than the lifeless modernity or a haunted house, with or without the presence of the supernatural. The presence of the children here adds to that eerie feeling more, for we are never hopeless about the terror of some demon kids. The background story which serves as the flashback gets things to be really interesting. The film also has a social message which runs through the background and comes strong in the final moments of the film.

The claw of flaw :: The movie can feel somewhat stretched for one’s liking, as it does feel long with much of time being consumed without a lot happening. With a shorter length, this could have been much more effective, adding a certain amount of crispiness here and there. The language spoken by the villagers can also be difficult to understand, leaving us to look out for the subtitles at regular intervals. The tale could have also been more straight-forward, without leaving the mysterious elements behind. The message also arrives late, and if it had released much earlier, the effect could have been more. The stereotyping and the predictable elements are also allowed to run strong around here. The scary elements could have been more, using the atmosphere to more of an advantage – there were so many moments which could have used better scares, and combined them with the atmosphere. The present world asks for a lot more horror than the pre-Corona world, as people have changed a little too much for everyone’s liking.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is very much centered and focused on Nushrratt Bharuccha. She is very much comfortable in playing the pregnant city woman who ends up in a village, all alone. She deals with the horror genre really well, and it would be nice to see her in a similar role with city horror at some later point. As this film is a remake of a Marathi horror film which released a few years, there would be comparisons, also related to the performances – only those who watched the original can comment further on the same. We know that Mita Vasisht from different movies in the past, and this one is no exception for her, as she runs through the whole thing without holding back. Pallavi Ajay, even though silent throughout the film, makes a strong presence. Yaaneea Bharadwaj plays the one ghost whom we would like for most of the time, and there seems to be a lot of work being put in there. Rajesh Jais plays the man with a mystery to him very well. Saurabh Goyal also does more than what his character seemed to be up to, in the beginning.

How it finishes :: At a time when life is full of horror, especially with humans mostly choosing the evil paths, the requirement for horror films never ends. The one movie that we remember while watching this is the English film, In the Tall Grass, with the environment, and also about an Indonesian film, Impetigore. This movie is also a reminder of humanity’s evil side, and it tells us that humans are always more evil than ghosts, going after their selfish needs all the time. There is so much of evil being repeated in our world, and the movie, even though focuses on the crimes on women, one has to say that the Corona virus infected world has seen too much of the same being done on different unsuspecting people. The film enters the world which has lost its humanity, and repeats its own favourite mistakes – the basic idea that human beings cannot be trusted, will only find a repetition here, as ghosts do have more quality than those who walk on Earth claiming as the superior living species.

Release date: 26th November 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Vishal Furia
Starring: Nushrratt Bharuccha, Mita Vashisht, Pallavi Ajay, Yaaneea Bharadwaj, Rajesh Jais, Saurabh Goyal

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<— Click here to go to the previous horror film review.

<— Click here to go to the previous popular film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Dybbuk

Vampire Owl: I am surprised that they have come up with a remake of Ezra after four years.

Vampire Bat: Yes, four years is a long time for a movie like Ezra.

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time when we had loved a Bollywood horror movie so much?

Vampire Bat: I am also not sure about that. We have been into Hollywood and other foreign language horror only.

Vampire Owl: I would like to know where this one stands in comparison with the original.

Vampire Bat: We had watched the original too long ago. Therefore, I am not sure if we can compare these well enough.

Vampire Owl: I only hope that our memories are as sharp as the vampire manual says.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that this one will have some difference, surely more than what the remakes like Drishyam have.

Vampire Owl: Ghosts need to be shown as somewhat different, because they are all not the same when at different places and affecting different people.

Vampire Bat: Well, maybe the demon of Ezra really needed another outing, and this one can serve it well, like vampires always needed.

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

What is this remake of Ezra all about? :: The death of a Jew in Mauritius marks the end of a century old history of Jews in Mauritius – he was the last Jew around there, part of a group of Jews who had taken refuge in the island to escape persecutions and possible genocides. A mysterious box from the house goes missing, and soon, a local man is found dead without leaving any clues about the murder. It is indeed a strange case, and police hopes that something will lead them in the right direction. A newly married couple, Sam Issac (Emraan Hashmi) and Mahi Sood (Nikita Dutta) seems to be having a problem-free life until they move to Mauritius and the latter brings an antique box back to their new residence in the island. It is an isolated place, more or less like a holiday home, with no human to disturb them. But that would change soon enough, as what she brought back home as part of decorating the place turns out to be a Dybbuk box, which is supposed to be claimed by a Jewish demonic spirit called Dybbuk.

So, what happens next in this tale of horror out of a myth? :: Meanwhile, Sam is still working, as he is part of a company named Zayke, which deals with the disposal of nuclear waste from Europe. He feels that there is a certain amount of hallucination going on with her, as she had a miscarriage just some time ago. The spirit maintains all the qualities of the usual spirits, but is supposed to be among the most dangerous among them all. There is not much known about the same though, as there are not many Jews they know, with most of them migrating to Israel early enough. There would be strange things happening in the house very soon, and soon, a nightmare would begin for them. They think about getting rid of the box, but the spirit already has its place. To read the Hebrew inscription on the box, they contact a professor who gives them the translation. The same person also gives them the contact details of a rabbi who seems to be the only one who can help them. But are they moving in the right path against this particular evil spirit?

The defence of Dybbuk :: There is variety here, which this move inherits from its original, and there is quality in the looks too, with improvements there. The visuals are used well to create the horror advantage, and the darkness as well as the creepy elements are adjusted well with the use of sound effects, and these work really well in the first half to make us interested in a second half which promises further. The visuals of Mauritius nicely adds to the beauty in totality. There is also a lot in the story here, unlike the usual horror movies, and the creature that does the haunting around here is not among the usual ones, as the myth is comparatively new, especially for those who haven’t watched the original. There is the feeling of antiquity as well as a beauty not of this world being portrayed here. There is also that one twist that happens by the end, but that is not too innovative. But we do see that this one has a very slight edge over the original, and yet both remains the same in many elements as well as repeated scenes.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that the evil spirit doesn’t have the terrifying presence that it had in the first half, being repeated in the second – the final exorcism, brings nothing huge, even though were always going for the big finish to lift the film in the end. There were so many possibilities with this movie with the new demon, and the unlimited number of chances are not used at all – it is kind of strange that the movie doesn’t take its opportunities as much as it could, just like the original didn’t. Dybbuk could have been scarier, and there is no doubt about that, with the original idea already being displayed on the big screen with the support of big sound systems – this one being released on Amazon Prime Video, there was the requirement of more power to keep the audience in fear and at the edge of their seats, but we see that such strength is not there, even though we can approve and appreciate the improvements which were made here. Yet, the background story of the spirit was better in the original.

Performers of the soul :: In a movie that has Emraan Hashmi as the protagonist, it is him who leads the way – in comparison with Prithviraj Sukumaran, one has to say that there has been some difference added to the role, but he has managed well, as he did the same in Chehre, the thriller which also released on Amazon Prime Video a few days ago. His affiliation with horror is here to stay, as it seems – there are a few other Malayalam films with certain thriller elements which could have him in the remake, one would feel. Nikita Dutta has come up with a very good performance as the lady in distress, being forced to be part of a demonic activity in which she is completely immersed. There is not much difference in her performance in comparison to the work in the original, but she does seems to have more emotions coming her way – there was the requirement to have a song like “Lailakame” for her too, with that much quality. The rest of the cast fills in well, and we have to look out for the Rabbis this time, and not the priests of the usual background – they have chosen the appropriate ones to play these roles too.

How it finishes :: There has a little shortage of horror movies in Malayalam movie industry, but Bollywood has chosen to remake this one, which is why, one can be sure that the Indian cinema as a whole, has the requirement is for more good horror. We do not have the need for more drama and more romance – there is so much of the same already, as well as those silly masala movies, and we need to move out of them whether with remakes or originals. Therefore, Ezra‘s remake is something which has to be appreciated, and the fact that there is no missing out here is a fine thing. Remaking a Malayalam movie can only mean good things for Bollywood, even though the exact opposite might not mean the same. As far as this film is concerned, the remake is done really well, and even with the limitations of the original maintained the same, there are a few moments which make this movie work as an improvement, with added visuals and special effects. So, Amazon Prime Video can be happy to have this one at a time when people are slowly just starting to think about choosing the theatres over OTT.

Release date: 29th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 152 minutes
Directed by: Jay K
Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Nikita Dutta, Darshana Banik, Pranay Ranjan, Denzil Smith, Ivan Sylvester Rodrigues, Vivana Singh, Sudev Nair, Manav Kaul, Yuri Suri, Vipin Sharma

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<— Click here to go to the previous Hindi film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Black as Night

Vampire Owl: I thought this would be dark as night.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that they meant the exact same thing.

Vampire Owl: Yet, night is not black. It is just dark due to the absence of light.

Vampire Bat: I didn’t know that you were that interested in being exact.

Vampire Owl: Well, the are going to deal with the vampires. So they better be.

Vampire Bat: These are not really our type of vampires.

Vampire Owl: When they talk about real vampires, it has to be about us.

Vampire Bat: They are preferring variations these days.

Vampire Owl: Such a ridiculous human world. No wonder they have the virus.

Vampire Bat: Maybe they did create the virus. We cannot be sure.

[Gets a chicken puffs and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: In the beginning, it is seen that a homeless man who is searching for cans is attacked by a group of three vampires who show no mercy. At the same time, in the same city of New Orleans, Shawna (Asjha Cooper), a teenage girl lives with her father Steven (Derek Roberts) and her big brother Jamal (Frankie Smith) as the mother Denise (Kenneisha Thompson) is living apart after becoming a drug addict. At the same time, there are many things going on the streets, including protests, with the distant possibility of riots too. Pedro (Frabizio Guido) who is her best friend forces her to be close to Chris (Mason Beauchamp) on whom she has a big crush, but that doesn’t seem to be a good idea, with her not being of his interest, and she also coming up against vampires who attacks her, but leaves when a car comes to the area. That leaves her scared as she feels that she would turn into a bat or a vampire. Along with the disappointment of not getting the attention of Chris after a talk, she is not afraid of noy being human anymore.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: In the morning, she sees that she is not affected by sunlight, unlike what she had read about. She feels that there is something vampiric about the place where her mother was staying, and when she reaches there with a doubting Pedro, they find out that Denise was bitten too. But unlike her, Denise is quick to transform into a vampire, leading to the curtains being taken off, only to have her burnt till death. As New Orleans is full of strange beliefs, and a lot of spiritual and magical stuff, she decides to get the help of some people who have some expertise in the same – the police have no idea about what has happened. Instead of going to the usual voodoo and hoodoo practitioners, they go to Granya (Abbie Gayle) who is supposed to be the great vampire expert. They still base their assumptions on vampire fiction, but they do feel that there is some idea about the same, and a sympathetic Chris also joins the team. But are they enough?

The defence of Black as Night :: We do have another addition to the vampire tales, and this does add up when we look at it that way. The first scene does add some power, and that adds the scary feeling that something interesting is surely going to happen soon enough – the film’s strength seems to be the beginning rather than the rest. The setting of New Orleans is all very good, and it keeps us interested enough, with the feeling that something could happen at any particular point. It could be suitable for the teenage audience more, like Twilight was largely successful with them, even though not with those who have traditionally liked the vampires through great works of fiction brought to us as classics from history. The ending provides us with a chance to have another sequel, and the same can keep us hoping for a better film to come later, without the extra nonsense social commentary added in between. If you are looking for one more vampire film in a world which seems to have moved away from the earlier vampire interest, this one will be a reminder.

The claws of flaw :: The emotional side is rather too weak, and we often have nothing to care about here, not just the protagonist, but also the remaining ones. There is also a lot more to care about when you are making a vampire movie – it is not like coming up with a creature movie with demons or aliens. It doesn’t have that vampire power which a movie like this should have possessed. When vampire terror should have been effectively, it does struggle to do the same, and often holds back without any particular reason. The opportunity to make this a horror comedy is not used well enough either. The movie is indeed a master in making the opportunities go missing. The chance to add some message about inequality and race in there also goes missing, and the usual good use of history in vampire works also falls flat. You cannot use social commentary where it doesn’t fit, and this one keeps pouring that at all places without success. It is also very quick to have us tired of all these things repeating, and has no big action happen unlike expectations.

Performers of the soul :: Asjha Cooper leads the way here as the leading lady, and happens to be okay in her work. Then there is also Mason Beauchamp and Frabizio Guido who seems to be leading the film together. But the one who seems to be more suitable to this situation is Abbie Gayle, with a character who is very much into the vampires. The others do have more screen time, but she seems to play the role of more relevance in comparison. The one face which seems to be somewhat familiar might be that of Keith David, who plays one of the major character really well, and so does Craig Tate, both of them being memorable people of darkness in the film. Sammy Nagi Njuguna and Tunde Laleye also have some notable roles around here, even though they are of significance only in the last moments of the film. Frankie Smith and Derek Roberts adds on with some less utilized characters, all of them seemingly reduced as the movie lasts less than one and half hours, rather too less for a film which seems to try to look back into some turbulent history – it is a shame.

How it finishes :: Here we have another vampire tale, even though the focus here is not that strong, and it is not the regular vampire thing as we usually know it. If there was better innovation, this could have been one fine vampire movie. Throughout the film, you know that vampires deserve better – films like Interview with the Vampire and Byzantium has already gone through the vampire world with class, and the Underworld series had the right vampire action. This one never really gets strong enough. Black as Night, despite seemingly having something in store, doesn’t really have the same. As we are going through the Corona virus pandemic which never seems to end, and all the natural disasters which never seems to move way, we do need some movies to fill up, and this one might do just fine for some people. After all, theatres have not opened in this part of the world yet, and you know that all the things that we are to fear will stay long enough, we have the intuition.

Release date: 1st October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Maritte Lee Go
Starring: Mason Beauchamp, Asjha Cooper, Theodus Crane, Keith David, Abbie Gayle, Frabizio Guido, Tunde Laleye, Al Mitchell, Sammy Nagi Njuguna, Andrew Penrow, Nicole Barre, Derek Roberts, Joseph Singletary, Frankie Smith, Tim J Smith, Craig Tate, Kenneisha Thompson

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<— Click here to go to the previous English film review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Amazon Prime horror release.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Peninsula

Vampire Owl: So, we do have the return of the zombies after a long time.

Vampire Bat: Well, Train to Busan always deserved a sequel.

Vampire Owl: We remember that it was the one movie which took us to Korea.

Vampire Bat: It led to our first Korean films on Movies of the Soul.

Vampire Owl: I remember that there are many other films which followed.

Vampire Bat: That was our entry into South Korean movies.

Vampire Owl: Only to have movies in many other languages follow.

Vampire Bat: South Korea should be among our dream nations too.

Vampire Owl: As far as Asian nations are concerned, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we have visited only Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia in the east so far.

[Gets a marble cake and three cups of mixed tea].

What is the movie about? :: As a zombie outbreak occurs in South Korea, nobody has any clue about how it started, even though a particular bio-facility is suspected, and there is also no idea about how to contain it. There was pandemonium breaking loose in South Korea though, as people were believing in rumours circulating online, and traveling to safe areas further south – in the end, no place was safe, except for, maybe North Korea. As Captain Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) of South Korean Marine Corps drives his family to safety, he ignores everyone seeking help on the way, suspecting that they could all be infected. But the infection has also spread in the ship, and more and more people are transformed into the zombie-like state. His nephew and sister are among the people who are bitten and lost to the disease. As they are re-routed to Hong Kong, while the world nations try to quarantine South Korea in whichever ways possible.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: South Korean refugees were no longer accepted in other countries, and the quarantine continued for four years, without any break in between. Later in Hong Kong, Jung-seok and his brother-in-law Chul-min (Kim Do-yoon) are recruited by some Chinese gangsters for a mission which includes retrieving a truck containing millions of dollars from South Korea. They would be paid half of the money if they come back with it alive. As they are certain that they won’t be given refugee status, and are going to be discriminated, they decide to take the offer. They go in at night hoping that they can stay undetected from zombies and most of the ships patrolling the peninsula, and for others, they can pay cash. With the help of the gangsters and their influence, they manage to get there and also find the truck, following it up with the murder of the zombie driver. But this mission won’t be that easy as they thought, as there is something else.

The defence of Peninsula :: Train to Busan was a favourite, and as Peninsula maintains the same spirit up to an extent, we can say that there is enough around here too – the focus on action would be the big change around here. The setting of the post-apocalyptic South Korea is also worth seeing with some fine visual quality. The devastated city is a scene to remember at night as well as the day. The film offers a lot of zombie action as expected, and the fighting sequences happen naturally, as it has always happened with Resident Evil and its sequels, even though this is a more believable one in comparison. The zombies remain as good as they were, even though the attention is less on them this time in comparison to the first film. Well, the world has changed, and we are into another environment now. There is enough action, and some emotions to be added here, and things work well. It is an interesting, thrilling ride from the beginning to the end.

The claws of flaw :: Peninsula wouldn’t get the appreciation that Train to Busan had gathered long ago, as there is not that much innovation being added here. It could have been stronger with the continuation of the original tale. We know that there is a lot that can get added to a post-apocalyptic world, much more than what is seen here. With all the vehicular mayhem that goes on in the end, things do get a little confusing with so much of fights between everyone. The graphics goes closer to a video game than the live action movie at times. It was surely built for the big screen, no doubt about that. The inspiration from other similar post-apocalyptic films to create this particular world cannot be ignored either. The possible messages about selfishness and sacrifice are mostly not there to stay, and are often lost. The focus on the story is not that much maintained when providing too many zombies to kill on the road.

Performers of the soul :: The cast here is led by Gang Dong-won, who manages to stay ahead with ease. He has his moments from the beginning stages itself, mostly emotional, even though that changes later. Lee Jung-hyun is the next one to catch our attention, as she plays the strong mother who has had to make some tough decisions, and lives with a purpose for her children. She goes strong with the emotional side, and becomes part of the big action very soon too. Kwon Hae-hyo adds a funny side at the same time too. Kim Do-yoon plays the brother-in-law role in a believable manner. Lee Re gets a lot of action with the vehicular mayhem, and its a glorious drive through the zombies as far as she is concerned. Those scenes could be taken right into a video game at some point. Lee Ye-won plays the young child in an interesting role. Kim Min-jae and Koo Kyo-hwan plays the two major antagonists, and they do the job well enough. Kim Kyu-baek also adds some humour here.

How it finishes :: We have waited for very long to have a sequel to Train to Busan, and here we have it – that film along with The Wailing are the two first Korean movies which I had reviewed, and that was indeed a game changing moment, the next Korean film reviewed being The Divine Fury coming much later. When Peninsula makes sure that the same zombie feeling returns, there is the similar feeling. We get to see the zombies in Korea yet again, and during the time of Corona virus pandemic, we are seeing the viral apocalypse again. It does feel different when we look at it now, after going through the COVID-19 pandemic, and seeing the viral outbreak unfold before our eyes. The movie continues the journey through the world of zombies in a way that keeps us interested, and I would recommend this film for all fans of the first one too. After all, what is better than a group of fully powered zombies in this world of quarantines and lock-downs? Especially when they come with so much of action on the streets. Well, zombies are forever too, just like vampires and werewolves.

Release date: 15th July 2020
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Yeon Sang-ho
Starring: Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Lee Re, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-jae, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Ye-won, Jang So-yeon, Moon Woo-jin, Kim Kyu-baek, Bella Rahim

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kuruthi

What is the movie about? :: Ibrahim (Roshan Mathew) lives in the pain of having lost his wife (Navya Davy) and daughter (Aiza Hassan) to a devastating landslide which killed twenty four people during the heavy monsoon rains and the resulting floods in Kerala. He hopes that he would be united with his wife and daughter in heaven soon enough, while his community is blaming the United States, Israel and the North of India for their plight while trying to recover from the remains of the earlier destruction. Most of the local people including Ibrahim’s good friend Kareem (Shine Tom Chacko) has moved to an area further away from the devastated area, but two families have remained at the same place, and Sumathi (Srindaa) who lives with her brother Preman (Manikandan R Achari) at the nearest house is only happy to help them whenever required. Is then that on a usual night, the town Sub Inspector Sathyan (Murali Gopy) comes into the house with a young murderer, Vishnu (Sagar Surya) whom he hopes to protect from religious violence, as this murderer himself was part of a similar religious crowd long ago.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But for the same, he has to fight the biggest religious fundamentalist that he has ever known, Laiq (Prithviraj Sukumaran), who had already attacked the police earlier with his violent group of religious fanatics. He is also the son of the man who was earlier killed in the violence, and he seeks revenge in the name of religion, community and family, while Ibrahim finds it difficult to understand the neverending hatred in his eyes. He makes a grand entry with his friends, and knows that his prey is there. He had come back from Paris earlier after getting into trouble there, and now he only knows vengeance. Laiq gets into the house with the help of Kareem, and with another helper, they manage to outsmart the police officer, ending up stabbing him. As Ibrahim sees the violence, and takes the policeman’s gun and forces Laiq and his friends to go outside, the dying policeman makes him swear an oath on his holy book that he will protect the man at any cost. But that wouldn’t be acceptable to those who just went outside.

The defence of Kuruthi :: Thrillers have been the need of the COVID-19 times, and here, one more gets added. With just above two hours of run-time, this movie manages to go through the thrills in the darkness. What is striking about this film is that it deals with the hatred which has always existed in the mind of man, something which has spread in the minds over humanity, leading to the idea of the “other”, thriving through the world. But the characters in the film are not just motivated by the same, and are instead having their own reasons for what they are doing during the one fateful night. Due to the same, there are some unexpected twists along with those which people can guess, and we also have some very strong dialogues going on here. Some of them might be very much memorable too. The performances also fuel the film really well, and it often comes from those characters who are considered to be lesser, but with less number of characters here, they all have roles to play in what happens in an eventful night.

The claws of flaw :: There were many routes for this particular thriller to follow, and the trailer had suggested many. The film follows its own, and not every moment of the same seems to go in the right direction. It does misses many opportunities to create the elements of fear when the protagonist is locked inside the house with other characters, and when it could have done better, it tries to go without taking risks. There is also a scarcity female characters in the movie, and other than Srindaa, there is only a new face, Navya Davy in a flashback along with a child actress. It also seems to be in a hurry to finish things, rather than using the atmosphere in the best possible ways. Being caught in an area like this would have brought the chance for more thrilling and scary circumstances, but while looking at philosophy, the movie seems to forget the same. It could have done that at least with the total run-time being increased by a few minutes. Well, we know where vengeance can lead a movie when there is something more to fuel the same.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran who was last seen in Cold Case, another thriller which released in Amazon Prime Video, is once again strong, and even though menacing from the beginning, he could have shared this more with Shine Tom Chacko. The purpose seems to be more or less as adding the star value rather than getting him more to perform. The evolution of Roshan Mathew from that very small role of Adi Kapyare Kootamani and the student role of Aanandam has been a thing to remember, and the same will be much talked about after this film too. He is the protagonist in the film, and how the film moves on, depends on his actions. He has that pain in his eyes which is reflected in his actions. It is nice to see Shine Tom Chacko getting some nice roles, but as he was last seen in a smaller work in Operation Java, this is also a comparatively smaller screen-time, even though he has a presence throughout the film. Murali Gopy has a role which is quite easy for him, and even though he is there only for a short period of time, he leaves a mark with his actions and dialogue as he has always done.

Further performers of the soul :: It is also good that Srindaa is doing roles like these instead of silly stuff like Aadu and minute as well as useless things like in Sara’s, as her work was becoming more and more of clichés. Here, she is amazingly strong in her character, and she is the only female character in the whole movie’s present. After the grandeur of Kammattipaadam, we have seen very less of Manikandan R Achari when we think how much he has been capable of doing, and he contributes well too. Then, Mamukkoya in a serious role is memorable here with a touch of humour, and we have seen the same effect with so many of actors who were focusing in comic roles in the past – he also gets the best dialogues here. Sagar Surya whom we recognize from his light-hearted comic role in Thatteem Mutteem series in Mazhavil Manorama is also here, doing the serious role, which he does in a fine manner. It is nice to see such names familiar to families coming to the big screen. Naslen K Gafoor whom we remember from Thanneermathan Dinangal also has a strong role here to play, further away from the funny side which he had then, and the same is done effectively here.

How it finishes :: Kuruthi, even though feels like a full thriller, it is surely more than just that. It seems that during COVID-19 times, ideas of making a good thriller has also been worked on, really well. Along with the same, it also takes on a society which is driven by hatred rather than anything else, as people are divided on different lines here. It shows the people who acts differently under strange circumstances, and it also has a little bit of humour in between the bleak times, and that is a nice surprise. Kuruthi is indeed a film that tries to speak about how people have been divided, and it ends without hope for the future – the bleak times of our world, with its uncertainties get reflected here, and the same is done without COVID-19 being the villain. Well, you don’t need a virus to end the world, as you always have humans. If you have seen the Russian film, The Blackout, you will have an idea of what a virus really would be, if an alien was to look at Earth before planning a full-scale invasion of the planet. Well, the only war which you win with hatred, is that which the future generations will lose, and you can see the signs if you look backwards in history. Back to the present, you fight on social media, you battle on those Youtube comments like you are brain-dead. What is the point?

Release date: 11th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Manu Warrier
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Roshan Mathew, Shine Rom Chacko, Murali Gopy, Srindaa, Manikandan R Achari, Mamukkoya, Sagar Surya, Navas Vallikunnu, Naslen K Gafoor, Navya Davy, Aiza Hassan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Scary Stories

Vampire Owl: So, we have Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Vampire Bat: Did you notice that it is the name of one movie with a very long title?

Vampire Owl: Yes, do you think that there will be stories which are that long?

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t seem to be about separate movies, not something like an anthology.

Vampire Owl: But the impression given is that of an anthology.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but this seems to be a story in which there are stories written about real horror which happens.

Vampire Owl: Horror has always been real. It is the only original genre in the world. The rest are not that close to reality.

Vampire Bat: Yes, who can expect thrillers and romance in life?

Vampire Owl: But horror happens to everyone, and is very much real.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if it is not present, we can always volunteer to provide them.

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

What is the movie about? :: It is the later 1960s, and three teenaged friends, Stella Nicholls (Zoe Colletti), August “Auggie” Hilderbrandt (Gabriel Rush), and Charlie “Chuck” Steinberg (Austin Zajur), prank play a Halloween prank on the bully Tommy Milner (Austin Abrams) who had been bothering them for a long time. Tommy is not someone who would take this lightly, as he and his gang chase them with baseball bats, they run to a drive-in movie theater, where a young drifter Ramon Morales (Michael Garza) hides them in his car. As he makes sure that Tommy doesn’t get them, he promises to have revenge on all of them sooner or later. Ramon becomes good friends with the kids, especially Stella with whom he has an instant connection, with a special interest in horror stories, and also connecting to her troubled past when her mother left her.

So, what happens with the events here? :: They decide to visit a haunted house for Halloween, where a girl named Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard) had committed suicide. After a kid had gone missing, the place was locked down by the local authorities, but the group manages to get in, only to be locked in by Tommy along with his own girlfriend who is Charlie’s sister, Ruth Steinberg (Natalie Ganzhorn). Stella finds a book which seems to be writen by Sarah who was mostly a recluse, and considered by people to be mentally unwell. She decides to take it home, but on that night, she finds out that the book starts writing all by itself, and it is done using blood. Soon, they understand that Tommy has gone missing, and by finding his t-shirt on a scarecrow, she realizes that he had become the new scarecrow after being attacked by the former scarecrow according to the book. Now, before it starts writing again, she has to stop it with her friends. Can she do that in time?

The defence of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark :: The movie is well-structured, and each death here becomes a special tale of supernatural murder when we look at them, connected by one which gets written by a supernatural entity which has terrible past behind it, that needs to be revealed. The idea is a really good one, and we are immersed in it, even without it trying to do the extraordinary. Everything here is kept pretty much simple, and you can always have time to admire some simple horror. The monsters are nice, beginning with the scarecrow coming alive, and going on to add more which relates to the worst fears of the victims. The Halloween setting is a fine beginning to the tale, and it continues to score well through the haunting in the middle, reaching to the end which is pretty well done, and leading to the option of a sequel being kept open. In the end, you have more than one story in your mind.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much unique being added here though, as this does remind us of other tales, and the predictability does come in, at times. There is not much of a character development around here, and the beginning moments are kind of drag, which could have been shortened to give this movie a better pace at the start. Even though the movie is based on Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a series of three collections of short horror stories meant for children, this could have had some special additions because this is the movie version, and visuals mean a lot of horror. The book is supposed to have drawn heavily from folklore and urban legends, and so anything more can fit in here and there. Then there is the Academy award winner Guillermo del Toro’s name flashed as a producer, and your expectations are even higher, keeping this movie’s level below that. Well, I still want a sequel to his Crimson Peak as soon as possible, just like Dredd always needed.

Performers of the soul :: Zoe Colletti plays the protagonist, and leads the way in a horror movie amazingly well, leaving us hope for a scream queen many years later. From the beginning with silly Halloween pranks, she is someone who leads the way through the murders, and does that without doubts. Michael Garza who plays the next important character also does well, from the very moment he gets to meet the other characters. The other kids who are being hunted by the ghost with a past includes Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Zajur, Gabriel Rush and Austin Abrams, and they all provided good support. Gil Bellows who plays the police officer also has his moments. But as usual, the ones who scores the best are the monsters, and even the book is a fine character enough. When you make good monsters, you inspire better work from the cast, unless you have The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun group, which works anyway.

How it finishes :: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark shows that simple scary stories do come alive, and when it does, there is great scope for horror. There is no usual anthology here when you hear that it is about stories. There are no different tales coming together from different directors this time, like they have been doing for a long time. It does take an amount of such terror, and use it pretty well, with a cast which is not much known, and it works well enough with some interesting moments of monsters to go with it, as well as a past which is worthy enough for a good haunting. The idea to bring these tales and monsters are also nice, as it becomes not a usual horror story with spirits haunting us. It makes a fine thing for Halloween, and maybe you can watch it during the witching hours, with one monster after the other, as you even feel the need to write a horror story by the end of this movie.

Release date: 9th August 2019
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Andre Ovredal
Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wretched

Vampire Owl: These humans often refer us by this name.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is clearly wrong, as we are not in a wretched condition yet.

Vampire Owl: I am pretty sure that the humans are in a more wretched situation now.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the Corona Virus has gotten into them pretty badly.

Vampire Owl: I believe that they have always been wretched enough.

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t say that for every one of them.

Vampire Owl: You have always been too kind of the humans.

Vampire Bat: And you have always been the cruel one.

Vampire Owl: Nobody in the known world are as cruel and wicked as the humans.

Vampire Bat: Now, this is something you don’t even say about the werewolves or zombies.

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

What is the movie about? :: A young girl names Megan (Sydne Mikelle) has a babysitting duty, only to find a creature feeding off the little girl, and as she tries to escape, it seems that Megan also meets a similar end in the hands of the demonic creature. Later we see Ben (John-Paul Howard), a youngster joining his father Liam (Jamison Jones), as his parents are in the middle of having a mutually agreed divorce. Ben gets to work in the local harbour in the countryside with his father on a temporary basis. At the same time, Liam is getting too close to his co-worker, Sara (Azie Tesfai) while Ben becomes good friends with a local girl working there, named Mallory (Piper Curda). Ben also can’t stop himself from noticing their new neighbours, Abbie (Zarah Mahler) and her son Dillon (Blane Crockarell). They do get lost in the woods, and Dillon gets called by a tree into the hole underneath, but they do manage to bring home a deer which their car had hit and killed, much to the dismay of Abbie’s husband Ty (Kevin Bigley). She tries to cut the animal for a dish, but messes it up.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, we see that a certain creature is coming out of the body of the deer through the cut which was made earlier, and Ben also sees something sitting on the rails of Abbie’s home – seemingly human, but something else in reality. It does disappear when the light goes off, but makes appearances inside the house of Abbie. Ben tries to mingle with the young people in the neighbourhood with a party, but is publicly embarrassed by the most desired girl of the locality JJ (Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden). As he returns home, he finds Abbie walking into the woods with her toddler, but is interrupted by Liam and Sara, leading to a dispute. Even though Abbie returns from the woods, she doesn’t seem to be the same. It doesn’t seem to be the usual trouble that haunts the small town, as there is more to it than what meets the eye. There is a force beyond one’s understanding, and if someone tries to solve the case, that person might be considered a lunatic. How many lives will be lost before such an evil vanquished?

The defence of The Wretched :: There is no doubt about this particular movie’s ability to score with the ambiance, as the setting as well as the neighbourhood where the people are living, can all be considered to be very much perfect. We have the small town where people are denying the existence of evil, but there has always been one in the woods, and a tree has been central to everything. To get to the depth of this evil, we have even more twisted ideas in there, and more of terrifying suspense will be revealed in the end. There are also some scares to support the same, and the nature around the place is indeed beautiful. It is more or less like a dark fairy-tale, as there are elements of a dark fantasy which runs right through. The characters are the kind of people whom you can relate to, and that makes the transformation caused by the witch feel even more real. After all, it is always nice to be taken back to the idea of that witch who used to haunt us during the childhood and reached as far as The Witch – until you had the older version of Evil Dead to scare you in the best possible way.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that the movie does try to have a little too much than a regular witch story, which doesn’t always work in its favour. The mixture doesn’t make the best use of its elements, especially as there are so many things which a witch possessing a lady or two can do. The terror could have had even stranger forms, and it also takes some time to make one feel the seriousness of the same. Some scenes are also not needed, even in a movie which goes just above one and half hours. Some people can even find this movie to be confusing in parts, and the creepy poster doesn’t come up in there, which is also disappointing. The mask does come though, and just like the other elements related to the witch, there could have surely been more. The ending has also been left open, maybe for a sequel, but that would need more, and not just the type of material that we have here. There are also some characters who could have done more – some are just left not explored well enough, and we feel the need to see them more.

Performers of the soul :: It is to be noted that the main characters are driven by a terrifying feeling – if you die, and nobody remembers you, where you really alive? That existential crisis is first discovered by John-Paul Howard who plays Ben well enough, but the truth is that it is not just his neighbour who has forgotten his son, as the darker secrets are there to make him realize the terror further. He plays the curious youngster who understands things happening around better than the others, and he does that well. At the same time, Piper Curda remains very cute and brings a lot of charm to the movie – not your usual leading actress, she brings a few joyful moments here and there in what really is a dark movie as it progresses. Zarah Mahler is really good as the young lady next door who is possessed by the witch, as she makes some really scary appearances, and there are scenes with her skin ripping off, which takes it to another level. Azie Tesfai with that deer-skull mask on her face is joy to watch, even though it is only for a short period of time to make a good enough bad witch. Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden could have been there for more though.

How it finishes :: We have always had the supernatural creatures running around in different movies, but the witches have always struggled to keep it going in comparison to vampires, werewolves, zombies and other creatures of the dark who have been competing well with the demons and ghosts. But The Wretched does manage to bring some of such interest back to us during these days, as the witch gets her due, without a broomstick, staying close to an evil tree in the forest. It has enough surprises in there to keep the whole thing going, and with such a setting to help its cause, The Wretched is sure to take you to a world of forest’s witches whom we have known since childhood. You can always expect more, but this is indeed a good beginning to a type of horror cinema which hasn’t made that much of success in comparison to the others. After all, elves and similar creatures of light are not the only ones you keep finding in the middle of the forest.

Release date: 19th July 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Brett Pierce, Drew T Pierce
Starring: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Zarah Karen Mahler, Kevin Bigley, Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden, Richard Ellis, Blane Crockarell, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Dark Almost Night

Vampire Owl: And, we are getting some dark movies.

Vampire Bat: This is only the second Polish movie that we are watching.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and it should be a really dark one, as seen in the title.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that it could be related to the vampires in anyway though.

Vampire Owl: Who else can have the darkness around them without fear?

Vampire Bat: Ghosts, witches, demons, dark elves, orcs, goblins?

Vampire Owl: Okay, but there can still be something vampiric about it.

Vampire Bat: I am actually sensing a serial killer around here.

Vampire Owl: Well, there are heroes being made out of such killers.

Vampire Bat: Actually, we are not at that part, just not yet.

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

What is the movie about? :: Reporter Alicja Tabor (Magdalena Cielecka) returns to the city from her childhood, Walbrzych after a long time. A series of mysterious child kidnappings are occuring in the city, and nobody has any clue about what is happening. Using her skills as an experienced reporter, Alicja tries to solve at least a part of this strange mystery which has become quite baffling for the police department. She would have to meet the families of the missing children and solve a mystery which puzzles even the smartest, but at the same time, she also has a past which strangles her reasoning skills, as her childhood has that kind of memories which won’t let her sleep in peace. There are some of dramatic events which started decades earlier, at the same place. Now, she will have to face whatever she had been running away from during her earlier life – the terrifying secrets of her family and the horrors of her own childhood. Everything seems to be linked in one way or the other, and can she go beyond her own demons to solve the mystery?

The defence of Dark Almost Night :: This is one atmospheric movie like no other, as the setting and the environment that we see around raises this movie to a much higher level, better than any other quality. You can feel the invisible terror at all times, even though it is certainly not the kind of danger that is shown that much on the screen to bring the horror. Magdalena Cielecka nicely fits into that atmosphere, as the blending is perfect as far as her highly vulnerable character with a troubled childhood is concerned. Adapted from a much appreciated novel of the same name by Joanna Bator which is supposed to be a satisfying version, the movie does focus on the visuals really well and has found the perfect actresses to bring it to the screen. With such quality adaptation, we can say that the trauma and the emotional side are strong even when we don’t see them shown as melodrama – it is here that the beauty lies, as we can feel the same even when they are not focusing on it, for the movie has the feelings running through at all times.

The claws of flaw :: The movie lacks enough dialogues of significance to keep the tale going forward. There is also the presence of some confusing elements, and as the story keeps on going here and there, we will find the requirement for better explanations. There are moments when the movie should have been more direct with things, and as we are from another distant part of the world and another culture with no knowledge about the language, we do have some trouble, especially when the subtitles are not that great either. A good number of scenes are shown, and suddenly, they disappear, leading us to the present, past and the lives of different people without having enough focus on the necessary moments. The final moments could have also been stronger, as we just get there all of a sudden, and things end too fast. Instead, the focus should have been on the protagonist, and she should have been facing her demons in a highly emotional moments which could have no parallels by any means – the slower moments earlier could have been thus justified.

Performers of the soul :: Magdalena Cielecka, the almost fifty year old actress plays her role to perfection with such passive energy which would make the younger generation of actresses feel weak – Virginie Efira who is a little younger than her did the same in Sibyl, and her passivity was also stronger than a much younger secondary female character played by the lead from the much acclaimed Blue Is the Warmest Colour. Both are actually vulnerable characters, but don’t really show that to others, with some extreme feeling lying deep inside them which forces them to take some strange decisions. Magdalena actually shows that on so many occasions, and the melancholic reflection which can be seen on her face as well as a body with scars, in a believable manner. Eliza Rycembel who plays Ewa as well as Helena Norowicz who plays Rosemarie also gets into the creepy mystery really well, even though the film is very much Magdalena-based. The atmosphere itself is a fine performer, as you look around here.

How it finishes :: Dark Almost Night is not your usual kind of movie, and therefore, won’t satisfy all kinds of audience. The value of the film as an entertainer might be questioned by many people due to the divergent way in which it deals with the subject. Magdalena Cielecka has things in control, but the pace will still trouble people. But you are sure to love being transported to this particular dark world of mysteries and possible terror. This is the kind of atmosphere which Hollywood should use, as they already have the special effects to take the best advantage of it. Maybe, The Conjuring universe can combine it with the supernatural to create magnificence. We can wait for that, and for now, it is up to us to enjoy Dark Almost Night, something of visual quality that we will remember. I am surely hoping to watch more Polish movies after this, especially those which have the same leading actress. We are never that short of such a need during the COVID-19 crisis.

[Gets a vegetable puffs along with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: This movie could have scored better in things other than atmosphere.

Vampire Bat: Yes, they could have better used the potential which was there.

Vampire Owl: This is a movie which was surely not watched by many people, and so, not many people know about it.

Vampire Bat: But the leading lady here is perfect fit for such a mystery, don’t you think?

Vampire Owl: Yes, and she needs a usual type of horror movie to add to her list.

Vampire Bat: The melancholic emotions that she display has a certain amount of beauty.

Vampire Owl: There are so many talented actresses whom we never knew about.

Vampire Bat: She is just one of the many such actresses with high quality skills.

Vampire Owl: There are so many performers we should know about.

Vampire Bat: As knowledge doesn’t come with immortality, we need to look forward to other areas including books.

[Vanishes into the shadows behind the teak tree].

Release date: 22nd March 2019
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Borys Lankosz
Starring: Magdalena Cielecka, Rafal Mackowiak, Modest Rucinski, Eliza Rycembel, Antonina Litwiniak, Roma Gasiorowska, Aleksandra Konieczna, Wlodzimierz Dyla, Jerzy Trela, Nikola Karwowska, Helena Norowicz, Malgorzata Hajewska, Mateusz Czulowski, Marcin Dorocinski, Piotr Polak

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Polaroid

Vampire Owl: I have heard about this case of a vampiric camera.

Vampire Bat: There is no such thing as a camera for vampires. We don’t even appear on the mirror unless we take the necessary measures.

Vampire Owl: I have heard about this camera which kills people.

Vampire Bat: It could be a werewolf thing. They are the ones who are really interested in cameras, posing for photos all the time.

Vampire Owl: What about the zombies?

Vampire Bat: They haven’t really invented the camera yet. The zombie lands are just trying to come out of the stone age.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that they won’t be able to do that any time soon.

Vampire Bat: Stone age actually suits them, but surely the camera won’t.

Vampire Owl: So, what are your thoughts on a camera which kills the people whose photos are taken on it?

Vampire Bat: It is a good way to kill those people you don’t like, I would say.

[Gets a paneer dosa and three glasses of mixed fruit juice].

What is the movie about? :: Sarah Dawson (Madelaine Petsch) and her friend finds a polaroid camera among the items left her mother, the former takes a gorgeous photo of her friend to show to her boyfriend, but the friend finds a shadow standing at her back, and is hunted by a mysterious entity which keeps coming for her at night, and it finally twists her neck and kills her. Much later, the same camera is found by Tyler Drew (Davi Santos) who gives it to Bird Fitcher (Kathryn Prescott), a shy teenager whom he has a crush on, and also lets her take his photo to test it. Bird, who goes home, decides to go on a party with her best friend Kasey Walters (Samantha Logan) who gives her a Little Red Riding Hood costume to attend the programme which is hosted by Avery Bishop (Katie Stevens), one of the much adored girls of the school. On the way, Bird sees a shadow behind Tyler in the photo, which she considers to a problem with the print.

So, what happens with the events here? :: At the party, she takes the photo of Avery and Kasey, along with some other friends including Mina Rodriguez (Priscilla Quintana), Mina’s boyfriend Devin Lane (Keenan Tracey), and her own high school crush Connor Bell (Tyler Young), offering a better quality printed photo in an instant which they can keep instead of getting lost among the thousands of photographs on a random mobile phone. After the party, Bird is informed by Sheriff Thomas Pembroke (Mitch Pileggi) that Tyler was killed inside the antique shop where she was also working. During the same night, when everyone else had left, Avery is killed by the same entity which murdered Tyler, and Bird who finds the shadow no longer in his photo, but in the party pictures, gets tensed, and tries to destroy the camera, but fails. Nobody seems to feel the need to believe her. Now, she has to find a way to save them all, but will she have them in time before everyone gets killed one after the other?

The defence of Polaroid :: There is not much that Polaroid doesn’t try to do, as it is sure that the focus has to be on the camera, and it establishes the same in the beginning stages itself, starting the killing spree, just a few minutes into the movie. The idea here is really good, and there are moments when the movie seems to be struggling, and then it comes up with something more. It manages to put some twists and turns in there, related to the antagonist, and the incidents which had happened before this ghost came into the scene. The visuals are good, and the surroundings are nicely chosen – the darkness is used well, and so are the sound effects. The evil spirit is nicely established as the one thing which cannot be stopped, early itself, as trying to destroy the camera and the photos taken on it won’t work. With a short run-time less than one and half hours, the movie handles everything directly and without confusion.

The claws of flaw :: With a camera at the centre of everything, like the tape in The Ring movie franchise, this one could have achieved more. After all, those who get their photo taken by the camera dies, and there is a serial killer past behind it – such a case is certainly worth more. It does leave the feeling that we have seen all these before, on many different occasions. Also, even after getting a pretty good cast to work with, they are not used that well. If it was another movie which had such a young talent, a more dramatic tale might have came into existence. Even when there is a party, there is nothing much happening there, except for a photo being taken here. It has an antique shop, just to take a photo, and to kill a person. Some of the deaths also happen without much of an innovation, as a person gets chased, and just gets killed, failing to impress.

Performers of the soul :: Kathryn Prescott surely is a talented actress, as it is her who manages to lead well throughout this movie. She does looks younger than her age, and so she suits the role well – her expressions also make it work better. Madelaine Petsch is limited to a small role in the beginning, even though we were given the feeling that she was the one who was to play a major role here – she is limited to that introduction to the polaroid camera programme. Tyler Young and Samantha Logan who plays the next supporting role manage to come up with an okay job. The other friends played by Katie Stevens, Priscilla Quintana and Keenan Tracey are just there to fill up the list of people to be killed by the camera because of being a part of photographs. In a movie like this, it seems that it is death that defines these next line of friends.

How it finishes :: Polaroid could have had you scared about taking photos, but it doesn’t rise to that much of a scary level – still, it is worth watching for some fine moments which are there, and the innovation does come into picture at times. If you are looking for another movie to watch for lock-down, this one is there. It is not the kind of movie which will appeal to all horror lovers, as we have been bombarded with multiple sequels and spin-offs of The Conjuring with movies like Annabelle and The Nun coming up with some more demons and spirits. Polaroid can also provide you with a spirit with a past, and you can watch it to add another one to the list. You are sure to enjoy it in parts, and the last few moments are quite good – therefore, it is fine to wait for the same. It is not a movie watch by many, and so, you can’t go with the critical opinions with just very few reviews.

Release date: 17th September 2019
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Lars Klevberg
Starring: Kathryn Prescott, Grace Zabriskie, Samantha Logan, Katie Stevens, Madelaine Petsch, Priscilla Quintana, Tyler Young, Javier Botet, Davi Santos, Keenan Tracey, Mitch Pileggi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.