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.

Kate

Vampire Owl: I don’t know many Kates from around here.

Vampire Bat: You do know Kate Winslet and Kate Beckinsale.

Vampire Owl: They are certainly not from around here.

Vampire Bat: They are still part of our large film universe.

Vampire Owl: Universe is never that large, as we look at it.

Vampire Bat: Well, this movie and its performers can be part of it.

Vampire Owl: Mary Elizabeth Winstead has always been part of it.

Vampire Bat: Okay, you do remember her movies which suited us vampires’ tastes.

Vampire Owl: Living through so many centuries, tastes do change.

Vampire Bat: The world does change, but do we? In this realm, can we?

[Gets a ghee roast and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is an experienced assassin who has Varrick (Woody Harrelson) as her handler. She is also an expert sniper who has never missed a target in her long career which has focused mostly on the use of sniper gun and long distance shots. Varrick was also the one who trained her, right from childhood itself. Kate has to come to Osaka in Japan to kill a leader within a powerful yakuza mob, but only just manages to hit the target, after a child comes in the way. Even though this hit was also a success, having to kill someone in front of a child bothers here, leading to an emotional turmoil. She intends to go for one final mission, and then begin a new life, as a commoner. But before the final mission, she comes up against Stephen (Michiel Huisman) in bar. They have sex in the room, and she follows up with a sniper shot, and it is the first time that she misses one, that too, with the chance for clear shot.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: She understands that she was poisoned by Stephen under the instructions of the members of a crime family which is headed by Kijima (Jun Kunimura), whom she was planning to assassinate, after having already killed his brother in front of his niece, Ani (Miku Martineau). Having only a day left to live before poison gets her, she decides to kidnap Ani, and bargain with Kijima. Despite using her as a bait in the beginning, she decides to keep her safe during the mission, as the gangsters are also targeting her. Ani is the last in the line of the family, and her death would help an internal power struggle. For getting to the top, she has to get through Renji (Tadanobu Asano) and Jojima (Miyavi), and there is a long way ahead after that too. There are many complications that she has to face on the way too, as many other secrets are revealed, with the unexpected happenings that occur related to the person whom she was trying to assassinate.

The defence of Kate :: Led by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, we have female assassin for a change, instead of the usual, and with her performance in the action scenes, we feel that she makes the exact person who was needed here. The film has so many delightful action sequences, and the one at the top floor of a penthouse, and the final combat are of top quality – the style and the music are nothing less than charming. The world that this movie has created in Japan feels like a classic one, and with all the beautiful violence, you only wants to go there. The fights that we have here, are also never overdone, and would make both John Wick and Hitman: Codename 47 proud. There are also enough emotional sequences to go with it. The lighting, darkness and colours have a different feeling about them, and the we also feel a lot of Japan. After the first few minutes, almost all of the city is set in one city in Japan, and with the main character having less than twenty four hours to live, this one keeps close to the unity of time and place, as well as unity of action, one of the rare action movies to keep it close to the Classical unities of Aristotle.

Positives and negatives :: With its quick action, the movie never drags, even when adding the emotions to it – the emotional side also deserves some applause, even though it could have dealt with the same in different ways which could have appealed more, for options were surely there to be taken. Reminder of other films will also be there, but we can actually see this one as superior in action at times. The violence is there for most of the time, and it has taken with a certain amount of beauty related to it. Some parts of it can feel predictable, but it is with multiple guesses taken – many options were there and therefore one cannot correctly guess the same at all times. Some dialogues are actually there to remembered, and a few of them are like providing some messages about life, revenge and forgiveness. There is strength in the frames, and the way in which this one is taken, will need applause too. Even as you are not part of anything like this, and has never been to the city or been part of any action that comes close, you feel what is happening around, and you are engaged at all times with the assassin’s work.

Performers of the soul :: Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fantastic as the assassin, and it is the one thing that stands apart like no other. We have seen her from Final Destination 3 itself, and after slashers like Black Christmas were there, we saw her 10 Cloverfield Lane and Gemini Man, two others full of action and mystery. Birds of Prey had her as an assassin too, as the Huntress who was supporting Harley Quinn. Action, horror and mystery seems to suit her really well, and thriller seems to be her perfect genre. From 2000s itself, she has held a higher position among the scream queens, a position which Amber Heard also shared during a similar time period. Unfortunately, there is no scope for a sequel to have her back as the assassin, with this being the dead end, but one has to say that she deserved more movies like Hitman, John Wick or The Transporter. You can have her as part of these bloody genres at any moment of time, and she is sure to deliver. Miku Martineau as Ani plays a child in trauma that you are to remember. Woody Harrelson has a solid role to play here too.

How it finishes :: Kate is a strong action film which reminds one mostly of John Wick, and at times of The Equalizer, but also develops a life of its own. With Mary Elizabeth Winstead at the top, you can also feel some shots of Anna, even though the premise and the world itself is very much different. You can watch this particular movie just for the action itself, and she is more or less like a female Keanu Reeves – one would wonder if she could have actually played Matrix‘s Trinity in another parallel universe, because there is the feeling that in those clothes, and in that world, she would look almost the same. Clearly an engaging ride, Kate takes you through a fun-filled action journey which is to be remembered not just for all the melee combat, sword fights and gun shots, but also for the story with its twists, as well as the beautiful world that we see around there in between the combat. It is indeed an all-round action package, and not a movie that depends on mindless action all the time. Choose this one for full-time entertainment.

Release date: 10th September 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Miku Martineau, Woody Harrelson, Tadanobu Asano, Miyavi, Michiel Huisman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Reminiscence

Vampire Owl: I do see my long lost memories on a screen.

Vampire Bat: Do not tell me that this is about another invention of Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Owl: He is too much addicted to the present to go into the past.

Vampire Bat: His addiction is with the impossible future.

Vampire Owl: There is no future that is impossible for Sir Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: Do not call him that. He was never knighted by the Count.

Vampire Owl: The knighthood is not a thing of title anymore. It is something of action.

Vampire Bat: There is no action can he can come up with to deserve it.

Vampire Owl: You will know it once he is done with the grand experiment.

Vampire Bat: You call what he is doing in the so called laboratory an experiment. I call it a death wish without limits.

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

What is the movie about? :: In a not too distant future, climate change has led to the sealevels rising, resulting in a flooded Miami. The temperature has risen so much that people prefer to go through most part of their lives at night. Sooner or later, the sea is supposed to claim the whole city. Nicholas Bannister (Hugh Jackman) and Emily Sanders (Thandiwe Newton) used to serve in the military forces, but is now running a business which helps people to relive their memories in a world which has no hope about the present or the future. Most people come there because they cannot live in a present which feels disastrous, and wishes to go through their past lives again and again, often due to nostalgia, and at other times because of a loss. Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) is their latest customer who wishes to find where she kept her keys, from her memories. As the memories do get visualized every time to help Nicholas guide the customers through their past, him and Emily gets to watch most of the things which the customers have gone through.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: After Mae leaves her earrings behind, Nicholas finds her in the nightclub, and they start a relationship, but Emily doubts her and wonders if she has some other motive in being with him. Later, one day, Mae disappears without a trace. Nicholas tries to find her by reliving his own memories of their relationship. It is something that could trap him in the memories forever, but he continues to do so for months. Emily is disappointed about his transformation, and asks him to move on. He feels assured that someone so much in love won’t disappear all of a sudden, and something might have happened to her, while Emily feels that their business is going down as customers as decreasing. He does find her earrings in a gutter, making him believe that she cam back for him, but Emily assures him that a lot of things ends up out there, and it could be from a long time ago. When prosecutor Avery Castillo (Natalie Martinez) calls him to retrieve the memories of a suspect. But it is not something that he will like.

The defence of Reminiscence :: There was always supposed to be something about Reminiscence, as we know that it is about memories, love and a mystery which will bring the twists. The concept is brilliant, and from an apocalyptic world, it moves to science fiction, and then to a mystery with ease. It is the kind of world which we will have sooner or later, sea taking over the land as a result of global warming, and this one also has the smartness show it as a gradual thing, and not as something happening in a few days or months. Well, it is a reminder to us that we are moving slowly towards that possible end, and none of us are doing anything about it, as the rich already have their Elysium and control of most of the money, while we are fooled easily. The journey takes you through what can be called a complete package. This one is not predictable at all, and there are some nice surprises in store – the twists add to the melancholy, and as the protagonist says, there is no happy ending in real life, but we understand that there can always be beauty even in the sadness. The ending of the movie, even though not a happy one, is a beautiful one indeed.

Positives and negatives :: Reminiscence does make us feel that we have seen some of it before, as it is surely a collection of different elements merged into one – yet, you see that final moments of it feels very much unique and incredibly touching. There are some slow moments in the middle, which might be the scenes which pull this movie a little bit backwards by not adding the needed ingredients there. When thinking about the memories and a future, you are quickly thinking about Total Recall and Ghost in the Shell, but they were all action, as you look at them. This movie also has its fine dose of action sequences, and there are twists and thrills awaiting in the memories along with the charm of love. There are not many science fiction thrillers which are able to create such an emotional effect on audience, and that too related to love. Lisa Joy’s one and only full-length feature film is here to stay in the heart. You avoid that tendency to slow down, and you have a work which you can watch, and be touched in multiple ways.

The performers of the soul :: Hugh Jackman is fantastic in this movie which has him in a role which has emotions running through him so well. He also makes a charming pair with Rebecca Ferguson, a couple like we haven’t really seen before. On one side, we have the long living mutant, Wolverine with healing powers and on the other side, we have the assassin from Mission Impossible series of movies – two people of action are the people in love here. There is no other two performers who could have made this work so beautiful. While the thrills are effective and the mystery is present throughout the film, it is the romance that makes the apocalyptic future’s science fiction a thing to remember, and the dialogues from these two are to stay with us for a very long period of time. It is the kind of tale which would have everyone asking for a happily ever after, unlike those half-baked romantic nonsense served as if there is true love being shown. Negative shades are also not new to Rebecca who played the full, strong antagonist in Doctor Sleep. Thandiwe Newton is also a powerful support while Cliff Curtis’ villain is strong enough. The other thing you note here is the perfect melancholy on the face of Angela Sarafyan.

How it finishes :: I will never understand why this movie didn’t do that well at the box-office, for it is a lovely and divergent take at the same time. The mixture that this film provides is something which is suitable for everyone, with different genres touched with the power of human memories and emotions. There is the feeling of mystery that goes through this world which seems to be almost apocalyptic with a realistic feeling, and the science fiction elements nicely blend in here to make the journey better. Also a romantic movie, this one focuses on that side with supremacy in the final moments. You will find this movie to be a lot better than what the reviews say, and there is that beautiful feeling of abiding sadness and a bliss of true romance which follows you from different directions. It has that kind of performers who keeps you so engaged in it, more than how it would have been with any other. Reminiscence is the kind of movie I would recommend for most people, and it would have even done better if it had released here before the Corona virus pandemic, for the admirers of Wolverine would also love this particular avatar.

Release date: 20th August 2021
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Lisa Joy
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Natalie Martinez, Marina de Tavira, Angela Sarafyan, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Brett Cullen, Javier Molina, Sam Medina, Norio Nishimura, Nico Parker, Roxton Garcia

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

A Classic Horror Story

Vampire Owl: We, vampires can make the classic horror story.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you know that most of the good vampire films were actually made by the elder vampires?

Vampire Owl: Isn’t that actually a myth which became part of normal lives later?

Vampire Bat: Their names were supposed to be in the the end credits.

Vampire Owl: Nobody got to see the end credits. They were removed.

Vampire Bat: Well, someone wanted to take all the credits, you know.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that those were some humans who played a small part in all of these.

Vampire Bat: Humans should have never been allowed to be part of vampire works, but at some point of time, there was not much of a difference between species.

Vampire Owl: Well, at least we know the human nature now.

Vampire Bat: The only true, classic inherent evil nature in the whole world.

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

What is the movie about? :: Elisa (Matilda Lutz), an intern at a consulting firm, try a rideshare app to get to her parents’ home in Calabria in Southern Italy to get an abortion, even though she is not sure if it is the right thing to do. The recreational vehicle that she gets is driven by a travel blogger and a student of film, Fabrizio (Francesco Russo) – he is only happy to have some interesting people in his vehicle, so that his Youtube channel can get more visitors. A couple from the United States, Sofia (Yuliia Sobol) and Mark (Will Merrick) are also traveling in the vehicle to reach a wedding destination and have some good time. A doctor named Riccardo (Peppino Mazzotta) who joins them is also trying to get home as early as possible. When Elisa’s nausea causes the group to stop on the side of the road, Mark forcibly takes over driving for Fabrizio, only to hit a tree while trying to avoid hitting the corpse of a goat. Elisa wakes up in the morning and sees that the group is doing first aid on Mark’s broken leg, as the doctor takes over the procedure. They are not able to get any signal on their mobile phones, and even the emergency numbers don’t work.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They soon realize that they are no longer on the road, but are lost in an open space surrounded by a forest. They are sure that they hit the tree on the side of the road, but now, no paths leading to anywhere can be discovered. It is like having an endless line of trees in all directions. They do find a house there though, but it is empty. It seems like a strange building, with some weird signs and heads of animals. The photos in the house has people wearing masks looking like heads of goats. There is also fresh blood and heads of animals in the woods nearby. At the same time, They see some paintings and writings in house about three brothers who came from another world, a long time ago. There is also the story of a strange ritual which was performed for the brothers, which involved a naked woman’s tongue, ears and eyes being cut out. Fabrizio had heard this story from his grandfather, and all of them decide to stay in the vehicle at night rather than the house.

And what more of horror is to follow here in the middle of nowhere? :: They feel that there is something going on in the house, and Sofia goes inside house with Elisa to explore further, only to find something in the attic. There is a cocoon, and inside that, there was a child named Chiara (Alida Baldari Calabria), who has her tongue cut out, and kept separately, making them remember the tale of three brothers. She is supposed to be the only survivor in the family, and writes down that there are not in a forest. They hide in the attic while Mark was dragged out of the vehicle by three masked figures, who torture and kill Mark by pulling out his eyes and also breaking his feet with a wooden hammer. After Mark’s body is dragged to the forest, they run to the woods. After finding a large number of abandoned cars, they understand that they are not the first victims of these people, and might not be the last either. When they walk through the forest, they end up at the same place, and also see that the vehicle missing. Is there any hope left now?

The defence of A Classic Horror Story :: The best thing about this movie might be its use of sound effects and also the music that relates to the situations so well, and works even better for the horror. One has to wonder how they find all the strength with the sound when we are less expecting it, and manage to have such an amazing effect. There is something for the Hollywood movies to learn here, and our films are not even close, as far as horror is considered. The visuals are amazingly good, and the beautiful scenes of nature combines with the terrifying ones really well. This strange, scary, beautiful world, is something that we can cherish, and be glad to see on the screen, wishing that this was actually there in any of those theatres. Yuliia Sobol and Matilda Lutz make pretty good screen queens, as we look at them wandering through the situations of horror – even though the latter is the female lead, the former is the stronger of the two. The male actors basically pales in comparison to these two who make have the better moments.

Positives and negatives :: The ending of the movie is a little bit of a struggle though, as it was not having some of the best twists around there either. There were so many routes which it could have taken, but it has chosen one which was so less interesting. There could have been so many terrifying truths about what is happening on the screen, and how this is like a world from where there could be no escape, but the film chooses to go through the path which is rather too easy to take, to create a twist. It might have been trying to become another one of The Cabin in the Woods, but that much of a satiric fun isn’t present in this one. There is a lot of blood and gore around here though, even as it doesn’t really go with the fully slasher horror model. The only other two Italian movies on Movies of the Soul are Pinocchio and Piranhas – this one is the first Italian horror film and the first full-thriller movie from Italy to be part of the reviews here. One has to say that as a horror fan, different people would enjoy this is different manner, depending on how much they like the ending.

How it finishes :: A Classic Horror Story surely lives up to its title, and this Italian movie has enough to keep it stronger than a good number of Hollywood horror movies. There are not many English movies which have used the available resources so well in comparison to this one. One has to question some other horror films about their use of the visuals and sound effects, as well as the urban legends which were available in a better way. If you forget the ending of this film, the rest of the whole thing makes one really care about the main characters and tensed and afraid of the terrifying world within what seems to be a forest. That particular hunt and torture are enough to wonder about the smartness behind this particular movie. Among the horror movies which have released in the last few years, this might be the one which can have the right to use this particular title. Enjoy this world, and hope that it can be inspiring for many horror movies which have lost their way completely in the beginning stages itself.

Release date: 14th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli
Starring: Matilda Lutz, Yuliia Sobol, Will Merrick, Justin Korovkin, Peppino Mazzotta, Cristina Donadio, Francesco Russo, Alida Baldari Calabria

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Whole Truth

Vampire Owl: There is a lot of talk about truth going on around here.

Vampire Bat: It is something that humans never try to speak.

Vampire Owl: Humans haven’t been close to truth for a long time.

Vampire Bat: Truth just doesn’t suit them. They are basically liars. You cannot blame them for going back to their basic nature.

Vampire Owl: Their basic nature is related to robbery and murder.

Vampire Bat: It is really difficult to talk about human nature. They are pure evil.

Vampire Owl: Yes, which is why many witches travel to their world and try to kill a few of them or transform them into better creatures like cats and dogs.

Vampire Bat: It is the same reason why we don’t have Vampire Cats anymore.

Vampire Owl: Human existence has no real meaning related to anything other than evil.

Vampire Bat: If Corona virus makes them go extinct, it can be called a pure evil thing.

[Gets a marble cake and three glasses of mango shake].

What is the movie about? :: Mai (Nicole Theriault) is living happily with her two children, Pim (Sutatta Udomsilp) and Putt (Mac Nattapat Nimjirawat) in the city of Bangkok, until she meets with an accident on her way back home from office, on the same day that she received a promotion at her office. She is now in a coma, and even though out of critical situation, has to stay in the ICU. It is then that their grandparents come to visit them – Phong (Sompob Benjathikul) and Wan (Tarika Tidatid) takes them to their ancestral home. The house is quite a large one, and Phong says that Wan is not really well, and due to her dementia, she also needs some taking care of. At the same time, Mai has some severe injury to her brain, and it will take some time for her to get better. Until then, the two siblings will have to stay in their ancestral home, even though they are not really comfortable about it. They take everything from home, and place them at the new place, as they feel that they are for a very long time. But this doesn’t seem that good a place for them.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, the cat which they brought there from the original home is no longer found. They are also able to find a hole on the wall, which the grandparents don’t find to be present. They blame the children for making up things which are not there, and advises them to stop looking for cats. There is something going on in the house, and it feels really strange for the siblings. When Putt looks through the hole, he sees a strange girl on the other side, and it does seem like a strange house on the other side there. At the same time, Fame (Sadanont Durongkaweroj), a boy who studies with Pim, comes to the house and warns them about leaking a video of her showering in the gym. He is also not able to see the hole on the wall either, but is pulled to the wall, hurting his nose. He leaves the place with a broken nose, telling Pim that he will leak her naked video on the internet. As the grandmother reaches home, she sees the blood on the floor and losses her mind for a few minutes. Pim and Putt understand that things can get only worse from there, as there are some secrets out there.

The defence of The Whole Truth :: Even though this particular movie is from Thailand, there is the feeling of watching a Korean film – that kind of quality is here with the visuals. It also gets into action quite fast, and we are glad to follow it around early enough. The idea of the hole in the wall which provides some strange visions is nice, especially with the arrangements on the other side. The feeling of danger is always effectively there. This does bring some scares, but the film is more about mystery, revealing a few things about human nature, rather than anything else. The theme of the movie is related to how people only give half truths, manipulating everything to suit their own versions. The film also has a nice way of revealing everything, through visions and incidents. The way that it keeps us in suspense is good, as we are not really sure which way it is to go, not just about the ghostly figure, but also about how the leading lady’s situation would be, in the school – there are even twists about her life there, and the supernatural only comes later.

Positives and negatives :: The Rings creature feeling is there for sure, as if to provide something like a repetition, for that is one demonic presence which everyone has liked for a long time. There were also so many more possibilities for the incidents of the movie to progress, and it could have used better clarity at some parts. The ending could have also been more direct. There are moments when it makes us feel that this is going to be like The Visit, but it is surely not going that way. Also, the movie’s drama feels a lot like Indian films at times, and therefore, it is more relatable to our audience. The ghost here more like the past which continues to haunt us, reminding us of a few dialogues in Crimson Peak. The idea of the ghost trying to tell the truth, or rather the whole truth is not something new, but this one takes different steps towards it. The way in which this movie changes your expectations in between, is also notable. There is no early clue about what we have in the end, for the twists work in that way, and make this one effective.

Performers of the soul :: Among the performers, it is Sutatta Udomsilp who stands the strongest, as the elder grandchild and sister who has to stay strong in the absence of her mother. She reflects a number of scream queens which we have seen in Hollywood movies, and still has a lovely touch of divergence that relates her to horror movie stars of Bollywood too. She expresses herself incredibly well throughout the different events, from the emotional ones to the scary ones. Nicole Theriault has only the first few minutes as the mother, as she gets to face the car accident too soon, waking up much late. Mac Nattapat Nimjirawat plays the young brother figure who is weakened, pretty well. Sompob Benjathikul plays the grandfather figure with a lot of strength, while Tarika Tidatid fits into the grandmother role with ease. Sadanont Durongkaweroj plays the usual creepy boy who reminds one of the Drishyam boy who got buried under the police station, after capturing the video of the showering girl. Thasorn Klinnium, who is only there for a few minutes, also has her contribution.

How it finishes :: The Whole Truth is the first Thai movie at Movies of the Soul, and it did come late, when we look at the foreign language movies at the website. Even though there have been many movies which came close to becoming the first, this one finally made it way here through Netflix. It is rather surprising that we have already had Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian movies here to add to a South East Asian list, there hasn’t been any from Thailand. This movie changes that in style. Movies like Furie, Impetigore, The Wandering Earth and Train to Busan were all movies which had something special in their own ways, coming from different countries and languages. The Whole Truth proved to be a fine example with which to start Thai films. When we had visited Pattaya and Bangkok, we did really want to watch a movie or two, but that didn’t happen because of the busy schedule of the trips. At least, that desire is fulfilled for now. As we go through the beginning of the new year, let us hope that more wishes can be fulfilled in 2022.

Release date: 2nd December 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Wisit Sasanatieng
Starring: Sutatta Udomsilp, Tarika Tidatid, Sompob Benjathikul, Sadanont Durongkaweroj, Steven Isarapong, Thasorn Klinnium, Mac Nattapat Nimjirawat, Keetapat Pongrue, Nicole Theriault

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fear Street: 1666

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: What about the portal to different dimensions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<<< Click here to go to the first Fear Street movie.

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Girl

Vampire Owl: I can feel the presence of something divergent here.

Vampire Bat: The divergence of humans are mostly foolish though.

Vampire Owl: The foolishness of humanity has brought the world to this situation.

Vampire Bat: And also their greed and hatred which know no bounds.

Vampire Owl: Can we trust the humans related to anything?

Vampire Bat: About cheating and murdering others of their kind, for sure.

Vampire Owl: When was the last time you met a good human being?

Vampire Bat: They don’t really have angelic creatures out there.

Vampire Owl: Angels have become myths everywhere.

Vampire Bat: There are no myths that have not becoming reality at some point of time, at least in this particular realm.

[Gets a vegetable cutlet and three glasses of pista shake].

What is the movie about? :: A young lady known only by the name Girl (Bella Thorne) returns to her small hometown after a long time. She does have the feeling that something is not right there, and she actually came there with the intention of murdering her abusive father. He had earlier written a letter to her mother, threatening to kill the middle-aged lady, and Girl hopes to set things right, as she goes to the village with hatchet in her possession. Even though her mother knows the address of her father, she doesn’t give her the same, telling her that she doesn’t really need to know it. But that doesn’t stop Girl from looking for the person everywhere. She manages to keep a doubting sheriff away, and also keeps the people at a bar further away from her while finding the address of her father in the phonebook at the place. But, much to her shock, she finds her father already murdered. She tries to report the murder to the sheriff, but is able to connect nobody with her mobile phone. There seems to be no range more mobile phones anywhere in the small town out there.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: She is finally able to connect to her mother from the bar in the town, and inform her about the death – she only wishes her daughter to come back home, but Girl really wants to know who killed her father, as she considered it to be her duty to commit the murder. She continues to try and find the sheriff, but there is nothing good coming out of the same, as he never really appears anywhere, not in his office, bar or the church. When she finally finds the person, things are not like she had imagined. The death of her father has something more than what she thought, and there is a mystery related to the last letter which he had sent to her mother. There is a lot of money also related to the same. They tie her up and threaten to torture her until she reveals where the money is, but it turns out that she didn’t have any idea that there was any money involved with her parents. They wouldn’t believe the fact that she came there to kill her father, and has no idea about him having any money with him.

The defence of Girl :: There is a certain amount of deviation related to how things go on around here, and it is not your usual kind of film which has the female looking for vengeance for an abusive father for her mother, as it would feel in the beginning stages. There is more to the film than what meets the eye, and there are some twists in waiting here. We feel that there is something about Bella Thorne with a hatchet, and that suits an image like nothing else, even though there are not that many action scenes around here related to that. A determined lady with a hatchet in her hands can make you believe in the scope here. She is more or less like Jamie Bernadette in I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu, not with the particular details, but with the determination on her face. The atmosphere created by the small town is really good, even though we were always looking for more related to that. The film successfully brings the feeling of a hidden danger at parts of this particular world which is visually beautiful with scenery, but has more.

The claws of flaw :: The film here is just too slow to become a thriller, as picking up the pace seems to be difficult for the flick at all times. Even when there were many different chances to speed up at different intervals, the movie doesn’t really take them. Drama takes over the thrilling side at too many occasions, but on many occasions, we would have preferred it to be the other way around. Even with its twists, it takes some predictable turns in between, and that wouldn’t have been expected with a film like this. There could have been more action around here, with more fighting, chasing and maybe even more murders in the countryside, for the setting could have added to that well enough. This is the kind of a small, remote town which could have more secrets to reveal, and more mysteries to bring to light than this. The violence could have also been smarter, not with too much gore, but done in a balanced way, but here, it just goes off and misses out on scope.

Performers of the soul :: Bella Thorne is the Girl here, and without a name for her character, there is the feeling of something special being about her – she does the job really well here too. The determination and a certain about of fury that is within the character is nicely portrayed by her, and one would surely love to see her in a horror movie at some point of time. She excels at the simple fight scenes, with a hatchet in her hands, from the laundry to the final outdoor fights. The Girl portrayed here is surely different from anyone whom we have seen in a leading role, looking at the past. She gets mystery unveiled all by herself, and Bella Thorne proves to be brilliant in what she does here. Chad Faust and Mickey Rourke makes pretty good villains out here, but they are not used to be the best advantage, as we see a lot more of scope related to them, with chances of being terrifying menace being laid down there. Elizabeth Saunders has only a small appearance, while Lanette Ware is more memorable here. Glen Gould also leaves a little bit of something to remember.

How it finishes :: Girl can feel like a slow movie for many, as it does get into action late, and doesn’t speed up even when the twists and thrills come up, and yet, it is a pretty good drama and thrills mix which can be watched mostly due to Bella Thorne, the leading lady who has done a remarkable job. This is all about her, and we follow her into a world which is not that familiar, unless we are in a horror movie. Even though slow moving thrillers with elements of drama are not that preferred, we have had movies like Ivide and Ranam doing some good job here too. Movies like these are not to be avoided for their slower pace, but are to be appreciated for how well they have gone through the same, and managed to come out strong. You take the French thriller The Swarm, Norwegian thriller Lake of Death or the Spanish thriller The Paramedic – you see that they do their jobs, even at such slow pace. Well, we need our thrillers to go through all paths, especially the less traveled ones.

Release date: 20th November 2020
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Chad Faust
Starring: Bella Thorne, Chad Faust, Elizabeth Saunders, Lanette Ware, Mickey Rourke, Glen Gould

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Curse of Audrey Earnshaw

Vampire Owl: I think that I have met this girl before.

Vampire Bat: No, she is not the witch who cursed you last year.

Vampire Owl: How can you be so sure? She had the same expressions.

Vampire Bat: The witches can be confusing with their looks.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that they alter their appearances very often.

Vampire Bat: Yes, many more times than we do in a human city.

Vampire Owl: Yet, we can see through them, can’t we?

Vampire Bat: We are not immune to all kinds of magic.

Vampire Owl: We are still immune to dark magic.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but not all kind of dark magic. Some witches practice the darkest of magic, and we are often not strong enough to resist the same.

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

What is the movie about? :: During the times when there were more and more settlements in North America, a group of families decided to separate from the Church of England, leading to the establishment of an isolated settlement, further away from the rest in the continent. Years passed, the the World Wars broke out, and science had the advantage over religion, with unrestricted expansions, but the villagers of this particular settlement kept their old ways of life alive. Later, in the year 1956, a strange phenomenon, which came to be known as the eclipse, a kind of pestilence spread throughout the settlement and its surroundings, poisoning the land and also corrupting the livestock. The only exception was the land belonging to one woman, Agatha Earnshaw (Catherine Walker), and he was suspected of heresy. She also gave birth to a girl child during the eclipse, but kept the child as a secret from the villagers who kept looking at her with suspecting eyes.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The community has kept struggling without hope, and with a feeling that God abandoned them, and that there is no future for them, as the time shifts the 1973 – not many things have changed for this particular village far away from civilization. Agatha continues to live separated from everyone with her daughter who has now grown up, and yet remains hidden from the eyes of others. She tells Audrey that anyone who tries to come to their place is a villain, and that everyone in the village wishes to steal young girls like her. The villagers continue to despise her as she still has a great harvest all for herself, and is not ready to help even those who have been starving for days and close to death. Colm Dwyer (Jared Abrahamson) and Hannah Bridget Dwyer (Emily Anderson) are further angry about her as they lost their child for some illness, and lack of food comes naturally with the life. Everyone knows that there is a curse going on, and soon, they will have to take another step to change their lives.

The defence of The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw :: The film thrives on its atmosphere, which has so much in store with a setting which is established nicely with an initial writing about the premise – the first scene surely sets the mood, and the visuals nicely contributes to the same, as it does raise our expectations by quite some distance. If the story could have explained all the happenings better, the atmosphere could have elevated this one in the blink of an eye. There is the presence of blood and gore, but the same is not that much justified as we look at them. The main character does have the looks which are required, and there is always the feeling of having more than what meets the eye soon enough. We have seen films like The Witch, and so we are expecting something similar around here too, as the evil creatures of the night, from vampires and werewolves to zombies and demons, we are also interested in the witches to make the horror runs strong into a world of escapism that we always need.

The claws of flaw :: The real-life curse for the movie lies in the ending here. It doesn’t seem to know how to finish everything after building up all these. Running towards confusion is not what one would want with a film like this one. Finally, you are wondering what has actually happened, and there is always something wrong with the titular character, and it is not just the usual kind of wrong, but more, in a complicated manner. The movie is also really slow, and in between, there are scenes which don’t seem to make much of a sense, and we are always looking for some big terrifying sequence with sorcery to happen, but that is not there to be taken. There are no real witch-like gathering or frightening events happening in there, and due to the same, the movie has less strength as a horror movie, as it focuses on being a slow thriller. There were so many paths for this movie to follow, and none of them are taken, which brings some disappointment around here, as we don’t really get what we were expecting at all.

Performers of the soul :: Jessica Reynolds as Audrey Earnshaw is the young lady who is the reason for almost everything around here to happen – she has that kind of a look which would serve a witch, supported by the expressions and even movements. She has taken on the character which is a little bit too complex and strange, but managed to work with that well enough. She also has that stare that a witch would require, and her violence is unparalleled just like her curses. Catherine Walker as Agatha Earnshaw plays the mother, and she also remains as strange she can get, staying close to the character with the possible mysteries. Jared Abrahamson plays the role which is closest to a leading man, but he doesn’t really get much of a screen space either. Hannah Emily Anderson plays his wife, and that is done pretty well too. Sean McGinley adds well to the characters of interest in the movie, and so does Don McKellar, and later Geraldine O’Rawe. There are others who are just part of the world, and has something or the other to do at some occasions.

How it finishes :: There have always been something about the tales of witches in worlds created in any village far away from civilization, and with strange curses being felt all around. This one is no exception, even though it doesn’t make the best use of its resources, not living up to the strength that it displays in the beginning, and progressing to the end without enough of the explanations. You know that this movie was capable for much more, but we take this dark and disturbing story as it is, and enjoy is as much as we can, without that much expectations in horror. These movies serve as a reminder to how the world of strange beliefs have been, and how we have not become better people with science taking over – we are just the same if not worse, even without the supernatural, evil, distrustful and full of hate. We all have the devil in more people these days, and humanity’s lack of conscience has made the present world a worse place to live in than those days when people at least feared and revered God. Beware of the people around you more than the witches.

Release date: 2nd October 2020
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Thomas Robert Lee
Starring: Catherine Walker, Jessica Reynolds, Jared Abrahamson, Sean McGinley, Geraldine O’Rawe, Don McKellar

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bali

Vampire Owl: I have heard that there is always a perfect time to begin something.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is time, and this will be the first Marathi film to be reviewed here.

Vampire Owl: Where does that leave us with the different language films being reviewed?

Vampire Bat: That would have us with more films than we had expected in the beginning of the year.

Vampire Owl: When they make a film with the name Bali, that is quite nostalgic, isn’t it?

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that Bali is open for international tourists yet.

Vampire Owl: Well, vampires are never international tourists.

Vampire Bat: We do come from a different realm, and so we are international.

Vampire Owl: So, we do have our own passports? I have never come across one.

Vampire Bat: Just use your fangs to make it work as required.

[Gets some banana chips and three glasses of chocolate shake].

What is the movie about? :: Shrikant Sathe (Swapnil Joshi), a widowed father is living his usual happy life as a happy single father with his only son Mandar Sathe (Abhishek Bachankar) who is a lot into playing cricket at school, and the father is completely in support of whatever he does. The father-son bond goes quite deep, and they are more or less like friends. Mandar also prefers to have his father with him all the time rather than his friends. When the seven year old boy faints during a cricket match, and is taken to hospital for a detailed diagnosis, things change. The two are referred to another hospital which has all the required facilities, and has a famous specialized department for children. They have an appointment with Radhika Shenoy (Pooja Sawant) who asks them to go for some more tests to make sure that there is no serious problem due to him having continuous breathing problems. Radhika feels that nothing could be wrong with the boy who looks alright, and the tests are just precaution.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Mandar meets a boy who is admitted in the hospital due to cancer, and is going through terrible pain in the stomach. They become good friends in a short period of time, and leaves the hospital’s main area to go to the deserted part of the hospital which is undergoing a certain amount of maintenance. They were supposed to play cricket and also meet the nurse whom the boy considered to be his mother, Elizabeth D’Souza (Shraddha Kaul). Soon, the boy is taken into a room in the abandoned area, and is found dead with many wounds and bruises on his body, and the doctors consider him to have fallen down and hurt. As he is admitted in the hospital as a result of seeing the dead boy in the operation theatre, Mandar starts talking to the mysterious nurse, and he also considers her as a mother-like figure whom he can contact at any point of time with a mobile which he discovers in the room. It turns out that there is something about the entity known as Elizabeth which the hospital hiding. Who is she, and what does she want?

The defence of Bali :: The film has just enough scares out here, and there is also one fine mystery to go with the same. There are also some nice twists around here to go with the horror. The background to the ghostly figure, even though becomes predictable at times, is nicely created with those twists added. The final moments’ twist is indeed a nice one, and the way it is presented is also nice. The movie also talks about a few things which have the possibility of happening in the medical field, and it does serve as a warning about the same, as greed for money is something which has taken over both the medical and educational field. Even though the latter can have other options, we are always tied to the requirements for medical treatment, and these types of revelations are often the need for the time, even though there is only a rare chance of the same happening. It never hurts to be warned about the terrible possibilities, and you know that the world around you doesn’t work on righteous, but on selfish requirements of money and fame.

The claws of flaw :: The name of the movie did give me a confusion, as I felt that there was something about the place in Indonesia, and maybe this film is about the place – obviously not knowing the language has its own confusion for us who are watching such films due to the release happening in Amazon Prime Video. It could have surely included more horror, and with the building being such a fine location and having the perfect atmosphere, it could have used the same to the best advantage. The message could have also been made more loud, and the background story could have had a longer time spent on the screen. The film also takes some time to get us interested enough, as the entity is often avoided rather than being scared of. Some of the moments here could have been straight to the point, and as far as ghosts are concerned, the one here could have surely had more here with its existence in the abandoned building. The ending can also feel to be a little bit rushed, instead of raising the level there.

Performers of the soul :: Swapnil Joshi plays the concerned father very well, and Abhishek Bachankar plays the child nicely, getting into the bond in a fine manner. The leading actor is the one who has to do all the work while dealing with the spirit, and in doing the same, he is surely at a fine level. In the end, it is Pooja Sawant who gains all the attention, as she plays a character who has her own secrets, and there is more to her than what is seen in the early stages of the film. Both the male and female lead are not those whom most of us who haven’t watched a Marathi movie are not familiar with, but we would love to see them in movies of other languages too. Rohit Kokate who plays another doctor has also done some solid work in support. It is difficult to connect the performers with roles for us, because enough information is not available anywhere, and we are not aware of the Marathi film industry. Yet, it can be safely said that the movie has pretty good performances from almost everyone, and this is a job well done in that case.

How it finishes :: Coming from the same director who came up with Chhorii, the film which had different ideas about horror, this one also has us interested early enough. Horror in India has always been struggling with its limitations, but this one has managed to rise over the same, and has even come up with a message, which reminds one of the Malayalam film, Joseph. This one has the eyes of horror set in the medical field, and a certain amount of greed and pride that takes the central stage in those private hospitals which are always looking for money and reputation to be at the top. Further talk about the same would reveal a little bit too much about the story and the twists which it is supposed to take, and therefore it is up to you to watch this one and understand more about it. After all, horror at a hospital can bring more than what meets the eye for us, and the spirits that live in any medical centre can be of further interest.

Release date: 9th December 2021
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Vishal Furia
Starring: Swapnil Joshi, Pooja Sawant, Pritam Kagne, Samarth Jadhav, Rohit Kokate, Sanjay Ranadive, Shraddha Kaul, Abhishek Bachankar, Mahesh Bodas

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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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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Closet

Vampire Owl: I would have suggested another name for this film.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the title justifies well enough though.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the horror effect is certainly not there in the title.

Vampire Bat: What else do you expect from a title?

Vampire Owl: Much deeper horror to attract people towards the film.

Vampire Bat: It could be named after humans then.

Vampire Owl: Humanity is too much of evil. Let us leave them with their own evil.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is strange that they are scared of ghosts.

Vampire Owl: Is it supposed to be natural?

Vampire Bat: Well, they are ghosts of humans. As they die and continue to be evil at the same level, there is more terror.

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

What is the movie all about? :: Sang-won (Ha Jung-woo) doesn’t have a happy relationship with anyone including his daughter Yi Na (Yool Heo) after a car accident which caused the death of her wife. They move to a new house which is located in the countryside with not much of civilization nearby, and he is also not able to find a nanny for his daughter. He has to work at a construction site, and has to leave home soon enough. At the same time, it seems that his daughter has found a new friend in the new place, but the person is not human, and neither is the doll that she found in there. As Sang-won is taking a lot of medicines to keep himself going, and has his own dose of hallucinations, he is not able to differentiate between reality and what he is dreaming about.
There is also something about the closet in the old house where they are staying, and it has a lot of things which the earlier residents had left behind, with that doll also coming from there.

So, what happens next in this tale of horror ? :: Yi Na still seems to be happier than before at the new house. But one morning, Sang-won finds out that her room is all messed up and she seems to have brutally murdered a bird. Things only get stranger with the child, but he has to work as usual. There is certainly something supernatural about the house, especially the closet, but Sang-won feels that it is part of his hallucinations and nightmares which have been quite common, and had gotten only worse at the new place. The nanny does arrive at the house, but despite charging a lot for her work, she is not that fond of the child who is also not happy with the circumstances. Soon enough, the nanny just wants to run away. When Sang-won returns home, he is not able to find the child, and blames the nanny. But the police finds nothing to point such a crime on her. He keeps looking for the child with the help of the police department, but for months, he is not able to find any clue. None of the cameras on the road had shown the child going outside either. Now, one can only wonder where she had gone.

The defence of The Closet :: The movie does take the idea of the haunted house pretty well, especially with the more haunted closet at the core of everything. The child does take on the transformation very well, and the other demon children who come later are effective in creating the new world of horror. There is one particular scene with the child demons everywhere that seems to be nicely planned. You cannot be without fear for the child demons, for the inherent evil of the children are often more powerful than one can imagine. We know the idea that William Golding brought with Lord of the Flies, and that is indeed a scary thing even for the realm of the ghosts, as there is no limit to what pure evil can do. The visuals are really good, as we look at them – there is always beauty as well as creepiness which are displayed so well. The atmosphere with a certain amount of melancholy works without fail. You can say that with a possible sequel, there can be a horror myth developed for further progress.

The claws of flaw :: There was always scope for The Closet to do more and also better, but it often hesitates to take that opportunity to rise further. It doesn’t use the terror elements to the best advantage in the beginning stages, as the haunting could have gotten much scarier with better usage of the elements and effects. The terror is often limited to the closet as well as the room which contains it, and even then, it could have been scarier with the content. There is always something more to be done with such a setting taking over. Korean films have been in the front to bring the innovation, but it is not so in this case, as it doesn’t become the memorable one. There are the usual flawed decisions that the main characters make, and you know that this could always be creepier, especially with the premise. The film does makes one wonder why the industry is not coming up with one special film that could make all the difference in a world of weakening horror genre.

Performers of the soul :: The movie is not that much dependent on the performances, as there are only three characters who are of importance, and it is the supernatural that dictates the performances more than anything else. Ha Jung-woo does play the father figure very well, and we have seen fathers losing children to demons or ghosts very often, like in the case of Don’t Listen which had a similar father figure in a haunted house in the middle of nowhere. Here, we have a much controlled performance in comparison, and that works well enough. Kim-Nam-gil does make a smooth entrance as an exorcist of another kind, even though it is also a reminder of other films which we have watched before, for there is always something coming together as the common thing in the end. Heo-Yool becomes the terrifying child after becoming the sad and depressed child of melancholy in the earlier stages. The other characters, as one would expect, become people of not much importance here. It could have used a past with more characters effectively though.

How it finishes :: We have come across many Korean horror films, and while The Closet adds to that grand list, it is certainly not the kind of movie that has the strength to stand apart and make an impact enough to keep it strong at all times. It is surely effective enough as a horror film, but not that much as one would expect it to be, especially during a time that the supernatural needs to have more power within itself to rise about the Corona virus fear as well as the human terror that has risen above everything else. Nowadays, humanity has always been more terrifying than any ghost that the world has ever seen in the history of spirits, magic and witchcraft. After we are done with the evil that humanity has provided, we can look out for these movies which work well enough with its horror, but often not enough for people who have been troubled by the unparalleled evil which humans have unleashed on this world for their selfishness and to keep the level of hatred high. We know how humans treat the other, we really do.

Release date: 5th February 2021
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Kim Kwang-bin
Starring: Ha Jung-woo, Kim Nam-gil, Heo Yool, Kim Shi-A, Shin Hyun-bin, Kim Soo-jin, Park Sung-woong, Park Ji-a, Lim Hyun-sung, Kang Sin-cheol,bHan Chang-min

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@ 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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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Don’t Listen

Vampire Owl: We, vampires don’t really need to listen because we know.

Vampire Bat: Still, we don’t know everything.

Vampire Owl: I know almost everything, and I am sure about that.

Vampire Bat: Your certainty of knowledge only creates doubts.

Vampire Owl: My doubts are the results of me knowing, and nothing more.

Vampire Bat: You should at least listen to Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Owl: Uncle Dracula is no longer a proper source of knowledge.

Vampire Bat: I feel that you are thinking about starting a revolution.

Vampire Owl: Nonsense. I am not a revolutionary. I am beyond that.

Vampire Bat: Okay, let us see how far you can take that.

[Gets a vanilla chake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Daniel (Rodolfo Sancho) and Sara (Belen Fabra) moves into a new house with their son Eric (Lucas Blas), and hopes that they would have a happy time there, as it is a big house in the beautiful countryside. But things don’t turn out to be that good as they had expected. In this old house in a rural setting, they are not longer happy. Daniel and Sara still plans to restore and sell the house, and they don’t care much about the voices which Erice talks about, and the fact that he cannot sleep much either. Soon, a psychiatrist who comes to help Eric dies, seemingly in the same way as Eric was drawing. Eric also had the feeling that the voices were making him draw things. The boy continues to make problems at the school too, and keeps waking up at night, screaming aloud. The problems continue in the house with further weird occurrences, and soon Eric is found dead in a swimming pool just outside the house on a strange night. This separates the two who can no longer handle the pain of losing the child.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sara is not able to handle it anymore and moves to her parents’ place, but Daniel decides to stay in the house and renovate it to sell it some day. Sara hopes that he will leave the house with terrible memories and follow her back to the city soon enough. That night, when he records a voice message and sends it to Sara, there are many voices in it. Right in there, he hears the voice of Eric, asking for his help. The same frightens him and he meets a supernatural investigator specialized in electronic voice with a paranormal touch. He is the one who is supposed to have gone through so many of similar paranormal events and have written books related to the same. Even though he is reluctant to believe the depressed father in the beginning, he finally decides to have a look, and travels to the place with his daughter, hoping to find something. Everything seems normal from a distance, but as they go inside, there are a few things that need to be taken care of.

The defence of Don’t Listen :: The atmosphere is well created for the movie, with everything happening in a house in the middle of nowhere. This is a house with a past, and it is located perfectly away from civilization for the people other world to make an appearance. Visually, it has a fine score, and it also scores well with the sound effects that asserts the supernatural presence strongly. The movie had also got into action quite early. It does have its scares, and there are some effective ones around here that does have the repetitive elements, but do work as we would have wanted it to. There are some interesting moments in the end, and there is a twist to go with it too. The haunting of this particular house and the people associated with it does have a different touch at times, along with the added history. It is to be noted that the movie has managed to achieve most of its positive things without using much of the gory elements, and with a simple tale. You have watched Hollywood do this before, and now we have the same in Spanish.

The claws of flaw :: This is another movie which reminds us of the usual horror films of Hollywood, even though not exactly the same as The Conjuring, The Nun, Annabelle, Sinister or Insidious – the common ones of our times which people try to watch all the time. It doesn’t move that much away from the usual path here too. The ideas of witchcraft and possession could have been much stronger here. The tale could have been twisted at many points, but they go for the safe background story yet again. The film is also slow in parts, and when there were so many opportunities to minimize such problems, it doesn’t make the best use of them. There were moments of horror which could have been better used, and the atmosphere could have been heavily worked on. After all, we have gone through so much of horror already, and there are enough resources to elevate the level of horror. Without thinking enough about the same, a horror film is more of a work of mystery, and that is the pothole where the movie almost fell during an earlier point.

Performers of the soul :: Rodolfo Sancho plays the father figure, and the one who is looking to get his son back in whatever way possible – the good father is played well, and he goes through the horror elements well too. The final moments have him at his best too. Belen Fabra plays the mother with less to do, but the two make the family well enough. Ana Fernandez is the one who catches our attention the most though, and she also plays the smarter character around there. She takes on the supernatural rather sensibly, and there is the bond with the father that runs through. She should give a try with Hollywood horror too. Ramon Barea is more or less the usual paranormal activist that we see around, and he suits the role very well – very much with experience. The kid has very less to do in comparison, as death comes rather too fast for him. As it is in most of the horror films, it is the demonic presence that maintains the scary work.

How it finishes :: Don’t Listen makes an attempt at the usual horror, with some differences which comes with the “voice” idea. One would have wished for it to bring more horror, but it does have some fine points. We do need our horror movies at regular intervals. It is good enough to watch one more horror film, while waiting for Ezra to be remade for Bollywood. We cannot be sure about that remake’s quality, but from the trailer, it is certain that it is done well enough. Corona virus pandemic has unleashed a different kind of horror into our world, and the usual horror is currently of lesser significance, but we await the return of the monsters of the night, as well as the demons which are part of our life. As we are certain that they will slowly and steadily return to haunt us, Don’t Listen is a pretty good reminder that we can go back to that at some point. Until we get to that particular horror, let us be safe from the present terror, the COVID-19 pandemic. We do have too many horror movies to watch in our short life time.

Release date: 24th July 2020
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Angel Gomez Hernandez
Starring: Rodolfo Sancho, Ana Fernandez, Ramon Barea, Bethlehem Fabra, Lucas de Blas, Nerea Barros, Javier Botet , Viti Suarez, Ruben Corvo, Jorge Oubel, Peter van randen

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@ 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.

Meander

Vampire Owl: I remember having met an elf with a similar name.

Vampire Bat: Well, this is certainly not a fantasy movie.

Vampire Owl: Elves are as real as we are. None of us are fantasy.

Vampire Bat: Well, for humans, we are all fantasy elements.

Vampire Owl: The girl on the poster does look very much real.

Vampire Bat: You surely cannot say the same about her surroundings.

Vampire Owl: The poster here doesn’t seems to mean anything.

Vampire Bat: It could be a reflection of the useless lives that the humans lead.

Vampire Owl: Well, with the terrible mindset that they have, what else can they do?

Vampire Bat: They could always choose to be extinct and save the planet and the other life forms that live without hate.

[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Lisa (Gaia Weiss) who works as a waiter is seen lying in the middle of a road in the countryside until a car arrives from a distance. She starts walking, but the man in the car, Adam (Peter Franzen) who works as a night watchman offers her a lift, as there is nobody nearby, and there is no hope of finding civilization soon enough. They seem to get along well enough, and Lisa is disappointed about her daughter’s death – she realizes that the girl would have been nine years old on that day if she was alive. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through her, and she hopes that she could die one day and unite with he daughter again. It is then that it turns out that the man who is with her is a murderer, and the police is in search of him, as she realizes the same from the news on the radio. But the realization comes a little late, as he slams her head against the dashboard of the car, leaving her motionless.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Lisa wakes up in a small room which seems to have no way out. She is clothed in a strange suit which tightly fits her body, and a strange light-emitting device is attached to her wrist. Later, a door on the side opens and reveals a narrow tunnel through which she crawls with great difficulty, and the door closes right behind her, leaving her trapped inside on her all fours. She has no option, but to continue crawling, trying to find and exit which could lead her to freedom. The device on her wrist also seems to have a timer and alarm, as it seems to remind her of time running out, as she has to go squeeze through extremely narrow passages, as she moved towards light. As the roof of the tunnel comes down, almost catching her buttocks stuck within, that would be only the first of the challenges that she would have to overcome, soon to be followed by a rotten body, water, acid and others.

The defence of Meander :: Almost whole of the movie has just one setting around here, and it has also dealt with the same effectively. There are some fine traps in here, and the more terrifying thing is that they are all within a crawlspace, with the chance of escape being really minute – I wouldn’t give most of us any chance with this, but we root for the lady in distress here, as we are more confident about her getting through, even though not as much as Prince of Persia or Tomb Raider would. Here, in between, we come to know that there is more to all of these than what meets the eye, and that there is something beyond our comprehension, most probably supernatural or paranormal at work. The same is revealed in the end, and it means that we have further scope for a sequel here. After all, this kind of a premise, like that of Prometheus and Alien Covenant, even though lesser in grandeur, can have many different paths to follow. The mysterious feeling never really leaves us.

The claws of flaw :: Meander is surely not the usual kind of a movie, and it goes divergent from even any other possible film who can deal with a similar circumstance. It doesn’t have much more than what it provides here, and leaves us with minimal settings. People who don’t wish to see one person trying to fight it all to make the way out of a long crawlspace won’t find this one to be of their type. Even though this is supposed to be science fiction, the same type of elements show less of a presence around here. We also feel that this could have been better, more direct in what it does, because you know how these have worked really well with the video games. There could have been direct ideas provided here, and even though there could be symbolism being connected here, there is not much that we can use directly. We do have many films with one actor getting all the focus, and others being almost absent – Sunny is a recent example, and this one could have done more with the one character other than the trap escape acts.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has only two actors, and it is more or less about Gaia Weiss, who is there for the whole of the movie, and works through it very all, as her character keeps trying to survive against all odds. She nicely fits in here, and one would feel that if there is a full action film coming soon, she could be right in there, doing a great job. She plays the character that has do the impossible, and she does some fantastic work as the one person who goes through all of these. To add to it, there is also an emotional side to her character, which is also portrayed well. Peter Franzen also has some work to do, but he has a very less time on the screen. Basically, we can say that everything is left to Gaia, and she becomes the sole pillar on which the movie depends on, as far as performances are concerned. She never looks like she is going to lag with that much of a weight on her. Not many people could have handled the same so well too.

How it finishes :: Meander makes a fine French movie that has different elements coming together even with almost everything set in one particular place. It is all about survival, set in a seemingly difficult situation, much scarier than The Shallows where we know the enemy, and much hopeless than The Platform in which there was at least the certainty of food and a possible companionship. Unlike the rest which has some hope for its protagonists, this one is at an advanced level of leaving almost no chance to survive, like a hopeless level of The Maze Runner. As a film which gives you claustrophobia, this one is surely an experiment which you might want to remember for long. As the lady moves through this particular crawlspace world, you are into some slow and effective moments of thrills, unlike the ones that we usually see elsewhere. It is that tale of survival which once again has the protagonist fighting against all odds, and we are all hoping for her to survive.

Release date: 11th October 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Mathieu Turi
Starring: Gaia Weiss, Peter Franzen

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

<— Click here to go to the first French film review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.