John Luther

Vampire Owl: It has been 826 days. That is a long time.

Vampire Bat: 826 days after watching a movie in the theatre, and now we are back.

Vampire Owl: The OTT life was quite long during that time, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, mostly of Prime Video and Netflix, and then others.

Vampire Owl: The last one we watched was Forensic.

Vampire Bat: That was a good end to the sequence before corona virus.

Vampire Owl: Well, we remain the same even now.

Vampire Bat: We continue to live in a world without hope.

Vampire Owl: There is no movie that can be close to the reality of hopelessness.

Vampire Bat: Well, we will watch this movie for now, and think about the meaninglessness of a hopeless life later.

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

What is the movie about? :: Circle Inspector John Luther (Jayasurya) of Devikulam police station is someone who is very much committed to his duty. He is fully supported by Sub Inspector Felix Joy (Deepak Parambol) who also spends a lot of time dedicated to duty. The absense of John during the major programmes at his home has his wife Jessy (Athmeeya Rajan) and sister Leena (Drishya Raghunath) in sadness, and his parents (Siddique and Sreelakshmi) in disappointment. On the night before his sister’s engagement, John finds him in trouble due to two cases. The first one is related to a political murder and the second one is a man-missing case following an accident which kills another person. The first case leads to John getting physical with the goons and ends up getting smashed on the head with a tube-light, which leads to him going deaf on one year, and requiring to use hearing aid on the other. But with a boy also found to be missing, he has to get back to the case and solve it within a deadline of two weeks.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He discovers that the two missing cases have no relation with each other, and there is soon a woman that goes missing. The death in the first accident, and the missing person of the same accident seem to have no common person behind them. Their only clue is a pickup truck which doesn’t have the registration number displayed on one side, which makes it very difficult for them to go forward. All of these incidents have happened in a certain area which doesn’t seem to have many people around. As this takes place in the high-ranges between the tea plantations, there seems to be a shortage of CCTV cameras too. But they hope that there could be that one witness who might have seen one of these victims just before or after being taken away by the criminal. Still, it is to be noted that the man who is behind all of these can’t be a common criminal – there might be a lot more to him. John and Felix have to be very careful in this case. Can they find out the mastermind before there are more victims?

The defence of John Luther :: As far as the thrills are concerned, they are here to stay with this particular movie. There is the grand mystery running through the middle, which never losses strength. The suspense could be maintained, and it keeps us guessing. There are red herrings which almost makes us think the other way. The quality that we see on the big screen is too good – the beauty of visuals is always there, whether it is about the long shots of the enchanting Munnar and Cochin or the classic shots of night with danger lurking in the corners. The final moments have us more in fear than anything else, as the villain is revealed, but not with further twists. The songs are interesting, and they support the happenings of the movie well. The background score is effective, and the use of sound effects to support the proceedings also need to be appreciated. The darkness in a very good ally for this particular movie, as much as the different noises used around here – the scene at the beginning is a nice example of the same.

Positives and negatives :: One would be right to find some cliches here, but we have always required most of them to keep the cinematic world moving forward with strength. The movie could have given more significant chances to its female main leads to perform, as they are pushed to the background rather too early. There is a little bit of horror touch to the movie at times, and that could have worked even better if the elements were introduced much earlier. The movie is a reminder to us that any person among us could be a psycho killer, and idea that could save lives – well, those who enjoy when we fall are no less of such killers either. After all, all human beings are born evil, and this film once again shows how effective in evil they can be, especially when they feel that they are done with the society. We blame the evil spirits and demons, and maybe even categorize vampires as pure evil, but humans have always been the root of all evil. The dark world of the investigation in this movie also points towards the same, and we can’t agree less.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya is someone who performed all alone in Sunny last year, and this time, he gets a fine team, and we have him with a fine performance here. We believed that he was indeed the actor to be trusted while booking a movie ticket after such a long time, and also at Lulu Mall; quite an expensive one in this case. One would think that after watching so many films in the theatre from 2013 to 2020 until corona virus brought the trouble, the celebrities will be supporting this blog, but that is wrong, because only a very few of my reviews like Meppadiyan and Luca have been shared by the leading actors of respective films. Anyway, coming back to Jayasurya, he looks and performs like the dedicated actor that he always has been. From the perfect police officer to the flawed one like we see in Memories, he is to be appreciated for how well he has brought the quality in here. It is to be noted that Deepak Parambol also brings some fine support in here, as the police officer who is not left far behind, but stays beside the main character. Athmiya Rajan and Drishya Raghunath are lovely, but has less screen time. The villain is really good, but can’t reveal more about him due to spoiler possibilities.

How it finishes :: You always have time to support a dark mystery thriller placed on an investigation. We did welcome movies like Anjaam Pathira, Antakshari and Forensic with much appreciation. Like the latter movie, this one also keeps its killer as the psycho and not a revenge seeker, which lets it have the advantage over the rest of the similar movies which attempt to turn themselves into random movies of vengeance. The time it takes to come to the final villain also needs to be appreciated, as the suspense is successfully maintained until then. This is also the first movie I have watched in the theatre after 826 – the last one was Forensic just before corona virus had made that big run. It is always good to watch thrillers as much as horror movies, as we are better prepared to face all the evil in the world after watching these movies, and we know when to be ready, and when to give up and just die. After all, evil is too natural for humans, and there is always someone trying to lie, cheat and steal, as well as murder us, or make our life a living hell; its in human nature.

Release date: 27th May 2021
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Abhijith Joseph
Starring: Jayasurya, Athmeeya Rajan, Drishya Raghunath, Siddique, Deepak Parambol, Sivadas Kannur, Pramod Velliyanad, Sreelakshmi

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Black Island

Vampire Owl: Are we talking about the island near the Northern Witches territory?

Vampire Bat: That one is called the Dark Island of Magic.

Vampire Owl: Well, that depends on the translation.

Vampire Bat: Let the vampire elders deal with the translation of ancient languages.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein is good with languages.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr Frankenstein was talking about computer languages.

Vampire Owl: He has worked with the Northern Witches in relation to creating new magic potions through scientific experiments.

Vampire Bat: This is why I told you that he is a pseudo-scientist of no real value.

Vampire Owl: You should say the same thing when he wins the Vampire Nobel Prize,  and gets elected to the Vampire Science Academy.

Vampire Bat: There is no Vampire Nobel Prize for pure nonsense.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jonas Hansen (Philip Froissant) is an orphan who lives under the sponsorship of the last member of his family. He recently lost his grandmother to the attack of a dog on a beach, while his parents had died in a car crash caused by another driver, both incidents seemingly having something strange about it. Nina Cohrs (Mercedes Muller) who lives in the island is instantly attracted to Jonas, and they become good friends. Most of the girls of the island do have some attraction towards him. It is that kind of a place where there is not that much of a modernity – beautiful scenery seems to make the best out of tourism, but even then, not many tourists visit the area. The place doesn’t have a lot of things happening around there either, and it remains a place of serenity throughout the year. Helena Jung (Alice Dwyer) takes over the German classes in an island which is located far away from the mainland in Europe. She is the replacement for a teacher who just had an accident, and would take a lot of time to make a return.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The new teacher feels like someone whom everyone would like, and she remains friendly with almost every student. She asks the students to call her by her first name when they are not at the educational institution, or when nobody else is listening. She also shows great interest in making the students write poetry and improve their creative writing skills, and with the friendly attitude, becomes a favourite of almost all the students. Soon, Helena seems to get really close to Jonas, or rather too close for a teacher and student, while Nina maintains a certain amount of dislike for her. Nina’s suspicions are at place, but the relationship between the teacher and the student only becomes more intimate. There are too many secrets related to the new teacher, and any attempt to venture any deeper into it will put Nina in peril. But can she stay away from this mystery as she cares too much about Jonas? Will Jonas really understand what is going on here? What is the motive of Helena, and why would she choose to be in a remote island instead of the city from where she arrived?

The defence of Black Island :: The movie does work as a mystery thriller a few minutes into action itself. There is the eerie feeling that spreads through the movie especially due to the setting on an island which reminds one of that strange world surrounded by water shown in Sacrifice. The twists await us, and the movement forward, even though slow, is rather smooth. It also makes sure that there is no falling into that usual pit of nonsense with the relationship at the centre. The visuals are really good, as we are introduced into a world with natural beauty within, and surrounded by beaches and crystal clear ocean water, reminding us to go for a journey soon enough. Well, after that COVID-19 scenario, travel hasn’t really opened up for most of us, and it is nice to see this world of beauty at least on the screen. The atmosphere does suit the thirst for revenge, and we know that this kind of a world can have even a serial killer on the loose with maximum effect. There will be the moments to cherish right in between.

The claws of flaw :: This is not the kind of idea that one would need to appreciate for theme – elder teachers falling in love with too young a student is not something that should be encouraged, even with seemingly decent movies like Premam which would use pretensions to play with the minds of the unsuspecting people – as part of a plan of vengeance, that wouldn’t look that bad in this case; there is enough of a past around here. Still, the relationship should have looked more convincing, and the things around here looks rather too easy. These are the kind of things which are to be dealt with more intensity. The movie also kills off one of the most interesting characters in there rather too early. The investigation into all of these should have also been stronger, and people in this movie are not as smart as they should have been. The moments which are of importance here should have also been edited better, showing them as the parts which shouldn’t be missed. The movie could have also picked up pace too.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is mostly an Alice Dwyer work, with her as the centre of attraction. There are still moments when one would feel that she could have been completely into this case of revenge, but at times, she seems be not in focus at more than one thing. It could be more because of her character not being written with that vision that a revenge-seeker should have. A stronger character would have been better for our eyes and the rest of the senses. Yet, she maintains that mystery about her well, especially during the first half of the flick. Mercedes Muller plays a strong role, and she is lovely in her infatuation towards her long-time friend. She seems to be the one intelligent and determined person like nobody else in the movie, and she surely required a screen presence throughout the movie. Philip Froissant plays a usual character who surprisingly has too less to do other than listening to his teacher who became the lover and the friends around him – he is reduced into a person of not that much of importance. The other performers are of not that importance in this small world.

How it finishes :: I have come across some of the interesting German movies in the last few years, and they seem to keep a certain level with the thrillers. Whether it was Blood Red Sky, Freaks or Breakdown Forest, there is some attempt at thinking differently instead of going with the usual things. Well, horror movies and thrillers are the only things which seem to keep me going in this world of chaos and hopelessness. There has been the down-feeling which came with the Corona virus which doesn’t seem to leave, and it feels worse as we are going back to the society. Still, when we see the hatred that is seen in movies like these, we feel that this is real, a reflection of the society that we know, the one full of liars and cheaters. We have to accept horror as a normal part of life, more real than romance and drama which are considered too real. With some more focus, this movie could have done better, and as of now, it goes on as a thriller which also a work of drama and mystery that takes over on many occasions. The movie works better than what some of the reviews had talked about.

Release date: 18th August 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Miguel Alexandre
Starring: Jolene Andersen, Alice Dwyer, Susan Angelo, Hanns Zischler, Mercedes Muller, Jonas Hansen

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

<<< Click here to go to the first German film reviewed here.

<<< Click here to go to the first full-length German film reviewed here.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Raccoon City

Vampire Owl: We have all been the fans of Resident Evil franchise, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, the franchise about zombies coming over.

Vampire Owl: Well, these are surely not the zombies that we know well.

Vampire Bat: The zombies of science, not the kind of our realm.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that the zombies of science might be even stronger.

Vampire Bat: Yes, they have the technology to make zombies that strong.

Vampire Owl: Yet, they are will never be as strong as vampires.

Vampire Bat: But, you have never really battled a pure undead zombie.

Vampire Owl: The pure bloods have been dead and buried for centuries.

Vampire Bat: You don’t see them that often. They are like the vampire elders.

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

What is the movie about? :: Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) returns to Raccoon City in 1998, where she and her older brother Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell) lived in an orphanage there which was run by the Umbrella Corporation. William Birkin (Neal McDonough) who ran the institute was using the children for his experimental research at the Umbrella Corporation, and Claire had noted a disfigured little girl in particular. Claire has returned to the city to find her brother, but Raccoon City which used to be the home of the Umbrella Corporation, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company had turned into a ghost town with the company moving to a new location. Only a small crew of the last few employees remained there. As Claire returns by hitchhiking in a truck, which accidently hits a woman in the middle of the road. But as the two argue over what is to be done with the body, the woman stands up and disappears without a trace. The woman seems to be walking strange, as if affected by some strange disease, and the trucker’s dog does drink some of the blood on the road and begins to act strange and bites him later.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Leon S Kennedy (Avan Jogia), a Raccoon City Police Department rookie officer who just got there visits a diner and finds the waiter having blood coming out of her eyes. The waiter dismisses is as nothing of significance, and is also not ready to see a doctor. She finds her brother Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell), who is a member of the STARS Alpha Team along with Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen) and Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper). Claire feels that there is something wrong with the city, and asks Chris to get out of there, but he feels that he owes to the Umbrella Corporation which looked after him after she had run away. Claire tries to convince him that there are many theories about what is going to happen to the city which has been abandoned by the corporation on purpose, but there is nothing that can make him change his mind, as he is also not happy about her leaving her as a child. Chris leaves for the police station after an alarm is activated by the Umbrella Corporation.

And what more is to happen in this world of some strange chaos? :: Claire is attacked by a strange woman who keeps saying “Itchy Tasty”. She manages to keep her away and escape on Chris’ motorcycle. At the police station, it is said that an earlier team had gone missing while investigating the Spencer Mansion which was owned by the head of the Umbrella Corporation – it is investigated by the team led by Chris. At the same time, the truck driver who was bitten by his dog is transformed into a zombie, and crashes his truck in front of the police station, soon dying. As the police chief tries to escape, Leon remains the only person in charge of the police station – he would also be forced to return to the police station as there seems to be no way out of the city now, with Umbrella Corporation guards trying to keep the people inside and contain what seems to be an outbreak. There is the zombie dog of the trucker and many zombie-like people outside the police station, and there seems to be no way out of there of the police station now. With the mansion also overrun by zombies, the team also struggles to find a way out.

The defence of Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City :: I have always been happy about video games made into movies. As I was a gamer since my childhood, I would always feel some nostalgia when my favourite games of the past become movies of the present – it makes me go through the journey again. It is the same reason why I was only happy to hear about a reboot of this big franchise of adaptation. The movie does start well, and it does focus on Claire and Jill in the beginning itself – they are two of my favourite characters. There are some interesting shots of zombie attacks here, and a lot of shooting follows. There are some good-looking camera shots with the help of darkness, and some of the music also manages to come up with effectiveness, even though you know that there was the chance to do things better as we remember the original. The scope for a sequel is pretty much there too, but one might feel the need to add some more of interesting characters and have a better horde of zombies, as the audience has already seen so much. The performances are not that much, but fine.

The claws of flaw :: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is not that heavy in action in comparison to the original movie franchise or the games. It is also not that scary as the movie which started the movie adaptations with a similar setting. The waking up of Alice in the bath tub and the lift scene are only a few of them. That movie had a lot of stylish and iconic moments which we continue to remember. There were also some memorable dialogues to add to it. Even the costumes of the main characters lets the fans down up to an extent. Releasing so many years after the first movie, this one could have had better special effects. Some more innovation to the tale and its presentation could have suited the present scenario better. There is not enough strength in the attempts made around here. There are movies in the earlier series which are worse than this one, but for a reboot which had all the chances to start again in style, this one lags – remember that the games were the kind which kept us so much immersed in them. One really seems to lose the way so much while trying to make adaptations of video games.

How it finishes :: We have already watched so many movies of Resident Evil, and have played so many games in the franchise. The games have been integral part of our childhood, and still brings us the nostalgia about those which CDs which we received with the computer magazines – those were the demo versions of interest. If we go back to the first movie of a very long franchise, it was also something of a lot of interest – things started to change only with the third movie, as the second one had also continued the proceedings of the world really well. The earlier Resident Evil franchise starring Milla Jovovich was indeed something of interest, even though losing its way with the story at times – yet, we are happy to have a reboot which can also come up with some interesting titles as it progress. Well, we know that we are all standing close to a biohazard created by human manufactured viruses, and corona virus might only have been the tip of the huge iceberg. As we heard in that original movie long ago, everyone is going to die down here.

Release date: 24th November 2021
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell, Tom Hopper, Avan Jogia, Donal Logue, Neal McDonough

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Yara

Vampire Owl: Another Italian film? This is very soon.

Vampire Bat: Security was such a movie of higher class.

Vampire Owl: A Classic Horror Story was also a movie of class.

Vampire Bat: I am very much interested in investigations more.

Vampire Owl: Well, not all investigations work well enough.

Vampire Bat: Some can still be Memories or Cold Case.

Vampire Owl: And the others are just lost without any trace.

Vampire Bat: Some movies deserve to be lost completely.

Vampire Owl: Yet, some dumb mass masala movies become blockbusters of a life-time.

Vampire Bat: The dumb human fans. We don’t really need them to watch good movies. They are bloody disgrace to any civilized society.

[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: In 2010, a 13 year old Yara Gambirasio (Chiara Bono), who is trying to be a rhythmic gymnast goes missing, after leaving Brembate di Sopra Sport Centre alone. On that snowy evening, she doesn’t reach her home which is less than a kilometres away. As she doesn’t pick up her phone either, her mother Maura Gambirasio (Sandra Toffolatti) goes searching for her in and around the sport centre, but is able to find no trace, except for the fact that she had left at 6:30 itself. Her father Fulvio Gambirasio (Mario Pirrello) is quick to report to the police station. All attempts to find her seems to reach nowhere, as if she had vanished into thin air. The police is not able to find any clue, as the signal of the mobile phone can’t be tracked, and nobody seems to have seen her on the way. She was actually not at the sports centre for her usual training, but to leave a radio there for practice.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Her friends tell the police officers that she didn’t spend that much of time there, and didn’t even stay to talk. The officer in charge, Letizia Ruggeri (Isabella Ragonese) decides to go to any extent to find the killer, even though there is not enough proof available. Then there is a story about a pervert who might have been spying on the girls, and therefore all male visitors were banned, even from visiting the boys who were practicing there. The police dogs seem to be on to something, but with no result – the CCTV all around the area is no exception. The family of Yara is disheartened, especially her sister who was very close to her. The police wonders if the family made some enemies, but that also ends without any positive results. They find the dairy of Yara which has some usual details, and no clue to someone who might be looking forward to kidnap her. Yara was never involved in anything terrible, as she was the near perfect girl in her actions. The people at the school and neighbours were also very happy about her.

And where does these search procedures lead as time is running out? :: Yara might be the one person who had the least probability of getting kidnapped, and the search goes on. Later, her dead body is found in the middle of nowhere, in an advanced state of decay, as if it has been there since the time when the girl had gone missing. This makes the situation more serious. Her head and body has blows with some blunt instrument, and the attacks feel to be continuous. But there has been so sexual violence, and that baffles the investigators. Letizia feels that the man who did this was insecure, and they should continue to be afraid of him doing the same thing again and again, unless they catch him soon enough. They have the DNA of the man who is supposed to be the attacker, but will that be enough? How big should the database would be in that case, as almost everyone who were in that area in those days needs to tested? Are these investigators good enough to find the culprit even then, as it has been too long, and enough time was there for the person to escape?

The defence of Yara :: The movie has an interesting investigation going on throughout its run, and there is no place for anything else. It is directly into the same, and any other incident or unrelated character won’t matter around here. In doing the same, Isabella Ragonese is successful as she portrays the main character, but she is all about the investigation only, as we look at the character. Chiara Bono’s presence as the teenage victim is small, but remains likable. Those who play the parents of the child, Mario Pirrello and Sandra Toffolatti also come up with some good work. Those who are familiar with the real-life incident might find the movie to be a lot more interesting. The ability of the movie to never go over dramatic can be appreciated, but that leaves it without emotions. A killer without a motive like in Forensic is always better than the vengeful fool in Anjaam Pathira – this film also gets that right with the reason. The murderer could be anyone, and the person should be found by procedure like shown here, and not by a psycho father with fascination for shades and coats like in The Great Father. Then you do love the locations here too.

The claws of flaw :: It is surprising that the police is providing too much of data about an unknown killer to the press – the murderer should be watching that, I would believe. When everything about a possible serial killer is left on the media, he should just be escaping or trying to murder the investigating officer in the usual movies. The film also goes slowly for any kind of thriller, and there is no real attempt to speed up things around here. At least decreasing the length of the already short movie would have been a fine choice – it is something that can go for a maximum of one and a quarter hours with this content before getting into the lagging level, without adding more moments of creative recreation. There were so many scenes which could have made the movie better, and they could have done that without making anyone angry – the small details can always come in, or some other unrelated, but still interesting incident could be of use. We know that the makers of movies don’t listen to us, but we the audience see the opportunities all the time.

How it finishes :: There is no doubt about the fact that Yara could have achieved more, as it already has the content ready with a real-life case – being inspired from real-life incidents do bring some restrictions on the creative imagination, but brings a better base to start working on. I would have expected the police department to do better in the early stages of working on the case too – being duped by a random person who don’t have that much of an intellect, money or influence feels rather strange; getting no clue is a little bit too much for any office. The movie’s closeness to a documentary might not be liked by everyone either – there is not much of a development of the main characters; one wonders if that is because of the feeling that there is the need to keep close to reality as much as possible. Even in a place where things can get controversial at all times, Virus based on real-life incidents did well, and so that can’t be an excuse. Still, this one goes through the procedures effectively, and comes out well out of the whole thing as a pretty well done investigation.

Release date: 18th October 2021 (Italy); 5th November 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Marco Tullio Giordana
Starring: Isabella Ragonese, Chiara Bono, Alessio Boni, Roberto Zibetti, Aiman Machhour, Mario Pirrello, Sandra Toffolatti, Thomas Trabacchi, Lorenzo Acquaviva, Donatella Bartoli, Andrea Bruschi, Guglielmo Favilla, Nicole Fornaro, Miro Landoni

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rurouni Kenshin

Vampire Owl: Isn’t this the second Japanese movie that we are watching?

Vampire Bat: Yes, they were mostly overshadowed by Korean and Chinese films.

Vampire Owl: The name is quite tough here.

Vampire Bat: Your soul will get used to such names.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Japan is my dream country?

Vampire Bat: Japan is everyone’s dream country.

Vampire Owl: Except for the common vampires of our times.

Vampire Bat: Are you talking about the never-ending need to go to Romania?

Vampire Owl: Yes, the holy land dedicated to Uncle Dracula, especially on Halloween.

Vampire Bat: That trend had come down since the Russia invaded its neighbouring country, Ukraine. We, vampires are supposed to stay kilometres away from any terrible war caused by human kind. We are not violent people.

[Gets a porotta roll and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: The year is 1864, and Japan is now open to foreign trade. This means that a few people seek to end the rule of Shoguns and bring back the authority of the empire, with some of the being ambitious and the others filled with ideals. They are forced to face each other, and fighting goes on only to make the situation worse in the island nation which seeks progress with trade and commerce. Himura Kenshin (Takeru Satoh) who is also known as Hitokiri Battosai serves as a political assassin to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate which would eventually lead to the Meji Restoration and the later rise of Imperial Japan, finally leading to their participation in the Second World War and fall with the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The history goes a long way, and this is more like a civil war which will begin the events which will finally lead to a detailed epoch in the Japanese history with no security or value for human life. The young man of concern here, who is a skilled fighter with swords, joins the clan of Choshu, and begins to work with Katsura Kogoro (Issey Takahashi), their leader.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: During one of the fights in which he kills all the men, a member of the opposite gang refuses to die, and despite being impaled by sword multiple times, gives the assassin a cut on his face. This has Himura clearly disturbed instead of being cold with all the killings. Katsura understands that even after so many years of killing hundreds of men, his assassin is still not comfortable with killing people, a process which he keeps repeating. He feels that the young man hasn’t really grown up yet, and remains pure at heart, which means that there is no peace at heart. He is still the best fighter that he has known in years, but that wouldn’t change the heart. When Himura had earlier joined the group in a bid to overthrow the Shoguns, he hadn’t killed anyone, but the promise that he had shown was immense, unlike anyone whom he had seen among their fighters. He would keep on wondering if the man has finally has had enough of the fights and the brutal killings.

And what can bring a change to world which has only gotten worse with the civil wars? :: Katsura feels that there is the need to find a solution, as there is the need to end this continuous war, for which he needs as many hands holding the swords with expertise. Himura is still haunted by the memories of the man who refused to die, citing the reason of love in his life. One night, he goes on to have a drink of his own, and interferes when a lone woman named Yukishiro Tomoe (Kasumi Arimura) is bothered by a group of men who demand that the woman treats them with respect, and consider them as their heroes. After leaving the tavern, he is almost attacked by two drunkards from the tavern who are killed by an assassin with a chain. He manages to kill the assassin, but finds Yukishiro who had come to thank him, drenched in the blood of assassin, and she soon faints as a result of the shock from what she had just witnessed. He takes her back to his hideout, a place for the revolutionaries. The girl who feel thankful, decides to stay, much to his surprise, as he wonders why.

The defence of Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning :: The stylish action sequences begin the film’s progress very soon. The fights with the swords remain memorable, as there seems to be so much of speed and control related to them – it is like you take your eyes away from the screen for less than a second, and still you end up missing something. You are going to find it difficult to follow the pace of the very thin and agile swords which keep moving in all directions, but you enjoy what happens around. The characters remain interesting, and there seems to be something about almost everyone out there. The performers seem to be chosen with care, and the way they come up with the action scenes makes one wonder if they are really that well trained in all of these. Takeru Satoh leads well, Kasumi Arimura does the job with integrity. The movie nicely takes the fictional world and combines it with history. The emotional side also gains strength at times. The visuals are nice, not just with the big towns, but also with the nice little villages and the small homes surrounded by nature.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel to be too violent for at least a few people who are expecting more fights on the scene with blood and gore being hidden, but this is not really that martial arts or superhero movie to go through that route. This is also a little bit too long, considering the fact that the story is very much a predictable one, with not that much of innovation added here by looking at the possibilities in history. When action becomes the first and the one great choice, the plot suffers – it is quite a natural thing as we have seen in other movies – you just can’t satisfy everyone, and then the makers would prefer to go with what the crowd would like to see here. It seems to be very much hesitant to take the risk in different areas, when the challenges were present. The romance, even though present there, feels somewhat forced, even though the performers make it work without any trouble – after all, a love affair changing people all of a sudden is a stereotype which has been used for too long that we don’t really care about that anymore; then the ending which we can feel good enough to make a guess.

How it finishes :: This is not the franchise that we are familiar with, even though people of Japan should be very much familiar with the same. It is also based upon the manga series of the same name, which means more Japanese familiarity for sure – films inspired by comics have its own space like the video-game based works of our times. The movie takes the old style sword-fighting action to the next level, within its own charming setting – there will be no shortage of such action here. This is supposed to the fifth and final installment of this particular franchise about a nineteenth century assassin. But as it is also a prequel, it serves as a stand-alone movie which can be watched first, in the middle or last, and there is the placing in history which makes things easier to understand. Historical setting serve well when used with clarity and skill. We do feel that this a usual tragic tale about friendship and love in a world of war and chaos, but as we have the same arranged really well with the setting, the idea works effectively.

Release date: 4th June 2021 (Japan); 30th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Keishi Otomo
Starring: Takeru Satoh, Kasumi Arimura, Issey Takahashi, Nijiro Murakami, Masanobu Ando, Kazuki Kitamura Yosuke Eguchi

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Escape Room II

Vampire Owl: I am not that fond of the rooms from where one can escape.

Vampire Bat: Yes, you want those rooms from which escape is impossible.

Vampire Owl: You know that vampires have always wanted to make the best use of their dungeons.

Vampire Bat: The dungeons from which there is no escape; I have heard about them.

Vampire Owl: Almost all those dungeons below the castle are like that.

Vampire Bat: There is one exception though.

Vampire Owl: You are saying that there is a dungeon in the castle which allows people to escape.

Vampire Bat: Well, I don’t see why there wouldn’t be a loop hole.

Vampire Owl: So, there is always a small chance to escape.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is always that hand of God.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: It is shown that a woman is locked within a hot shower room of a huge mansion and is burnt to death as she expresses her desire to leave her husband. She was left with clues to escape while showering, but was too late to use them to her advantage, leading to a painful death. This husband is shown as the man who is responsible for the escape rooms, and is certainly obsessed with the same. Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell) and Ben Miller (Logan Miller) are the only survivors of these escape rooms which were built by the Minos Corporation, and they plany to confront them after finding the coordinates to its headquarters in New York City. Zoey is aeorphobic, and therefore decides to find the corporation by driving all the way to New York, thus getting rid of the uneasy encounter. They do have nightmares about being in escape rooms whenever they are in closed spaces. When they reach the place where the headquarters of the corporation is supposed to be, they don’t find any workers our there, and there is only a vagrant who manages to steal Zoey’s necklace.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: As they chase the thief, they end up in an underground train which has its doors locked and the vehicle on a journey to the next station. The thief manages to get down before the door closes though. Their train car separates from the rest, and finds themselves being redirected to a remote station, as the two along with a few others are trapped in the carriage. They meet the other passengers Rachel (Holland Roden), Brianna (Indya Moore), Nathan (Thomas Cocquerel), and Theo (Carlito Olivero) inside, and it turns out that they are all winners from previous games in escape rooms. As the passengers understand that they are in trouble again, being locked in the train car which also gets electrified, not allowing them to touch anywhere. Now, they are forced to find the subway tokens which will open one of the doors. They keep looking for clues until it almost gets too late, and Theo is killed by electrification. The others do manage to find the clues and the tokens to escape.

And what more is with another escape room or more around here? :: The team finds out that all these survivors were part of groups which had their own type of people, like full of influencers, priests etc. Their next level is a bank which has a deadly laser security system that almost kills Brianna. There is a vault in the end of the bank’s room which seems to be the only way out, but they have to go past the lasers. They do find a certain clues out there, but it seems that they won’t be enough. There are references to a person named Sonya, but none of them are able to find all the necessary clues. Nathan decides to make a walk of faith in between, but that doesn’t seem to work either. This won’t be anything close to the final escape rooms, and getting out of the room is only going to be a small problem in comparison to what is to come next, including some seemingly outdoor rooms well designed in 3D. They are all upset about not being to crack the codes, but that is not going to lead them anywhere in a complicated world of mazes. Can at least one or two of these people make out of these rooms in time? Can anyone if not Zoey can bring this corporation in front of the law?

The defence of Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions :: There is the continuation of what we had witnessed in the first movie, and we all know that the levels of the first movie was never enough for the eyes. Here, we have some more interesting rooms to escape from, and there is some fine detail related to each of them. There are multiple endings to keep one interested in a sequel, as there is scope for one or two in both of those finishes. The close battles that the participants have with the rooms assigned to them remain engaging, and with the time limits, things only get more interesting. The setting is there for another movie to continue the franchise and the performances are pretty good too. Taylor Russell leads well to continue the franchise, while the others provide support nicely. The special effects are used effectively to add to the efficiency of the rooms too. There are some twists added here and there, and there are indeed some different ones with those multiple endings that we see here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t feel that new as we have already seen the establishment of the escape rooms well in the first movie, and it was an interesting venture indeed. There is not that much of an improvement on the design of the escape rooms – the same could have helped better with further innovations; we know that even the computer games need better levels every time, especially those dealing with puzzles and traps like Prince of Persia and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider series. It doesn’t use the possibilities to the best advantage in that case. As this is the second movie in the franchise, we were expecting to see that one grand level design which couldn’t be easily copied. The puzzles of escape could have also been better planned, for some of them don’t really feel interesting, with too much of absurd calculations there – things can be made difficult without adding too much of mathematics, the thing that we all have hated since school days. There can always be some hidden trapdoor or item; even a thing from the past to replace it.

How it finishes :: Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions does remind us of the world that we are in, with no escape – that is one a philosophical note, even though there is a lot of truth in such a statement which serves more as warning than anything else. The movie does have more than version, which leads to different endings and divergent possibilities which can come later in a possible sequel. It does feel difficult to wonder about the better ending without watching both of them. This also makes one wonder which sequel we are all going to have at some later point of time. If the corona virus is not going to come back that strong again, maybe we are going to see a sequel of this franchise in the theatres too – after this rush of movies looking for screens end at a later point. With the puzzles leading to and beyond danger with twists, this is the kind of franchise that we are all looking for. After all, there are lots of puzzles and riddles that we face in every day life, as humans are all creatures of their own dangerous rooms of the mind with intrusions.

Release date: 16th July 2021 (Theatre); 20th September 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Adam Robitel
Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Holland Roden, Indya Moore, Thomas Cocquerel, Carlito Olivero, Isabelle Fuhrman, James Frain

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Stowaway

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Doctor Frankenstein had a stowaway on his Ultimate Machine of Nightmares?

Vampire Bat: Why would someone want to have a ride of nightmares?

Vampire Owl: I guess they wanted to witness the greatness of this invention by the greatest scientist of all times?

Vampire Bat: Why are you not understanding that he is not a real scientist at all?

Vampire Owl: You are saying this because you studied arts only.

Vampire Bat: I am well aware of the way of science. Mr Frankenstein has no role in it.

Vampire Owl: You should understand that he can teleport you in a second or two.

Vampire Bat: Even those witches of the north can do that.

Vampire Owl: I am talking about teleportation to another realm.

Vampire Bat: He just creates a virtual reality within his laboratory and pretends that it is another realm. He cannot even teleport Uncle Dracula’s lost fangs.

[Gets a paneer masala dosa and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: A two year mission to Mars has been approved for the spaceship, MTS-42, which has the mission commander Marina Barnett (Toni Collette), biologist David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim), and the ship’s doctor and researcher Zoe Levenson (Anna Kendrick) on board. They are taking the first steps to call Mars the second home, and each of them is very good with the needed abilities and extended training. Everything seems to go fine with the launch, and they are all glad to be on the way to a great expedition. Soon after the takeoff, they discover a launch support engineer, Michael Adams (Shamier Anderson), an unexpected traveler who seems to be caught and fallen unconscious between the two modules of the ship. As he falls down, the device that scrubs carbon-di-oxide from ship’s air is destroyed. They use use emergency lithium hydroxide canisters to get rid of the carbon-di-oxide from the air, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Marina is not sure about what has happened here, and wonders if something strange is going on in the background.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Michael wakes up and wants to go home, but everyone knows that a return is not possible now. He slowly adapts to the situation, as the company promises to help his sister to go through her life in his absence with guidance and monetary support. David begins cultivating his algae experiment of the ship before reaching Mars, as there is the need for some extra oxygen, but it is also not that much effective. The damage done to the carbon-di-oxide scrubbing device seems to be permanent, and their life support seems to be in trouble. If they are not able to find another method for the supply of oxygen, they are going to fall short of breathable air. The only option seems to be a spacewalk to climb the tethers of the spaceship and recover liquid oxygen from the upper stage of the rocket. Even though the other two are okay with it, Zoe is not ready to sacrifice Michael to make sure that they have enough oxygen for their journey, and the commander decides to wait for ten days to come up with a solution. But can they have one in time?

The defence of Stowaway :: The space and the spaceship around here are indeed well-detailed, and there is one final adventure to be done as the movie gets near its end, which provides a charming view of space. The world here has good detail, both outside and inside the spaceship. There is always the question about the significance of life of a person when it would mean the death of three others who are more important not just for one mission, but for the entire humanity. This something about the talks here, as there seems to be no clear solution for a problem. There are many routes which this movie seems to take too. The movie does talk about the importance of faith, belief and hope in life, even though it is indeed a double-edged sword which can end up ruining everything like a person too much motivated by a motivational speaker. Well, after all, we know that the life itself is about some tough choices that we make, and in the end, we are all just going to die a terrible death and lie a few feet under.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is surely slow, and never does it even try to get any faster, which is rather strange, as we look at all those possibilities which have been avoided. It doesn’t try to be that entertaining either, as the speed is never that much to keep us that much engaged with the possible thrills. There is that drag which is felt because the film has too many moments and dialogues which could have been avoided – a two hour movie was not needed to deal with this kind of a theme which never chooses to go bigger. The movie’s question does feel strange too, about humanity and all, because science has already brought extinction upon humanity, and most of the human beings do not deserve to saved. And, we all know that humans are not going to make that much of a sacrifice after thinking too much – so much of thoughts better lead to brutal murders. We don’t know that much about mission being undertaken here either, except for where it is headed, and related to some of the possibilities after reaching the destination.

The performers of the soul :: Among the performers, Anna Kendrick is the only one face that we seem to recognize at first sight. We have seen her in very less number of movies in the last few years, but as we see her again, she seems to be another actress who seems to get younger as time progress – we recognize her as almost the same as in those much earlier movies. Despite not being the commander, she is the true protagonist and heroine of the movie, and the one who is ready to make a different at any cost – she does the lady with the most conscience in a wonderful way. Toni Collette has been there for longer, but most of us have seen her in movies which are rather too old, which means that recognizing her would be difficult. She says good as the commander who has to take some very difficult decisions. Daniel Dae Kim plays the man with his own assumptions about success of the mission quite well. The only other character and the one who brings the change to the mission is Shamier Anderson, a job quite well done.

How it finishes :: There has been no shortage of interesting journey through space which Hollywood has undertaken – it was at times complicated like Interstellar, with great visual splendour of space like in Gravity, hope for colonization of another world like in The Martian, horror inside the spaceship like in Life, terror in space colonies like in Doom: Annihilation, searching for secrets of humanity like in Prometheus, more on drama and romance like in Passengers or even going the fully entertaining in Star Trek way. The Chinese had The Wandering Earth and the Koreans had Space Sweepers, now we have this one. Stowaway is closer to the genre of drama instead of becoming the thriller. It still has enough of the engaging moments, and also has the moral questions running through. Even though most of us will not get to space and will face the human extinction event, we will clap to the rich people going to space and living happily ever after, following the discoveries similar to that in this movie are made. Until then, we will watch similar movies again and again, adjusting to the interesting moments that they provide, as the apocalyptic event awaits with a terrible beauty ready to be unleashed.

Release date: 22nd April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Joe Penna
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, Toni Collette

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Soul

Vampire Owl: Do you think that vampires can have an extra soul?

Vampire Bat: I don’t understand why one would require one as extra.

Vampire Owl: What if a soul is lost? We can use the other one.

Vampire Bat: The souls are not lost as long as we are living dead.

Vampire Owl: When did we start referring to the undead as living dead?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we have always been the living dead.

Vampire Owl: Well, I wouldn’t argue as death is only the beginning.

Vampire Bat: There is no undead without the appropriate kind of death.

Vampire Owl: Maybe humans will also understand that death is the true solution.

Vampire Bat: They are less afraid to kill than to die, which is strange.

[Gets a mango cake and three cups of Munnar tea].

What is the movie about? :: Wang Shi-Cong (Samuel Ku), a very rich man and the founder of a medical firm developing cancer treatment based on ultra-modern technology is found murdered. His wife who has also remained a respectable figure, Li Yan (Sun Anke) is discovered to be holding the weapon used for the brutal murder, quite a strange knife-like blunt thing indeed. There are also some strange writings on the door and all over the walls. At the same time, Ah-Bao (Janine Chang), a detective is expecting a child very soon. Liang Wen-Chao (Chang Chen), her husband is having an advanced stage of cancer, and it doesn’t seem to get any better. His cancer seems to be spreading and resisting the existing modes of treatment, and the doctor gives them the advice to consider doing a RNA restoration technology. Liang, who has been working as a prosecutor, decides to join back, as a lot of money is required for his treatment – he had asked her to let him skip that costly treatment, but she has been very adamant in keeping him alive.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Ah-Bao is assigned the case of Wang’s murder, and Liang goes on to become the prosecutor once again, much to the surprise of his wife who was expecting him to take rest. Li Yang tells them that it was their son, Wang Tian-You (Erek Lin) who committed some strange rituals in the same room and murdered his father who had earlier disinherited him because of his strange and unacceptable behaviour. They remember that he only comes back home rarely, and has the same symbol which was seen in the room, tattooed on his body. He has a lot of magical symbols tattooed on his body, and talks about some particular gods and spirits which are not that well-known. He was heartbroken after his mother, the first wife of Wang died, and has been talking about vengeance since then. It seems that other than his wife, the dead man had left another inheritance as the next in line. The detective also understands that the dead man used to have different affairs with many women, which had ruined their world. The first wife also had enough information about hier husband’s life.

What lies beneath the secrets which are unveiled around here? :: There is also the talk about the first wife placing a curse on Wang before death, and about the second wife coming out of an orphanage, with no roots. But they do understand that this particular woman had changed a lot after coming to the mansion. In the beginning, she was very nice to everyone around, and very careful in her behaviour. It felt as if she wanted to be good to make an impression. But that seems to change soon, as they look through the CCTV cameras for some old footages. She wasn’t the person whom she used to be, as she even started talking to nothingness, which she understood as ghosts. They wonder if it was a case of possession or the result of some drugs which were introduced by the medical firm. A bigger surprise is that she who was a right-hander is now a left-hander. Is it science or some dark curse which is behind all of these? After all, isn’t science the modern necromancy? How many secrets can this particular world hold? There seems to be something really strange going on around here, and is anyone good enough to find the truth?

The defence of The Soul a.k.a. Ji Hun :: The movie never stops keeping us interested in the mystery of science or magic, whichever seems to surround a grand investigation. It does keep us guessing through its run, and is very much effective in doing the same. The twists are very much unpredictable, and with so many red herrings around, one only keeps wondering about how good are the characters who have figured it out inside the tale. At a specific point, you make a guess about the characters, and then you have to think differently about them. At one point, you feel that there is the talk about soul in its original form, but then all you see is science. You wonder about psychological problems and demonic possession at the same time. In the end, it is not anywhere close to what you were thinking in the early stages, and there is so much going on around there. Any more revealing would annihilate the beauty of the surprise and twists in here. The movie moves forward beautifully, as if it is poetry in motion, and the level of immersion of the audience that it provides is simply magnificent. The emotional side does help further in its movement forward – you do feel them running strong. The visuals and the music also remains extraordinary and contributes well to the dark beauty.

Positives and negatives :: The movie’s slowness also has a certain amount of beauty related to it, and we watch it move as if part of an elegy written in memory. Well, there is no doubt that it could have traveled somewhat a quicker path as it seems to be in need of being called a thriller rather than anything else – yet, it can be said that The Soul keeps us immersed around here, even without picking up the pace that much when it could have done the same. The details in each moment will still make sure that you are always attentive around here, and there are some top performers to support the same. Chang Chen gets into this character so well that we become attached to the same – there is a lot of immersion into the plight of the character taking place here, and that feels unbelievably realistic. In the beginning, one feels that Janine Chang is the one playing the protagonist, and even though she is not the one doing that, blends in perfectly, and excels in the emotional moments. Then there is Sun Anke who plays the woman in identity crisis with a lot of perfection – it is a role which requires a lot of dedication, and her different expressions are so much of the reflection of her calibre.

How it finishes :: The movie has one of the most complicated plots than any film has had in a long time, and it makes sure that we are always guessing. There has not been many movies which had our guesses going wrong by such a long way. By the end of the film, you are standing on a lot different ground than where you found yourself in the beginning. Well, the world of science and spiritual beliefs can both be strange enough, and this one makes use of both, while placing them in a corporate world where the only thing that reigns supreme is selfishness and a display of a fake “normal” image. I would consider this to be the best movie of the year and also the best film which I have found on Netflix among the last few years’ releases. Then, there is also those final questions which the movie leaves for all of us – what makes one a person? Is it the soul? In that case, where does the soul lie? In the memories of the brain or the emotions of the heart? Or is it something which has no real shape or size to be seen? Well, we will never know, that seems to be a surety. Until then, there are some fine Chinese movies to watch.

Release date: 29th January 2021 (China); 14th April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Cheng Wei-hao
Starring: Chang Chen, Janine Chang, Sun Anke, Christopher Lee, Baijia Zhang, Erek Lin, Samuel Ku, Daniel Chang, Lu Hsueh-feng

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Seance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: You continue to underestimate the doctor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Devil Below

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Things Heard and Seen

Vampire Owl: I have seen and heard many things.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we have to see and hear a lot these days.

Vampire Owl: I have seen and listened to more specific things.

Vampire Bat: We, vampires are supposed to have a shared vision too.

Vampire Owl: Well, we are now in an age of respect for privacy.

Vampire Bat: You have a lot of privacy within the coffin.

Vampire Owl: It is just undead privacy. That won’t count.

Vampire Bat: Why do you require so much of privacy these days after sleeping in cemetery for most of your life?

Vampire Owl: The world has changed, even though we haven’t.

Vampire Bat: And you want to change against all vampire traditions.

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

What is the movie about? :: It is the year 1979, and Catherine Claire (Amanda Seyfried), an art restorer, lives in Manhattan with her husband George Claire (James Norton) and daughter. When George gets the job of teaching art history at a college, the family is forced to move into a huge farmhouse in the countryside of New York. The house seems to be really old, belonging to the 1800s, and is a big house, which is available at a small price. As an art restorer, Catherine instantly falls in love with the place, and it also has a piano which seems to have been abandoned for a long time. The child is first one to be scared in the house, even though the parents are more interested in the beauty of the place as well as the low cost. George is happy to be in the new college campus, but Catherine feels isolated in the house. Catherine employs brothers Eddie Vayle (Alex Neustaedter) and Cole Vayle (Jack Gore) from nearby to take care of the house, while she remains obsessed about her gaining weight, and eats very less.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Catherine finds the family tree of people who were living in the house before. She also comes actoss an antique ring, which she starts wearing. Their daughter continues to wish to sleep with her parents. Catherine goes to the Historical Society, and tells them that she wishes to volunteer for their programmes, as she is new to the town, and loves to meet the people around. There, she finds the old photos of the house, and of the people who had originally built the house. George meets Eddie’s cousin sister Willis Howell (Natalia Dyer) in a library, and they start an affair. He is also quite popular in the college too, despite giving up fine arts to focus on the theory. Catherine become friends with George’s colleague Justine Sokolov (Rhea Seehorn), while George remains close to the department head Floyd DeBeers (F Murray Abraham). Their daughter keeps telling them that she had seen a lady in her room, and Catherine has the eerie feeling, but George dismisses both of them, but for how long?

The defence of Things Heard and Seen :: The movie can boast about a beautiful as well as eerie setting which is present throughout its run. A number of paintings from the Hudson River School, a mid nineteenth century American art movement influenced by Romanticism, can be seen here throughout the movie, and the beautiful paintings often reflects different parts of the setting in movie itself. As they nicely depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, we also wonder if there could be a similar movie about British Romanticism, reflecting what the Lake Poets of the time had penned down. The focus on relationships do happen, and the emotional as well as dramatic side is strong, even though overdone at times, with some moments not really making that much sense related to the situations. The performances are of top quality, and the twists are very much effective – there are many of them, as we look around. You have to love how things come together in the end here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does feel a little long, as it takes some time to keep things going forward. It seems to be on a struggle to establish everything right at the beginning, and later, the struggle makes way for the lack of pace, and then there is another struggle to end things. It shows so much promise in between, and then it just misses out on the whole thing. There are lots of slow moments in between, and speeding up or removing the same would have made this film no longer than one and a quarter hours instead of the two hours length which seems rather too much. It seems that it has also kept the elements of horror to the minimum, and the focus is shifted to drama instead. The movie is basically categorized as horror, but it is more of drama and mystery – the chances to have some terrifying sequences in this atmosphere have not been taken, and it is a shame that despite finding so many opportunities, they have let it go. The idea is really good, and they haven’t really used it to the best effect.

The performers of the soul :: I have loved most of the early movies of Amanda Seyfried, and she shines in this one too, even though there is the feeling of being a little tired. This still won’t be among my favourite performances or movies of her, but with the focus on her, she maintains the character with all characteristics, without failing at any point. The work of James Norton is solid, and the realization of the true nature in him comes through stages – a character with many faces, but is much lovable at all places. You will also notice how Natalia Dyer comes in, does a fine job in the few minutes when she is there. Alex Neustaedter also blends in to the role really well, and so does Jack Gore who plays his brother. Rhea Seehorn comes with a nice performance in a role which has more than what it seemed in the early stages of the movie. One can say the same about F Murray Abraham who also has more to contribute than we would think. Emily Dorsch’s ghostly appearance doesn’t get what it deserves – no spirit in this movie gets what was deserved.

How it finishes :: Things Heard and Seen is a slow moving drama and mystery film with horror taking the backseat as if it is terrified of the dramatic elements. But it still works with some fine twists, and there are the surprises which were not thought about before. The final few moments take the thrilling path, and there are also some symbolic moments to go with them here. The title would also seem to make perfect sense as the movie reaches the final stages, and big revelations are made. It doesn’t go through the path of usual horror movies due to the mixing of genre, and therefore, we have no need to expect The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, Insidious, Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil, The Curse of La Llorna, or anything like that which brings some direct horror with the evil sprits. This movie is certainly not about that kind of horror. This one just flows slowly with the drama, as mysteries are revealed, and finally ends with the twists in a thrilling few moments. You can watch this particular movie only with this type of expectations.

Release date: 29th April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton, Natalia Dyer, Rhea Seehorn, Karen Allen, Alex Neustaedter, Jack Gore, F Murray Abraham, Michael O’Keefe, Emily Dorsch, James Urbaniak

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Awake

Vampire Owl: We are not supposed to be awake at this time.

Vampire Bat: We are awake because we are not supposed to go through eternal sleep.

Vampire Owl: Nothing is eternal, other than our immortality.

Vampire Bat: There are still limitations to our immortal nature.

Vampire Owl: The limitations have been imposed by the suppression of our true nature.

Vampire Bat: There is no definition of true nature of the undead.

Vampire Owl: It is what separates us, the undead from the undying.

Vampire Bat: You feel that it is going to matter in the end, do you?

Vampire Owl: Yes, we are going to live for such a long time.

Vampire Bat: Life after death do no usually count as life with its original meaning.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jill Adams (Gina Rodriguez) is a recovering drug addict, who is now working as a security guard at a local college, after serving as a United States Army medic much earlier. Along with the same, she also steals drugs from the research lab to sell them outside. She picks up her children Noah (Lucius Hoyos) and Matilda (Ariana Greenblatt) after work, only to meet an accident on the road, as it seems that everything which works with electricity is malfunctioning. All the cars lose control on the road, and there are many accidents. All the buildings have also lost power. The three somehow manages to get to the nearby hospitals, as people keep talking about this being a terrorist attack, maybe from the Chinese. In the hospital, they find out that the patients in coma have awakened, much to the surprise of the doctors and nurses who were treating them. At night, they are not able to sleep, and they attribute this inability to the trauma which they had to go through, related to the accident. As she travels to work using a bicycle, she is surprised to find out that the whole neighbourhood is awake.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: It turns out that nobody is able to sleep anymore. It turns out that anything with a microchip is fried, and of no use to anyone. Dr Murphy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a psychiatrist understands that the sleeplessness will soon lead to the symptoms of complete sleep deprivation, and finally to death, but at a quicker pace. The only exception to this seems to be an old woman, whom they are researching on, hoping to find a cure to this seemingly terrifying disease. Jill then remembers that unlike others, Matilda could also fall asleep, and she searches for her, finally finding her at the church. Brian (Finn Jones) also tries to help them, and asks her to bring her daughter to Dr Murphy, but she disagrees. The pastor tells the followers that the girl is a beacon of hope, and they should pray to God for another miracle like her. But the sleep-deprived people feels that they should sacrifice her. As there is a fight in the church, and as Brian also asks for the girl to be handed over, Jill escapes with her children. But how far can they go?

The defence of Awake :: The movie does have the smart and innovative idea and the fine beginning, which could have surely served better if the move was quicker and better focused. The idea of humans not being able to sleep, which finally leads to their loss of mind and in the end, the extinction, is really an interesting concept – anyone who might have read about it or had a clue about the same would wish to watch the movie. This one can still use the same to make a better sequel in a world which has almost reached its end with humanity. The first few moments of accidents and waking up makes a good start, and then there is the scene at the church which makes one question humanity’s inherent evil, followed by the beginning of the journey of the protagonists – all of these have some good strength. The strange moments of the movie are also innovative enough, and mostly working, especially in the first half. The mother trying to save her children and teaching the little girl how to drive, are all interesting survival additions, and could have had better purpose. Along with the same, the visuals are pretty much beautiful.

The claws of flaw :: Awake is a movie which goes on with a slower pace than it would suit a post-apocalyptic film. It often seems to slow down for no reason at all. It also hesitates to take the opportunities which are there, and despite the grand premise, cannot come up with an ending of similar grandeur. This was one great chance to make something that would be remembered for long, but that is not case here. There are so many moments which could have been dealt with, and it is surprising that both science and religion don’t have the solution, but nonsensical kids do. There could have been better explanation of the happenings around here, as we have had strange events with alien or other paranormal attacks from the skyline or even from beneath. It could have also had more action, and maybe some horror elements too, as we have the beginning of a post-apocalyptic world here, and after all, humans are capable of the worst every time. Some more special effects could have also done this one good.

The performers of the soul :: Gina Rodriguez plays the mother figure really well. There has been better appreciated mothers in the past, but she has her moments too, even though her character remains one flawed mother. Ariana Greenblatt as Matilda is pretty much an annoying kid who is weird enough, and one has to wonder if the character was deliberately designed so – we surely had some better kids in the past. Lucius Hoyos as Noah doesn’t have that much of a work to do, as this one is just another teenager moving around during a terrible event, and nothing more is added here. Finn Jones played an interesting character, but unfortunately, the person is killed all of a sudden. Frances Fisher plays the grandmother figure pretty well too. Barry Pepper who plays the pastor has some fine moments, and he also has the dialogues of faith and hope to remember. Maybe, the pastor and the church could have been there for a longer period of time than a few minutes that we had. Jennifer Jason Leigh also has something to add, but we expected her to do more, after we had her in the earlier stages of the movie.

How it finishes :: The movie has a really interesting main idea – what would happen if we lose our ability to sleep? It is a question which can haunt us for a very long time, and this could have been a brilliant movie with the best use of the same idea. But it is certainly not the case here, as even though they have tried, the movie has struggled to live up to the idea, making it just another usual movie which goes through the post-apocalyptic world without surprises. It is often disappointing that a movie doesn’t use the best use of the opportunities presented to it. But we continue to watch this one as we are curious, and we are concerned about what is to happen next – the movie manages to create that desire to watch, and even with its slow pace, there is the movement towards that final destination, keeping it floating. It is the kind of movie which you can surely watch to pass the time, and at the same time, also ponder about the core idea – what if sleep evades you? How long can you hold on without being able to go to sleep?

Release date: 9th June 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Mark Raso
Starring: Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barry Pepper, Finn Jones, Ariana Greenblatt, Gil Bellows, Barry Pepper, Lucius Hoyos, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sebastian Pigott

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bhoothakaalam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: So, who are the real monsters?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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.