Security

What is the movie about? :: Roberto Santini (Marco D’Amore) is at the head of a security surveillance company, which takes care of the safety of some of the wealthiest people in the area. As the whole area is more or less like a beach resort, there are lots of tourists around, and due to its proximity to sea, there is also the possibility of having some ilegal immigrants running around, which makes the installment of security cameras rather necessary. His daughter, Angela Raffaelli Santini (Ludovica Martino) doesn’t listen to her parents. His wife Claudia Raffaelli Santini (Maya Sansa) is running for the post of mayor, and vows to make the place a safer area. But on an eventful night, a local girl, Maria Spezi (Beatrice Granno) is found with a bloody face on one of the cameras. She also seems to faint soon. The girl lands in the hospital with a dislocated shoulder, while Roberto’s marriage is not going great – their daughter, Angela is in a relationship with her much older creative writing professor, Steffano Thomassi (Silvio Muccino) who is recently divorced. Roberto is also in a relationship with Elena Ventini (Valeria Bilello), a single mother.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: As Roberto spends most of his time with the security cameras, even in the night, he rarely gets any sleep at all. Claudia is a conservative candidate, who is determined to become the first female mayor of the town, whatever it takes. Walter Spezi (Tommaso Ragno), Maria’s father is considered to be the man who was responsible for beating her up, but as she comes to her senses, she tells everyone that it was someone else, and a boy was involved. Walter is freed, but he does have a history of sexual assault and other abuses. Roberto doubts if Elena’s son Dario Ventini (Giulio Pranno) who was found drunk and driving was involved in the crime. Roberto and Claudia understand that Angela is in a relationship with an older man, and they feel that she is sleeping at his place while telling them that she was studying with her classmate (Lavinia Cafaro). Roberto tries to find out the secrets of Angela and Maria, while trying his best to keep Elena out of it, but can he really do that?

The defence of Security :: This is the fourth Italian movie on this website after Piranhas, Pinocchio and A Classic Horror Story, and my venture through the movies from Italy has only gotten more and more interesting – this movie should be a high point in that case. The thriller in this movie works smoothly, and even when slowing down, maintains its strength very well. The emotions are really strong, and there is an effective picture of individuals as well as their relationships, portrayed with efficiency around here. The visuals are nothing less than stunning, and that makes this particular beach town a place we should visit for sure. The pain, grief and regret in this movie can be felt, and at times, even seen. Marco D’Amore surely reflects the same, and it is a similar reflection that can be seen on the face of Valeria Bilello, but nothing matches the suffering of the character played by Tommaso Ragno, who seems to have no way out even at his old age. The movie is a poetry of grief set in motion, even though there is something to be relieved in the end.

Positives and negatives :: For those people who fail to get immersed in this world, this can feel slower and complicated – the attention is required. Some people might also want an exaggerated ending, but for everyone else, this feels close to reality. As the film stays close to one’s emotional with never overdoing the drama, the audience can easily go through what these character go through. Even when the movie shows that relationships are fragile, and pain and suffering becomes part of one’s life for no reason, there is always a chance for healing and redemption; but only those humans who take the right step can provide assurance about the same. The movie knows that lives can be ruined for no reason, or redeemed with care. To show the same, the movie has performers of different age groups, which serves perfectly – they let things unfold and come together in the end, and that works beautifully. There are not many movies which caught my interest like this in a long time other than the Chinese movie, The Soul, and this also serves as a reminder to me to watch more Italian movies – maybe even to visit the beautiful town of Forte dei Marmi in northern Tuscany of Italy.

The performers of the soul :: Marco D’Amore has a solid performance to his credit around here. The whole thing finds some good time resting on his capable shoulders. He goes through the whole situation in a very much believable as well as emotional manner, as the less celebrated hero whom the small town has always deserved. He plays a hardworking commoner whom we can recognize as our own. Even though not forced to go after truth, he becomes the truth seeker. Valeria Bilello and Maya Sansa plays the two women in the life of the main character. The former is the symbol of the protagonist’s future while the latter belongs to his past. Maya Sansa who plays his wife as part of a marriage which is breaking apart, depicts the ambitious and adamant lady well enough to leave an impression. She is the kind of lady who would do anything to reach the top of the food chain, no matter what loss she has to suffer in the process. The two makes the not-so-suitable marriage seem to work to the outside world, but it is evident that they are not even trying in reality. They do have a number of intense and emotional moments together.

Further performers of the soul :: Valeria Bilello has a perfect act performed here, as the struggling mother with two children, one of whom not liking or listening to her, and the other one not able to live without her being around him. She might also be playing the one character with whom we will be connecting with a lot of empathy, but is still left with less screen time in comparison to others. She seems to be the main character’s future, and has close and intimate moments with him – the protagonist is also very much serious with her. Ludovica Martino who plays the daughter, is the one girl who keeps feeling that she has been wronged by everyone, a job well reflected in her performance. It can be seen that her acts of rebellion means something in the end too. Beatrice Granno plays the girl wronged here, and she displays the pain that she always had to go through, really well, even though she could have been given chance for more. Silvio Muccino and Fabrizio Bentivoglio plays the roles with negative shades effectively. Tommaso Ragno is memorable at the man who is always in trouble, and wronged regularly.

How it finishes :: There are not many movies which serve as a perfect package like this one – you won’t be missing much with this film, and there is not much to complaint about it. Whatever you expect from a movie like this, can be seen here, worked out efficiently. An emotional adventure of a thriller with suspense and twists on one side has further reflections on the drama of humanity which it also has running. This is not that much of a well-known movie, and I was also not expecting this to be that good; but it serves something grand, which means that we have a film of quality here. There are so many characters with which you can relate, especially with grief and remorse like in the Spanish film Adios – we also see a lot of things happening with the characters, and none of them are exaggerated or beyond our grasp. As this tale unfolds with beautiful people in an even more beautiful landscape, you are always immersed in this one, no matter how much the pace changes. This is the kind of movie which Hollywood should also try, with all those ingredients including the special one.

Release date: 16th June 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Peter Chelsom
Starring: Marco D’Amore, Valeria Bilello, Maya Sansa, Ludovica Martino, Beatrice Granno, Silvio Muccino, Tomasso Ragno, Giulio Pranno, Anna Della Rosa, Antonio Zavatteri, Lavinia Cafaro, Gaia Bavaro, Doris Von Thury

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lamb

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: What about a black lamb with fangs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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.

The Swarm

Vampire Owl: I can feel the presence of some vampirism in here.

Vampire Bat: You are not talking about vampire locusts, are you?

Vampire Owl: Well, all kinds of vampiric creatures are welcome to our realm.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that locusts need any special welcome.

Vampire Owl: Everybody needs to be welcomed to the realm.

Vampire Bat: Except for the Corona virus.

Vampire Owl: Who is going to welcome a virus at this point?

Vampire Bat: We cannot be sure about that. Humans are crazy enough.

Vampire Owl: Humans can always be crazier.

Vampire Bat: You can trust them to do that every time.

[Gets a chicken cutlet and three glasses of orange shake].

What is the movie about? :: Virginie Hebrard (Suliane Brahim) is a widowed mother who has been unsuccessfully raising locusts for proteins, and it is not something which brings her favourable returns. Their family used to have goats around earlier, and her children, Laura Hebrard (Marie Narbonne) and Gaston Hebrard (Raphael Romand) are pretty much embarrassed by the business of locusts, with people ridiculing the same, including people at their school. As the locusts are not active enough, and with a lower level of health and reproduction among the insects, the family struggles to go on. Soon, she becomes more and ore frustrated, as people wouldn’t buy the locusts at even lower rates. As she trashes the locust enclosure and passes out there, she finds out that locusts are eating from the wounds on her arm. Soon enough, she finds out that the locusts are now more active, and lets the locusts feed from her wounded arm.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Laura is not happy about how things have turned out though, as with everything going well out there and locusts doing better, they will have to continue to stay there. Her hope that they can finally sell the farm and get away from the place is no longer there. She tears open one of the greenhouses, leading for a swarm of locusts to escape. This escaped swarm would make sure that there would be enough supply of blood for them. That wouldn’t stop her from being more and more obsessed about the locusts. The need to feed them more blood comes to the picture, and she is ready to take further risks for the same. At the same time, all these affect her relationships with people around her, including her children. But is it too late for all of these to change now? How much more the locusts will take out of relationships and in the form of blood and flesh?

The defence of The Swarm :: The drama side of the movie is okay, even though they haven’t really tried too much with the characters. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through the movie, and most of the characters do have a certain amount of the same. There is just enough CGI and gore to keep the interest going. The setting is very much suitable for such a story, and we know that this is even more possible these during the time of Corona virus pandemic, where there is always mutation and people also get to live more alone than ever, facing even more financial crisis than ever. This is not a full insect attack movie, and people will have to remember that while choosing the same – for those who are looking for such full attack films, there are others from the second half of the twentieth century which was never short of such horror attacks from different creatures. Otherwise, you do watch this one as a drama with some insect horror added.

The claws of flaw :: A problem with this particular movie is that it losses its power as a thriller and horror flick, and gives in to the drama all the time – whenever there is a chance to make this one a horror thriller, it goes down to the state of a common drama about a widowed mother looking forward to make a living by farming. Well, a single mother with two children and financial struggles always make drama rise over any other elements of any genre. There could have been more interesting moments related to locust horror, or at least have some connection to science fiction. The characters and their relationships are also not that much explored, especially that of the daughter who could have had some life at the campus, even if not a positive one. It is certainly not what you expect when you go to watch the film, and the ending is also not that strong by any means. You can see some horror ready to go through the rails, but there is never the green flag, as we see a hesitation to let it go, while the movie slows down and drags at times.

Performers of the soul :: Suliane Brahim handles the role of the widowed mother in grief, trying to make her business do better, quite well. The attraction and the later obsession to the locusts which are shown by her, has something unique about it, even though it should have had more terrifying images than she presenting her body to feed for the insects in between – imagine the amount of horror which just that idea could have brought, but has been missed. Marie Narbonne is a lovely addition to the movie, and she plays the confused younger sister who hopes that things can get better if they leave the locust farm and home attached to it. The melancholy that she goes through is reflected on her face at almost all times, and the way she looks at people even with smiles, reflects a certain amount of sadness. Raphael Romand’s character remains a memorable one too. The one character who stands apart is Sofian Khammesas’s, as he plays the man who is always willing to help, a rare one during this age without faith.

How it finishes :: It is still a thing of wonder that this movie doesn’t redeem itself with thrills and horror when there was so much of an opportunity. While the drama goes on, the other elements lag, even though we feel that it scores a family adventure throughout most of its stages. It is the kind of movie which has the elements to confuse us about the genre in which it stays. One would feel that it could have worked even without focusing on the locusts, and maybe even after replacing them. It would have done fine enough by growing some of the more common things in the farm, as we look at them. On another day, this could be a full-horror movie with insect attacks, a thriller which has a family hunted, or a science fiction flick with mutated insects bringing something further terrifying. But it chooses to focus on the drama, and it suits one kind of audience much more than the others. As we are now in fear of the next mutation of the virus and wonders if everything has to go back to lockdown again, enjoy this one outside the theatres.

Release date: 1st August 2020
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Just Philippot
Starring: Suliane Brahim, Sofian Khammes, Marie Narbonne, Raphael Romand, Nathalie Boyer

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wolf Hour

Vampire Owl: I am not happy about the fact that the werewolves are getting more attention.

Vampire Bat: It is pretty much clear that they are not referring to those creatures.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that it could be about other wolves.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why not. You can refer to animated or survival movies.

Vampire Owl: There is only one kind of wolf which is interesting for the movie-makers.

Vampire Bat: The season of the werewolves is over. They have lost it.

Vampire Owl: Such monsters are never out of the equation.

Vampire Bat: They survived in both Underworld and Twilight because the movies had vampires playing the bigger roles.

Vampire Owl: I have news that they are looking for something more.

Vampire Bat: Well, I can assure you that it is not about this particular movie.

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

What is the movie about? :: June Leigh (Naomi Watts) is no longer what she used to be, as she lives alone in a small apartment in the middle of the city, in the shadows of the books she had written a long time ago, and some of her words had turned her family against her – the rebellious nature had made her an outcast, but she still lives in the apartment owned by her grandmother who is no more. The year is 1977, and there are lots of uncertainties, especially in the neighbourhood where she is living. It is not supposed a nice place for a good-looking lady to live alone, as she is indeed troubled by many things, and the feeling that she is being stalked is just one of them. There seems to be looting and other acts of criminal activity, including arson and murder happening at parts of the neighbourhood, and June keeps herself inside the apartment room at all times, only meeting a grocery delivery boy named Freddie (Kelvin Harrison Jr) whom she trusts to take the trash outside without having to get out or take it down with a rope.

So, what happens with the events here? :: She is supposed to finish her manuscript and publish a book, because she had taken an advance, but that doesn’t really happen as expected, with her burning many pages which she had written. She calls her old friend Margot (Jennifer Ehle) who genuinely tries to help her with the needed support along with some money, but she turns her away soon enough. There is someone who keeps calling her on the buzzer at all times, but doesn’t respond, and she feels that someone wants to break in. She tries to call the police, but Officer Blake (Jeremy Bobb) who comes there is not interested in treating it as a genuine threat. But she can’t stop feeling something terrible happening outside, and even though she wants some money from the publishers, decides to stay inside the room. But things are getting more terrible outside, and with her psychological problems also seemingly getting worse, she would need to think about it deeply and come up with a solution.

The defence of The Wolf Hour :: Naomi Watts’ perfect one lady show makes the movie itself rise above all the possible limitations in a world of confusion and chaos running through the background. The atmosphere created here is also prefect, and we live with the lady within that room, and it nicely maintains two out of the three classical Aristotelian unities of place time and action, with only the second one moving out of line. It does have one principal action and you will find that it exist in a single physical location, the apartment which the protagonist never wants to leave – the only other places we see are in the television interviews of the same person coming in as a flashback, and after the end of action. You have the opportunity to go through the life of a strange, eccentric writer, proving yet again that the most creative writers and other artists can have a certain amount of madness in them, or the society might think so. You also see how Naomi Watts rises to become the character with such ease that we can’t expect anyone else in her place here.

The claws of flaw :: Even though there is the idea given, this is not really that mystery thriller with a touch of horror to go with it. You will feel a little bit misguided regarding the same, as drama keeps on having the upper hand. But whenever the movie struggles, and it does on a number of occasions, there is Naomi Watts to lift it a long way up, and it seems to have made the tale go lazy at times. The movie title also leaves the people confused, and even the description for the film given in different websites are not really accurate, as it stays away from the soul as well as the essence of the movie. It is also quite slow, and you have to admire the leading actress’ skill in not letting us feel the drag much. There could have been many more things in this film, and the fear could have been more real and close to life – there could have been someone psychotic behind the main character or even something supernatural in nature, but this film leaves all of those possibilities behind to make this one just the drama and nothing else.

Performers of the soul :: Naomi Watts is once again brilliant in playing this kind of a role. She had been in an isolated area during a deadly winter storm in the highly underrated thriller movie Shut In which had a twist to remember – the feeling of being stalked or haunted was there too, but here, it feels more psychological, and it gives her more opportunities as almost everything in this movie is about her, even more than any other previous flick. If you go further back, you had Funny Games, where she was taken hostage by psychopaths, and the danger was real at that time. So, she is no stranger to the genre or with playing with this kind of setting – the same is reflected really well here too. Well, for someone who was in The Ring and King Kong, this one is smaller kind of danger, but the scope for performance never gets small. Jennifer Ehle who plays her friend also contributes nicely when she is there. Among the other characters, Kelvin Harrison Jr plays his role nicely to be noted the most, and others also follow in this all-Naomi movie focusing on each element of her.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to show a certain dark side of living through the 1970s in the Unites States of America, especially in the urban area – it is something that would be different even if we consider the scenario in our world in this part of the world, because we remember the 1990s to be much different from the situation we have now. It makes us feel the danger, as well as the imagination of the main character, and we can feel the strange thoughts of the character running through there. We get to have a deep character study of a woman with a magnificent past, someone who let her insecurities take everything out of her, and it becomes another stage of bildungsroman for her, even though quite late in her career. The Wolf Hour is to be watched while taking the same into consideration, instead of what is seen or what is heard – what you might have thought about the film earlier won’t count as you go through this journey as it is indeed different from your thoughts about a mystery thriller.

Release date: 6th December 2019
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Alistair Banks Griffin
Starring: Naomi Watts, Emory Cohen, Jennifer Ehle, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Jeremy Bobb, Brennan Brown

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Portuguese movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Italian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Latin movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Serbian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Descent into Darkness

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the famous quote which has been very much applicable to us?

Vampire Bat: There has been more than one of them that applied to us.

Vampire Owl: I am talking about the one which was regularly referred to, during our first few classes for vampire apprentices.

Vampire Bat: You are talking about one of those quotes about darkness, aren’t you?

Vampire Owl: Yes, it was also written on the first page of our vampire texts.

Vampire Bat: I didn’t realize that you actually read those books.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I read them when I want to sleep. Reading them gives me sleep at times when it evades me.

Vampire Bat: Now you are talking like one of those strange school kids.

Vampire Owl: Well, the quote was about the need for vampires to get into that darkness.

Vampire Bat: Yes, about descending into darkness.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with Arrowroot biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Sorgoi Prakov (Rafael Cherkaski) arrives in Paris from an Eastern European country, to make a documentary about the European Dream, in the lines of the American Dream which is rooted in the Declaration of Independence, that proclaims that all men are created equal” with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the beginning, his journey through the capital of France seems to be all going well, with wonderful places to visit and people being very nice to him. It seems to him that his European Dream is going to work so well. There seems to be happiness all around, and Paris seems to be the perfect place to begin his European Dream. It makes him believe that he has taken the right decision to go on this journey, and that things can only get better. But it turns out that it is the other way around.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: Things were certainly not going to get any better for him, as there was always the chance for all going worse, with some bad decisions, and bad luck – being at the wrong place at the wrong time was just one of the villains. He does get beaten up by people who tries to steal his camera, which is broken, because of which he has to buy another one. He runs short of money, as he doesn’t hear from his producer, and has to adjust in many ways living in the city. He still thinks that everything is in control, but it turns out that not much remains in his hands. The artificial world of pubs and parties with drugs and alcohol adds to him being further away from the reality, creating one of his own, which includes brutality in his madness. His world changes, and he goes on becoming the exact opposite of what he was, bringing in a European Nightmare instead of European Dream.

The defence of Descent into Darkness :: The movie’s highlights come in the last few minutes, with the madness reaching a terrible level. The last scene at the house brings the best of them all. It deserves applause about how those scenes are managed in a realistic, but cruel manner. In the end, we realize how the world changes people, and the idea about hope is mostly that much of a lie, as this party culture with alcohol and drugs contribute to making a person worse through pubs and all their unnecessary additions to the life of youth. The performances are good, not just with the lead, who excels, the rest also follows up well even if they are only those smaller roles. The alternate title of the movie somehow reflects The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, a book, by Jeremy Rifkin. But in the end, we know that there is no big dream that can be achived by a common man all by himself.

The claws of flaw :: The accent used in this movie might feel a little difficult to understand for people at this part of the world at some points. There are moments in there which seems to be added for the sake of being there, or maybe to have the flick at a good length in totality. We also feel that the movie could have been really scary with its madness, and while some are surely part of the madness in a depressing manner, others are just funny – but it gets really better in the end. The dark humour is somewhat there, and the cultural differences might be bringing it down for our audience here. There is also the feeling of the need for more after we watch the trailer, and the expectations were surely bigger. The movie also misses out on having a memorable female character; even as the movie was based on one person in particular. Someone whom he meets in the city, maybe? Or someone whom he decides to murder?

The newfound love for the subgenre :: There are not many people who love to watch the found-footage horror around here, and I am myself a new person interested in the genre. When a found-footage horror movie can catch your attention, you know that it is going to get better for the genre here. There was The Last Witch being an interesting one made in low budget in the genre, and now there is this one. We remember the movies like Cannibal Holocaust, The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, [REC] and Cloverfield which were talked about a lot, with The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity becoming the representations of the subgenre a lot. With this movie showing signs of some smart plans, maybe, we are awaiting more to come in the found-footage horror, and the best might be yet to come, as did horror with The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Lights Out and Don’t Breathe last year.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: The strange things that humans do these days. Even Doctor Frankenstein is better.

Vampire Bat: Their control over their own mind and heart is rather questionable.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that most of these humans are already insane.

Vampire Bat: Well, they are better blood-suckers than vampires are, and they have proven the same with their wars.

Vampire Owl: There is the certainty of evil in them.

Vampire Bat: They possess inherent evil, and still call themselves to be of neutral alignment between good and evil, while holding that evil in mind.

Vampire Owl: I am pretty sure that they are more aligned to evil than our kind ever had been.

Vampire Bat: I would rank them with werewolves and dark elves, and at times with the zombies.

Vampire Owl: With their latest technology, they are already zombies enough.

Vampire Bat: Yes, more or less like your zombie minions.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 15th December 2017 (World-wide release on Amazon Video, POV Horror Roku, POV Horror Amazon Fire TV, and all Android devices)
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Rafael Cherkaski
Starring: Simon-Pierre Boireau, Elodie Bouleau, Rafael Cherkaski, Roland David, Charles Dhumerelle, Xavier Kerf, Corentin Koskas, Denis Larzilière, Loïc Lefebvre, Philippe Pasquini, Omar Salim

<— Click here to go to the previous review. Movies of the Soul recommends Thor: Ragnarok as the movie not to be missed this year.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sunday Holiday

What is the movie about? :: Unni Mukundan (Sreenivasan) is a lecturer teaching in the commerce department of a reputed college in Aluva, who is more interested in giving lessons about life to his students on Sundays, and also to convert his script into a movie. He has been wandering around with his movie dreams for quite a long time, but nobody has accepted, or even considered reading his script. Nobody even believes that he has a good enough story, and most of the popular directors refuse to see him, consider him as just one of those people bothering them with something which will waste their time. It is during those times that Unni comes to know that a popular and highly successful director, David Paul (Lal Jose) has been admitted in the nearby hospital. He decides to make use of that opportunity, and visit him to tell the story. Even though David is initially reluctant, he decides that it will not hurt anyone to just listen during free time.

So, what happens in the story within the story? :: It is the tale of Amal (Asif Ali), a youngster who has been in love with Sithara (Shruti Ramachandran) ever since they had known each other during childhood. It is a relationship which their families which are related to each other, approves of, but only until Sithara gets a proposal from a doctor, something which neither her parents or the opportunist lady herself wishes to let go. As she immediately chooses the newly found love who earns in big numbers, the jobless young man leaves his town of Thalassery to the city of Cochin, as there is a small job set for him at the place. He reaches there and finds himself selling CDs and DVDs of devotional songs, and at the same time, meets a girl named Anu (Aparna Balamurali) who is also doing some selling door to door. The incidents which are to follow affects his life, and the heart-broken one gets something to cheer him up for the rest of his life.

The defence of Sunday Holiday :: You are sure to find happiness in the little things of joy that the movie brings, and even though its humour is not leviathan or anything, it is on those little things that the same also concentrates. We have some nice visuals of the places, and the city from high up, is always a joy to watch. The combination of Asif Ali and Aparna Balamurali also proves to be a very nice one. There are also messages to take home in this movie, as it tells the audience to forgive and move on, and to be concerned and kind to others. A moment featuring Sudheer Karamana and Siddique explains that the best. The movie also asserts goodness in those people who act more angry and frustrated than loving. The final twist is good, but the fact that this had to be a movie within a movie is more tiring than helping the cause. Well, feel-good surely feels better to have rather than mixing meaningless twists to a tale which can’t take it, and therefore Sunday Holiday will stand tall over the director’s earlier flick.

The claws of flaw :: It is certain that you will find not much which will give you the feeling of freshness here – there is the kind of story with feel-good factor that has been flourishing for years, and it is the thing that Malayalam movie industry has found easy to follow. It is up-to us to wonder why there is no experimentation with the kind of genre which has worked so well even without that much of a budget. Is it because the same is considered the safe bet, and therefore doesn’t require any more attention? The movie also has sequences which contribute so less to the movie, and there are also those characters without whom movie could have gone foward, along with those tales of some which don’t get to be close to where we had wanted them to. The songs also seem to be added more than needed, as with a certain drag in the middle, we feel this movie to be longer than it really is.

Performers of the soul :: We were waiting for Thrissivaperoor Kliptham starring both Asif Ali and Aparna Balamurali, and here we have this one starring both of them. The former is coming out of two underrated movies, Adventures of Omanakkuttan and Avarude Raavukal, both being divergent in their own terms, and had potential for even more – both were not short of fun if you look at them.The latter is coming right out feel-good success stories, Maheshinte Prathaikaram and Oru Muthassi Gadha, playing three roles in two flicks, and awaiting the next, Sarvopari Palakkaran. She played a girl from Idukki, from Cochin (Ernakulam), Kannur (Iritty) in this one and is now set to play characters from Kottayam (Palai), and Thrissur – well, all seems to work so well as far as Aparna is concerned. With shades of her character in the realistic Dileesh Pothan movie, she is the pick here. Asif Ali’s character though, is closer to his work in Avarude Raavukal, and he is natural in doing the same.

Further performers of the soul :: As Asif Ali plays the young man in need for confidence and change, Aparna is the muse that he was in need to write the rest of his tale on the book of life. Shruti Ramachandran of the Pretham fame is also here doing not much, restricted to the beginning and the end of the flick – see does give that ghostly look in the end for sure. Sreenivasan, Lal Jose and Asha Sharath’s characters work outside the tale, which means that they have much less to do except for the beginning, before the interval, and just after the tale finishes. The two actors whom we are sure to notice, and will ask for them to be present more are Sudheer Karamana and Siddique – no surprises there when you remember how it has been working with the previous movies. Bhagath Manuel also gets to do a good role, even though it doesn’t become the sidekick role as much as expected. Dharmajan is in hold of the comic side, and the rest only has to follow.

How it finishes :: Sunday Holiday is surely an improvement for the director who had earlier directed the movie Bicycle Thieves which is more or less a shame for the Italian classic with the same name, something to which almost everyone at the theatres agreed, watching that movie with so much high expectations after positive reviews. With no other Malayalam release, this is a weekend which only has Tiyaan and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum from last two weeks giving it some challenge, and therefore, its place should be safe, even without trying that hard. Along with the other two movies having Asif Ali which released last, this becomes another feel-good flick than anything else – I wouldn’t rate this one above those two though, with its problems in the middle part. Still, we all need feel-good movies which leave something for life all the time, and so Sunday Holiday becomes a good movie to watch this weekend, whether it is really Sunday or not.

Release date: 14th July 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Asif Ali, Aparna Balamurali, Shruti Ramachandran, Lal Jose, Bhagath Manuel, Sudheer Karamana, KPAC Lalitha, Asha Sharath, Sreenivasan, Siddique, Sunish Kumar, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Vinaya Prasad, Nirmal Palazhi, Sethulakshmi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

A Monster Calls

amonstercalls-2

Vampire Owl: Do you know that a monster did call me before?

Vampire Bat: Yes, the potato chips monster.

Vampire Owl: No, a real monster.

Vampire Bat: What did he say?

Vampire Owl: He said that he would eat me for dinner.

Vampire Bat: Oh! A monster that eats the undead for dinner. This should have been in the news.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but it was April Fool, coming right from Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Bat: According to the humans, we are surely monsters. So, from another perspective, it is true.

Vampire Owl: But we are vegetarian.

Vampire Bat: Yes, that is indeed our specialty which is to remain the same.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with potato chips].

What is the movie about? :: A young boy named Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is in a state of worry due to his mother Elizabeth Clayton’s (Felicity Jones) cancer. She keeps telling him that she is getting better, but the truth is that she is not. It is only getting worse, and she is slowly and steadily moving towards her end. It is difficult for him to accept the same, and with his father Mr. O’Malley (Toby Kebbell) being separated from him and living far away from them, he has not many people to look forward to. He is also targeted by Harry (James Melville), a bully at the school, and he is asked by his grandmother Mrs. Clayton (Sigourney Weaver) with whom he doesn’t have a great relationship, to move to her home with her. But Conor is more frustrated by the idea of moving to his grandmother’s home than about being bullied by his classmate and his friends.

So, what happens next? :: One night at exactly 12:07 a.m., Conor comes across a strange tree-like monster (Liam Neeson), that tells him it is going to come up with three stories, after which Conor has to tell the monster his own story, which is the truth behind the nightmare that he keeps seeing. The first story is that of an old king who has lost all his sons battling giants, dragons and great wizards who led men and creatures of darkness. The only heir he had was his grandson who was loved by all people of the kingdom. But at his old age, he gets married to a beautiful woman, after which he falls ill and dies. With the prince not old enough to claim the kingdom, the queen becomes the ruler, and the prince runs away with his love, a farmer’s daughter who seems to be murdered. This queen who is claimed to be a witch, is supposed to be behind the death of both the king and the lover, is saved by the monster, as he claims – Conor wonders why.

So, how do things go from here? :: The second story is that of an ill-tempered, greedy apothecary who follows the old ways of medicine, and pesters a local parson to let him cut the yew tree in the churchyard. The parson who is a man of strong faith is against the apothecary who grows in hatred towards everyone around. But when the parson’s two children gets ill, he asks the apothecary for help, and even offers the yew tree and a change in his own belief. But the apothecary refuses to help him, and the children die. The tree then takes his monstrous form and begins destroying the house of the parson, much to the dismay of Conor who doesn’t understand why the creature is not destroying the house of the apothecary instead. As the third tale nears, Conor’s relationships with his father and grandmother worsens further, and his mother’s disease also gets worse – now, the question remains if the creature can actually heal his mother.

The defence of A Monster Calls :: There is sadness in A Monster Calls, and you can feel it all the way from the beginning to the end. The monster has the message to move on with one’s life, and survive through the unexpected pains – on what it takes to live through the certainty of losing a loved one. It uses all the available themes to its advantage, and tells the message with ease. All the characters used here points to that one message. It has all which are needed to strike you emotionally, and at the same time, despite being a fantasy movie, has more of real life in it with all the fiction that seem to be part of the world. It becomes more of a fairy-tale for the adults rather than children, as each point that its main characters make is worth pondering about. It makes one turn into one’s own mind and ask the same questions about humanity again and again, and at the same time, we get to see the nice creature detail to go with it.

The claws of flaw :: You can keep feeling a certain amount of drag throughout this flick, and those who are looking for the usual kind of fantasy movies are going to feel strange. If you can’t take some preaching, this one is going to be not the movie for you. There also seems to be an attempt to get more and more emotional with things, but that was really not needed, as there was a lot of the same, which came naturally. This is also based on a novel of the same name, written by Patrick Ness, and so it is up-to the author who wrote the screenplay for the movie as well as the fans to decide on how it did justice to the work. There is also the chance to miss out on the symbolism that one comes across in the movie, and so maybe the flick could have hinted on what it was planning to do – a lot of people should have felt that the monster is the usual one, but this one is not just a monster, but much more than that, and one needs to take that.

How it finishes :: The fangs of the message here is quite strong, and it is the performances which support the same more than anything else. You will see how well Lewis MacDougall takes the protagonist to the viewers so well. There is no doubt anywhere about how Sigourney Weaver gets us closer to things, and Felicity Jones makes us feel the pain. As the movie deals with a situation which most people will face in one way or the other, one can be certain that there is the need for A Monster Calls at some point, and we will have to take these messages from the movie right back home. Well, above them all, there is Liam Neeson as the monster, and there is nobody else who could be a monster who provides us with the best messages – proven here without doubt. What would you do when your own monster calls? Well, it is something to keep thinking about.

Release date: 23rd December 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall, Liam Neeson, James Melville, Geraldine Chaplin, Max Golds

amonstercalls

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Masaan

masaann

What is it about? :: Set in the city of Varanasi, this tale separates into two, bringing two stories together. One of them is the tale of Devi Pathak (Richa Chadda) with her boyfriend checking into a hotel room, but the police also follows them. As the police inspector tries to record their faces in his mobile phone, the scared boy locks himself in the bathroom, and in fear of humiliation in front of his family and friends, commits suicide much to the shock of Devi. But her trouble doesn’t end there as her father Vidyadhar Pathak (Sanjay Mishra) and herself are blackmailed by the corrupt police officer (Pankaj Tripathi) who demands what seems to be a huge amount of money for them, for not leaking her video into Youtube and other social media. As she keeps switching the jobs and running away from people, things just don’t get any better.

So, what is it about the second tale? :: The next story is that of Deepak Chaudhary (Vicky Kaushal) in the same city of Varanasi, hailing from a low caste that deals with the burning of corpses. But he wishes to go beyond the restrictions of his caste, and studies Civil Engineering at a polytechnic college. He soon meets and falls in love with Shaalu Gupta (Shweta Tripathi), an upper-caste girl. Even though it takes time, she accepts his proposal. Even though he does find the courage to tell her about his caste and what his people do, she doesn’t hesitate in going forward with the relationship. She asks him to stay focused and look for camus placements to get a good job – she would accept him as his husband even though her parents won’t, as long as he has a job. But there is a twist waiting to wreck havoc in their lives too, and the question remains if Deepak can get himself out of the depression.

The defence of Masaan :: The biggest advantage of this movie is that it sticks to the common man and a town rather than going for the ultra-modern city life and its people – this one has also told the story in a realistic way without adding those usual Bollywood flavours. One can safely say that Masaan is a long way above a usual Bollywood movie. It works so well emotionally because its characters are not people wearing colourful dress and jumping around with loads of money, and still complaining about their “zindagi” which is not enough. These are not about the kind of spoilt people who blame their past and their parents for what has gone through in their lives – instead, these are responsible people, ready to fight, which is why we fall for them, and we want them to win – there is no moment in this movie that we don’t feel for them, as we go through the tragedy of life which still has hope here and there.

Claws of flaw :: This is not for the usual Bollywood fan-people who support movies which make no sense; this one stays away from that, and uses the real world instead of the exaggerated visions of life – it is not a flaw, but for some people, that means no entertainment. Yes, the movie is pretty much slow, and it won’t have people dancing to strange party music – I would certainly thank God for that. Maybe the ending could have brought something more, even though hope is still there at the finish, stretching its arms towards our protagonists. Finding fault with Masaan is not an easy job; unless you are the masala entertainment seeker who wish to label this one as not interesting and even boring – but trust me, as both these are not the things that we relate to this movie, even when we are sleepy. Masaan is that good, and its nice philosophical claws point towards a reflection of perfection rather than the flaws.

Performers of the soul :: Richa Chadda has an amazing outing in the movie, as her character makes us feel each moment of loss and sadness, and this one is also one of the stronger character that we have been seeing in Hindi movies – she is not the kind of person who blames her parents for her past and falls in love with everyone around, becoming so ambitious with “zindagi” that she cannot sleep and then needs a therapist. It is a character that we admire, and with this performance, the person we see on the screen gets better. Then there is Vicky Kaushal whose character’s feelings reflect on us so well. His bliss in love and his sadness in separation – all feel so real that we feel the need to get further away from the so called superstars of the industry; the best actors and actresses are seen in realistic movies, in the tales of the lives of common man, and not with those ultra-modern people who creates problems for themselves and needs someone to solve them.

Further performers of the soul :: Richa Chadda and Vicky Kaushal might be two names which not many people here knows, but they are among those real performers who act in the movies which are rather real, and not exaggerated. This is exactly the reason why we need new faces with skills instead of superstars; as it is proven here again that a movie shouldn’t be about the big stars and who they are, for there are only characters who need to be played with the needed features. Yes, there is also Shweta Tripathi as Shaalu Gupta who brings such cuteness to the screen that we begin cheering for the two to get married – she has some beautiful combination scenes with Vicky Kaushal that makes us feel for them, not just within this movie, but rather eternally. The next one who impresses us is Sanjay Mishra, and he is there doing the same throughout this movie. To add to it, the world itself is a character, as we see how it influence the people.

How it finishes :: There is a certain happiness and sadness that Masaan leaves one with. It is the happiness of having watched this beautiful movie, and at the same time, the sadness that we share with the protagonists of this movie who are troubled by what fate or destiny has provided them with. There might have been the tendency to move away from the beauty at the centre of everything, but the movie stays there and becomes a realistic film rather than moving towards that side which is too common in Bollywood. Masaan is a very significant movie as it tells us that there is real skill out there, and the best that comes from anywhere around Bollywood can be found among the movies collecting less at the box-office, and has not much of the so called superstars, both male and female. Masaan shows how good content can get better, and so close to perfection, and it becomes another reason why people need to watch realistic movies more, and leave the usual exaggerated and overrated works behind.

Release date: 24th July 2015
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Neeraj Ghaywan
Starring: Richa Chadda, Vicky Kaushal, Shweta Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi, Nikhil Sahni, Satya Kam Anand, Vineet Kumar, Niharica Raizada

masaan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Wazir

wazir (1)

What is it about? :: After a personal tragedy strikes the family of a police officer Danish Ali (Farhan Akhtar) in the form of the death of his daughter in the hands of terrorists, he is blamed for it; separating him from his wife Ruhana Ali (Aditi Rao Hydari). He is later suspended from service as he murders a terrorist who was the only key for the cops to find a minister linked with the terrorist. As he is extremely depressed and thinks about ending his life, he meets Pandit Omkarnath Dhar (Amitabh Bachchan), an old chess master on a wheel chair who used to teach chess to the cop’s daughter. They come across each other again and a friendship is formed between the two. Omkarnath had also lost his daughter only some time ago, and he suspects that a popular politician, Izaad Qureshi (Manav Kaul) is behind the murder even as the police records it as an accident.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: Omkarnath tries to get the attention of the police department, the media and the government. But nothing really happens except for bringing more fury into the mind of the politician and his supporters. This is where the henchman known only by the name Wazir (Neil Nitin Mukesh) comes into the picture. But this person seems to be something more than a henchman, as he stays in the shadows and creates situations of terror for the old man, becoming more like a shadow assassin. Danish is mostly helpless as he is suspended from service, but makes the promise to protect his new best friend and play his part in the battle for justice as if it is his own. Their fates are going to join together and soon, the shadows of darkness which are cast on their lives shall converge. Can Danish stand this big test?

The defence of Wazir :: It always feels good to have a Bollywood movie with an interesting plot especially as there are too many of the flicks which don’t have one at all, and there are movies which asks “why always the same story” and while saying that, it comes with the exact same plot told in a miserable way. This is where Wazir uses its intelligence as well as the strong emotional side to become a better and different movie. I do wonder at times why Bollywood movies and good plots are never friends enough. But if you look here, Wazir shows how to become an interesting emotional thriller bringing the breath of fresh air which makes the beginning of the year a nice one indeed, as there are no mindless flicks floating around anymore. The thrills are present and so is the suspense factor. There is also variety and style in how the whole thing is handled. The action sequences are done in a smart way, no overdoing and no slow-motions; believable as well as exciting.

Claws of flaw :: Even though its short length will save some time, people will want more here. Well, we ask ourselves if this is the kind of protagonist whom we want in the investigative thriller flicks, and there are moments when we will think about having a sequel to complete this movie. The usual Bollywood fans who love the entertainment and masala elements are also going to like this one less too; for there is nothing of such kind in here. Even when I visited the theatre, there was so much less interest for this movie there, but I hope to see it get better in the coming days. The movie surely has some points when it becomes slower, especially as a certain emotional side tries to play its role. The fact that some actors are there for only an extended cameo or special appearance will also put some people into lesser interest for the proceedings. The movie could have done better with the thrills overtaking everything else; no doubt about that – but it works well as it is!

Performers of the soul :: Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar makes a highly impressive team here. One man in sorrow has his mind game going strong while the other one is physically fit and has been one of the best police officers of the department – both roles are played with such passion here. The intensity that Farhan Akhtar shows here should be the one thing for which you wouldn’t want to miss this one. Aditi Rao Hydari has a beautiful and at the same time, a happy-transformed-into-sad presence in this movie, and you will feel that even the absence of words speak in favour of her as seen with her expressions. I am pretty sure that she is a lot better than the overrated actresses of the industry. As I turn back the pages, I remember that I had seen her on screen, in the Malayalam movie Prajapathi in which she made her debut as well as in Murder 3; the rest I had missed.

Further performers of the soul :: Neil Nitin Mukesh makes the best out of what he has in this movie, even though it is more of a special appearance. He reminds one of the character “Musafir” in the Malayalam movie The Tiger, who has been an agent and contract killer for the terrorists; but it turns out that even with the essence and soul being the same, the existence is different, and you will know that by the end of the movie with that one final twist – your love for the movie is going to be ultimately decided by that. John Abraham stays strong while doing another special appearance, something which reminds us of him in Madras Cafe; his character will be a reason for us to ask for a sequel to this one – he can always excel in this kind of a role. Manav Kaul as Izaad Qureshi is a really strong presence in this movie. He makes quite a big impact here as the villain who needs to be brought down for the two protagonists.

How it finishes :: Wazir is a movie which begins well as well as ends well. The slowing down in the middle can be forgiven, and the shorter run-time will make sure that you will have an engaging experience with this thriller. Even when viewing it from here, Wazir is no Memories, but it is an engaging journey. The game of chess is also nicely used in parallel with the story-line. It was used not as part of the story-line in the Malayalam movie, the Mohanlal starrer Grandmaster, but here, it comes in as part of the plot; in a smart way of course. You will know better about the relation between life and chess as the movie gets towards the end; one of the protagonists do talk about a few things which relates them much earlier though. The songs are also pretty much okay here. I loved the director’s earlier movie David, and Wazir is the movie which becomes a fine start to the new year, and it is the movie that needs to watched; not those one hundred crore gaining movies, most of which never deserved to be there in the 100-crore club!

[Edit – This review was also later published at: http://kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/1275-wazir-movie-review-2]

Release date: 8th January 2016
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Bejoy Nambiar
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Rao Hydari, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Manav Kaul, Anjum Sharma, Mazel Vyas

wazir

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.