Haunt

Vampire Owl: Can this be more haunted than our own castle?

Vampire Bat: I don’t think so. We, true vampires provide top quality haunting all the time.

Vampire Owl: In this movie, they become part of a Haunted House attraction, only to find that it is real terror inside.

Vampire Bat: So, these humans want to get into a haunted place, but want to be haunted in a safe manner. It is a strange thing.

Vampire Owl: Yes, there should be no safe haunting. If there is such a thing, it is never really the haunting in the right form.

Vampire Bat: It is time that they realize that things just don’t happen as they want it to happen in a world of chaos.

Vampire Owl: Sooner or later, they would want to be murdered without being dead.

Vampire Bat: They are living in a strange and impossible world of their own.

Vampire Owl: They feel that they can make their own world according to the need, but that is a foolish thought.

Vampire Bat: Yes, sooner or later, they should understand that they are not the masters of this world, and they will never get even close to being something like that.

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

What is the movie about? :: Harper (Katie Stevens) is not having a good time with her alcoholic and abusive boyfriend Sam (Samuel Hunt), and her friends so not approve of him for what he has been letting her go through. The two lovers are very close to breaking up, as the Halloween night arrives, and everyone dresses up in their favourite scary costumes. Her best friend Bailey (Lauryn McClain), along with two other friends Angela (Shazi Raja) and Mallory (Schuyler Helford) attend a party. There, they also meet two guys, Nathan (Will Brittain) and Evan (Andrew Caldwell), who together decide to go on a ride. It is then that Harper feels that she is being stalked by a man wearing a mask. The figure keeps staring at her body on multiple occasions, and she decides to keep close to his friends, as they go on the journey, and stops at a special Halloween attraction, a haunted house. They decide to give it a try, as it has a nice, spooky look suitable for the season.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Just outside the attraction, they meet the Clown (Justin Marxen) of the Haunted House, who makes them surrender their mobile phones and sign forms with their name, address and other details before they are allowed to enter the place. The group which enters the place together, is soon separated. On one side, Bailey, Nathan and Angela finds out that the haunting is real the hard way, as Bailey gets cut on her right arm. At the same time Harper, Evan and Mallory have to crawl through a series of tunnels as well as spend time in coffins as part of the game, but end up losing Mallory who disappears. The two teams meet up again only to find Mallory taken out of a bag by a masked figure who impales her through the head, seemingly killing her. It is then that the group realizes that this is a life-threatening situation, and if they can’t find a way out, they might be killed by traps or masked figures. But is there a way out from there?

The defence of Haunt :: The setting is the one thing that gives this movie the big advantage, and Halloween world with a haunted attraction is what the world never gets tired of watching, and has immense possibilities even without trying too hard. The movie does manage to keep the blood and gore checked, keeping the violence from going too far, as this is a slasher movie made to kill most of its characters in brutal ways, with a setting like this. There are some sequences of terror which comes in, and brings the needed feeling for the audience. It works with the usual fears, and uses them effectively on different occasions created here. There is also a likable protagonist being brought here, and due to what she has been going through, we support her all the time. The masks and the people behind them are terrifying enough to watch, and the movie lives up to its haunted environment, also adding something for the scream queen to shine in the end.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie has that haunted house attraction setting, it never really uses it to the full potential, and neither does it manages the best with the youngsters from a party looking for Halloween fun. If you have watched Escape Room, you will know how tricky and scary the rooms can get, even without qualifying as a horror movie in essence – a life-threatening crisis is always the biggest challenge which can be displayed in grand style, no matter what the genre is, and horror has it easy. Haunt does make much of an attempt at divergence and innovation which could have come naturally, as options were always open. The moments before they reach the haunted house are pretty much dull, and that takes some valuable time which could have been used to add more scares into the movie. The movie also adds a certain amount of flashback to its protagonist, which also drags a little bit here and there.

Performers of the soul :: Katie Stevens might be best known for participating in the ninth season of American Idol and also for being part of some of the popular television series, but she is a new figure for the audience here. She was there in the Kathryn Prescott starrer Polaroid in which she had a small role of the girl who was hosting the party, and the second person to be killed in it. The actresses like Samantha Logan and Priscilla Quintana had bigger role than her in that movie. But here, we can see that Katie establishes her very well as one of the best scream queens in her twenties, even though understanding her potential, we know that she could have been given more to do within that haunted house, and the whole thing should have been focused even more on her. Will Brittain plays the male lead pretty well. Lauryn McClain, Schuyler Helford and Shazi Raja manage their roles pretty well. Andrew Caldwell also adds a little, but the masked ones score above them all sharing the glory with Katie.

How it finishes :: It has to be noted that despite having such a fine setting for terror resembling movies like The Collector, Saw and Hostel, this movie is something which has not been watched much by the people from this part of the world, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most people do not know that such a movie exists. Haunt is a movie that deserves some audience, even though it still hasn’t used its elements as much as the horror fans would have wanted it to. When you are locked in a haunted house attraction with psychopath killers wearing masks, you would surely expect more. Otherwise, the move manages to do its job just fine, and the movie maintains the level it had in the beginning, never really altering the mode. You can watch this to add another horror slasher with some traps and killers walking around, and the main characters always in danger, death walking through every corner – you know the ways of evil. After all, each and every movie can’t be Doctor Sleep, Lights Out, It Follows or Don’t Breathe.

Release date: 13th September 2019
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Starring: Katie Stevens, Shazi Raja, Lauryn McClain, Will Brittain, Schuyler Helford, Andrew Caldwell, Chaney Morrow, Justin Marxen, Samuel Hunt, Damian Maffei

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Crimson Peak

crimsonpeak (1)

Vampire Owl: I believe that we should sell our castle and buy what they call the Crimson Peak. It looks more Gothic than all our bloody rooms combined.

Vampire Bat: We should write a letter to Uncle Dracula concerning this after watching this movie.

Vampire Owl: I believe that it is from the director who can do the Gothic more justice than anybody else.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is like Guillermo del Toro weaves his magic wand and this genre reaches new heights.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

✠ This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://www.kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/1130-crimson-peak-movie-review

From the visionary director Guillermo del Toro, the man who brought us movies like Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy and Pacific Rim, the latest flick comes in the form of a Gothic Romance Horror called Crimson Peak. It has been one of the most anticipated movies of the year for those who loved the critically acclaimed dark fantasy known as Pan’s Labyrinth. Crimson Peak has also remained a much discussed title among the horror fans. What this movie seemed to try and achieve was to bring the Gothic mystery elements back to the big screen like never before. The trailer also supported the same idea, and so did the costumes and the surroundings featured in it.

The audience is introduced to a little girl who sees the apparition of her mother giving her one warning – beware of Crimson Peak. She grows up with the belief that ghosts are real because she has seen them, and she becomes a beautiful lady who is an aspiring author from Buffalo. This lady, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) has a desire to show her skill in writing ghost stories even though she is told to write love stories instead. A twist of fate happens when she unexpectedly falls in love with Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) who arrives in the US from England, related to business matters. She marries him against the advice of her people after her father dies, and travels with him beyond the Atlantic Ocean to his lands.

Everything seems to be perfect with love and affection right at the core. But she soon discovers that the man is more than what meets the eye as he has many secrets. With his sister Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain) who seems to share these secrets, there is a very scary side to their world of two. A large crumbling mansion set in the mountainous region in Cumbria will make sure that her trip to the British Isles won’t be as good as she thought it would be. The house seems to warn her and so do the apparitions which make another appearance there, visible only to her. These creatures are new, but her nightmares have only begun, and she will soon know the truth about the siblings, the house and its bloody violent past.

The first thing that you notice related to Crimson Peak is the beauty that you see on screen. It is a wonderful reminder to the Gothic that the viewers have always read about during our childhood. The environment brings the best effects of horror on screen. It is the kind of world which suits horror like never before. As usual, Guillermo del Toro knows how to do the best with the creature design, as each apparition in this movie is unique, and all of them are scary. With the sound effects added and terrifying sequences well shot to magnify the horror, the whole thing becomes an even better experience. Still, the movie is does not fully fall into the horror genre. The costumes are also amazing, nicely contributing to the style of the movie. All of these are a lot worthy enough to be watched on the big screen.

There are a few scenes which need mention, one of them being a murder scene, surprisingly showing the aesthetics in death like never before. With water pouring out of the sink and getting mixed with blood, this simple scene shows what creativity can bring. Yes, there is violence, but with beauty. The elegance of death has been brought to the next level. The appearance of the apparition of the mother also brings something special. The red apparition is also imaginative, and the mansion remains a live thing all the time. The mixture of red clay from under the ground to snow also provides a creepy feeling to a house and the surroundings which are already scary with its architecture and location. All of them are worthy of bringing a big horror sequel to Crimson Peak.

There is a certain magic spell which is created by the movie on the audience with the visual detail; then there is the magic of performances which guides this movie. Tom Hiddleston steals the show with his dialogues and expressions as a character that seems to reflect love and compassion with eyes, but struggles hard to hide the secrets. Jessica Chastain is more like the personification of terror which is waiting to unleash itself, and she does a good job. Mia Wasikowska once again becomes the Alice here, not lost in Wonderland, but in the wasteland of her dreams, nightmares and newly found mansion. She manages her role remarkably well, and the audience can easily connect with her emotions. Charlie Hunnam is underutilized though, with more action set in England with the three characters.

The movie still takes a little bit more time than needed to get into the Gothic mode. Another fact is that more could have been achieved with what has already been done with the marvelous imagination that the director possesses. This is still brilliant, but is just a little short of becoming that perfect Gothic Horror Romance movie. The viewers who enjoy beauty on screen will find it difficult to take their eyes off throughout this movie, and there is a certain emotional impact which will also stay in minds after the movie ends. It is the kind of tale which makes you think, and it also brings the memories of that enchanting beauty into your mind – Guillermo del Toro once again proves that he knows how it should be done.

Release date: 16th October 2015
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, Emily Coutts, Leslie Hope, Burn Gorman, Laura Waddell

crimsonpeak

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ouija

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Vampire Owl :: Halloween and no horror. Never thought that such a day will come in this century.

Vampire Bat :: There is horror. We can watch Ouija.

Vampire Owl :: Really? The Vampire Panda told me that it was a bad movie and critics gave bloody low ratings to it.

Vampire Bat :: Lets not trust the critics on a horror movie. Besides, that panda is not a vampire. He is just the Kungfu Panda on disguise attempting to sell his noodles and action figures among vampires.

Vampire Owl :: I shall deal with him later. For now, I can surely use a summoned spirit. According to the latest version of the Book of the Dead, the Undead and the Brain dead, they are very useful creatures. We need to get an Ouija Board.

Vampire Bat :: Do you realize that you already create enough problems for yourself?

Vampire Owl :: Absolutely yes. See, I am an evil entity. I am supposed to create problems for the world which includes myself.

Vampire Bat :: You should have a dosa. You turn evil when you need it.

Vampire Owl :: No. I am a dangerous owl. I need to keep it that way.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, dangerous to yourself.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: The protagonist Laine Morris (Olivia Cooke) is searching for answers as she hopes that she could have done something for her best friend Debbie Galardi (Shelley Hennig) who had committed suicide, and she laments the fact that she was the last one to talk to her and yet couldn’t stop her from doing such an act. As she finds an Ouija board in her house, along with her sister Sarah (Ana Coto) and other friends of Debbie, Pete (Douglas Smith), Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), and Isabelle (Bianca A. Santos) decides to try and contact their recently deceased friend. Soon, they contact a spirit which addresses them as friends, but what they are not aware of is that Debbie already had made a connection to the other world which lead to her death, and they understands that more than one entity is now free. The friends realize that they will just be killed one after the other and there will be no stopping the terror. A relative to the dead people returning as spirits, Paulina (Lin Shaye) who resides in a mental asylum seems to be the key to stopping the evil, but will it work?

The defence of Ouija :: The name would be enough to draw people to the movie, and the Ouija board has always been the centre of curiosity for a lot of people for a good amount of time. We have a lot of curious cats among us, don’t we? This movie banks in the same with the board at the centre, throws the usual stuff at us again and again, and there are some scares as one would expect from it. The sewn mouths are not something new, but they surely work here especially according to the circumstance, and the twist, even if small is a working one. There are possessions, suicides, murders, sewn mouths, blank eyes, with some scares here and there, and a creepy environment of the house. The sound effects are very good and the visual horror has its moments. It is quite a success as a haunted house movie, with the board being found from the home where evil has happened sometime ago. Some moments near the end are good, even as their failure to end the movie with the same surprises me.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t try anything new at all. Its biggest asset is that one board, but the flick fails to capitalize on the same. There is not much about that one big thing that it could have used to its effectiveness, and instead the same becomes only the means to what is to come next. It only does the job of any other possessed item which could gain the attention of the spirits. The movie should have stuck to its title, explaining more about the board and how things come to this dimension in relation to the same. But it tries to make the movie go on in the usual pattern often forgetting that the movie is about the board, with the existence of a house where something terrible did happen a long time ago and there is a spirit waiting to possess or murder people. Even a good number of scares are not that effective, but there are a few which work nicely. The plot and the narrative could have had some more attention to make the whole thing better.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has a rather cute lead at the top, and the performances are overall decent. Olivia Cooke plays the protagonist here, the lady who is hopelessly trying to connect to her dead best friend, and she has indeed played this role with such expressions of fear and uncertainty which makes this character so much believable here. Her cuteness helps the cause a lot, and she is a perfect one for this role which has more hopelessness and desperation which she could nicely reflect on her face. You will instantly like her, that is for sure. The next one is Shelley Hennig, and even as she dies early, has her moments too, and is not done even with that separation of the soul. She adds to the beauty of the cast and does enough, while the rest of the cast manages to hold on, but not with anything special. Meanwhile, Lin Shaye is here too, and she is once again impressive in another horror movie – catches our attention.

Soul exploration :: In its search for the spirits within the Ouija board and also outside it, the movie losses its soul. It can’t realize what it has in its soul, whether it is to focus on the board or the haunted house and its scary past. When we finally decide that it is on the latter, then comes the board again as if it is Count Dracula who wants to be part of everything vampiric. The spirit also works a lot like the Final Desination series, planning to just kill them all in freaky ways, even as it is not that heartless to make things too violent. Then you realize that Ouija is a mixture which is created to make it a safe bet, and it adds so many things to itself and makes those factors work in parts even as in totality, there is some mess. There is the lack of soul to hold it together, and it is the same reason why we are unable to bring much of it back home – even Annabelle living in the shadows of The Conjuring had more for us. Ouija boards can inspire better horror movies, and this one has the spirits not that powerful.

How it finishes :: The conclusion is still that even with its list of flaws, Ouija is your movie of the Halloween, even as Annabelle does exist at selected theatres with less number of shows. It will be the choice of the Halloween enthusiasts as Ouija board is not something that is not tried that much, and there are not other big Hollywood entertainers released this weekend. I have successfully kept my distance from Bollywood since Diwali as I had sensed certain danger. Meanwhile, I wish all the followers of this blog and the readers of this post a very Happy Halloween, and the November first is also the birthday of the Indian state of Kerala, the occasion known as Kerala Piravi, so I wish all my fellow Keralites a Happy Kerala Piravi too. For more details about the same, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_Piravi and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala. Happy Birthday, Kerala 🙂

Release date: 31st October 2014 (India); 24th October 2014 (USA)
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Stiles White
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Shelley Hennig, Daren Kagasoff, Douglas Smith, Bianca A. Santos, Ana Coto, Matthew Settle, Lin Shaye, Vivis Colombetti, Robyn Lively, Bill Watterson, Sierra Heuermann

ouija

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.