Io

Vampire Owl: We are watching another movie quick enough.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is surely a plan of Vampire Fate.

Vampire Owl: So, you mean to say that Fate is a vampire too.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why not. Fate meets all requirements for the same.

Vampire Owl: For something to become a vampire, first it needs to exist.

Vampire Bat: Fate’s existence has been proven over the centuries.

Vampire Owl: But has Fate ever lived in a physical form?

Vampire Bat: Yes, Fate is already part of the air we breathe.

Vampire Owl: That sounds like the Corona Virus.

Vampire Bat: After all, this Corona Virus pandemic itself is a work of fate itself.

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

What is the movie about? :: When the Earth was going to be destroyed mostly due to pollution resulting from human activities, many scientists had started working on a power station that could be sent to space to harvest geothermal energy from other planets. But it would be too late, as people were dying in their sleep, while some others were suffocating in the streets, with the blood in their veins turning black due to a higher level of pollution. The change in atmospheric composition due to the same led to many spaceships with people flying into the sky and then into space as an act of Exodus turning the power station into a colony, like a lifeboat floating about another celestial body. For the same, they had chosen the fourth largest celestial body among the moons in the solar system which has the highest density among them, and has the lowest amount of water around. Discovered in 1610 by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei and named after the mythological character Io, a priestess of Hera, Jupiter’s volcanic moon, Io now has a higher significance for humans.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Most of the people on Earth had already fled, but a very few still try to survive on its surface. Sam Walden (Margaret Qualley) is one of those very few humans who have some hope left about Earth, and she chooses a high altitude area where the air is somewhat breathable, even though she does make some visit to the highly polluted areas with masks to collect some samples. She is also raising bees, hoping that they can help clean the air, but is asked by her boyfriend who lives on the Io station to join him, as they are planning to live at a newer, greater place, with no hope left for Earth which has fallen to human greed. Sam’s hopes are ruined when her bees are killed by a terrible storm which also destroys some of her equipment and sources of power. But she does maintain some hope, as she continues to be in contact with her long distance boyfriend from Io, and tries to carry on with her objective, even though without that much of a plan this time.

And what more do we see here in a wold without hope for future? :: At the same time, a man named Micah (Anthony Mackie) arrives there on a balloon, and asks for her father and scientist, Dr Harry Walden (Danny Huston) – but he is not there, and she assures him that he will be back soon, maybe the very next day, after some field work. He decides to wait, as Harry was someone who believed that there was hope for humanity on Earth, and he needed to meet the man. But the problem here is that Harry has been dead for a long time, and she has been lying all the time. Micah was brought here by the message from Harry which had further brought him hope – the message was sent by Sam, and this would lead to a crisis, as both of them will have a few things to realize, and the same is to be done together. Is there hope left for Earth, or can they make another choice? Where will they end up in the end, dead or alive while fighting for survival in a dying planet?

The defence of Io :: Here is another post-apocalyptic movie which has the expected stuff, even though not with the action-filled adventure of a science fiction. The emotional moments are serene, and effective, and the cast is perfect for the same. Margaret Qualley’s face has that kind of melancholy going through her, which brings the feeling effectively, whether it is about loneliness or the loss of hope – yet, there is some hesitation, something which Eva Green didn’t have even for a bit in the science fiction drama, Proxima. Anthony Mackie provides the support well enough, even though Margaret eclipses everything around with a certain beauty of hopeless sadness that always surrounds her. The visuals of post-apocalyptic world is done just in the right way, and there are areas where it does have some fine work in store. The references to the mythology are good, but can feel overdone to a number of people who are not familiar with the same. The feeling of failure of faith, belief and hope feels natural too.

The claws of flaw :: Io is indeed a slow movie, and never does it pick up the pace, even though there were many opportunities to do so, especially considering the fact that this is a post-apocalyptic world that we have in store here. For such a world, there is so much potential, even in isolation, as we have seen in many other movies which have setting after the destruction of Earth due to one reason or the other. The best of science fiction had a chance to come in on many occasions. This definitely depends on what you are expecting from a movie like this, as this is not your usual stuff with the same idea at all. The romantic is also not that good, and the film could have easily gone on without it – after all, this is not that kind of a flick. The movie also deserved a better ending, considering how it had built up slowly towards that finish. It could have also had some fine visuals of space with Io out there, along with some moments at the space station, as they have come this much already, when you look at it.

How it finishes :: Io is the post-apocalyptic science fiction drama which deviates from the usual path, and seems to be proud of it all the way. After all, it shows what could happen at some stage later, and therefore being realistic is an understatement. The fall of humanity and Earth has been predicted for a long time, and this Corona Virus has asserted the weakness of science in front of most of the enemies whom humans are going to face, and clearly none of the advancements of science can save them. Considering the same, Io is indeed a realization, of the weakness and hopelessness of mankind. You have to move with slow and abiding sadness of the movie to like this version of post-apocalyptic science fiction – otherwise, you might not find this particular version to be interesting. During this time of COVID-19, you know that we might not be that powerful to even delay our extinction for a limited period of time and we are certainly not the saviors of our planet, but the ruthless destroyers.

Release date: 18th January 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Jonathan Helpert
Starring: Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, Danny Huston, Tom Payne

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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.