The Manor

Vampire Owl: Are we talking about the Dracula Manor?

Vampire Bat: There is no such a manor. We only have the castle.

Vampire Owl: Well, this could be a manor which looks like a castle.

Vampire Bat: Well, Uncle Dracula certainly has some specific ideas about what a great vampire abode should be.

Vampire Owl: His ideas are as outdated as the castle dungeon coating.

Vampire Bat: We are not supposed to talk like that about the vampire elders.

Vampire Owl: Uncle Dracula is still a few centuries away from being a true elder.

Vampire Bat: The elder status is not always gained by age.

Vampire Owl: Yet, all our vampire elders are older than history.

Vampire Bat: Well, you will see how Uncle Dracula is an exception.

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

What is the movie about? :: Judith Albright (Barbara Hershey) had considered herself to be of perfect health, and enjoyed her life with family including little kids, until she suddenly faces a stroke. She decides to move into a famous nursing home, even though her family feels that it is totally unnecessary. Her grandchildren considers her to be young and healthy as anyone of a lower age, but she is adamant. In comparison to her, the other residents of the nursing home are not really that healthy, both physically and mentally. For the peace and quiet of the place, the authorities actually keep a no mobile phone policy, much to her dismay, as she hoped to text her relatives and find some interesting photos and news from the social media. Judith had chosen to stay at this place, as she didn’t want to be a problem for her family, especially if she gets bed-ridden at some point, and has the feeling that things might not be the same again after the stroke.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, she feels that there is something really strange about the manor and the people around there, even though she does make some good friends out there. The nights no longer allow her to sleep, as something is seen or heard all around. The surroundings around this particular nursing home is also pretty much spooky, as we look on. Her room-mate makes some strange noises, and doesn’t seem to be of good mental health. She also feels that there is a supernatural presence there, with nurses also acting strange, and wants to escape. But the problem is that it was her own decision to choose the nursing home – now she needs to act against it. For the same, she would have a lot of convincing to do though, as everything looks perfect from outside. There is a mystery to be revealed here, about what is it that haunts this particular world, but can it be known?

The defence of The Manor :: There are some fine moments of terror which comes out of nowhere, even though there are not many, and nothing much that we would remember for that long. The setting is really good, and they do use the environment to the best advantage, from the building to the surroundings. There is always something about the world around, whether having an enchanted feeling, or about being ready to unleash the terror at any moment. We also have fine concept behind this film, even though not at its full strength when executed. As expected, there is indeed the twist that awaits us, and there is a certain amount of deviation regarding that too. With Barbara Hershey in the lead, this was going to create a certain amount of impact, and one could be confident that the same was going to increase the positive effect.

The claws of flaw :: The Manor could have done a lot more, and we know that from the premise itself. The film is also very slow, and slower than any horror film would have wanted to move forward. When a horror film cannot go at a good enough pace, it affects the whole thing rather too much. Such a film is also expected to use what is required to keep itself in the genre. The idea here should have been executed better, and there could have been many paths to follow. The scares that it uses could have been manufactured in a better way. It also doesn’t try to build on a possible message which was standing so close out there. The structure could have been better as we look at it. As part of a bigger series, Welcome to the Blumhouse, this one had the chance to stand out, but really doesn’t try to do that. Well, it is our right to expect more here.

Performers of the soul :: Barbara Hershey plays the main role here, and she is also the old lady in distress around. She is the name that has been familiar the most for the supernatural horror film, The Entity more than anything else. It is also one film of those times which has had its presence well known. After so many years, she is part of another horror flick, and she blends in here really well once again. Bruce Davison is the next notable face here, as he has a bigger role to play here than what it seems in the early stages. Then there are actresses like Ciera Payton, Stacey Travis and Jill Larson who also contribute to the film naturally. Nicholas Alexander plays another significant role here, which becomes even more important in the later stages of the movie. Katie Amanda Keane and Shelley Robertson also drops in, along with Fran Bennett. As this is a nursing home, there are enough in-mates here to add to the characters, even though not all of them are used to the best advantage.

How it finishes :: The Manor is the latest addition to the thrillers added to Amazon Prime Video, and last month we did have The Voyeurs doing the job. It doesn’t use enough of horror to its advantage, unlike what was expected, and if it had done that too, The Manor could have had its own good fan base with its premise. In the world of films like The Conjuring, Insidious, Annabelle, Lights Out and Don’t Breathe among others, this is no grand horror fest, but a small one to be part of the group. The focus here is more on the mystery, and as we go through the environment, we are going to be part of this journey, at a lower pace. In a world slowed down by COVID-19 pandemic, there is always scope for some slow horror too. During these days when you cannot trust the people or the virus enough, all you need is some supernatural horror.

Release date: 8th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 81 minutes
Directed by: Axelle Carolyn
Starring: Barbara Hershey, Stacey Travis, Bruce Davison, Ciera Payton, Jill Larson, Mark Steger

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

9

What is the movie about? :: Dr Albert Lewis (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a very successful astrophysicist who have had a love for science since his childhood. He didn’t have that family life that he wanted though, as his wife Annie (Mamta Mohandas) died with childbirth, and his son Adam (Master Alok) is a known menace in the neighbourhood as well as school, leading to multiple change of educational institutions. As Adam was involved in another incident which left his cousin on a wheel chair, even the relatives are hostile to the boy. With Adam being expelled from his school in the middle of the term for another fight with a student, he gets an assignment from his mentor, a world famous scientist, Dr Inayat Khan (Prakash Raj). The idea is to watch, analyze and record the scene of a huge comet from the Himalayas, where it would bring a different scene altogether. With his team mates and Adam, he reaches the place, and stays at a remote guest house owned by his mentor.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It turns out that this comet is not your usual one. It produces an Electro Magnetic Pulse which would disrupt the modern day life – there would be no electricity, internet or mobile phone; modern day vehicles wouldn’t be able to provide transportation. It would be more or less like going back to nature, without having those facilities which people hold dear. There is panic all around, and Albert who reaches the seemingly Victorian-styled huest house makes sure that there are enough candles and lanterns. He also makes some adjustments to an older vehicle and makes sure that it works even though the usual transportation shuts down. As the shut down occurs, the sky turns red. Albert who is watching the amazing sight comes up again a stranger, Ava (Wamiqa Gabbi) who is lost in the woods. He takes her to the guest house, but there seems to be something special about her. She seems to be holding on to some secrets – what would they be?

The defence of 9 :: There are so many things being dealt with, in this movie which is a combination of genres. The horror in this movie is nicely done, and we have the same with a seemingly Victorian Gothic setting which has everything for a horror thriller. The supernatural, death and decay, ancient beliefs, unsolved mysteries, nightmares, hallucinations, large old building with only a few people, darkness, loneliness, fear – they are all there, and at the same time we wonder if some alien terror is going to be unleashed or if the world is going to end. The mystery element is also nicely made up, and it goes right through the movie. The darkness is the most beautiful thing in the movie, and you fall in love with night here. There is quality in how the setting has been used, with the beautiful as well as creepy visuals; the sound effects are also lovely. There are many Hollywood movies that comes to your mind, and also that same quality.

The claws of flaw :: The story here is not that easy to digest for everyman. It just puts too many things in here and also has an ending which is left open as well as unclear. It is also too long and has too many scenes with the apparition of one dead wife appearing, a case of terrible repetition which could have been avoided. The ending could have also been more direct – even though having multiple interpretations is not that bad, the horror feeling that was established earlier should have been allowed to continue to make an impact and leave the theatre with the audience. After all, the audience have gone through all these, and one of those interpretations just nullify the same. It is the supernatural of the movie that rises above everything else here, and the same should have taken full control and came to a conclusion in the end – well, when there is a chance to go full Gothic in a setting like this, I would take it.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj takes another divergence and another risk with this movie, but this doesn’t trouble him that much because he has been to such a situation before. He has played the protagonist looking for answers, who would be wandering through mystery and horror in different films. We have seen him in the dark flicks like Memories, Adam Joan7th Day and Ezra, making nice impact. The Hollywoodish feeling that he maintained even in last year’s Ranam and Koode are also to be remembered. Prakash Raj is just there for some time, and there is just him going through the long talk and no action. Mamta Mohandas is just there for the song with very short flashbacks and to keep coming back as apparitions in stylish clothing – there could have been more. Mamta is not someone who is to be restricted to that, as we feel that the flashback is more relevant than ever in this movie.

Further performers of the soul :: At the same time, Master Alok brings a fine performance as the child in trouble, and we see something that makes him right for the genre. Back after the much appreciated Godha, Wamiqa Gabbi is fantastic as the mysterious girl who turns out to be more than just a damsel in distress troubled by a piece of comet. There are fine moments which reflects the creepy side is a beautiful way, as she walks through the huge building as lights are turned off, staring outside from a bath-tub and coming up with a mysterious, creepy smile on more than one occasion. She seems to blend into the Gothic horror so well, and I will be glad to see her in a full-horror movie. You look here, and feel that she could be in something like Crimson Peak. Rahul Madhav and Adil Ibrahim are there in smaller roles, and we also see some unknown actors who are there for a short period of time leaving something nice behind.

How it finishes :: It can be seen that 9 goes through different genres at the same time. There is science fiction and the supernatural, as the movie is a psychological horror thriller with a scientific background. It is the first big movie to combine all these well, and one of the first movies to deal with some science fiction of such grand scale. There are questions that go unanswered with the same, and there are moments when we feel that the grip is lost – it could have surely been better, but as it is now, makes an interesting watch. 9 is surely an effort in the right direction, and we can hope to have more movies of the same kind after this. If a combination like this can have everything in the right quantity and quality, there is no limit to how good it can be. Until such a movie is made, we can go to the theatres and enjoy 9 this week.

Release date: 7th February 2019
Running time: 149 minutes
Directed by: Jenuse Mohamed
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Prakash Raj, Wamiqa Gabbi, Mamta Mohandas, Master Alok, Tony Luke, Vishal Krishna, Rahul Madhav, Adil Ibrahim

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mama

mama (3)

This one goes back a little to the past in this year itself, and this is one of those movies which could easily initiate such a sequence in the eternal time machine. This is rather more of the present than the past, as it doesn’t really go back that far if there is an intellectual consideration in depth. It was different in being different, and therefore its influence had to be such a lasting thing. There is one point where all the interest about this movie begins, and that is when one reads these lines from its cover – “Presented by Guillermo del Toro, creator of Pan’s Labyrinth“. He serves as executive producer, and as far as it is known, the movie is based on a 2008 short film of the same name in Spanish, about which there is nothing more to shoot in the quiver which is short of its crossbow bolts from that part of the world. The movie comes up with the dark tale of two little girls left in a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods, taken care of by an unknown person or creature that they call Mama, and the same entity even follows the girls to their new home to which their father’s brother takes them after finding them as two feral children.

During a financial crisis, a disappointed and depressed man, Jeffrey Desange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), kills his business partners and wife before taking his little children Victoria and Lilly away from home. Driving too fast on a road paved by snow and upset with all the thoughts about his failures and the crimes he had committed, the car slides off the path and crashes in the woods. Jeffrey takes the children and walks away from civilization, finally reaching something that seems to be an abandoned cabin. He plans to murder his daughters and commit suicide with a gun, but then a mysterious figure arrives in time to instantly kill him and it also feeds the two children. Victoria talks about the figure as a woman whose legs don’t touch the ground. Then the scene shifts to five years later, with Jeffrey’s brother, the kids’ uncle Lucas Desange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), living with his girlfriend Annabel Moore (Jessica Chastain). They don’t live under good conditions, but Lucas haven’t lost hope about finding the children of his brother. He still sponsors search parties hoping to find some trace of his brother and children.

One of them find the children alive in the same cabin, but dirty, half-naked, horribly thin and with an animal-like behaviour – walking on four legs and talking like making some strange noises. The girls are put under the care of psychatirst Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash). They keeps talking about someone called “Mama”. He feels that it is just a creation of the girls’ minds as they were alone in the woods without help. But soon, Lucas is attacked by the same shadowy figure known as Mama and enters a comma. Annabel is forced to take care of the girls all by herself even as Mama’s visits continue. Annabel does get close to the elder child, Victoria, but Lilly remains hostile and highly attached only to Mama. Meanwhile, Gerald finds out something about this mysterious figure from the clues which Victoria gave away. Mama is a mother separated from her child – she used to be Edith Brennan, a mental asylum inmate in the 1800s. He also finds a box containing an infant’s remains from that former mental asylum which was kept as her belonging there. Meanwhile, Annabel has a nightmare revealing Mama’s past which reveals more about her. Lucas also has a disturbing dream of his dead brother Jeffrey telling him to save his kids.

But there might have been more about Mama that what met the eye. She is undoubtedly supernatural as well as tormented. The problem remained if she is normal and thus if she is reasonable. The psychatrist might have thought so, but the experience doesn’t go well for him. Even Lucas and his wife has to go through near-death experiences. So the question would be more about “why mama why?” rather than “who is mama?”. Well, mama is undoubtedly a former mother who no longer exists as a human mother. The nature of her strange love for her child is evident from her asylum background. The question might be about how much torment a mentally unstable ghost can cause to a group of normal, living people. That would be a lot of it, much more than what the mentally unstable father of two little children could do. How much is the chance of one making peace with her? It wasn’t possible when she was alive, and considering the fact that she is more motivated by the love for children rather than anything else, the solution becomes even more complicated in the human world.

Mama is a visual treat of a horror film, and not part of the gory ones which take over in the usual style. There is a well-created world of horror right in front of you all the time, and then suddenly there is a scene that takes your breath further away and then it goes back to normal to await the next thing. Welcome to this story of old-style less bloody horror movie of low gore level. There are signs of Guillermo del Toro’s magical extravaganza Pan’s Labyrinth or El laberinto del fauno, are evident in both the characters as well as the environment. There is the feeling of a dark fantasy through out and there is the lack of sunshine which is more motivating than the depressing thing which it might have become, which is a success in all ways. It’s just how horror films should be, without using any cheap or low class tricks. The looks of Mama is also a revelation, as she emerges from the walls or closet, sometimes suddenly and on other occasions as if part of all the horror that surrounds them. The use of moths to show Mama’s presence is a further effective thing, as it shows more of her tormented sould which is not completely evil, thus owl, crow or bat not chosen; neither is the wolf or cat given a chance at it. Mama is more of a butterfly rather than anything else, but a fierce one.

The movie’s dark world move along the path of Pan’s Labyrinth, but it is still not of that class of ultimate perfection and awesomeness, and still is close enough. It meets Hansel and Gretel in its witch-like creature who is less of a ghost and more of an undead freak of nature. There it shows the qualities of The Orphan meeting The Grudge and The Ring in a good way. Mama could have even made a good creature in Alien or The Exorcist, and the creature’s success is in its strange, but “suitable for almost every genre” looks. She is a dark fairy, the nature’s spectre, the tormented undead mother and the dark elf. She belongs to nature and as a creature to the living, she is more moth or a group of moths rather than anything else. They signify her presence, and if she takes the children with her, there will be more moths for sure. There is the positive thing – the innovation, for how the ghost is treated around here with a difference. The movie is fresh in its treatment of a new ghostly creature with heavy parental instincts. Such a creature is not onne would expect in such a movie, and until it appears everything might look more psychological than supernatural, even if the signs are already there from the beginning itself.

While Mama is a benevolent spirit when it comes to two children, but she is a malevolent and even a death-dealer with everyone else. She hasn’t yet become pure evil, even as her allignment away from goodness and sanity is clear by the climax scene. Even her unseen presence suggests the same. Her moths symbolize the little beauty that she has lost to death and decay and the beautiful world which was lost to her more due to the people around rather than her own madness. There are no usual suspects of the common supernatural, as there is only the variation which is Mama. The movie is very much dependent on your taste to survive, but the fact remains that it is more close to being suitable for all people with not that much blood and gore, or the display of any kind of nudity – well, this one never needed it considering its content and presentation. There is not much of a male gaze or a possible female gaze working out in this one. It is story of an undead mother’s love and with the addition of insanity to it, there is a lot to think about. There is no compromise in being spooky or creepy enough though.

Release date: 18th January 2013
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Jane Moffat

mama copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.