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Vampire Owl: His ideas are as outdated as the castle dungeon coating.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

Aadu 2

What is the movie about? :: The team of Shaji Pappan (Jayasurya) go on with the journey after the events of the first film. Their world hasn’t really gotten any better, as they keep struggling to find the money to keep their club, and once again their option is to participate in the tug of war competition. With the Pinky episode closed both with the girl and the goat, Pappan just continues to have his back pain, but leads his team to victory in the competition, only to have his golden trophy stolen by the rival team lead by Anali Sabu (Anson Paul). Meanwhile, S.I. Sarbath Shameer (Vijay Babu) manages to get back to service after begging the new Home Minister of Kerala, P.P. Sasi Aashan (Indrans) to have his uniform again. He decides to keep his eyes on Shaji Pappan who had thrown the former S.I. of the station into the dam reservoir, and prove to everyone that he is an even better police officer than he used to be.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: At the same time, Damodaran Unnimakan Delmen Edakochi a.k.a. Dude (Vinayakan) is having an even more terrible time, working at a restaurant, and with his friends and the new comrade Dragon Paili (Nelson) is planning something huge, without being depressed of his failure – he is ridiculed by the owner of the restaurant, but he is waiting for his opportunity to get back to what he does the best. Satan Xavier (Sunny Wayne) surely has better times with the help of Kanjavu Soman (Sudhi Koppa) and Battery Simon (Bijukuttan) who work for him at small wages. But their world along with that of a criminal mastermind, a villain known as Shetty (John Kaippallil) are to come together soon, with that day on which five hundred and one thousand rupee notes ceased being legal tender. It would begin a series of blunders and confusion that would lead to a twist of fate for some.

The defence of Aadu 2 :: After Aadu Oru Bheekara Jeevi Aanu disappeared from the theatres, people have been slowly trying to like it, and there has been a lot of talk about the same – for them, this would prove to be a nice treat, as they have all wanted it a lot. There are some funny moments in here for sure, and they come and go. The beginning with the introduction of the protagonist, and the return of the police officer to duty are all good, making sure that the sequel starts well. The music and visuals are all pretty good, and there seems to be more and more of an effort to make the youth appreciate it rather than an individual or the family. From a reviewer’s perspective, this movie would come only under Midhun Manuel Thomas’s each and every other work – Annmariya Kalippilaanu, Alamara and Aadu Oru Bheekara Jeevi Aanu are better than this. But you know that it is not the thing which always counts, but on the other side, we know that more people liking or pretending to like a movie to go with the crowd doesn’t make it a better one.

The claws of flaw :: There is not that much of fun in Aadu 2 as it was there in its prequel. It falls short there, and also the story itself is not that interesting. The limited number of working jokes is rather a sad thing. The excuse in favour of this movie might be that it is meant to be nonsense – but even making quality nonsense requires better thinking, and when we look at this movie, that part has come down a level from the first movie too. There are so many ways of making a funny thing work, and whether it is funny in a smart way or if it is nonsense, the thing has to work. Here, Aadu 2 has the nonsense which struggles to be funny even as nonsense, and that is a crime, which is repeated a number of times. Also, even a dumb story can be smart in how it is made to seem ridiculous. This one falls short of its predecessor in doing the same too.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya leads the way as expected after another sequel, Punyalan Private Limited, playing the character that nobody has refused to like. There is no surprise about the fact everyone wishes to see Shaji Pappan again – even I remember that entry that he had in the first part; there is not that much of an entrance here that we will keep remembering, but we love him anyway, as the one character who seems to be part of us in one way or the other. Vinayakan’s Dude could have used even more screen-time, as among them all, the man makes us laugh the most – almost everything from him works, unlike some of the other characters that got to struggle to keep up with the standards set in the first movie. Vijay Babu is in full form with this character which he seems to hold close, and with the support of Noby Marcose, he gets to score with nice moments. Indrans has his presence limited, maybe due to the absence of the sidekick character – and that is disappointing too.

Further performers of the soul :: One can’t help noticing the absence of two of the characters that made the best impact in the first part, played by Chemban Vinod Jose and Sandra Thomas. The former’s moments which are widely used in memes for trolls and latter being a reflection of a certain group of people who prefer animals to men, are clearly missed in this flick, and Chemban not being found here is a bigger surprise. Sunny Wayne’s character, despite being a big name again, never really gets to get bigger. The big team of the protagonist including Saiju Kurup, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Bhagath Manuel, Vineeth Mohan and others won’t make that big impact this time, as they also struggle to live up to what they did in the first movie, with some jokes here and there. Sometimes, irritating moments do come in as if they are jokes, and the characters just manage to play with the same. Well, fans will just find awesomeness in everything and abuse, but we can’t, can we descend that low?

How it finishes :: The first movie, Aadu Oru Bheekara Jeevi Aanu, was kind of late to gather all the positive opinions, as it had failed at the box-office, and didn’t make much an impact with the critics of that time. This one has picked up due to the fans going in favour of it, and youth taking it as their duty to support it. But in the end, you will find that it is not that funny, and there is a lesser effect here than what was created in the first movie. It is enjoyable in parts, but as a whole, the first movie was surely better, and it also had a better effect on us, as it was something that felt new. But here, we see a movie which seems to try to repeat the same thing without trying anything better or new. It is the curse of the sequels that has caught this movie, and we know that sequels are rarely better than the originals – well, this one is no exception. Well, if you are not going to think about any of these, and desperately wishes to watch the second part, just go for it. After all, it is Christmas, and the festival season and holidays can use some meaningless fun. It is surely why it is more difficult to get tickets for this one than its competitors Vimaanam, Mayaanadhi, Aana Alaralodalaral and Masterpiece.

Release date: 22nd December 2017
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Midhun Manuel Thomas
Starring: Jayasurya, Sunny Wayne, Vijay Babu, Saiju Kurup, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Bhagath Manuel, Vineeth Mohan, Harikrishnan, Noby Marcose, Aju Varghese, Vinayakan, Indrans, Sudhi Koppa, Anson Paul, Srinda Arhaan, Nelson, Bijukuttan, Gopesh, Mamukoya, Baiju, Irshad

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.