Warning: Do Not Play

Vampire Owl: I have watched a movie with the name Warning, some years back.

Vampire Bat: Yes, that was in the year 2013. We watched that Hindi movie with the same name.

Vampire Owl: So, this one provides another warning.

Vampire Bat: Well, horror movies do come up with many warnings.

Vampire Owl: Yes, those warnings which the people in the movie ignores.

Vampire Bat: Without such foolish actions, the horror movie losses the charm.

Vampire Owl: I would always support such actions though.

Vampire Bat: There is no need to overdo the same thing again and again though.

Vampire Owl: Yes, even being foolish for the sake of horror has its limits.

Vampire Bat: Let us see what the characters in this movie manage to do.

[Gets a vancho cake and three glasses of vanilla-strawberry shake].

What is the movie about? :: Mi-Jung (Seo Ye-Ji) is an aspiring film director has been preparing a horror film for many years, but is not able to find the right story despite watching many movies of the same genre, and reading many short stories and novels belonging to the same category, and that leaves her in a desperate need for something. As an young and energetic girl looking to shine in her field, she decides to go after a news about one short-film which was taken in a university by a student as part of the person’s project. It is supposed to have caused some strange incidents in the university, and people say that the movie was originally filmed by a ghost. She does travel all the way there, but from the professor who has been working in the film department for about ten years, she gets no information regarding the same. This leads to her looking for some information from the students of the university, but manages to get very little.

So, what happens with the events here? :: It is then that she gets something from a film festival which was supposed to screen the movie, and as she posts the same online, she is approached by a strange man who is supposed to have created the movie. He forces her to delete her post, and tells her nothing. But she follows him to his house, and manages to steal a copy of the movie, as she has to create her film as soon as possible. But these sequence of events does bring her much trouble. She does manage to see a strange figure lurking in the shadows, and within the darkness. She struggles hard to get whole of the movie retrieved, as some part of it was destroyed. After she is successful in doing the same, she hopes to bring a new version of the same story with a lot of edits. But the question remains if she will be alive or with enough sanity to continue what she has been doing. There is something coming right after her, and it is not good – now, it is more about survival.

The defence of Warning: Do Not Play :: It is clear that this movie chooses to go on through the usual horror path, with one video tape at the centre, reminding one of the Ring series of movies which went on producing many sequels after the grand success with the first flick. The idea of a movie which kills people itself is always something of interest. There are some nice scares which comes in the later stages of the movie, and the settings are also pretty well managed, but what scares more might be the selfishness of someone who looks forward to get what the person wants. If you have watched those usual horror movies, this one can be added to that list – we had seen what an electronic device can do with the help of a ghost, as shown Polaroid, and this one also seems to share some similarities with that particular flick. Still, it is nice that this one is not a found footage movie, because that would have brought the level of the film further down in this case.

The claws of flaw :: Warning: Do Not Play did have many paths to choose from, and for some reason, it decides to go with the usual one without surprises, and it is not a good sign. It leaves the horror behind for the mystery elements on too many occasions despite being branded as a horror movie, and it surely has some problem with bringing the scares to the screen, which takes too much time to come, and doesn’t elevate itself above those usual horror films. As it makes the attempt to bring the past and the present together for a future horror movie, it seemed to be in a certain amount of confusion at times. Even though it is usual in its basic methods of horror, this complication which comes in here and there causes a certain amount of confusion. When you look at it closer, you can see that one more opportunity for a grand horror thing is lost here, and only a sequel can bring it back. The movie is also too short to bring a story like this to further strength.

Performers of the soul :: Seo Ye-Ji plays the protagonist looking forward to get her movie idea working, but is not able to write well enough to reach anywhere with the script. We see the perfect choice for the cast as her, as we see her worries reflected in her actions and face itself, really well – the determination to do something more is also with her, all the time. The rest of the cast just plays according to the needs of the protagonist. She is the only character in this movie that matters, and the only one person who needs our attention. She takes us through the journey of a struggling film maker who would do anything to have her movie idea working. As she looks younger than her age, it is easy to have her in this role. There is energy, and the emotions are all very well reflected on her face. The obsession that she shows is as clear as the desperation which could be seen in her earlier. Still, the movie could have developed the other characters a little bit more for support, as this one is more or less the one-woman show throughout the run.

How it finishes :: There is always space for another Korean movie around here. During the time of Corona virus lock-down, nothing has kept people entertained like the works from South Korea on the screen. During this time of COVID-19, we are always looking for the other types of horror, and we have it again in this form. We still need work to be done in the usual horror movies like this one, and prepare a better work, even though we do have something pretty good around here. At the same time, I hope that all the readers of Movies of the Soul are safe from the Corona virus during this time. Stay safe, and let us hope that things which are getting worse all around the world as well as the nation now can get better – after all, we are all better prepared now. Let us believe that everyone will contribute to preventing this crisis from getting worse, with people coming from outside keeping themselves inside the quarantine as well as people here continuing the social distancing practice. Well, horror is indeed real in life.

Release date: 15th August 2019
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Kim Jin-won
Starring: Seo Ye-Ji, Seon-kyu Jin, Bo-ra Kim, Cha Yub, Yoon-ho Ji, Jae-Young Joe, Mi-kyung Kim, Kim Jae-In, Yoon Jeong-ro, Tae-boo Nam, So-Yi Shin

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pretham 2

What is the movie about? :: Famous mentalist John Don Bosco (Jayasurya) is spending his time in peace at Varikkasseri Mana a.k.a. Varikkumanchery Mana, one of the traditional Brahmin houses located at Manissery, a village in Ottapalam, Palakkad. Situated in an area of natural beauty in a plot of about four acres, John feels that there is something strange and mysterious about the place. With a history of popular movies being shot there including Devasuram, Aaraam Thampuran, Raappakal, Drona, Simhasanam, Sufi Paranja Katha, Thooval Kottaram, Valliettan and Manthrikan, a group of youngsters decide to come there to shoot a short-film. They are from a Facebook group known as “Cinema Pranthanmar”, which is known to be a perfect place for movie lovers from all around Kerala. This particular adventure could feed the movie lover in them more than anything else.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The team is lead by Tapas (Amith Chakkalakal) who comes up with this idea of having a short film. He plans to create this film, and run a premiere after inviting all the members of the group which goes into thousands. Joining him are those members whom he had never met, and used the group with their fake names; the first one to join him is the man known in the group by his fake id Mangalassery Neelakandan, Ramanandan (Sidhartha Siva) who is into hotel business in the Middle East and is a big Mohanlal fan. They are joined by Karuthamma, originally Anu (Durga Krishna) who is a nurse and Shahrukh Khan, originally Niranjana (Saniya Iyappan) who is a professional dancer. The last person to join them in Joffin (Dain Davis) who has run away from home due to personal problems with his father.

So, how does the ghost come into picture this time? :: The problem at the resort of Denny Kokken (Aju Varghese), Priyalal (Sharafudheen), Shibu Majeed (Govind Padmasoorya) and Yeshu (Dharmajan Bolgatty) was one which haunted John for a long time, and here, with the youngsters making the short-film, more trouble arrives, and the supernatural only gets stronger. The youngsters are attacked by some strange forces and nobody seems to know what is happening. Their first guess is that it is the spirit of the person who owned and lived in the mansion, but it turns out that there is more than what meets eye at the first place. There is a connection which is making the spirit act there, and John has to begin with it and reach the end soon, before it is too late and someone gets into serious trouble. But it is not that easy, as the clues are less, and the answer to their questions are somewhere else.

The defence of Pretham 2 :: Pretham 2 is indeed a better movie than its predecessor which had too many terrible jokes, even though the final moments were nice for that one too. Pretham 2 has the advantage in almost every field including its setting and cast. The idea is also smarter here with the social media, internet, fake identity and online frauds at the centre. The messages about the possible dangers of being friends with fake ids and trusting strangers without names are all shown in this particular flick. The mystery is nicely solved here, and there is no exaggeration here with the elements of the other world – the first image of the spirit that we see is in the form of a shadow, and the creature from the other world doesn’t overdo things as the happenings would be in a usual horror movie. The thrills are strong, and there are also some nice jokes – we are left guessing with the suspense factor being very high till the end.

The claws of flaw :: Pretham 2 never really rises above most of the problems of its predecessor, as it follows too similar a path, and the spirit also follows the same pattern, as we see no attempt to deviate much. We would wonder if so many spirits are looking forward to have the mystery behind their deaths investigated. There seems to be no other plan for the people on the other side. Some jokes are just repetitive, especially the talks regarding those old Mohanlal movies. The movie could have also used more scares, as the film itself is marketed as a horror flick, and the name itself suggests the same. The movie could have surely used darkness better, and the ghostly presence itself could have done more, at least when the youngsters were alone. Pretham 2 doesn’t try to frighten people much, and that is not acceptable at a time when Hollywood is running movies like The Conjuring, The Nun, Annabelle, Insidious, Sinister and others.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya is back with an avatar to remember, unlike Punyalan Agarbattis 2 and Aadu 2 which struggled to live up to its predecessors with all its characters. His mentalist is a rock solid character, and this time, he is better than last time too. Saniya Iyappan, with her flexible dance moves, is a joy to watch here, and has a clear improvement in acting from her previous movie Queen, which was one of the worst collection of elements deserving not to be called a movie at all. She can certainly bring variety to the Malayalam cinema, as her skills are yet to be used in the best possible ways. Durga Krishna after Vimaanam, gets one nice role to perform, and she does that well. Dain Davis and Sidhartha Siva gets to bring the elements of fun well, even though the latter gets too much of Mohanlal dialogues from those old movies, which become too repetitive. Amith Chakalakkal is very good with his character which is rather solid.

How it finishes :: Pretham 2 holds the advantage over Thattumpurath Achuthan, Ente Ummante Peru and Odiyan for this Christmas, and by being a smart horror-mystery-comedy-thriller, it is many things in one movie. With Jayasurya at the centre as one character who has a certain iconic status, and the new faces like Saniya Iyappan who has become another name for dance, Durga Krishna in her second movie, the crowd favourite Dain Davis and others, Pretham 2 makes the Pretham franchise much better than what it was in the first movie. It also leaves a few messages about the problems due to uncontrolled use of social media by teenagers, the dangers that lie behind the fake ids in Facebook, possibilities of different kinds of frauds by online groups looking for easy money etc among others. Pretham 2 makes Christmas a lot of fun, and I wish you all a very Happy Christmas. Enjoy the holidays!

Release date: 21st December 2018
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Saniya Iyappan, Durga Krishna, Dain Davis, Amith Chakalakkal, Sidhartha Siva, Sreejith Ravi, Jayaraj Warrier, Aju Varghese (cameo), Sharafudheen (cameo), Govind Padmasoorya (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Apothecary

apothecary (4)

Vampire Owl :: My owlification procedure didn’t work yesterday.

Vampire Bat :: Why? You fell into one of those holes which used to be a part of what used to be our roads?

Vampire Owl :: That was last week. This time, I was trying to pronounce the name of this movie so that I can say that correctly at the ticket counter.

Vampire Bat :: The movie name is one of its kind. I don’t think you will need to pronounce it. They will just give you the tickets.

Vampire Owl :: It is okay then. I can’t pronounce it yet. Still working on it.

Vampire Bat :: Never mind. I call it Eco-Pathiri.

Vampire Owl :: That reminds me, I need pathiri.

Vampire Bat :: You need a blood shake.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, that too. Then I will pronounce it correctly.

Vampire Bat :: May that happen in this century.

[Goes to the ticket counter].

What is it about? :: The movie has the protagonist Dr. Vijay Nambiyar (Suresh Gopi) leading a wonderful life as a neurosurgeon and one of the most respected employees of Apothecary Hospital – a super speciality hospital intended for the high class people which charges an incredibly heavy price for the service that it provides. He is known to be someone who is able to have the grace of God in healing people, and has saved the lives of many people who had lost hope. He is married to Nalini Nambiyar (Abhirami), a gynaecologist working at the same hospital and with two kids. Subi Joseph (Jayasurya) is one of the poor and illiterate patients admitted to the hospital, and along with a few others, he is also a contendor for being a guinea pig for illegal drug tests which are going on in the hospital. Dr. Vijay is also forced to agree to the management’s demands for illegal drug tests on patients, but as he himself is admitted in the same hospital after an accident, things change. There will be a lot happening in one man’s mind – no doubt.

The defence of Apothecary :: Along with the wonderful performances from the cast, this movie can also boast about a straight-forward approach in its path. It doesn’t add any masala in its realistic world and keeps things as it should be. As Kung-fu Panda already found out with the dragon scroll, there is no secret ingrediant in this movie, and it is simple noodles. Every extra masala that you add to the movie noodles won’t always give the result that it is expected to give, and there are times when it has to stay real, and even in the imaginations, the movie achieves the same. Its social relevant theme and the message that it carries with pride are among the things that its makers can be proud about. It leaves the audience with thoughts far above what meets the eye, and this stimulation of the intellect should be made mandatory in the movies which end up crossing the limits of buffoonery and they should be chained to the pillar of sense at some point. The whole thing might have been a risk, but it is good to see that the director has chosen this theme and has given out the right message. It might not have been easy, but it is done. The end dialogues are excellent, even when preachy.

The claws of flaw :: The movie drags, and it does so for quite a long time. The movie can be considered too long for its theme and it stretches itself with repetitions which could have been something else. For someone who gave us Melvilasom on his directorial debut, this is a letdown. That movie was something special, one of the best ever made in the history of Malayalam movie industry, and measuring from that perspective, this movie has gone down. Such a comparison was expected as there was the line “from the director of Melvilasom” on the poster, and even as it can be avoided, the hopes remain partially crushed. Then there is that sentimental background music which runs through the movie and keeps coming out of nowhere to make us irritated. It should have been made shorter and to be capable of connecting better with the audience. There had to be a little more clarity on a few things related to the hallucinations and thoughts of our protagonist. There was to be some better editing too. The first part of the second half seems to drag the most, and almost makes this just an art movie.

Performers of the soul :: Suresh Gopi plays the protagonist and easily steals the show in a character that seemed to work for him like a beautiful dream sponsored by a genie. His moments of emotions as well as the preachy side are very much nicely handled. Jayasurya is also there giving life to a character which is simple and at the same time touching for the audience. Subi Joseph is a representative of the common man who comes to the universe of the elite, and it is well done. Asif Ali has a lesser job to do, but he finishes that well. Meera Nandan’s role is also small, but she is very good as Daisy, and the sadness that she displays is so effective for everyone who watches her on the screen. Abhirami has so less to do, as most of the time, she remains crying, but that is still not that much of a lesser job to do. The supporting cast is mostly okay even as there seemed to be some trouble with it as the characters of the doctors were a little too much on the same side which could have been avoided to add some neutrality. In total, it is good to be part of this movie.

Soul exploration :: Here is a special movie for the viewers. Unlike the usual expectation, this is not a medical thriller, but more of a medical drama. It is meant to make people think and there is no doubt about its success in the same. The whole movie is set inside a hospital and a lot of it inside the ICU, like the director’s last movie was completely shot inside a courtroom. It has been all about one building till now. As the earlier movie had talked about the prejudice that was there among the equals, this one talks about the patients’ existence as commodities as hospitals turn into big business ventures looking just for profit. That one had absolutely no drag though. But here, the relevance of the topic is much higher, as it is something of contemporary nature a lot more than anything else. It is just the same as educational institutions becoming places for business – there are always the hospitals. There are basically two types of commodities in our world – the student and the patient, both being good for business, and to be used as a medium to extract money from their loved ones.

How it finishes :: The movie is incapable of surviving in the theatre of much time, and it was evident from the expressions of the common people who were watching it. Surprisingly, they will like fake movies like Bangalore Days, 1983 and Neelakasam Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi is rather a surprise for me though. After the box-office reports come, lets hope that truth won’t have to take that much of a fall, but the sad and depressing fact is that it will. There is no hope for movies like Apothecary in our theatres. It is not because of any other reason – it is because of the attitude of our own audience who are looking for just stupid fun, not even some intelligent entertainment. People ask for entertainment and they are provided the same, most of the time in a very low quality, but surprisingly, people are more than happy with the same. They come and see their favourite stars, sons of the stars or any relative of their favourite superstar on the screen and watch all the nonsense and clap like there is no tomorrow. The hope is just not there for the meaningful movies.

Release date: 7th August 2014
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Madhav Ramadasan
Starring: Suresh Gopi, Jayasurya, Abhirami, Asif Ali, Meera Nandan, Thampy Antony, Indrans, Kavitha Nair, Neeraj Madhav, Seema G. Nair

apothecaryy copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Drishyam

drishyam!

The vision right here :: Translated as “The Sight” or may be as “The Visual”, and produced by Antony Perumbavoor under Aashirvad Cinemas, Drishyam is that movie which gave me big trouble in writing the title in English; whether it was Dryshyam, Dhryshyam or Dhrysyam with a lot of variations replacing one “y” or the other with “i” or both with “i”. But about the decision to watch the movie, there was absolutely no doubt. This movie released on a Thursday, a day before the flow of the weekend movies started, and had already come up with good reviews from both the critics and the audience. There was absolutely no reason why I wouldn’t watch this movie, as there were so many people asking about why I haven’t watched this movie, and I decided to book a the tickets, and there was never a better decision in the recent times, as the tickets for the movie was sold out everywhere in a flash, and much faster than Dhoom 3 – its trailer had said that the year would end with a “dhoom”, and now we know that they were talking about Drishyam, and not on some weird movie with strange characters doing stupid things on motor-bikes.

What is it about? :: Georgekutty (Mohanlal) is an orphan who has studied only till standard four, and Rani (Meena) is his wife, a simple woman who failed in standard ten. They have two daughters, Anju (Ansiba) and Anu (Esther Anil) and are leading a happy life in a village background. Georgekutty is a simple farmer who runs the business of a cable television business named after his wife along with being a farmer; he is loved by most of the people of the village has the image of a nice, innocent man. Still, he doesn’t back away from having opinions about most of the things of the world, which makes him the enemy of Sahadevan (Kalabhavan Shajon), a local cop. But as a simple incident changes their life, they are forced to prepare for the worst, and save their family together, as the common man who lags in education decides to take on the law which comes after them. Will they succeed in their mission or will the family break apart due to the power of external force lead by the Inspector General herself? Anything more said about the movie is rather giving away too much, and the rest is to be seen.

The defence of Drishyam :: Here is another thriller on the cards, after having Mumbai Police and Memories this year gaining critical acclaim as well good box-office collections. The thriller genre is indeed gaining the support of the audience, and even Up and Down: Mukalil Oralundu and Silence had enough of the average stuff inside them. Memories might still be the best investigative thriller this year for every one, as long as this one categorizes under a family thriller. The movie’s first half is a full family drama with light shades until the one major incident that happens just before the end of the half, taking the tension into the space after interval. There is the simple life of ordinary people close to nature portrayed throughout, something which is of goodness and dedication. The second half brings the thrilling twist to the world as the darker shade creeps in under the disguise of law. There is so much brilliance and beauty in the way the story is told, especially in the second half. There is the mixing of the right features that make this one a movie for more than one kind of person.

Positives and negatives :: We are indeed caught in that world of uncertainty which no real assurance of what is to happen next, as an illiterate village guy takes on the educated smart people, but still there might be a little dragging in the first half, and it is just after the interval that the movie actually takes off as it is. The songs are just ordinary, but the performances are top class. The first half does have some ineffective jokes, and there is too much coming from a man who learns how to beat the police with the help of movies. You can actually come up with the need for disbelief, but considering the world that we love in, nothing is impossible, and as the demonic Overlord would say, evil always finds a way. Power and influence always got the upper-hand, and when the common man fights for his family and his world, it is always something that inspires millions. As George Orwell will give us through his Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. That should be another reference to the 2009 movie Ividam Swargamanu, which itself is mentioned in this movie as our hero goes to work on his land. Let’s add that this one is more emotionally touching and less complicated than that one.

Performers of the soul :: There are many directors who might have the best records for many, but for Jeethu Joseph, it is a perfect record when I look at it, with the most interesting thriller of a decade Detective, the best family drama of its age Mummy & Me, the funniest movie of last year My Boss and the best investigative thriller of this year, Memories – there is his perfect record, none of the movies deserves below 80/100 in my opinion. Even with the lesser number of movies, he is already among the best, no doubt about that. Mohanlal is back with a role where he perfectly fits in, reminding us of his performance in Ividam Swargamanu, or rather a role which is even more worthy of being loved – once again the farmer who fights for his small world. There is no longer a hero who transforms into a superhero who beats up the opponents, and he excels as the common man. It is good to see Meena back opposite Mohanlal after Chandrolsavam (2007) and the performance of Kalabhavan Shajon in a negative role is worth mentioning. Asha Sharath also remains strong throughout her presence. Meanwhile, the kids are just brilliant, and they are strong pillars of this movie – I hope that they will stay for long.

Soul exploration :: In its soul, Drishyam is more or less Ividam Swargamanu, even if not so in the presentation as well as the genre. The two characters instantly likable, and we are on their side right from the beginning to the end. Here Mohanlal plays Georgekutty who fights the law for his family in the place of Mathews who fights the law for his land. Both are quite innocent characters who are looking to save their respective worlds. Both movies have the protagonists who are not that educated common men who are on the back-foot most of the time. But this movie has the whole thing more under the control of the protagonist, and the external help he receives is much less. There is no law being used in the favour of him, but there is surely the appropriate use of media. Georgekutty is better planned, all by himself throughout the movie, and even as he suffers more, right from the beginning to the end, everything has been under his control. There is no real corruption in this movie, but there is just power and influence which troubles the common man. The end is indeed a very good, and not without the twist that was needed.

How it finishes :: Drishyam is indeed the winner of the weekend and the movie of Christmas. The movie is in many ways the triumph of goodness when placed against all kinds of problems. There is always evil and sin which often takes many forms and can sometimes rise above the law, and all that decisions belong to the fine thread that fate has woven for each man and woman unless Grimm Reaper decides to cut that thread with his scythe. But the movie ends up as the victory of the common man in his ability to do the right thing. The movie also asserts that there is nothing like family. The real immediate world is family, and without love and mutual co-operation, there is no such world in reality. We do not live for the moment or anything, as we live for the world, which is family – and most of us might have troubles with our blood, but none of them can stand the power of time, and problems and our struggles bring us together. It is never too late to find our little world as well as our role in it. Drishyam is the visualization of the struggle of a common man for the family, and there is brilliance in store.

Release date: 19th December 2013
Running time: 164 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Mohanlal, Meena, Kalabhavan Shajon, Siddique, Asha Sharath, Ansiba, Esther Anil, Roshan Basheer, Koottickal Jayachandran, Neeraj Madhav, Irshad, Kunchan, Antony Perumbavoor

drishyam copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.