Out of Death

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this is about us. We are the undead.

Vampire Bat: This is not really about coming out of death as undead.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see any other way for anybody to come out of death.

Vampire Bat: Your favourite doctor might have some plans about that.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein is not a doctor, but a scientist.

Vampire Bat: Mr Frankenstein is a duplicate scientist, and a half-doctor.

Vampire Owl: Well, he has created undead out of nothing.

Vampire Bat: They were pretty much undead already.

Vampire Owl: There has been a difference in the two states.

Vampire Bat: An undead being killed and revived won’t make much of sense.

[Gets a paneer masala dosa and three cups of Munnar tea].

What is the movie about? :: Shannon Mathers (Jaime King), a journalist who is trying to scatter her father’s ashes on the top of a mountain witnesses Billie Jean (Lala Kent) going through a drug deal with a gangster. It doesn’t go right, as the latter is shot by the former after he is found recording their deal on the phone. After the murder, she gets rid of the body too. Shannon also has photos of the incident on her camera. At the same time, Retired cop Jack Harris (Bruce Willis) seems to be having some relaxed moments with his niece Pam Harris (Kelly Greyson). Soon enough, Billie realizes that there is someone else in the area where the murder was committed, and Shannon barely manages to run away. She calls the other corrupt police officers, Hank Rivers (Michael Sirow) and Tommy Rivers (Tyler Olson), who decide to lock all the exits from the area that leads outside, along with getting rid of the body in time. Soon, it seems that there are too many of corrupt officers out there, and they are all after Shannon.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Shannon had also came there to prove her father wrong, that she could hike through this place unlike what her father had thought. Now, this is not what she had actually thought she would be facing. Jack also feels that it is not what he should be doing, as he comes across Billie trying to shoot Shannon, and rescues her. As they keep running, Shannon ends up stabbing Billie. As Tommy and Hank find no hope for Billie to survive as she bleeds out, they put her out of her misery, and hopes that they can pin that on Shannon, as there is the knife with her fingerprints. As she also manages to shoot Tommy, the only way out of her now seems to be with the evidence that she had captured with her camera, as she has almost become labelled as a junkie who has killed two police officers. Now, Hank won’t step back on vengeance as Tommy was also his brother. Now, it seems that the only way out for him is through Pam. But how will that work out for him now?

The defence of Out of Death :: The movie serves as a survivor thriller which is better than the other one movie with survival of a witness in the woods, Those Who Wish Me Dead which had Angeline Jolie saving the target – that one also released in the same year, and had one veteran performer trying to get into action. With Jaime King around, things only get better. There are some nice visuals of the woods, and we have some nicely planned dialogues in here too. The movie can boast about that strong female protagonist as much as the carefully picturized antagonist who seems to be the only man around there with a perfect plan which seems to work. The lesser known cast also deliver so well, and unlike what one feels in the beginning, Lala Kent is a fine surprise. The movie can also be considered as one of the least violent movies with a theme like this, as there is no more than three people who dies around here, even with so many possibilities of danger being present here – things go further away from death like the title suggests.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing special that gets added here, and even with Bruce Willis all prepared to go big action, you don’t really get that here either. Most of the events of the movie are also predictable, and that feeling goes on with the ending too. A few twists being added here and there could have helped the film’s purpose better. The police officers being smarter and tougher would have done the trick better – the lady police officer is left to mess up thing more and more as the story progresses. The gunshots effects are badly used, and the change for some big action with guns and hands are not used. The possibility of adding some terrifying sequences is also not taken – after all this is more or less like the forest area in countryside with a vast amount of woods. The drama in the movie moves on the usual lines too, and the main characters struggles could have also been shown in a better way. After all, she is someone who could contribute more at all times. The nature does look beautiful enough, but could have added more here.

The performers of the soul :: With Bruce Willis around, this could feel like a Die Hard in the woods, even though he is not of that much of a strength here. There is also not much of a strength for fighting for him as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Escape Plan, The Expendables or the latter as The Terminator in Genisys and Dark Fate. He seems much more tired in comparison, and he also leaves to the fighting to Jaime King, as he is left with holding the gun and pointing it at people, along with some nice dialogues added to it. This is more or less the shadow of the action king whom we have seen in the past. Jaime King is left to do all the action instead, and we know her from enough action and horror movies, as she is very much capable here, outdoing herself in the second half of the movie. Lala Kent plays the next most notable character here, and the film could have actually done more with here, instead of getting rid of the character too early. Tyler Olson is fine, while Tyler Olson who is a fine antagonist could have been used better with action scenes added to her rather than limiting him to talks.

How it finishes :: As one of the most non-violent movies belonging to the survival and crime thriller genre, this one makes fine use of the available resources in a seemingly low budget setting. It never tries too hard at anything, but manages to be interesting with what it has in hand. You are not supposed to expect a full action movie, as there is the main character trying to escape from trouble all the time, and having police officers on the hunt. Even though Bruce Willis remains mostly non-violent, you have to love how Jamie King steps into this one. Having a movie without Bruce Willis beating up, shooting or injuring anyone even when there were so many chances – feels strange, but it is indeed true. Well, change is inevitable, even though we expect the same thing from a superstar all the time, no matter how old he is – well, the curse of the Indian movies, isn’t it? But this one has the superstar of the past going through the more believable path.

Release date: 16th July 2021
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Mike Burns
Starring: Jaime King, Bruce Willis, Lala Kent, Kelly Greyson, Mike Burns, Michael Sirow, Tyler Olson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Wrong Turn

Vampire Owl: I have always taken the wrong turn intentionally.

Vampire Bat: Why would you do that?

Vampire Owl: Because it has made all the difference in my life.

Vampire Bat: Your life is not that different from anyone else.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why you are not able to find the difference.

Vampire Bat: You are actually supposed to take the road less travelled.

Vampire Owl: The wrong turn can also lead to such a road.

Vampire Bat: It is only a distant possibility. It can also lead to nowhere.

Vampire Owl: There is no nowhere for a vampire. There is a place everywhere.

Vampire Bat: Well, you can make the claim, but achieve nothing.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Scott Shaw (Matthew Modine) travels to the countryside to search for his missing daughter, Jennifer Shaw (Charlotte Vega) who had promised to text him regularly, but he hasn’t heard from her or the others who were with him. The locals are not really helpful, and some of them feel that there is no use in searching for them, as the forest is very deep, and so many days have passed after the last information was provided about them. But he decides to keep looking, with some hope. Then, it goes to a flashback. Accompanying Jennifer, there were her friends as well as her boyfriend, Darius Clemons (Adain Bradley) and friends from college, Milla D’Angelo (Emma Dumont), Adam Lucas (Dylan McTee), Luis Ortiz (Adrian Favela) and Gary Amaan (Vardaan Arora). They only have hostility from local people in the bar, especially from a man named Nate Roades (Tim de Zarn), who asks if they need a guide, but the boys make fun of him. The whole bar seems to be not happy about their presence now and the encounter.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Jennifer also meets a strange woman called Edith (Daisy Head) who has a young mute girl, Ruthie (Rhyan Elizabeth Hanavan). At night, they also see a strange figure standing and looking inside their car, only to see the person quickly disappear. The woman at the hotel where they are staying tells the group to stay close to trail, as nature can be very unforgiving. There are also shadows moving near their hotel rooms at night. They do find some beautiful scenery, cliffs and waterfalls, and the trek surely begins very well. They decide to take a few steps away from the usual trail to find a historical fort along with more of the scenery. But on the way, a tree falls, and despite everyone trying their best to move away from it, Gary is killed in the most brutal fashion. Jennifer tells the group that she had seen a person out there, but nobody really believes her. It starts raining, and the group feels that they are lost, as it is night, and there is no mobile phone network available for any of them.

And what is to follow with the horror that awaits them in the forest? :: They decide to set a camp out there, and wait till the climate gets better or at least until there is light. Jennifer once again feels that there is someone walking near the camp, but doesn’t tell anyone because she feels that nobody would believe her, and it could have also been the shadow of a tree in the wind. But the very next day morning, they find out that Milla is missing, and so are their mobile phones, and any gadget they possessed. They realize that they were sleeping in a graveyard. They also find a foundation being laid for the true and blessed America. They also come up against Ruthie in the forest, and as Adam tries to chase her, he is caught in a trap, and is dragged underground. They try to look for him, only to find him being blindfolded and taken away by two people in deer skull masks. They feel that there are many other people in similar masks walking around them, and there are also a good number of traps being set at different parts of the forest. Can they survive this, or are they walking directly into a massacre?

The defence of Wrong Turn :: Wrong Turn manages to be an interesting reboot of a franchise which has run strong for quite a long time, even though it did lose some of the way with the later titles. The franchise has never stepped back in being the model slasher horror, even though there were setbacks with the story and characters in the later movies. Here, even though the movie begins in quite the usual manner, it gets better with progression, and the second half of the film is a thing of quality, raising itself to a reboot to look out for. The trial scene is among the best that a movie of this kind can offer. Charlotte Vega as the scream queen does own the movie, and is at her best during the sequences of fear within the forest and the later trial. Unlike how it looks in the beginning, the character does undergo a fine transformation in the middle and later stages of the movie. We are yet to see how she would in other horror films, but we are hopeful about that. Overall, the movie is successful in seemingly creating a world from where nobody seems to be able to even think about escaping in one piece.

The claws of flaw :: The ending is not that effective though, with the shots during the credits. The movie should have just ended just before the credits started rolling – maybe, they can have a black screen added there so that there can be a better setup for a sequel, which should be there without fail. The main performers other than the leading lady are not that effective around here, maybe because their characters had to be dumb to suit a slasher horror movie’s killers and their work. It is after at least two of the trekkers die, that things get more interesting. The movie, even though not that long, does take some time to get things quicker and sharper. It could have also used some of the common elements from the previous movies, but this one seems to play nice on many occasions without taking the risk that the earlier films had taken. It is their lack of understanding about what people want to see in a slasher horror classic which is Wrong Turn, as much as The Hills Have Eyes. Well, this is a slasher film with a fine premise, I would leave the advice to use the creative imagination and make it rise above the rest instead of leaving its own message messed up.

How it finishes :: This is my first review of any Wrong Turn movie because there has been only one film in the franchise releasing after this blog started, and that one movie never really came to the theatres here even in a highly censored form, and there was never really any chance to get it in electronic format here, without OTT platforms or with people finding interest in slasher horror. Therefore, this one is basically a requirement for me as a movie reviewer, a title which I have held since the early 2000s, even though this blog started only in 2013. I had to remove my earlier writings in blogs as I couldn’t find them worthy enough after starting this one after finishing my MA English Language and Literature. Well, this blog or web site was started to prove a few people wrong, and it doesn’t matter what I gained or lost with it, as I am glad to have this running. I am also happy to watch this reboot which maintain a lot from the original series, even though the main elements of those movies could have been here for more. This is above many horror movies of the time, that is for sure.

Release date: 26th January 2021
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Mike P Nelson
Starring: Charlotte Vega, Emma Dumont, Daisy Head, Adain Bradley, Bill Sage, Dylan McTee, Matthew Modine, Vardaan Arora, Tim de Zarn, Rhyan Elizabeth Hanavan, Chaney Morrow, Damian Maffei, Mark Mench, David Hutchison, Chris Hahn, Valerie Jane Parker, Daniel R Hill

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Transformania

Vampire Owl: Do you know that they made Van Helsing the bloody scientist here?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I am completely aware of that.

Vampire Owl: They have replaced Doctor Frankenstein. How evil is that?

Vampire Bat: Doctor Frankenstein was never really a true scientist.

Vampire Owl: You should stop saying that. We know his inventions.

Vampire Bat: Your list of his inventions is flawed.

Vampire Owl: But they have been very useful.

Vampire Bat: Van Helsing has always been a real doctor.

Vampire Owl: You cannot support that evil former vampire hunter.

Vampire Bat: Well, you have to appreciate the fact that he is not into hunting again.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Count Dracula (Brian Hull) has the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Hotel Transylvania happening with almost every guest attending the party. His human son-in-law, Jonathan Loughran (Andy Samberg) almost ruins everything though, as he continues to be the moron that he has always been. During the celebrations, he was planning to retire and leave the hotel to Jonathan and Mavis (Selena Gomez), but as Jonathan continues to be the most foolish person on Earth, he decides to pretend that there is a clause that the hotel cannot be transferred to anyone who is not a monster. Jonathan who has no inch of smartness in his small brain decides that the only solution here is to change himself into a monster. It is then that Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) provides him an opportunity become a monster, as he has the device to change people into such creatures. He does successfully test it on a guinea pig, and becomes proud of his grand invention, boasting further about it.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: So, Jonathan a.k.a. Johnny is transformed into a dragon-like monster which breathes fire, and has huge claws. Dracula tries his best to make sure that nobody gets to know about it, and tries to reverse the action, but ends up making himself human in the process, also destroying the device as a result of the events that follow. Abraham Van Helsing tells them that there is a way to change them back, and it is by finding a crystal in South America, which can take the place of the one which was destroyed, and get the device to work again. Dracula’s good old friends Frankenstein (Brad Abrell), Wayne (Steve Buscemi), Griffin (David Spade) and Murray (Keegan-Michael Key) also turn human, as they drink from a fountain contaminated by the ray. Even though Frankenstein feels good about it, as he is now a handsome human being, the others are not really fond of their transformation, and neither is the other monsters who find it to be very strange and unacceptable.

And how can the transformation be reversed now? :: Dracula and Johnny have already travelled all the way to South America, and as Ericka Van Helsing (Kathryn Hahn) sees some news about an old tourist being rescued by a monster in a Latin American country, they figure out that this is related to the father-in-law and son-in-law. They find Abraham Van Helsing hiding from the guinea pig monster, and understand things better, finally deciding to travel to South America and find the two. Meanwhile, Dracula does face the problems of being human again, as he is now old, and much weaker than his original state. They are forced to go through a jungle which seems to have enough dangers in store for them, but the monster finds it easy to go through them. The whole team from the castle are also in South America now, searching for the two. But it won’t be easy to find the two in the forest. Now the question remains if the transformation can actually be reversed, and whether things can now go back to the strange way of being normal. Well, you have to hope for the best, but not always when monsters are involved.

The defence of Hotel Transylvania: Transformania :: The Hotel Transylvania feeling is maintained here again, and the usual stuff gets going once again. The characters do continue to be interesting, as we look at them, and we have always wanted the monster world to be more relevance. The animation remains a thing of quality, and the world within Latin America is also nicely created, and would have looked much better if watched on the big screen with 3D, but we know that Amazon Prime Video is the best option with most of us not having the desire to sit in an air-conditioned hall with possible infected people for one an half hours. Well, the short run-time is still a positive thing, as we look at it. The message is surely given, even though there is the feeling of repetition, making us feel that we have seen all of these already. There is also some humour present around here, even though there is not much around. Well, you have vampires, the mummy, werewolves and the Frankenstein monster in an animated movie and you have to enjoy it up to an extent every time, doesn’t matter what the flaws are.

The claws of flaw :: Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is the fourth film in the franchise, and there hasn’t been any improvement, that is for sure. As we are watching this on Amazon Prime Video, we cannot really know if there is that much of a grandeur set for the big screen. The one young human here continues to be a complete moron, and a character whom we hate more than ever – the fact that he doesn’t die in this movie is the biggest disappointment of the whole franchise, the daughter vampire could have also been dead to add some beauty to the whole thing. The movie’s whole point should have been the end of humans and the rise of the monsters who are less evil, but the franchise still struggles to get to that point. It should take in some ideas of innovation from other successful animated movie franchises and get the creative imagination working – after all, it is about vampires and other interesting monsters, and you can never really have enough of them. You do have the premise to work on, don’t you?

How it finishes :: Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is just another addition to the grand list of similar movies which are part of a franchise, and has dealt with similar things for quite a long time. The first movie was among the very first animated films to be reviewed on this website, and there has been many animated movie reviews which followed. This one is surely a step backward from the original, and I cannot say about the other movies of the franchise as I haven’t watched them yet. With the lack of inspiration to create something better, and lacking further in creative imagination, the movie only continues what it has been doing, and does provide the feeling of repetition throughout its run. Still, it is some fun, and more entertainment for those who haven’t really watched the previous movies. Well, you can just start with Count Dracula who is running a hotel, trying to transfer it to his daughter and son-in-law, for there is not much lost related to it. These are the kind of movies which can always stand alone, as they are supposed to cater to the younger audience better and keep them wanting a sequel or two. Well, not every movie can be Frozen and its sequel.

Release date: 14th January 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Derek Drymon, Jennifer Kluska
Starring: Brian Hull, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Fran Drescher, Brad Abrell, Asher Blinkoff, Richard Blevins

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

A Classic Horror Story

Vampire Owl: We, vampires can make the classic horror story.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you know that most of the good vampire films were actually made by the elder vampires?

Vampire Owl: Isn’t that actually a myth which became part of normal lives later?

Vampire Bat: Their names were supposed to be in the the end credits.

Vampire Owl: Nobody got to see the end credits. They were removed.

Vampire Bat: Well, someone wanted to take all the credits, you know.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that those were some humans who played a small part in all of these.

Vampire Bat: Humans should have never been allowed to be part of vampire works, but at some point of time, there was not much of a difference between species.

Vampire Owl: Well, at least we know the human nature now.

Vampire Bat: The only true, classic inherent evil nature in the whole world.

[Gets an onion vada and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Elisa (Matilda Lutz), an intern at a consulting firm, try a rideshare app to get to her parents’ home in Calabria in Southern Italy to get an abortion, even though she is not sure if it is the right thing to do. The recreational vehicle that she gets is driven by a travel blogger and a student of film, Fabrizio (Francesco Russo) – he is only happy to have some interesting people in his vehicle, so that his Youtube channel can get more visitors. A couple from the United States, Sofia (Yuliia Sobol) and Mark (Will Merrick) are also traveling in the vehicle to reach a wedding destination and have some good time. A doctor named Riccardo (Peppino Mazzotta) who joins them is also trying to get home as early as possible. When Elisa’s nausea causes the group to stop on the side of the road, Mark forcibly takes over driving for Fabrizio, only to hit a tree while trying to avoid hitting the corpse of a goat. Elisa wakes up in the morning and sees that the group is doing first aid on Mark’s broken leg, as the doctor takes over the procedure. They are not able to get any signal on their mobile phones, and even the emergency numbers don’t work.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They soon realize that they are no longer on the road, but are lost in an open space surrounded by a forest. They are sure that they hit the tree on the side of the road, but now, no paths leading to anywhere can be discovered. It is like having an endless line of trees in all directions. They do find a house there though, but it is empty. It seems like a strange building, with some weird signs and heads of animals. The photos in the house has people wearing masks looking like heads of goats. There is also fresh blood and heads of animals in the woods nearby. At the same time, They see some paintings and writings in house about three brothers who came from another world, a long time ago. There is also the story of a strange ritual which was performed for the brothers, which involved a naked woman’s tongue, ears and eyes being cut out. Fabrizio had heard this story from his grandfather, and all of them decide to stay in the vehicle at night rather than the house.

And what more of horror is to follow here in the middle of nowhere? :: They feel that there is something going on in the house, and Sofia goes inside house with Elisa to explore further, only to find something in the attic. There is a cocoon, and inside that, there was a child named Chiara (Alida Baldari Calabria), who has her tongue cut out, and kept separately, making them remember the tale of three brothers. She is supposed to be the only survivor in the family, and writes down that there are not in a forest. They hide in the attic while Mark was dragged out of the vehicle by three masked figures, who torture and kill Mark by pulling out his eyes and also breaking his feet with a wooden hammer. After Mark’s body is dragged to the forest, they run to the woods. After finding a large number of abandoned cars, they understand that they are not the first victims of these people, and might not be the last either. When they walk through the forest, they end up at the same place, and also see that the vehicle missing. Is there any hope left now?

The defence of A Classic Horror Story :: The best thing about this movie might be its use of sound effects and also the music that relates to the situations so well, and works even better for the horror. One has to wonder how they find all the strength with the sound when we are less expecting it, and manage to have such an amazing effect. There is something for the Hollywood movies to learn here, and our films are not even close, as far as horror is considered. The visuals are amazingly good, and the beautiful scenes of nature combines with the terrifying ones really well. This strange, scary, beautiful world, is something that we can cherish, and be glad to see on the screen, wishing that this was actually there in any of those theatres. Yuliia Sobol and Matilda Lutz make pretty good screen queens, as we look at them wandering through the situations of horror – even though the latter is the female lead, the former is the stronger of the two. The male actors basically pales in comparison to these two who make have the better moments.

Positives and negatives :: The ending of the movie is a little bit of a struggle though, as it was not having some of the best twists around there either. There were so many routes which it could have taken, but it has chosen one which was so less interesting. There could have been so many terrifying truths about what is happening on the screen, and how this is like a world from where there could be no escape, but the film chooses to go through the path which is rather too easy to take, to create a twist. It might have been trying to become another one of The Cabin in the Woods, but that much of a satiric fun isn’t present in this one. There is a lot of blood and gore around here though, even as it doesn’t really go with the fully slasher horror model. The only other two Italian movies on Movies of the Soul are Pinocchio and Piranhas – this one is the first Italian horror film and the first full-thriller movie from Italy to be part of the reviews here. One has to say that as a horror fan, different people would enjoy this is different manner, depending on how much they like the ending.

How it finishes :: A Classic Horror Story surely lives up to its title, and this Italian movie has enough to keep it stronger than a good number of Hollywood horror movies. There are not many English movies which have used the available resources so well in comparison to this one. One has to question some other horror films about their use of the visuals and sound effects, as well as the urban legends which were available in a better way. If you forget the ending of this film, the rest of the whole thing makes one really care about the main characters and tensed and afraid of the terrifying world within what seems to be a forest. That particular hunt and torture are enough to wonder about the smartness behind this particular movie. Among the horror movies which have released in the last few years, this might be the one which can have the right to use this particular title. Enjoy this world, and hope that it can be inspiring for many horror movies which have lost their way completely in the beginning stages itself.

Release date: 14th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli
Starring: Matilda Lutz, Yuliia Sobol, Will Merrick, Justin Korovkin, Peppino Mazzotta, Cristina Donadio, Francesco Russo, Alida Baldari Calabria

<<< Click here to go to the previous film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fear Street: 1978

Vampire Owl: Most of the vampires were not reborn in 1978.

Vampire Bat: With the exception of the elder vampires.

Vampire Owl: I would say that this franchise did start quite well with the first one.

Vampire Bat: It did bring the nostalgia of 1990s really well.

Vampire Owl: 1990s should be considered as the golden age of vampires.

Vampire Bat: They should have Fear Street Vampire Version at some point.

Vampire Owl: But vampires have been less about horror these days.

Vampire Bat: Vampires have always been about more than just horror.

Vampire Owl: Well, the side-effects of not having enough horror is also affecting us.

Vampire Bat: The first part of this slasher trilogy did bring us some horror.

[Gets a vanilla cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Deena (Kiana Madeira) and Josh Johnson (Benjamin Flores Jr) somehow manage to restrain Samantha Fraser (Olivia Scott Welch) despite being possessed by the supernatural. They tie her up and forcibly take her to C Berman (Gillian Jacobs) who was the last person to survive this attack of the witch, and remains unpossessed and not attacked as of now. She tells her story, and being part of a camp in 1978, Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink), a young girl from Shadyside is accused of stealing by Sheila (Chiara Aurelia), a Sunnyvale camper, and her friends. They also accuse her of being a witch, and ties her up. After hanging her helplessly from a branch where a witch was burnt once, they try to burn her, only to be stopped by other campers. Even though she is saved from being thrown out of the camp by Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland) from Sunnyvale, she remains hostile about people from there. Ziggy’s elder sister, Cindy Berman (Emily Rudd), and her boyfriend Tommy Slater (McCabe Slye) are the responsible ones in the camp.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: It is then that Nurse Mary Lane (Jordana Spiro) attacks Tommy without any reason, and she tells him that he will be dead soon, before being hit on the head. This brings the story of a witch and possession back to the scene. Cindy and Tommy, along with Alice (Ryan Simpkins) and Arnie (Sam Brooks) from the same camp decide to find the secret behind what happened to the nurse who was supposed to be a nice lady, even though her daughter was associated with the witch. When they find the lair of the witch and enters there, a few more secrets are waiting for them. They find the name of Tommy among the names of the killers, and soon, Tommy changes, and splits Arnie’s head into two, instantly killing him. The two girls try to escape, but are caught in a part of the lair as stones are disrupted. Tommy leaves for the camp with the axe to meet the unsuspecting campers.

The defence of Fear Street: 1978 :: The setting and the time period where everything happens, make the whole thing interesting. The situations of horror are created well, and we have some perfectly suited characters here to work accordingly. It is more like an ode to the old slasher horror set in summer camps or lonely house in the woods. We have seen many of similar movies dealing with at least one killer on the loose. The Cabin in the Woods and Evil Dead would accept this one as their lesser mates. The blood and gore remain more in this movie in comparison with the first, and the emotional content is also stronger. The creepiness in such locations has never been so beautiful. It is a reminder that the trilogy can more with the next film, or even extend the whole franchise bigger in scope. As it is now, there is no real shortage of surprises, and how the movie ends to make us wait for the next part is also one of them. In the world where slasher horror has been losing its power, this one strengthens its roots.

The claws of flaw :: There is always something that slasher horror movies can do differently every time, and this one doesn’t really use its opportunities to bring the change. There are many moments which could have been done differently, and some of them could have had some extended versions. Now, it also depends on how the third film comes up, because where it stopped right now is a precarious position from where it can take any turn. Some of the romantic relationships feel unnecessary around here, and the other relationships are also a little bit more than what was required in a movie like this. There were also occasions were more horror could have been added, and an addition of shock would have done more good – you know that some moments required the attack of the serial killer. Even though there are many recognizable characters around here, some of them also miss out at times. You need to watch those older slasher horror movies to make a comparison again, because we have missed the best of the genre for too long.

Performers of the soul :: The one person who seems to be perfect for a slasher horror movie is Sadie Sink, who blends in here so well. She reminds us of many other scream queens from the past, and does her job really well. It is to be noted that there is a long way to go for her, and lets see her further. Emily Rudd is not really far behind in doing the same either, and she basically leads the movie from another angle. The third most important character of the movie is also female, Ryan Simpkins who follows quite well. Jordana Spiro’s short role is memorable for what seems to be madness, but is not really that. Chiara Aurelia plays a typical role, but does leave a mark too. Jacqi Vene also has a little notable role around here. McCabe Slye makes a turn to evil in a nice way too. Ted Sutherland also has some good time around here. Kiana Madeira once again has a similar role, but with less to do here. Olivia Scott Welch and Benjamin Flores Jr also have the smaller roles around here in comparison with the first.

How it finishes :: Fear Street: 1978 is pretty much a continuation of what we had in the earlier movie, and it is the change of setting through the years that makes this one so different. It reminds us of some of those old slasher horror movies well, and with the help of some new effects, seems to make things look better. Making a good second part continuation for the first part of any movie is not a difficult job, and even as movie divided into three, they have managed to make the second part better than the first. With where they ends with this movie, they have made sure that we are all interested in the third part. All these makes sure that the first, second and third parts are not the same as one another. The three slasher movies, even though are part of one grand scheme, are also very much divergent in the content on the screen. During these days when there are so many murders happening around, the effect of slasher horror might be less, but we are sure to take this as an effective piece of work.

Release date: 9th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, McCabe Slye, Ted Sutherland, Gillian Jacobs, Kiana Madeira, Benjamin Flores Jr, Olivia Scott WelchKiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Konda Polam

Vampire Owl: So, we continue to go through films of different languages.

Vampire Bat: The second Telugu film to be at this website.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but Drushyam 2 was basically something we knew so well already.

Vampire Bat: The reflection of Drishyam 2, as we see them.

Vampire Owl: This is a fine thing brought about by the Corona virus.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the release of films in Amazon Prime Video is more certain now.

Vampire Owl: The rise of OTT was only a matter of time.

Vampire Bat: The world has changed with entertainment too.

Vampire Owl: Yet, humans remains the same, as evil as they can.

Vampire Bat: They were able to find more evil from the OTT platforms, as they were not ready for it.

[Gets a vegetable cutlet and three glasses of chocolate shake].

What is the movie about? :: Kataru Ravindranath (Panja Vaisshnav Tej) is someone from a remote village who has passed the civil service exams with top marks, and the same comes as a surprise to those who conducted the interview. He is also able to answer their questions with a lot of clarity, which leads to the interviewers to ask about him and why he had chosen Indian Forest Service when he could have taken the higher options of Indian Administrative Service or Indian Police Service. He is ready to tell his story, and it is about him and his father who are from a family of shepherds. Everyone around him are much bothered as he hasn’t got any job even after studying so much, unlike everyone else in the village. But after staying in the city for such a long time, he remains jobless. The village has been facing a drought for a long time, and he is forced to take the sheep far away in search of green pastures to feed the sheep and find drinking water. He feels that saving the sheep can prove as a blessing and remove the troubles which he has been facing in his life.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Obulamma (Rakul Preet Singh) who is an expert shepherd is another person to join the team, also provides some guidance to him, as they go through the journey, but remains afraid of tigers, especially one which is supposed to have hunted the sheep all the time. They might also have to come up against possible thieves and wolves on the way. He remains afraid of the situation, but hesitates to go back despite his father asking him to return, as he should continue to search for job, while others mock him. They come across the sheep thieves quick enough, and they also find that there are bigger thieves who are there to cut the valuable trees illegally. At the same time, they also face the problems of having only limited food and other other supplies. It wouldn’t take them much time to come across a tiger, and their abilities for survival are to be questioned soon enough. He feels that he was afraid of interviews as much as he was afraid of the tiger and the wilderness. But during the journey, he would have to start facing his fears, but it wouldn’t be that easy.

The defence of Konda Polam :: We do feel that there is something about this particular film, from the beginning itself, as the starting moments have some certain focus. The visuals are really good, with focus in the village and the forests, and also has a good number of actors and actresses playing the villagers doing a fine job. With an inspirational theme at the core, one can be glad that Amazon Prime Video did buy the film and brought it to us, as there is no other way for us to watch Telugu films around here. After watching Drushyam 2, I definitely wanted to add more to the list, and this one makes the time worth it. The movie inspires to face one’s fears, and there are many genuine people who fail to get a job in comparison with others who fake themselves during an interview. The rest gets their job due to reservation. So, what would the common righteous man in general category do? Well, one has to fight and fight harder every time. For the same, the film serves as an inspiration, and it also has a message in support of nature, as well as some action and thrills to go with it in this particular adventure.

The claws of flaw :: The usual kind of songs do come in between to bring the unnecessary break which is often considered natural, but they are not, during this time period. There are some moments which take the film a little bit forward than needed, and some of the repeated romance do have some negative effect around here. The romantic side surely could have been there all the time, but in the background instead of showing up all the time. The movie is also a little bit too long with this particular content. The movie would have served better if the intent was more visible earlier. There was not the need to go to the top, as an inspired person getting some other job which the common people go for, was fine enough, as we always need the dreams that we can pursue, like Mili did – not all of us can dream that big. The top scorer at the top of the world idea seems to be more or less of an idea to give those who are looking for mass moments something to cheer for but, this could have gone for a more realistic idea with that. Well, too much inspiration can be often disappointing, and it also means an unreal thought process.

Performers of the soul :: Panja Vaisshnav Tej plays someone who goes through the struggle that most of the youngsters face in the city, and also another struggle in the forest. The movie is more or less the bildungsroman, the coming of age story of his character, which he manages well. The problem is only with this being too steep a climb, making a few things rather unrealistic, and forcing people to dream too big at a time when the world is not kind to people who take the risks. The world is actually worse than a few people in a village asking a young man why he is not having any job yet. Rakul Preet Singh is lovely in this role, and she goes through the movie as a natural, happy girl who is close to the sheep. The only other person in the movie whom I know about is Nassar, who interviews the protagonist for the civil service. But it is to be noted that most of the actors and actresses who play the villagers do some fine job, especially the one who plays the protagonist’s father. The comic side still serves as the weakness for the characters, but as a whole, it can be left aside.

How it finishes :: We have seen the tiger fight with Pulimurugan, and that episode of this tale is not something we are not familiar with. There is the difference here though, as the focus goes divergent, but there are some effective elements related to that, reminding one also of the eco-friendly Malayalam movie, Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi. Even though this movie also has a similar message about nature and conservation of environment, it is also about facing one’s fears and takes it to the next level, a little too much, maybe. We can note that with the resources, they have surely managed this one well enough. With moments of glory also in store, the film gains advantage quick enough, even though not all motivation is realistic. In one way or the other, it is an inspirational movie which races towards that one goal, which completely focuses on facing one’s fears by the end. You can see that by avoiding a few elements which deviate, with some elements being the common ones, and here is a movie which doesn’t hold back in the end.

Release date: 7th December 2021 (Amazon); 8th October 2021 (Theatre)
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Krish Jagarlamudi
Starring: Panja Vaisshnav Tej, Rakul Preet Singh, Sai Chand, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Nassar, Annapurna, Hema, Anthony. Ravi Prakash, Syamala, Pranitha, Mahesh Vitta, Racha Ravi, Ashok Vardhan, Anand Vihari

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<— Click here to go to the previous Indian film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Vampire Owl: Can someone wish that the undead be dead?

Vampire Bat: Well, that would be something the werewolves would do.

Vampire Owl: Do they still try to make sure about it?

Vampire Bat: They haven’t been that dumb for some time.

Vampire Owl: You mean that werewolves are no longer dumb.

Vampire Bat: Let them make a claim related to that.

Vampire Owl: Well, zombies did make such a claim, and they are surely dumb.

Vampire Bat: Zombies never get to eat enough brains. You can’t blame them.

Vampire Owl: Werewolves don’t get enough of full moon either.

Vampire Bat: Let us not blame them for wishing us dead, at least for now.

[Gets a blueberry cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Hannah Faber (Angelina Jolie) who used to be smokejumper is struggling with her past after facing a forest fire and failing to prevent the deaths of three young campers and another smokejumper. She ends up being posted at a fire lookout tower in pretty much a remote location. At the same time, Owen Casserly (Jake Weber), who works as a forensic accountant, watches the news about the death of his boss and family in what seems to be a gas explosion, and panics, ending up leaving his city with his son, Connor (Finn Little) who is confused about is happening. The house was originally destroyed by assassins Jack (Aidan Gillen) and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) who were sent by highly influential people who wants to destroy the evidence of what Owen knew and had informed his boss. As they come to know that Owen had left his home with his son, they start another hunt with the clues which they were able to find at his house.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Owen hoped to find refuge with the one man whom he hopes that he can trust, his brother-in-law, Ethan Sawyer (Jon Bernthal), a Deputy Sheriff, who used to be Hannah’s ex-boyfriend. As they are attacked by the assassins, they are forced to drive down the cliff, leading to the death of Owen. Now, only Connor has the much valued evidence against the gangster Arthur Phillip (Tyler Perry). Connor who keeps on running ends up meeting Hannah, who he doesn’t really trust in the beginning, but decides to go with her anyway, as he runs out of options. It turns out that her tower was just hit by a lightning, and they no longer have any option for communication. At the same time, the assassins get another warning from their boss, and as they need to finish what they started as soon as possible, they set fire in the forest as a distraction and goes on looking for the boy at all possible locations, with time running out.

The defence of Those Who Wish Me Dead :: There is always chance for having more and more thrillers which are lesser known, but has enough strength inside to make an impact, thus keeping us interested. This film tries to be one of them, and succeeds up to an extent. This is also a film which we never knew that it had released, but thanks to Amazon Prime Video, we know. The film has engaging moments, as there is the boy being hunted, and we also have a protagonist with a troubled past who is trying to save him as well as others who also comes in. The setting used here is really good, as we have a huge forest area, a small town, and fire that burns them all. The situation has been nicely managed around here, as far as the environment is concerned. It also manages to have an emotional side to go with things. It could have also suited a slasher horror film well too – we have watched films like Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight and Hoax a few months ago.

The claws of flaw :: Those Who Wish Me Dead doesn’t make full use of what it has in the hands. It also stays rather slow during most of its time, and it doesn’t seem to be in a hurry at any moment. It also misses the opportunity to bring some horror in between, and with a quicker pace, it could have achieved much more, after all, we have people who are supposed to be expert assassins fighting some local people. The slasher elements could have also made some impact around here. The intensity could have been much higher as we see how things are progressing around here. Angelina Jolie still has what it takes, but we do feel that she wants to let it go, and Nicholas Hoult, if used as the sole assassin, could have scored much more here. We do miss those days when these two people could have done things which nobody else could do, and that reminds us that we are also getting older – how has the world changed in more than one way, right? Well, all these do make the film feel much longer, even as it is not that long.

Performers of the soul :: Angelina Jolie is the name which makes you watch films during these days too. If there was no COVID-19 pandemic, and if this had released in the theatres here, just her name would have brought the audience to the multiplexes, that much has been her star value around here. She continues to come up with the fine performances, even though there is that tired look which seems to be that much associated with her as much as the character with which it connects really well. Nicholas Hoult who is the next best known name with films including X-Men franchise, Jack the Giant Slayer, Warm Bodies and Mad Max: Fury Road to his name, surprisingly doesn’t get a boost to his role, and is limited to the usual assassin that we see – well, that much is done pretty well. Aidan Gillen plays the other assassin well enough too. Medina Senghore as Allison is the strongest character around here, and Jon Bernthal as Ethan has his moments here too. Finn Little has some good moments as the child actor.

How it finishes :: Those Who Wish Me Dead adds to the list of the usual thrillers with some fine setting to go with it. It had the scope to be more, but that chance is not taken. It would have made more impact if the theatres were open around here, even though one can’t be sure if it is to get a chance for a release here with so many Malayalam films getting ready for release as soon as the COVID-19 numbers get lower. We do have to appreciate the fact that they are indeed releasing these movies on Amazon Prime Video which most of us have better access, as there is almost nobody who doesn’t order from Amazon these days and most of the people do have the Prime account. After all, these are the days when we are hoping for better times, and some good movies can help us to keep life going better. There is nothing like a tale of survival against all odds that can keep us going during these days. So, until things get better, we still have these around.

Release date: 14th May 2021 (USA), 17th September 2021 (Amazon)
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Finn Little, Aidan Gillen, Jake Weber, Medina Senghore, Jon Bernthal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nobody Sleeps

Full titleNobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight.

Vampire Owl: People should actually sleep in the woods.

Vampire Bat: Why would they do that? These days people prefer big cities.

Vampire Owl: It is easier to hunt humans that way.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that they would be taking enough preparations if they are to sleep in the woods at some point.

Vampire Owl: There is no preparation that can stop a vampire with night vision.

Vampire Bat: Well, people are not really concerned about stopping vampires either.

Vampire Owl: It is the doing of Twilight. People used to be afraid of us.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that they have many more things to be afraid of now.

Vampire Owl: Tell me that we are still in the top ten of that list.

Vampire Bat: I am afraid that I can give you no guarantee regarding the same.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of oreo shake].

What is the movie about? :: A postman is seen as delivering a letter to some remote area, somewhere around a forest. As nobody answers the door bell, he goes on to look on the other side of the house, and hears some noises from the basement. He feels that there is someone there, and while trying to help, he dragged down the basement. His cries can be heard, and at the same time, there is someone washing bloody clothes inside the house. Then the scene shifts to thirty years later, as a group of youngsters arrive at an area near a forest for a camp. In the camp, mobiles are confiscated, as the organizers attempt to keep them offline, away from technology and close to nature. It is supposed to be a kind of rediscovery for the students who woul have the advanture of their life, meeting local people and even some of the creatures of the forest. Some of the youngsters do feel that it is nice to be away from Instagram because they don’t have to see some of the moronic posts which keep coming up there.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Iza (Izabela Dabrowska) is the leader of a group which goes for a three day hike in the forest. They are supposed to reveal facts about themselves and get to know about each other, a change from what they had been doing on the internet with strangers. Zosia (Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz) and Aniela (Wiktoria Gasiewska) are the only other two female members of the group. The other members are Julek (Michał Lupa) confirmed as the slowest and the least athletic among the groupm being attached to gaming, as well as Daniel (Sebastian Dela) and Bartek (Stanisław Cywka). Soon enough, they feel that something in the forest which they won’t like to face, and they had already seen a dead deer, seemingly a cruel work. Aniela and Daniel soon get to be together, but the former is soon killed while others look for him as he had disappeared all of a sudden. But is this the last of the disappearances which is to happen in the forest? What is the secret that the forest have in store?

The defence of Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight :: Bringing a group of youngsters who have spent most of their lives on the internet to a forest is pretty much a fine idea for horror films. During these times when the youngsters are more into online friendships and trying to get more views on Instagram and Youtube at any cost, this tale of them being in real life is much relevant. We do see people being unable to separate online life from the offline, but this is a warning about exploring the less explored too. The horror does feel real, as much as any film of the genre shot in a forest, and the environment does provide a real boost. There are some nice shots of the forest shown with all its beauty, and the terror that lurks beneath. It is this setting that serves the purpose, even though not that much as it would for an Evil Dead movie. The terror here does feel and the melancholy of the main character is also felt very strongly throughout the movie.

The claws of flaw :: It is natural that the characters here move on the lines of usual horror films, and the mistakes that they make are close to what is repeated. The film doesn’t take that much of an innovation into its slasher mode, as horror always had a better chance in this particular film too. So much was to be done here with the monsters in the forest and with no help coming up any time soon. When we look at the deaths in the film, they are pretty much expected, and predictability is surely there – one wouldn’t hope to go beyond that in a film with slasher mode on. You also feel that this has ended with a need to have a sequel, and a grand finish was always possible. The seemingly invincible murderers here could have been replaced with something else for a change, and the sinister presence here had the opportunity to be something of much bigger scope – yet this one takes the predictable enjoyable route quite well.

Performances of the soul :: Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz plays the character that seems to be the lead from the beginning itself. She maintains a certain amount of melancholy throughout her time, and yet the character remains a strong presence. Her character has gone through a tragedy in the past, and the same is also reflected with flashbacks throughout her journey. Wiktoria Gasiewska plays more or less the character that we usually see in horror films, and she has managed the same with more charm than such characters usually have, and maintains a more realistic stance in comparison with others. She plays that character who is surely going to get killed at some point in a horror movie, and that will be the case here too. Michał Lupa plays a strong character despite seemingly the weaker link among them all. Sebastian Dela and Stanisław Cywka play their part well as the two other usual characters of the horror genre. Gabriela Muskała also remains pretty good when she is there. The lesser characters do their part well.

How it finishes :: Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight keeps the horror genre alive, and we do need to keep the category strong. For the same, this is a welcome addition. All the horror fans would be seeing a regeneration of horror here, as well as the slasher subgenre which hasn’t had too many big movies in the recent past in comparison to what was there earlier. As of now, we need all the horror that we can take, especially when we see all the nonsense which could make it way forward in this world. We are very close to descending into chaos, and therefore horror is the only reality that we have in front of us. Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight doesn’t bring that kind of horror, but does have some effective horror to remind us that the old style scares are still alive. The Polish film does manage to rise above a good number of Hollywood films here. I remember watching Dark, Almost Night which was another Polish horror movie, and now we have this one for the genre.

Release date: 28th October 2020
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Bartosz M Kowalski
Starring: Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz, Wiktoria Gasiewska, Michał Lupa, Stanisław Cywka, Gabriela Muskała, Sebastian Dela, Mirosław Zbrojewicz, Michał Zbroja, Piotr Cyrwus, Olaf Lubaszenko, Wojciech Mecwaldowski, Bartłomiej Kotschedoff, Bartłomiej Firlet, Małgorzata Szczerbowska, Izabela Dąbrowska

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<— Click here to go to the first Polish review.

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<— Click her to go to the previous jungle-setting slasher horror film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Eighteen Hours

What is the movie about? :: A group of friends is shown as making a journey through the forest, and after meeting an accident on the way, they are shot. Then the scene shifts to six hours earlier to an airport. Six students from a school are traveling from Kerala to Karnataka to take part in an inter-school competition in Bengaluru. But unfortunately, their flight is cancelled, and they have to travel by a bus instead. Along with them, there are the teachers from the school and a former student, Anupama (Indu Thampy) who is also in trouble due to the flight being cancelled. On the way, they reach the exact same place where the accident had happened, and there the bus is hijacked by a group of gunmen who were seen earlier. The gunmen are basically trying to get away from police and cross the border with a collection of drugs which they hope to exchange for a good amount of money. For the same, they hope to keep the bus and the students with them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As the bus keep moving, the police are also after them, but with the bus in their control, they are able to keep themselves going. The man in charge of the operations is Commissioner Jayakumar IPS (Shyamaprasad). Now, as the teachers, Geetha (Devi Ajith) and Vinayan (Harikrishnan) are thrown out of the bus, the remaining students are Alisha (Sanjana Nair), Elsa (Keerthana Sreekumar), Chandrika (Keerthana P Kumar), Fiza (Abhirami), Bhoomi (Anagha Ravi) and Dwani (Parthavi Vinod), along with Anupama. Now they face the biggest problem in their life, as they realize that most probably, they won’t be going back home. Even though the police do find them, they are killed by the goons. Now, they have to take the matter into their hands and try to escape, but can they do it before time runs out?

The defence of Eighteen Hours :: There is some good experimentation in the form of a survival film here, and despite having some veteran actors in smaller roles in there, we have a lot of young blood at work, as there is some risk well taken around here. But as they all come up with pretty good performances, and with the atmosphere being used very well, film turns out to be effective. The background music is effective, and there is one good song to add to it. The camera work is fantastic, and there are some fine visuals of the forest, even though the focus actually shifts in between, which affects that possibility. Almost all of the film is focused on a forest, or semi-forest area, which is a big bonus for this kind of a theme, even though more adventures through the forest would have been preferred. The final moments also bring a twist, and has hope for a possible sequel, which turned out to be a nice idea, as this film was too short with its length.

The claws of flaw :: The film doesn’t utilize all the elements to its best advantage, even though the scope was for much more – when you get people being kidnapped with the setting in the forest, you know that the possibilities are endless. After all, a forest in nobody’s permanent ally, and it doesn’t matter what your age, gender or social and economic status used to be – a criminal or an innocent, forest has its say. We have seen similar hostage situations in films before, but this one in a more stylish take on the same, with no saviours and no planning, going rather ruthlessly at it, and in a contemporary world with drug-based crimes increasing, one would expect similar things to happen more than they used to be – COVID-19 has left people highly unstable, unpredictable and ready for anything. With a run-time of just more than one and half hours, it doesn’t establish the background story that much. It could have also used more fighting sequences, along with some extra running around and hiding – this should have focused more on escaping and hiding, but it is less in comparison.

Performers of the soul :: Indu Thampy plays the leading character here, and keeps things going, as she only gains strength. The elements of Type 1 Diabetic are nicely incorporated here, as she is supposed to be playing a character with the same health problem which she has in life, and she has some action sequences which are managed really well. Among the veteran actors, only Shyamaprasad gets something to perform here, and he plays the character well when focused on him. He has good scope in playing a senior police officer, as it is shown here. We have all loved him for his skills as a director, and one has to feel that Hollywood touch which was in Ivide and Hey Jude also being reflected here as far as style is concerned. Even he has a small role to play in his films, he has always made that memorable, and it is the same case here. We had last seen him as an actor this year itself, in Chathur Mukham, and we also remember his role in Ranam, another underrated film with its own moments of glory.

Further performers of the soul :: Vijay Babu has an even smaller role even though we feel that this was going to be a bigger role from how it goes in the beginning, while Sudheer Karamana’s work is unfortunately too small for our liking, as we all expected him to make a comeback at later stages as part of the search for the bus. One has to wonder why they needed other police officers to the lead other teams when the latter was there to make an impact. Lengthier presence of such actors were required, but I guess that they can be used better in a possible sequel in the future. The newcomers do handle the work well though. While the villains do suit their role, the girls do their job really well, and considering the fact that this is the first film for most of the cast around here, everything goes very much nicely. For a number of these performers, there will be more roles coming, and bright future is there for at least some of them, depending on how things would go in their next films. Former Miss India, Mansi Sehgal is also here in a cameo.

How it finishes :: Eighteen Hours, despite missing the chance to go higher, has its own merits running through it. It should be the belief in its strengths that made sure that this one had its release not in the theatres, but on Mazhavil Manorama as well as the app, Manorama Max. With less resources and also with a lot of newcomers, the film has managed enough to be entertaining in an atmosphere which seems to make the most out of it. Even when the film seems to struggle, it manages to raise its bar later, and just like its protagonists, the movie doesn’t give up, and goes on to bring a surprise in the end. The director’s best known film was Salt Mango Tree, along with other familiar titles like Thrissur Pooram and Escape from Uganda, but this film, even though without the big names playing major roles, gets to be better, and can inspire even better flicks like this. It adds on as another interesting release during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, coming straight to home.

Release date: 1st August 2021 (Mazhavil Manorama and Manorama MAX)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Rajesh Nair
Starring: Indu Thampy, Vijay Babu, Sudheer Karamana, Shyamaprasad, Advaith Ajay, Harikrishnan, Krishnan Balakrishnan, Devi Ajith, Vimal Vijay, Sanjana Nair, Keerthana Sreekumar, Keerthana P Kumar, Abhirami, Anagha Ravi, Parthavi Vinod, Mansi Sehgal

<— Click here to go to the previous film review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Malayalam film review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Hollywood film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wretched

Vampire Owl: These humans often refer us by this name.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is clearly wrong, as we are not in a wretched condition yet.

Vampire Owl: I am pretty sure that the humans are in a more wretched situation now.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the Corona Virus has gotten into them pretty badly.

Vampire Owl: I believe that they have always been wretched enough.

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t say that for every one of them.

Vampire Owl: You have always been too kind of the humans.

Vampire Bat: And you have always been the cruel one.

Vampire Owl: Nobody in the known world are as cruel and wicked as the humans.

Vampire Bat: Now, this is something you don’t even say about the werewolves or zombies.

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

What is the movie about? :: A young girl names Megan (Sydne Mikelle) has a babysitting duty, only to find a creature feeding off the little girl, and as she tries to escape, it seems that Megan also meets a similar end in the hands of the demonic creature. Later we see Ben (John-Paul Howard), a youngster joining his father Liam (Jamison Jones), as his parents are in the middle of having a mutually agreed divorce. Ben gets to work in the local harbour in the countryside with his father on a temporary basis. At the same time, Liam is getting too close to his co-worker, Sara (Azie Tesfai) while Ben becomes good friends with a local girl working there, named Mallory (Piper Curda). Ben also can’t stop himself from noticing their new neighbours, Abbie (Zarah Mahler) and her son Dillon (Blane Crockarell). They do get lost in the woods, and Dillon gets called by a tree into the hole underneath, but they do manage to bring home a deer which their car had hit and killed, much to the dismay of Abbie’s husband Ty (Kevin Bigley). She tries to cut the animal for a dish, but messes it up.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, we see that a certain creature is coming out of the body of the deer through the cut which was made earlier, and Ben also sees something sitting on the rails of Abbie’s home – seemingly human, but something else in reality. It does disappear when the light goes off, but makes appearances inside the house of Abbie. Ben tries to mingle with the young people in the neighbourhood with a party, but is publicly embarrassed by the most desired girl of the locality JJ (Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden). As he returns home, he finds Abbie walking into the woods with her toddler, but is interrupted by Liam and Sara, leading to a dispute. Even though Abbie returns from the woods, she doesn’t seem to be the same. It doesn’t seem to be the usual trouble that haunts the small town, as there is more to it than what meets the eye. There is a force beyond one’s understanding, and if someone tries to solve the case, that person might be considered a lunatic. How many lives will be lost before such an evil vanquished?

The defence of The Wretched :: There is no doubt about this particular movie’s ability to score with the ambiance, as the setting as well as the neighbourhood where the people are living, can all be considered to be very much perfect. We have the small town where people are denying the existence of evil, but there has always been one in the woods, and a tree has been central to everything. To get to the depth of this evil, we have even more twisted ideas in there, and more of terrifying suspense will be revealed in the end. There are also some scares to support the same, and the nature around the place is indeed beautiful. It is more or less like a dark fairy-tale, as there are elements of a dark fantasy which runs right through. The characters are the kind of people whom you can relate to, and that makes the transformation caused by the witch feel even more real. After all, it is always nice to be taken back to the idea of that witch who used to haunt us during the childhood and reached as far as The Witch – until you had the older version of Evil Dead to scare you in the best possible way.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that the movie does try to have a little too much than a regular witch story, which doesn’t always work in its favour. The mixture doesn’t make the best use of its elements, especially as there are so many things which a witch possessing a lady or two can do. The terror could have had even stranger forms, and it also takes some time to make one feel the seriousness of the same. Some scenes are also not needed, even in a movie which goes just above one and half hours. Some people can even find this movie to be confusing in parts, and the creepy poster doesn’t come up in there, which is also disappointing. The mask does come though, and just like the other elements related to the witch, there could have surely been more. The ending has also been left open, maybe for a sequel, but that would need more, and not just the type of material that we have here. There are also some characters who could have done more – some are just left not explored well enough, and we feel the need to see them more.

Performers of the soul :: It is to be noted that the main characters are driven by a terrifying feeling – if you die, and nobody remembers you, where you really alive? That existential crisis is first discovered by John-Paul Howard who plays Ben well enough, but the truth is that it is not just his neighbour who has forgotten his son, as the darker secrets are there to make him realize the terror further. He plays the curious youngster who understands things happening around better than the others, and he does that well. At the same time, Piper Curda remains very cute and brings a lot of charm to the movie – not your usual leading actress, she brings a few joyful moments here and there in what really is a dark movie as it progresses. Zarah Mahler is really good as the young lady next door who is possessed by the witch, as she makes some really scary appearances, and there are scenes with her skin ripping off, which takes it to another level. Azie Tesfai with that deer-skull mask on her face is joy to watch, even though it is only for a short period of time to make a good enough bad witch. Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden could have been there for more though.

How it finishes :: We have always had the supernatural creatures running around in different movies, but the witches have always struggled to keep it going in comparison to vampires, werewolves, zombies and other creatures of the dark who have been competing well with the demons and ghosts. But The Wretched does manage to bring some of such interest back to us during these days, as the witch gets her due, without a broomstick, staying close to an evil tree in the forest. It has enough surprises in there to keep the whole thing going, and with such a setting to help its cause, The Wretched is sure to take you to a world of forest’s witches whom we have known since childhood. You can always expect more, but this is indeed a good beginning to a type of horror cinema which hasn’t made that much of success in comparison to the others. After all, elves and similar creatures of light are not the only ones you keep finding in the middle of the forest.

Release date: 19th July 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Brett Pierce, Drew T Pierce
Starring: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Zarah Karen Mahler, Kevin Bigley, Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden, Richard Ellis, Blane Crockarell, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lake of Death

Vampire Owl: I thought that it was originally the river of death.

Vampire Bat: The river of death has already gone dry.

Vampire Owl: What about the pond of death behind the castle then?

Vampire Bat: That pond is originally something related to life and not death.

Vampire Owl: Yet, it is named the pond of death.

Vampire Bat: So, you feel that this lake might not be about death?

Vampire Owl: There is surely something strange about this movie.

Vampire Bat: This is a Norwegian movie, and the first one of the kind we are watching.

Vampire Owl: Well, the idea does seem to be pretty good when we have look from a distance.

Vampire Bat: The first movie which we watch is often too good, no matter what the language happens to be.

[Gets an orange cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Lillian (Iben Akerlie) had lived the early parts of her life with her brother Bjorn (Patrick Walshe McBride), who had lost his ability to talk in the later stages of his childhood, after former had left him with nobody to take care of, as they were both orphans, The two only had a cabin in the woods for them to live, and Bjorn had lived there beside the lake for most of his life, which Lillian had left the place for the city. Bjorn had no friends in the isolated place, and used to sit near the lake doing nothing for most of his life. One day, she gets the news that her brother had drowned in the same lake, and that was shocking and depressing for her, as it was her who left him behind, deciding not to spend much time with him. Seeing her depressed state, her friends decide to accompany her to the cabin in the woods beside the lake for the last time she is going there, as she intends to sell it, and get rid of her memories forever, moving on with her life in the city.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The four friends include the beautiful Sonja (Sophia Lie) and three men, Gabriel (Jonathan Harboe), Harald ( Elias Munk) and Bernhard (Jakob Schoyen Andersen), who feels that along with helping Lillian in getting rid of her depression and the memories of the cabin, they can also have some fun in the woods, as they had heard about the beautiful lake and the lovely setting of the cabin. They reach the place and meet Kai (Ulric von der Esch), Lillian’s former lover and friend, a local guy who arranges everything for her. Sonja is quick to turn into the party mood and get into her bikini for the much needed cooling time in the lake, but with people seemingly pulled down under water and the dog going missing, something is wrong, and spoils the holiday mood for all of them. They also find breakfast already there when they wake up, and Lillian has some strange visions, as she begind sleepwalking. The five of them begin to doubt each other as well as another presence which they wonder whether is supernatural in nature.

The defence of Lake of Death :: The movie has a beautiful setting indeed, and the advantage of having such a cabin in the woods setting is that along with that natural beauty which we see at almost every point, we can also find the scope for the creepy effects, for the lake itself has a well-known history of violence happening around it as well as the cabin. There are also some fine scares to go with, and we are left with what is to happen next, even though in the beginning, the horror is not really that direct. The feeling is always there, as horror is present with creepiness wherever you look at it. We do have a few final moments under the lake, and it is beautifully shot, with the protagonist moving underneath like a fish or rather a mermaid, escaping the evil – a site to behold, just like the beauty of nature surely requiring a nymph or a wood elf of its own. There are some other interesting moments of terror which had come earlier – those which we remember include the protagonist sleepwalking through the room, her trying to get away from the bathtub, her awakening beside the lake, as well as the way she looks at other on different occasions.

The claws of flaw :: This is indeed a slow moving movie, and the lack of pace can be seen from the beginning itself. There is some inconsistency in the characters too, except for the two girls who remain the same, and they are well-defined. It does go into the usual traps, with elements which we have seen in other movies, and even those things which didn’t work in those films either. The cliches are indeed there, and most of them work as red herrings, as we move away from what we should focus on, but that too, when it comes in the end, fades away too easily – it could have been longer, especially the moments under the lake which are beautiful, but are over as we begin to get a touch of the same. The movie could have actually been more like The Cabin in the Woods, one of the best horror movies of all-time, which didn’t really get a screen in the malls around here. This Norwegian movie, for some reason, decides not to be that, or even Evil Dead – the scope was really there, as elements of old horror sneaks in so well around here.

Performers of the soul :: The movie’s spirit is entangled into Iben Akerlie who actually becomes a reflection of the atmosphere itself, and she perfectly fits into the role and setting with ease. There is something about her at all times, and we are drawn to the way she looks and acts throughout the movie, like that fairy-tale nymph who reached the world of humans all of a sudden. The way she looks at everything, from the cabin and the woods to people, as well as her simple actions give us a feeling that she is not of this world. She nicely blends into that strange girl whom nobody can easily figure out. Patrick Walshe McBride’s brotherly figure is even more weird, but we don’t really see much of him around here. Then, it is Sophia Lie who has our attention as one of those characters who are better defined than the others. As the only other female character in the movie, she is the one whom we can consider to be the sane one among the other unpredictable ones. The other actors do just the usual in a horror movie as we look at them.

How it finishes :: Lake of Death, the first Norwegian movie which I have watched, has managed to be an interesting horror movie, even though moving on at quite slow pace from the beginning itself. This could have actually worked better as a usual horror movie with this kind of an atmosphere without complicating things too much or lowering the pace rather too much. We could have had the feeling of terror always being there directly rather than bringing them in the form of strange events which don’t seem to be that much dangerous, or through those hallucinations which makes us feel not to be considered serious. Yet, this can begin your movie watching procedure in style as far as Norwegian movies are concerned, because a horror flick with such a setting is always the best option to begin with. You can go through this world of creepiness, beauty and fear, all mingled into one, and then follow up with more Norwegian horror at some other point. After all, horror is the most real thing that you can ever experience in life.

Release date: 1st November 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Nini Bull Robsahm
Starring: Patrick Walshe McBride, Ulric von der Esch, Iben Akerlie, Sophia Lie, Elias Munk, Jonathan Harboe, Jakob Schoyen Andersen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hoax

Vampire Owl: I heard that they are going to search for Bigfoot.

Vampire Bat: Everybody knows that it doesn’t exist. Are they dumb?

Vampire Owl: Well, they think that even us don’t exist.

Vampire Bat: It is another reason why they are to be considered dumb.

Vampire Owl: We shouldn’t be searching for reasons why humans are dumb.

Vampire Bat: Well, a Bigfoot movie seems rather outdated, and not applicable to all areas of the world outside North America and Europe.

Vampire Owl: Well, they should have been running short of monsters.

Vampire Bat: Still, there are many other things you can search for, in a forest.

Vampire Owl: Yes, even serial killers can found out in the wilderness.

Vampire Bat: Let us see if they find this type of monster in the end.

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

What is the movie about? :: A group of young campers who goes to a remote area in the wilderness to enjoy some time alone, away from the city – they go missing, and they are supposed to be killed with some bodies found, and nobody is able to figure out exactly what actually happened at the site. It is then that an investigative team decides to travel all the way there and find out if this was a case of Bigfoot attacking them. These creatures which are also known as Sasquatch had a significant role in the North American folklore. These creatures are supposed to be like apes, and they leave giant footprints. They are supposed to be linked to some of the great apes, and are often considered to exist from a long time ago. There are people who have claimed to have seen the creatures, and some are supposed to have seen the marks of big feet on the ground. As this particualr incident is also related to some unknown, unidentified creatures, it becomes something that can have great news value.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Even though the existence of Bigfoot is dismissed by scientists as a hoax based on some strange old beliefs, the first person to join Rick Paxton’s (Ben Browder) team of Bigfoot hunters is a young doctor, researcher and primate specialist, Dr Ellen Freese (Cheryl Texiera) who gets attached to the dollars Rick had offered to shower on her. Cooper Barnes (Max Decker), father of one of the missing girls is also asked to join the team, because he needed someone who knew the mountains and wilderness – Cooper has been leading many search parties in the area hoping that he could find his daughter. Peter Moore (Schuyler Denham), a renowned cryptologist, also joins the team, and so does Justin Johnson (Hutch Dano), their camera man. John Singer (Brian Thompson) is appointed as the security personnel in charge of their safety. Danny Kent (Brian Landis Folkins) would be assisting, and Bridgette Powers (Shoshana Bush) is supposed to be reporting from the location. But things would be different than they think about it, and will they be able to survive it?

The defence of Hoax :: It is to be noted that Hoax does provide some welcome surprises, and it also has a nice twist in the end, and that is certainly a violent one. Well, there are not many movies which has Bigfoot with the scares, and there are not much that we know about, that is for sure – Bigfoot does need its movies too, for almost all the other creatures, from vampires and zombies to werewolves got them. You know how far they have managed to get in big money-making series like Resident Evil, Underworld and Twilight, even though we can only wonder about how the last one mentioned here made so much of money and fans. The setting of Hoax is really good, and the cast have managed to work through the wilderness really well, whether it is in the morning or at night – it is one beautiful, charming and scary setting, all at the same time. The special effects are avoided to give a realistic touch here, which we never fails to notice. The terrifying events actually come in the end of the movie, and one has the slasher effect in the beginning and the end, stronger than ever.

The claws of flaw :: Bigfoot is not really something which interests people around here, at this part of the world, and it is not even an interesting monster for those who are looking for some serious horror – the name itself provides that funny feeling which works against a movie which is attempted to be a horror thriller in the wilderness, at a location where people went missing or were killed. The creature is also not much seen around here, and therefore, what could have been the movie’s highest points go missing. It also struggles to make the best use of its characters, and the stylish reporter girl character suffers the most. Even they had the setting to do a lot, there is much less being done here. With the title being confusing with another movie which deals with an entirely different subject, this film tries to bring its Bigfoot monster, and it does that without much of a focus. Due to the same, they missed a change to elevate the tales on these creatures to a higher level.

Performers of the soul :: Cheryl Texiera plays the doctor in the team, even though her interest is more in treating the animals. She does a fine job, but it has to be said that her looks suit more of an explorer and adventure on the lines of Lara Croft Tomb Raider. The same can be said about her clothing too, which suits her so well. Brian Thompson is solid around here, with a certain Arnold style of action-love written all over him. Ben Browder’s character progresses as someone like that would do, and he moves through that lane without any problem. Max Decker’s character seems to be the mandatory father character, because he achieves nothing much there, and the mystery itself comes to that kind of a conclusion. We never really get to see more of Ryan Lucy as his lovely daughter lost in the woods. Shoshana Bush does bring some humour around here, but she is rather underused considering such a character’s potential. After a few minutes, she is completely wasted.

How it finishes :: There has been many forest-based slashers, and some of them have gone on to become legendary, including The Cabin in the Woods, one of the best horror movies of all-time with a pinch of satire, as well as the best known horror movie of all-time and its remake, Evil Dead. The lesser known movies like The Forest, and the divergent ones like The Witch also makes use of the wilderness nicely – we are always expecting Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes franchises to explore the same better. Hoax doesn’t use the setting to its best of strengths, and maybe, if they manage to hunt Bigfoot next time, can correct the mistakes. As of now, Hoax makes a pretty good entertainer as a thriller, and there are elements of horror, along with the blood and gore – it is as if the movie is not one movie throughout its run, but has some breaks in between. You can choose to watch it as another usual movie which goes through the safe path throughout its run.

Release date: 20th August 2019
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: Matt Allen
Starring: Cheryl Texiera, Shoshana Bush, Brian Thompson, Ben Browder, Hutch Dano, Ryan Lucy, Matt Riedy, Adrienne Barbeau, Sabrina Stull, Maire Higgins

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ira

What is the movie about? :: Dr. Aryan (Gokul Suresh) arrived at Cochin from Kolkata, trying to leave a mark in his own home state, but is accused of murdering the Minister of Forests and Wildlife Protection, KP Chandy (Alencier Ley Lopez) who seemingly dies due to cardiac arrest. The much discussed case becomes a favourite for the media, as the minister was already in the news for corruption allegations, and his son, the next big name in politics, Jacob Chandy (Shanker Ramakrishnan) is looking forward to punish the man who is supposed to have murdered his father. Aryan is accused of being a naxalite and part of a group which is known to target politicians, and police is very much interested in making him confess to this crime. It is during these times that Inspector Rajeev (Unni Mukundan) arrives to take over the investigation from Delhi.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Rajeev doesn’t have a smooth run with the investigation, as the Commissioner of Police, Satheesh Varma (Kailash) is not interested in helping him. Even the people at the hospital seems to be not that much interested in helping him. But beginning with the taxi driver who dropped Aryan at the nearby church, Rameshan (Saju Navodaya), Rajeev begins to solve the mystery. There is more than what meets the eye with this tale, and he soon finds one love story which becomes the core of the whole thing, with Jennifer Jacob (Niranjana Anoop), the neighbour of Aryan, and his own tale of love with a girl whom he met in a forest near Kothamangalam, a long time ago – Karthika (Miya George). Now, the question remains about who is so much interested in framing Aryan as the murderer of a minister, and it is a difficult question to solve.

The defence of Ira :: We can see that the suspense stays strong throughout the movie, and there is the nice use of opportunities for twists towards the end. The first half as well as the second, has its thrilling moments as well as an effective emotional side. The entertainment side is strong throughout its run, and it has the audience interested in the investigation, and the predicament of the main characters. It is something offering a full run of entertaining moments, even adding some jokes here and there, with some of them working well. We can see how much the politicians manipulate people, and how so many incidents are twisted to be of advantage to them – we see where the common man’s place is, and what they are made to believe by putting them into a coma of indirect oppression. The visuals are very good, especially those of the forest, as we see that it is close enough to the locations where Pulimurugan and Shikkari Shambhu were shot – the beautiful world on the other side of Kothamangalam.

The claws of flaw :: There seems to be reflection of real life moments in the movie, but they really have no point here, and we see that they are unable to affect the movie well enough to make an impact worth remembering – these are more or less like the ingredients added to catch the attention of the viewers with the manifestation of a strange visage. We can also guess a number of things about this movie, as there is not that much focus on making sure that all minor twists hold ground. The movie could have also focused more on its title, as its oppressed including the tribals and the common people facing powerful politicians, never really get enough of justice, even though the poetic justice is delivered by vengeance. This could have been a better thriller, no doubt about that – it could have had a smarter investigation, and a stronger backstory which would be able to connect better with the right kind of bridges between the past and the present.

The performers of the soul :: Unni Mukundan doesn’t have any problem with this police role, the kind which he has already done before. From the nice entry in the beginning, he has things under control, with no real challenge being present in there to play this particular police officer for him. Gokul Suresh seems to be getting better with every movie, and we see how things have managed to rise in quality from Mudhugauv to Masterpiece, and now here. Even though Unni Mukundan’s police officer is established as the hero very early, we come to know in the end that all that Gokul’s character did was of high purpose, from the very first moment itself, with or without him knowing about it. There are also signs of a younger Suresh Gopi with his work, and the viewers are sure to wait for more from him. The significance of him being in an action-thriller is displayed so.

Further performers of the soul :: As you will notice here, the movie does have quite an interesting list of actors. The main female lead would be Miya George, even though she has lesser time on the screen, arriving late, and leaving rather early – she is very good in her work here. It is rather surprising that we don’t see that much of her work these days, Niranjana Anoop has more presence, and has done a pretty good job. There is a long way to go for her, in the industry for sure. Alencier Ley Lopez plays the corrupt politician in a nice way, Shanker Ramakrishnan plays a pretty good negative character for most of the time. Lena plays a strong character, that of a lawyer with ease, and Saju Navodaya only has a few moments to bring the laughter, which he manages; so does Nelson during the flashback moments.

How it finishes :: Ira has enough to make sure that the viewers are engaged at all moments. It might not be the best investigative thriller of our times, but it possesses enough in there to make sure that the audience is entertained. One might think that it could have been made better, as the premise was set very well. But it has been difficult to make good stories of investigation for some time in Malayalam industry, and Ira makes sure that something more is added to that genre. Well, thrillers don’t usually have enough support from the audience, unless it has those family elements like Drishyam, and also has a big superstar at the helm. Let us hope that this one has that support, as experimentation in the genre seems to have stopped rather too early. If the early opinions about the movie is going to continue, Ira might be followed by more of similar flicks.

Release date: 16th March 2018
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Saiju SS
Starring: Unni Mukundan, Gokul Suresh, Miya George, Lena, Alencier Ley Lopez, Niranjana Anoop, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Neeraja, Saju Navodaya, Kailash, Nelson, Mareena Michael Kurisingal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Shikkari Shambhu

What is the movie about? :: Philippose (Kunchacko Boban) is a thief who works close to two other thieves, Achu (Vishnu Unnikrishnan) and Shaji (Hareesh Perumana). The three had made an attempt to steal a golden cross from a church in Kunnamkulam area, only to fail in the attempt and escape to the highranges. They decide to stay hidden in a remote place, and the news that there is a tiger attack in Kuruthimalakkavu, makes them travel all the way there disguised as hunters. They also have their eyes set on the statue in the village temple which is said to date back long, and is valued at crores. They are welcomed by the group of villagers lead by the Panchayat President Sudhakaran (Maniyanpilla Raju) and the local priest Father Luko (Johny Antony), and are offered five lakhs to catch the tiger. The three feels that this is a big opportunity for them to make some quick money.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The three lives in the fear of being attacked by the tiger, and along with their adventure, Achu falls in love with the daughter of the Panchayat President, Revathy (Alphy Panjikaran) who is a college student. At the same time, Philippose has his interest set on Anitha (Shivada Nair), who is one of the more active and stronger women in the area. They do end up capturing the tiger, but it turns out that this doesn’t stop the killings. It won’t put an end to their problems either. So, is there one more tiger that they need to handle? Can another Shikkari Shambu incident of pure luck save them? But even luck has its limits, as the three friends attempt to make one last stand to save the village as well as get the money that they wanted. This is the time for them to find all their courage, but are they up to it? How many people will have to die before they can?

The defence of Shikkari Shambhu :: The movie has the formula that works, right out the movies like Ordinary, which was acceptable to so many types of audience. There is a lot of entertainment in store, beginning with the comic side that runs through, and also the mystery to come to light along with the big twist to arrive by the finish. The visuals are stunning, and it is not limited to the beautiful “mazha” song which has already become the best song of the year without doubt. When you look closely, you see that Shikkari Shambhu is surely better than Pulimurugan, even though that much of a box-office collection is not there to be taken – this one is still more fun, has a better story, and there are cent percent better female characters, along with coming up with better songs and visuals. Well, you begin laughing from the very beginning itself, and when you see that happening in a multiplex in a mall with the family audience, the movie has won the hearts.

The claws of flaw :: The tale could have been better in the middle parts, and there was scope for more with this trio trying to make something out of their stay in a village haunted by wild animals. There is the feeling of the movies like Ordinary, and a little bit of Romans in this one, and you will also think that this flick is a little too long. A bit shortened, this one could have done without some moments. The tiger doesn’t come up well enough to create an impression either. The fact that this movie didn’t have its shows in a number of theatres including Carnival Cinemas Angamaly and Carnival Cinemas Muvattupuzha, was surely a terrible thing, as we can be sure that so many people wanted to watch this movie after being addicted to the “mazha” song which is undoubtedly a pleasure to look out for, on the big screen. A little more care, and this one could have done even better – it could have had the special ingredient and could have attempted a deviation from the usual path.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban handle this role with ease, and we remember that he played a thief in his last movie of 2017 too, in Varnyathil Aashanka. This character does work for him very well, and never does he need to try more. The song “mazha” itself seems to be custom made for him, something which makes the viewers immediately interested in the flick itself. Shivada has a fine role here, paired opposite Kunchacko Boban, making this her one more notable role after Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam. Her character is strong, determined, and with those qualities that surely make this one a different role for her – there is more than what meets the eye to the strength of this particular female character. Vishnu Unnikrishnan, after Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, continues to be the boy next door, carrying most of charm into this one too.

Further performers of the soul :: Alphy brings good work in her first full role, paired opposite Vishnu as the movie progresses. She is sure to stay there in the industry with some good roles to come. Hareesh Perumana scores the best in this movie, and you don’t need to think twice before asserting the same. We know that he has always been good, no matter what people will say about a movie as a whole. He has been having a good time in the Malayalam movie industry, and this one has him controlling the funny side, rising above everyone else. The movie’s advantage is that he is there throughout the flick. Two directors Johny Antony and Aji John plays interesting roles in the movie too, and the former provides some fun moments which scores big. Salim Kumar has only a smaller presence as a police officer, but when he is there, the whole theatre has no problem in getting into a laugh riot.

How it finishes :: Sugeeth has had a good run with Kunchacko Boban in the lead, beginning with Ordinary and the last one being Madhura Naranga. With a title that reminds us of the comics character who used to be very special for us, Shikkari Shambhu once again brings us one of the better family entertainers of our times, with the content that is suitable for almost all kinds of audience. After the depressing Daivame Kaithozhaam K Kumaraakanam which claimed to be a family entertainer, but ended up being a miserable copy of ideas from other movies creating a mess, the viewers will find Shikkari Shambhu to be a relief among the flicks which are never really what they claim to be. But Shikkari Shambhu is surely the one movie which you would love to go through more than once for its comedy, which will be a big asset to our comedy channels in the future, unlike Aadu 2 which was surely overrated. I hereby leave you with a lovely song from the movie:

Release date: 20th January 2018
Running time: 140 minutes
Directed by: Sugeeth
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Vishnu Unnikrishnan, Shivada Nair, Alphy Panjikaran, Hareesh Perumana, Johny Antony, Aji John, Salim Kumar, Sphadikam George, Maniyanpilla Raju, Krishna Kumar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Forest

Vampire Owl: I once went to this particular forest known for suicides.

Vampire Bat: And then what happened?

Vampire Owl: I just couldn’t live up-to its reputation as I had already died.

Vampire Bat: Even the undead can die, you know.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the ghosts were against it. They told me that it is cheating.

Vampire Bat: Why did you even have to listen to them?

Vampire Owl: Well, they told me that they would transform me into a human.

Vampire Bat: What? It is so cruel. It would have been better to keep split personalities instead.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I just couldn’t bear being part of an inherently evil species. So, I said no.

Vampire Bat: I have to say that you did the right thing this time. The blood wars are coming, and we have to say no to more than one thing.

[Gets three cups of lemon tea with 50-50 biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Sara Price (Natalie Dormer) is spending her time with her fiance, Rob (Eoin Macken), and is having some happy moments of her life in her home in the United States of America when she gets an unexpected call from Japan. She is informed that her twin sister, Jess Price (again Natalie Dormer) is dead. The idea is that she was last seen going into Aokigahara forest known more as the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees, and those who go there alone at night rarely come back as it is a place where people commit suicide. It is rather believed to be the most popular suicide destination in the world which has so many strange tales associated with it. The forest is known to be home to yurei or or rather the ghosts of Japanese mythology. It is also said that long ago, the elderly or unwell people were left to die in the forest, and the place had its dead bodies and ghosts from centuries ago. The place has that kind of a terrifying reputation.

So, what happens next? :: But that doesn’t stop Sara from looking for her sister, and despite the concerns of Rob, she travels to Japan, and after talking to the people at the school where she was teaching, gets to the hotel where Jess was staying. There she meets a man named Aiden (Taylor Kinney) with whom she share a drink and they become friends. After listening to her story, he tells her that he is a photographer and will accompany her to the forest. They are also to be accompanied by a guide named Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) whose presence will help them to get out of the forest if they lose their way or if anything goes wrong. As they go to the forest, Michi tells her that Jess should most probably be dead, and there is nothing changing the same. But Sara says that it is not possible, and as they are twins, she will somehow know if she was dead. She is quite convinced that her sister would never commit suicide.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: After traveling for some time in the forest, they come across the tent which Jess had used, but it was nearing nightfall, and Michi tells them that they have to go back as soon as possible. But Sara is convinced that the best option for them is to stay there, as Jess might come back to the tent by night. But Michi tells her that it is not safe, as the forest has its own ghosts, and they will make her see things which will drive her mad, and it will be she who will be lost on the next day. With their best efforts not seeing anything good in the end, Aiden says that he will stay with her throughout the night, and Michi leaves them to what seems to be a complicated fate. So, by staying in the dark forest which is believed to have more spirits than people, can Sara finally find Jess, and can at least one of the two sisters return home alive from the forest? Well, it is not that simple as it seems to be.

The defence of The Forest :: Aokigahara Forest is a nice location for a change, and with the tales that are told about the same, we become more and more interesting in watching a horror movie based on the same location. Natalie Dormer does a very good job as the twins here, and we are glad to see her in two roles, and she does her job very well. Known the best for her work in Game of Thrones series and also in The Hunger Games, it is great to see the talented actress doing the big role in a horror movie. The forest is also a solid character by itself, as we see possibilities going endless from the beginning itself. It does bring the question about what really is the reality and what is the hallucination – something that the ghosts use to confuse its new preys. The visuals are nicely used to support the same, and we surely have to say that there is an attempt to go different here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have surely used more scares, especially with such a mysterious forest at the centre of everything – the site of tragedy and strange beliefs hasn’t got the due that it deserved. The Forest could have used more ghosts than any other movie, and the variety that it could have brought with its scares would have made it close to a masterpiece; but such an effort is certainly not made here. When such creepiness is around, you expect the scary side to hold on and get to be better, and it is something that you never see anywhere around here. This struggle to use the material in hand should feel strange for many viewers. It also has to be noted that other than Natalie Dormer, there is nothing much of a cast to do anything big. Maybe it is the lack of focus that bring the trouble rather than anything else, as we see the struggle towards the end from a movie which began so well.

How it finishes :: You will surely find The Forest to be a rather strange movie, which means that whether you like it or not, it is very difficult to ignore it. With Natalie Dormer in full form, you might expect more and more, and what you get might not satisfy you enough. If you consider the mystery elements more and the scares a little less, you will not find this one to be less interesting. As you think differently, you will find this movie to catch your attention with its divergence. After all, it is one reality that we have in our lives, and the inability to understand what is real and what is unreal, and what is good and what is evil, is something that should be scary even out of the limits of a horror movie. Well, this one is creepy enough, and you just need to read less number of reviews before watching this movie. You remember the movie Pet, which was different in its own way.

Release date: 8th January 2016
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Jason Zada
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken, Rina Takasaki, Noriko Sakura, Yûho Yamashita, James Owen

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.