12th Man

What is the movie about? :: A few friends from college come together at a resort far away from civilization – Zacharia (Unni Mukundan), Mathew (Saiju Kurup), Nayana (Sshivada) Shiny (Anusree), Merin (Anu Sithara), Sidharth (Anu Mohan), Jithesh (Chandhunath), Sam (Rahul Madhav), Fida (Leona Lishoy), Aarathy (Aditi Ravi) and Annie (Priyanka Nair) come together with their families after a very long time. Zacharia and Annie had just found out that they are going to be parents. Sidharth and Aarathy are going to get married soon, and this particular party is on them. The resort is fully booked only for them, and a lot of facilities are available for them. As they play cricket, Siddharth’s big shot ends up hitting Chandrashekhar (Mohanlal), who is angry that he lost his bottle of liquor when the ball hit him. He asks for a replacement, but there are not bars or beverage shops nearby. To avoid him, the resort arranges some local toddy, but in the final stages, that also becomes becomes unavailable, and the group has to provide him with the alcohol. He accepts it and leaves.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: After Chandrasekhar leaves, the group decides to take it to the next level. There are too many calls attended by the participants of the programme, and they decide to make all calls and messages which reach their mobile phones during the time period public, in a game of trust. But it is not that simple a game as they had thought, despite Nayana and Fida supporting the same very much. In the first phone call itself, the problems between Zacharia’s mother and wife is revealed, as the former talks about latter’s pregnancy and related issues. Now, Zacharia is in support of the game, saying that let everyone go through the same situation. Two phone calls go on without creating much of a problem, but soon, Mathew’s financial problems are revealed to everyone. But that will not be the biggest revelation, and soon, there would be a revelation that would affect their friendship. Then, soon enough, there is a murder in the premises. Now, the question remains about what can happen next in this small world in the middle of nowhere? Who is the trouble maker here?

The defence of 12th Man :: What interests us the most here is the visual setting, and the atmosphere that it provides the catalyst to help the whole story. This is the kind of world where murders could happen without a trace. The beauty of the place is another thing, and that would surely make one want to visit the area, The twists are really well built in the movie after the death happens. There are different viewpoints being nicely explored around here. Most of the film keeps close to the three classical unities, and maintains its effectiveness using the short time period of the tale. The voice cast is also strong around here – Mallika Sukumaran, Kottayam Pradeep, Soubin Shahir, Aju Varghese and Murali Gopy. Mohanlal can be seen as nicely taking over control here from an environment in which there was nothing like that. He has played a different police officer, and excels in the second half. The movie does a fine job in exposing the fake friendships going on with masks always present there. It reflects how friendships over drinks are the quickest to break apart, and that those built on lies have no existence at all.

The claws of flaw :: Playing games in a building was earlier seen in the Bollywood movie Chehre. This movie takes a lot of times to get there. The final conclusion with the killer is not that conclusive. Some of the revelations are rather too predictable, and with a setting like this, they could have tried more to keep things smarter – this is not the same audience that the makers are facing, or OTT has changed their world by a long way, and the expectations won’t be the same. The initial moments with silly jokes based on the protagonist surely feels more dumb than ever; maybe it would have worked in the theatres with the fans sitting all around. The fans are known for making the nonsense a case of brilliance, but when a movie is releasing on OTT, it has to be smart, as the fans can’t create that kind of an influence, and there are people around the world who are judging this. The movie could have also used the environment in an even better way. Each character could have also been explored further, for there was a lot of talent out there. The film is also too long.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal is not present on the screen when a lot of interesting things happen around here. He has a terrible, mostly dumb entry in the beginning, which falls flat on its face, while going on becoming more and more irritating. It seems to be fashion to show drunk people becoming heroes. But later, after a murder happens, things only get better, and the character is finally given a true existence outside alcohol and talking nonsense. Mohanlal is completely in control of things in the later stages, as he leads the journey with efficiency. It is always nice to see the two sides of him – Bro Daddy was there on the other side. The next person to catch our attention is Leona Lishoy, the actress who has been seen as someone with different dimensions, always notable in any role that she plays, whether it is the mother in Annmariya Kalippilaanu, sister in Maradona or the investigator in Anveshanam; often rising above the movie itself. We knew how she fared in Mayaanadhi, and she comes up with the divergence here too. Some people do their roles rather too perfectly and she is one of them.

Further performers of the soul :: The next person who catches our attention is Anu Sithara, and she has played the good girl image really well – she does look different around here, and that also suits her. Anusree does the job of the most irritating female character of last few years after Srindha in Sherlock Toms. It does feel like a little too much at times. Priyanka Nair and Saiju Kurup are here after that interesting thriller called Antakshari, and both of them once again proves to be solid performers, even though not seen as a pair this time. Unni Mukundan does nothing heroic like in Meppadiyan, and has only a role which is at par or at times, a little below most of the others. Sshivada seems to be playing the one respectable character out there, who doesn’t keep secrets to save herself. Anu Mohan and Chandhunath comes into the picture strong enough. Rahul Madhav plays another character with more than what meets eye well, and that actually applies to all of them. Nandhu and Siddique gets rather smaller roles which they go through with ease. Aditi Ravi supports well within the group.

How it finishes :: When the name Jeethu Joseph is associated with any movie, we know that it will have something of relevance as far as the thrills are concerned. Even though Oozham did have a struggle to go through its nonsensical world, Memories and Drishyam were the biggest thrillers of the industry at that time. This movie attempts to get into that particular group of greatness too. Yet, the journey is not of that high quality, and never does it provide the innovation to feel that this is not something we haven’t seen before. The best movies are indeed the ones which have Jeethu Joseph writing and directing all by himself, but this one doesn’t have the script from him. Yet, this one surely goes on an interesting journey, with its own twists and turns in a setting which adds to the overall mood. I am always in support of a murder investigation mystery in which everyone is a suspect – with the perfect surroundings, things have a minimum guarantee.

Release date: 20th May 2022 (Hotstar)
Running time: 163 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Mohanlal, Unni Mukundan, Saiju Kurup, Anu Sithara, Leona Lishoy, Sshivada, Aditi Ravi, Priyanka Nair, Anusree, Anu Mohan, Rahul Madhav, Chaghunath, Nandhu, Pradeep Chandran, Chali Pala, Siddique

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Seance

Vampire Owl: So, more youngsters are trying to make contact with the dead.

Vampire Bat: Yes, you needn’t be bothered as this is not about the undead.

Vampire Owl: Nobody can contact us through the portal. It has natural resistance.

Vampire Bat: There is absolutely nothing natural about the portal.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has arranged for the natural resistance.

Vampire Bat: If the crazy scientist is involved, it is is surely not natural.

Vampire Owl: You continue to underestimate the doctor.

Vampire Bat: I make no estimate of such a pseudo-scientist.

Vampire Owl: You know that the Frankenstein monster is real.

Vampire Bat: So are his 2897 accidental creations, which are of no use.

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

What is the movie about? :: At Edelvine Academy for Girls, Alice (Inanna Sarkis), Bethany (Madisen Beaty) and other girls play a prank on their friends by faking the appearance of the Edelvine Ghost, an urban legend about a student who killed herself – soon, one of their friends, Kerrie (Megan Best), is found dead in the academy hostel, having fallen from her window. A new student Camille (Suki Waterhouse) who has been on the waiting list for the academy admission for a long time, gets the seat which has been left vacant by the death of Kerrie. The headmistress, Mrs Landry (Marina Stephenson Kerr) considers the death as an unfortunate accident, and is happy to have her there. Camille does feel that there is something wrong with the room. She becomes friends with Helina (Ella-Rae Smith), but gets in a fight with Alice and Bethany’s gang including Yvonne (Stephanie Sy), Rosalind (Djouliet Amara) and Lenora (Jade Michael), and gets beaten up by Alice with the help of her friends. The headmistress sends them to detention in the library until a certain amount of archiving is complete.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The girls, despite their differences, decide to work together for the time being to finish the job as soon as possible and get out of there. It is during the detention that Alice convinces the group including Carmille and Helina to join her in a seance meant to contact Kerrie’s spirit and what actually happened. The two get the feeling that this is only a prank, but everyone finds things go out of control as they really seems to make contact with a spirit which tells them that they are going to be murdered by someone only mentioned as “her”. They are not sure if the spirit belongs to Kerrie or the original spirt which is part of the urban legend. Later in the night, Lenora moves away from the others to a lonely area to text a possible future boyfriend, but ends up seeing a masked figure. Soon, she is attacked and killed by the same strange figure. Mrs Landry feels that Lenora had run away as her personal items are missing along with her. Camille feels that her room might still be haunted by Kerrie, and there are enough dark spaces in the building for them to be scared.

And what more is with the girls and the ghosts around here in a world of chaos? :: The police and the parents feels that Lenora might have run away with the man with whom she became acquainted online. With the help of the man in charge of the rooms, Trevor (Seamus Patterson) who also happens to be the son of the headmistress, they get into Lenora’s room and find a strange cross made out of blood on the bed. They identify the symbol as part of the pendant worn by the girl who had killed herself and became Edelvine Ghost. Soon enough, Rosalind would be next person to be murdered by the unknown figure. Her death is considered to be an accident, but has the girls very much worried about what might happen next. Another one of the girls also notice a masked figure in the room, but the headmistress still dismisses it as a strange dream. The girls feel that time is running out for them, and if a solution is not found out soon enough, they are all going to disappear or die soon enough. Yet, it doesn’t make much of sense.

The defence of Seance :: The effects that this movie seems to use for horror seems to be of great quality. There is a fine atmosphere for the horror to grow at all times. The sound effects also nicely contribute to the same. The music is also very nice, and contributes well to the overall atmosphere of the movie – we do feel that it makes us feel more engaged with the whole thing. You think that this is going in one direction, and then there is another dimension to the whole thing – we notice the music changing accordingly, and there are always some fine settings to contribute to the horror. The presence of something sinister is also there, and with the fine use of darkness, the movie assures one of the same. The makers surely know how to get the best ingredients, and arrange them. There are some dialogues which seem to be coming randomly, but they are all of some significance. There are so many directions which this movie could choose, and we can see that it doesn’t try to go for the usual, which has served right – as Robert Frost would say about the road not that much taken making the difference.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has one nice twist to the killings which is pretty much an interesting surprise as the clues wouldn’t lead to the killings that easily. There are many red herrings present in here, as a ghost isn’t everything that we need to suspect around here. They mystery is strong, and there are enough suspects around here for one to await more deaths to happen. It is strange that there are many negative reviews to keep this one down, as we come to know that there is more to this than what can be seen after the first few minutes itself. You have the feeling that this could be Ouija and its sequels or I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequels – this one has the killer and the ghostly presence, which means that your guess can most probably just go wrong. It could have still made the murders look better – even the shower murder scene goes wasted in here. Yet, the girls are too good, especially Suki Waterhouse, Inanna Sarkis and Madisen Beaty who blends in nicely with a possibility to become bigger scream queens of future, Suki also having some fine action sequences – reminds one of The Hunt fights.

How it finishes :: Seance is one find surprise horror movie that seems to have made an impact out of nowhere. We often have the tendency to underestimate movies like these, but some horror films have the skills to lift themselves up despite what you think, especially with so many negative reviews around. There is more than what meets the eye here, and there is the mixture of more than one genre as things come together. Well, horror is rarely one thing – even in real life, there is more than one kind of terror – we had different ones here, from nipah virus to corona virus, excess rainfall leading to floods, rising prices of fuel and the possibility of descending into chaos from what seemed to be good order. The reality of horror which prevails in this thankless world where evil people get the best results can be often more terrifying for people. Otherwise, we will always have movies like this one. Amazon Prime Video has the right horror movie this time, rising very high above last year’s Madres, The Manor and Black as Night.

Release date: 21st May 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Simon Barrett
Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith Inanna Sarkis, Marina Stephenson-Kerr, Seamus Patterson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fear Street: 1994

Vampire Owl: A slasher from Hollywood with three parts on Netflix. How interesting is that?

Vampire Bat: It is surely what the vampires ordered.

Vampire Owl: We can always take a lot of horror, especially through OTT.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is always nice to take some horror home.

Vampire Owl: Unless we can get some home made horror here.

Vampire Bat: We don’t really come up with horror anymore. Humans do.

Vampire Owl: Well, human horror is out of evil, Ours have been just natural reaction.

Vampire Bat: End of mankind is surely the end of nonsensical evil.

Vampire Owl: Mankind won’t end, for even the virus couldn’t do the job.

Vampire Bat: Corona virus has been just too mild and decent in nature.

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

What is the movie about? :: Heather (Maya Hawke) who works at a bookstore in a mall is brutally stabbed and murdered by her friend Ryan (David W Thompson) who also works in the same mall. After he had murdered many other employees in the mall, he is shot dead by a police officer Nick (Ashley Zukerman). It is said that the eighteen year old graduate just lost his mind and murdered all these victims for absolutely no reason. But this only one of the many murders which happen in the town, as it is more less referred to as the murder capital of the country. There are multiple murders being committed at different areas, mostly for no real reason at all. This cycle of violence seems to have no end at all, and even in the year 1994, people seem to point to a witch named Sarah Fier, who placed a terrible curse on the town before being executed for witchcraft in 1666. It is also the early days of AOL and internet in USA, with people still spreading conspiracy theories online, as World Wide Web does have its own addicted youngsters. The murders have been going as the hot topic in the internet for too long.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Deena (Kiana Madeira) doesn’t believe in all of these though, as she feels that everyone in the city of Shadyside is so miserable that killing others and committing suicide comes naturally to people. Simon (Fred Hechinger) and Kate (Julia Rehwald) are her best friends, while she is still addicted to Samantha Fraser (Olivia Scott Welch), but had kept her lesbian relationship a secret to most people. Deena’s brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr) spends his time to solving the mysteries behind the murders online, while Kate and Simon tries to get out of the city by selling drugs and making more money. Samantha is now with Peter (Jeremy Ford), and both are now part of the city of Sunnyville, which is a richer place with more opportunities and less murders and other crimes happening around. A romantically, emotionally and sexually frustrated Deena has a fight with Samantha as latter decides to go for a straight relationship instead of the lesbian one. The students of Sunnyville and Shadyside starts fighting each other at the same time, and things only get worse for everyone at both side.

The defence of Fear Street: 1994 :: The film is indeed beautifully shot, and there are some colours and beautiful reflections of the world which we are meant to witness with horror. The darkness and the lights contribute nicely too. The 1990s setting works well here. It lets us feel the need to watch the rest of the movies of the trilogy too, and in the end, has put something in there to bring the interest. Movies like these are reminders of a past, a world where we were afraid of monsters – these creatures are now replaced by humans who are much more evil in comparison. With a near unstoppable evil thing at the centre, we are glad to have a witch dealing with things. The film also provides a case for nostalgia, as we are all those kids who grew up in the 1990s, and were introduced to that early stage of internet – we were among the very few people who got to use it then, and can actually feel the memories again. Fear here is powerful within, and it is as close to reality than never ending human nature that inclines towards pure evil.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have had more of the slasher elements than it has as of now. We know what all a typical slasher flick should have as natural part of it. The romantic side is absolute nonsense, and it could have had a happy ending with the appropriate deaths, but that doesn’t happen. The final moments are also not that effective enough, but how they leave scope for a sequel is to be appreciated – the final possession has you asking for more indeed. As of now, most of us only know about Goosebumps from the authors of the books on which this is based – RL Stine. So, we don’t really know how much this one does justice to the original work. There are similarities to the divergent horror films like It Follows, even though this one is not that different in content. The serial killers who come back as monsters and the witch could have also been shown in a better and scarier manner, as we know how the undead can be captivating in terror. The feeling a slasher parody also comes in between, but nothing can have the fun of The Cabin in the Woods in the case too.

Performers of the soul :: This is the kind of the movie where almost everyone seems to contribute equally, and even though there seems to be one main character who comes as close to a protagonist as one can get, she is not the one in control, and also not the one whom the movie fully depend on – it is not really all about her. Kiana Madeira who is seemingly the protagonist, is a selfish character, and that she does well. Olivia Scott Welch serves the requirement as the beautiful girl to be loved, and the typical damsel in distress, nothing more as we look at her. The two characters are very much unlikable by all means, thinking only about themselves. It would have been more suitable for a slasher to have them dead, but unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger and Benjamin Flores Jr are more likable characters, and they are all part of this equally. The monsters which come back to life here also could have had their own flashbacks.

How it finishes :: We have been in short of some good slasher horror for a long time. This first part of a trilogy makes sure that there is something for us to cherish in a world of terror and chaos. There are enough serial killers in this particular film to keep us interested, and as they don’t really have a motive, going on slashing, it is that quality which was seen rarely in films around here – Tovino Thomas’ Forensic was one grand expectation. This is one slasher film with its own quick scares that work well, even though it does misses some points in between. Well, it does take some skill to get the slasher horror right, and there is often the sequel weakness that comes unto the picture, even though we do have enough from Friday the 13th, The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn and A Nightmare on Elm Street to keep us interested in the slasher genre, maybe forever. Even though the quick release of Madres and The Manor were what Amazon Prime Video did in quick succession, Netflix seems to be one step forward with its collection of good horror.

Release date: 2nd July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr, Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Maya Hawke

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

<<< Click here to go to the previous film review out of Netflix.

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Madhuram

What is the movie about? :: Kevin (Arjun Ashokan) is the bystander for his mother, who is going to have a surgery at the government medical college hospital very soon. He is married to Cherry (Nikhila Vimal) who isn’t accepted by his mother yet. He is very much tensed about it, and spends most of the time wondering about what is to happen next. Sabu (Joju George) is there as a bystander for his wife Chitra (Shruti Ramachandran). There are also others who have become part of the hospital during their time spent out there. Ravi (Indrans) is a retired postman who is waiting for his wife to be discharged, while celebrating forty years of marriage. Thajudeen (Fahim Safar) is a bystander for his father who is forced to come there because the doctor in the hosptial is very famous, and a quick surgery is required. Despite how much how much Ravi talks about the importance of staying in long marriage and how much Sabu reasserts the same, Kevin and Cherry are on the verge of a divorce. Cherry wonders if it will happen as soon as his mother is healthy and asks him to leave her.

So, what happens happens around here? :: Thajudeen is to first one to leave the hospital from the group, as his father has a stroke and dies, causing moments of silence and depression everywhere around them. Kevin’s tension only further increases as the surgery is delayed, and after knowing about the death of Thajudeen’s father. The same also affects Ravi upto an extent, as he is also a little bit worried. Sabu talks to the others about his love story with Chitra which happened at Kunjikka’s (Jaffar Idukki) restaurant, where she used to come and have biriyani in secret. They married after causing a lot of problems in the neighbourhood. Ravi’s tale is about him falling in love with his wife while delivering letters at a locality, and it was another case of love story wrecking havoc around. When Kevin’s anxiety problems get better, they are surprised to find that Sabu is surprisingly angry at the hospital staff, which leads to the big revelation by Doctor Rajah (Lal) about Chitra. This makes them wonder how long he has been in the hospital.

The defence of Madhuram :: The movie has to be appreciated more for its optimistic viewpoint about relationships, and life that goes on with love and endurance against all odds. With Joju George who seems to go through the whole thing as if living through it rather than acting, and Shruti Ramachandran who blends in to this role in a realistic manner like no other, this one feels like a safe watch from the beginning itself. The movie’s messages about relationships is beautiful, as it celebrates being in marriage, and with love. The movie also knows where to place the emotions, without any overdose of melodrama coming into the picture to ruin things. The humour which the movie uses in the initial stages brings some early delight, and as it passes on to the sad and emotional side, it makes sure that the balance is not lost, and we are not put into a world of eternal depression, for there is faith, belief and hope at all times. The taste of love between husbands and wives never losses its charm, for love in marriage is shown as a thing with wings more than that of the other kinds of relationships.

Positives and negatives :: Some dialogues might feel like a little too much in the view of life, but the actors who deliver them make it even more effective – the emotions are so well portrayed through them, and we appreciate the choice of performers here again and again – you see how Joju and Indrans make us feel, and the rest are following them so well, effectively. The visuals of the hospital are also nice, and songs with all the picturization makes us feel the emotions which are present at all times. The food also stays with us, and the focus in the same also contributes to the overall mood, which is surprisingly a happy one for most of its run, even though it is set in a hospital and there is the long wait for some risky surgeries going on throughout the film. You also see that this one basically maintains the balance between optimism and realism, unlike Jis Joy movies like Sunday Holiday, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Mohan Kumar Fans which have so much of optimistic attitude that one feels that there is too much of positivity in life which is not really there. Without the same, this one makes you feel the love, and you are into the emotions.

The performers of the soul :: The director here is blessed with a fantastic cast which anyone would wish to have in a work of drama. It is led by none other than Joju George, the man who touched our emotions the best, not with an emotional drama, but with an investigative thriller, Joseph – that was one turning point which still holds strong in our minds, and this drama holds strong with its emotional content, thanks to him more than anyone else. We have always known what he is capable of, and here is one more testimony to his skills. The combination of Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran is something to remember for long, as their relationship has a lot to take away in this tale of different relationships between many couples. Shruti Ramachandran was already there in the highly emotional drama, Kaanekkaane, which was another film which released in the same platform. This love story of the two over one biriyani and more food, is a thing of high quality and the flashback keeps us glued to the seats and in love. They also have some nicely visualized songs to support their cause – you also remember some simple, yet lovely dialogues.

Further performers of the soul :: After the Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran story, we have the other tale of husband and wife, with Arjun Ashokan and Nikhila Vimal playing the couple without that much of love, and with one mother standing in between them, leading to a possible divorce in future. Arjun Ashokan had the role of a lover in June which came from the same director and has no problems here, while Nikhila Vimal was last seen in the horror movie, The Priest. Her ability to deliver some natural performances were seen in two different roles in the movies Aravindante Athidhikal and Njan Prakashan, and she continues to establish herself as a leading actress with such roles. Even though this is the secondary love story, and is often rushed, raises itself with the performances of the two. Indrans has another touching performance to deliver here after Home, and this character also stays close to us. Jaffar Idukki, Jagadish and Lal also come up with some delightful performances, even though in smaller roles. Fahim Safar, Navas Vallikkunnu and Malavika Sreenath are also notable.

How it finishes :: The movie does have its surprises, but the intention here is to bring an emotional surprise rather than the usual one, and the director is successful in doing the same. There is emotional strength which is equal to, or at times even at a higher level than Kaanekkaane also of Sony LIV, for this movie is purely a relatable drama for many people, and it is about husband and wife relationship. The Tovino-Suraj starrer of the same platform had elements of a thriller, and therefore not relatable for all times, but when we look at Madhuram, its emotional intensity is of the common man’s soul. Well, the work that these OTT platforms have done to make our Christmas celebration better, is to be appreciated, for we have already had the greatest superhero film in India in Netflix, and this one is a collection of emotions, which we are to cherish. Well, with these movies being available everywhere in the online platform, you can give some credit to the Corona virus pandemic for bringing these national and international level of attention.

Release date: 24th December 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Ahammed Khabeer
Starring: Joju George, Shruti Ramachandran, Nikhila Vimal, Arjun Ashokan, Lal, Indrans, Jagadish, Malavika Sreenath, Jaffar Idukki, Babu Jose, Sminu Sijo, Thirumala Ramachandran, Navas Vallikkunnu, Fahim Safar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Swarm

Vampire Owl: I can feel the presence of some vampirism in here.

Vampire Bat: You are not talking about vampire locusts, are you?

Vampire Owl: Well, all kinds of vampiric creatures are welcome to our realm.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that locusts need any special welcome.

Vampire Owl: Everybody needs to be welcomed to the realm.

Vampire Bat: Except for the Corona virus.

Vampire Owl: Who is going to welcome a virus at this point?

Vampire Bat: We cannot be sure about that. Humans are crazy enough.

Vampire Owl: Humans can always be crazier.

Vampire Bat: You can trust them to do that every time.

[Gets a chicken cutlet and three glasses of orange shake].

What is the movie about? :: Virginie Hebrard (Suliane Brahim) is a widowed mother who has been unsuccessfully raising locusts for proteins, and it is not something which brings her favourable returns. Their family used to have goats around earlier, and her children, Laura Hebrard (Marie Narbonne) and Gaston Hebrard (Raphael Romand) are pretty much embarrassed by the business of locusts, with people ridiculing the same, including people at their school. As the locusts are not active enough, and with a lower level of health and reproduction among the insects, the family struggles to go on. Soon, she becomes more and ore frustrated, as people wouldn’t buy the locusts at even lower rates. As she trashes the locust enclosure and passes out there, she finds out that locusts are eating from the wounds on her arm. Soon enough, she finds out that the locusts are now more active, and lets the locusts feed from her wounded arm.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Laura is not happy about how things have turned out though, as with everything going well out there and locusts doing better, they will have to continue to stay there. Her hope that they can finally sell the farm and get away from the place is no longer there. She tears open one of the greenhouses, leading for a swarm of locusts to escape. This escaped swarm would make sure that there would be enough supply of blood for them. That wouldn’t stop her from being more and more obsessed about the locusts. The need to feed them more blood comes to the picture, and she is ready to take further risks for the same. At the same time, all these affect her relationships with people around her, including her children. But is it too late for all of these to change now? How much more the locusts will take out of relationships and in the form of blood and flesh?

The defence of The Swarm :: The drama side of the movie is okay, even though they haven’t really tried too much with the characters. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through the movie, and most of the characters do have a certain amount of the same. There is just enough CGI and gore to keep the interest going. The setting is very much suitable for such a story, and we know that this is even more possible these during the time of Corona virus pandemic, where there is always mutation and people also get to live more alone than ever, facing even more financial crisis than ever. This is not a full insect attack movie, and people will have to remember that while choosing the same – for those who are looking for such full attack films, there are others from the second half of the twentieth century which was never short of such horror attacks from different creatures. Otherwise, you do watch this one as a drama with some insect horror added.

The claws of flaw :: A problem with this particular movie is that it losses its power as a thriller and horror flick, and gives in to the drama all the time – whenever there is a chance to make this one a horror thriller, it goes down to the state of a common drama about a widowed mother looking forward to make a living by farming. Well, a single mother with two children and financial struggles always make drama rise over any other elements of any genre. There could have been more interesting moments related to locust horror, or at least have some connection to science fiction. The characters and their relationships are also not that much explored, especially that of the daughter who could have had some life at the campus, even if not a positive one. It is certainly not what you expect when you go to watch the film, and the ending is also not that strong by any means. You can see some horror ready to go through the rails, but there is never the green flag, as we see a hesitation to let it go, while the movie slows down and drags at times.

Performers of the soul :: Suliane Brahim handles the role of the widowed mother in grief, trying to make her business do better, quite well. The attraction and the later obsession to the locusts which are shown by her, has something unique about it, even though it should have had more terrifying images than she presenting her body to feed for the insects in between – imagine the amount of horror which just that idea could have brought, but has been missed. Marie Narbonne is a lovely addition to the movie, and she plays the confused younger sister who hopes that things can get better if they leave the locust farm and home attached to it. The melancholy that she goes through is reflected on her face at almost all times, and the way she looks at people even with smiles, reflects a certain amount of sadness. Raphael Romand’s character remains a memorable one too. The one character who stands apart is Sofian Khammesas’s, as he plays the man who is always willing to help, a rare one during this age without faith.

How it finishes :: It is still a thing of wonder that this movie doesn’t redeem itself with thrills and horror when there was so much of an opportunity. While the drama goes on, the other elements lag, even though we feel that it scores a family adventure throughout most of its stages. It is the kind of movie which has the elements to confuse us about the genre in which it stays. One would feel that it could have worked even without focusing on the locusts, and maybe even after replacing them. It would have done fine enough by growing some of the more common things in the farm, as we look at them. On another day, this could be a full-horror movie with insect attacks, a thriller which has a family hunted, or a science fiction flick with mutated insects bringing something further terrifying. But it chooses to focus on the drama, and it suits one kind of audience much more than the others. As we are now in fear of the next mutation of the virus and wonders if everything has to go back to lockdown again, enjoy this one outside the theatres.

Release date: 1st August 2020
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Just Philippot
Starring: Suliane Brahim, Sofian Khammes, Marie Narbonne, Raphael Romand, Nathalie Boyer

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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.

Kidnapping Stella

Vampire Owl: So, these people have made a movie about just one kidnapping?

Vampire Bat: You are saying that one won’t be enough?

Vampire Owl: No, I am saying that it can be like a vampire movie made out of one blood-sucking event, which won’t be enough.

Vampire Bat: It is a remake of the 2009 British thriller movie, The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

Vampire Owl: Okay, the one starring Gemma Arterton, the lady vampire from Byzantium.

Vampire Bat: The whole vampire team is indebted to her for the work in that movie.

Vampire Owl: It is my second favourite vampire movie after Interview with the Vampire.

Vampire Bat: If you add Let Me In, it could go to the third spot.

Vampire Owl: Do you realize that you haven’t reviewed a full-length German movie yet?

Vampire Bat: Yes, but there has been a short-film which left enough for us to think about.

[Gets an vancho cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: There is some big preparation going on with the two former convicts named Vic (Clemens Schick) and Tom (Max von der Groeben) getting something ready inside a building, just before they get prepared to commit some crime. Stella (Jella Haase), the only child of a wealthy businessman is their target, as they hope to become rich with the money of her father. This act and the resulting ransom is supposed to make sure that they won’t have to go to work for a long time. For this, they come up with some very careful planning, and leave no chance for them to escape, as they undress her and keeps her in a red tracksuit, blindfold her, tie her to a bed, and keeps her in a soundproof room, with no chance for her to even move more than al ittle. To conceal their identities, the two also wear masks while talking to her. There is a certain amount of risk involved with her knowing their identities, because she is pregnant with Tom’s child, as they were in love some time ago.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Stella tries hard to escape from her bondage, but there is no positive result for those attempts, as far as she is concerned. Tom does have a soft corner for her as he comes to know that she is pregnant only at a later moment when they threaten to cut off one of her fingers in front of the camera, while making a video which is to be shown to her father so that he would finally agree to give the ransom money to them. But the problem here is that during one of those vulnerable moments, she finds out that one of the kidnappers is Tom, and almost manages to overpower him to get hold of the gun. But Tom handles that situation as well as a few others which follow. Soon, Vic starts to have some doubts about Tom and Stella, as he is no longer the person whom he met in the prison – he is not sure if Tom can be trusted either. Now, it is to be seen how the two manage to keep the situation going. Can they get the money, or will the girl end up being dead? What will be the priority for Tom now, as he knows that she is pregnant with his child?

The defence of Kidnapping Stella :: You will notice that Kidnapping Stella, just like The Disappearance of Alice Creed and its earlier remake Reckless, doesn’t waste its time in getting into action. There are a few minutes when nobody talks about anything, and then we are quickly into the action when the girl is kidnapped and tied up without any chance to escape even from the bed where she is tied up. We do not have any subplot to take the focus away from the main thing, and even though there is a possibility of some flashback, we never really go towards it. You do have some twists, even though not used to the full effectiveness. A kidnapping scenario is also shown without any pretensions, and without showing it as someone who is locked in a random room giving them an easy journey throughout the abduction. The kidnapping programme is quite a solid one, and even though becoming only the third version of the same tale, you have to appreciate them doing this situation well enough here along with maintaining the thrills.

The claws of flaw :: If you have watched The Disappearance of Alice Creed or its Dutch remake, there is nothing much that you can find here to keep you interested, because you have seen all these in more critically appreciated movies, and the performers who have gained better applause not just in one film, but also many others. This movie also doesn’t seem to have gathered that much of an attention or appreciation as those movies which released much earlier. This one is also quite slow at parts, and for a movie which doesn’t have that much of a run-time, it is definitely a strange thing, no matter how you look at it. The movie could have used some more intense moments to make things feel better. As most of the movie is set within a small area, there was scope to bring more. When you have a film with kidnap as the main thing or rather the only thing, you would expect that something else would be there to be taken. There is always the chance for improvement as far as remakes are concerned, but we doubt if that chance was even thought about here.

Performers of the soul :: One cannot deny the fact that this movie misses someone like Gemma Arterton who has been one class actress in different roles, the best of them that we remember being Byzantium, the highly underrated and under-watched vampire movie coming from the director of the highly appreciated Interview with the Vampire. We can only guess that it would have been a fantastic performance. Jella Haase is pretty much okay as the kidnapped girl, but she doesn’t seem to raise that bar that much. The two kidnappers are actually very good though, and Clemens Schick as Vic, the tougher one comes up with a work that will make us attached to the situation here. Max von der Groeben as Tom, the guy who is caught between two sides also have our attention – he wants to do more than one thing, as there is the need to save his former lover and their unborn baby along with getting all that money from her father. There is no other character here, and these three makes the performers list fully.

How it finishes :: The movie originates from The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a 2009 British movie, which also had another remake in the form a Dutch movie named Reckless. From the reviews which we have read about this version here might be the film with the lowest rating, while the other two movies seem to be quite ahead. But for most of us who haven’t watched those two movies because we never really had much of an experience with Dutch movies and as the British movie was released a long time ago, Kidnapping Stella is going to be an interesting experience. There are enough thrills around there, and it surely feels more than the usual hostage movie. Matching The Disappearance of Alice Creed was always going to be a tough task, as it had Gemma Arterton who has been in all kinds of movies with all the glory, a performer who is difficult to match. You are free to watch all the three versions in different European languages and decide the best for yourself if you feel the need to disagree. Otherwise, you can just enjoy this newer version.

Release date: 12th July 2019
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Thomas Sieben
Starring: Clemens Schick, Jella Haase, Max von der Groeben

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

June

What is the movie about? :: June Sarah Joy (Rajisha Vijayan) considers herself to be an ordinary girl with no special talents, which is the reason why she is upset that most of the other students who join her class are able to do so much more. Her parents (Joju George and Aswathi Menon) care very much about her as she is their only child. Noel (Sarjano Khalid) is her newfound best friend who is elevated to the level of her boyfriend. They get to connect well with each other as they are both considered to be lagging with their talents. As time progresses, she is able to make new friends, and her Plus Two batch of 2007 is finally able to become a batch to remember not just for the students, but also to the teachers. But at the same time, when her parents find out about Noel, she decided to end their relationship. She joins a nearby college while he travels to Mumbai to stay with his parents and to continue his studies.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The best friends go in their own ways, and June is left with the memories of Noel. She goes through her college days without much of an enthusiasm as she is still caught in her life in Plus Two. After completing her degree, she decides to go for an interview in Mumbai and meet Noel at the same time. She stays with her Plus Two classmate Abhirami a.k.a. Mottachi (Vaishnavi Venugopal) who is also working there, and finds Noel to begin the next phase of their relationship. But things are not that easy as she thought they would be. She has to deal with his family as well as hers, and at the same time, maintain her own independence. About their life, what Noel thinks might not be the same either. So, the question remains about what awaits her in the rest of her life.

The defence of June :: The strength of June lies not just in the performances lead by the female lead, but also in the memories that it creates. It takes us back to the school days, and even though it is not an exact reflection of the memories as it was recreated in Om Shanti Oshana, this one is surely an effective one, thanks to a better performance from the female lead in comparison to that older version. The movie is also a clean entertainer for the family audience, with nothing that makes them doubt about their plan to watch the movie – keeping it so, and at the same time, funny would have been a difficult job, but is done with skill. The climax and the final scenes are beautifully done too, and it talks not just of love, but of nostalgia and friendship that comes back after a long time. The music is nice, and suits the mood of the movie. The songs come too often, but they are nice to hear.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s idea to skip the college days completely is one strong negative point on this movie – the second half could have used some of that too, and in that case, being a coming-of-age story in the lines of Premam and Om Shanti Oshana, this one has a little missing part. There is no life that serves as a coming-of-age story without the college days, because it doesn’t matter who denies the same, there is something about those moments all the time. It is where bildungsroman struggles. The movie is also a little bit too long, which is why one can feel certain drag with the romance. There was surely more scope to make this one better. It has to be noted that not everything in the movie brings the memories of school days, and not all jokes serve to be that effective. But as the industry is once again becoming hesitant to experiment, June is surely one another welcome move.

The performers of the soul :: Rajisha Vijayan who won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in her debut film Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, which was also her first movie, once again makes an impression, as we had expected from the trailer. Georgettan’s Pooram and Oru Cinemakkaran never really gave her any challenge as movies which kept at a certain level, never trying to rise or give its female protagonists opportunity to do much. She takes over the protagonist, and has the sixteen year old going through to the next ten years of her life, even though three years at college are absent. The moments during the Plus Two time period are done with amazing skill, and the latter moments are not far behind, and they seemed to come naturally to her. With the whole movie completely dependent on her performance, she makes sure that she comes up with only the best.

Further performers of the soul :: Along with Rajisha, there are others to add to this one very well. Joju George gets another fine role after Joseph, unlike the insignificant one he had to do in Lonappante Mamodeesa. He nicely gets into the father role here, and has some funny as well as touching moments to go with it. Aswathi Menon who is best known for Sathyam Sivam Sundaram and its highly popular song “Walking in the moonlight” has the mother role here, and she makes it a good one. Sarjano Khalid, the debutante who plays a male lead does well, as if he’s been there before. Arjun Ashokan has also done a good job, especially in the second half. Among the actors and actresses who plays the protagonist’s friends, it is Vaishnavi Venugopal who shines the most. That should be among the most natural performances not by a main or secondary heroine, in a long time. The other newcomers are also good talents, as we can see here.

How it finishes :: Releasing at the same time as Oru Adaar Love released, this one uses less hype and more quality to be assured of a more solid run. After Aadu 2, Vijay Babu becomes the producer again here, and we expected a performance to remember from Rajisha Vijayan – it is the same that we get here. This one stays close to life and memories, along with being another feel-good movie which touches our hearts after Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, Njan Prakashan and Ente Ummante Peru. June is also one movie which does so much justice to the trailer, as it is more or less the same thing that we watched earlier and expected. Even though Kumbalangi Nights and 9 are there, this movie should take over some of the presence of the latter, and keep going, because the movie is many different things to different people.

Release date: 15th February 2019
Running time: 141 minutes
Directed by: Ahammed Kabir
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Joju George, Sarjano Khalid, Aswathi Menon, Vaishnavi Venugopal, Nayana Eliza, Arjun Ashokan, Sanju KS, Akhil Manoj, Harisankar, Sruthy Suresh, Margret Antony, Raveena Nair, Aju Varghese (cameo), Sunny Wayne (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Maradona

What is the movie about? :: Maradona (Tovino Thomas) is a young man who finds some illegal ways of getting easy money every time, and for his support, there is his childhood friend Sudhi (Tito Wilson). Breaking law came easy to them, and they did the same without any regret. Both gets in trouble as they end up in a dangerous situation involving a lawyer as well as a rich politician. The influential people are looking for revenge on the young men, and it sets Martin (Chemban Vinod Jose) and his aid Anto (Kichu Tellus) are after them. They search for Maradona and his friend throughout Kerala, and follows the trail to the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. While Sudhi travels to Kanyakumari with a journey to the South, Maradona seeks refuge in the flat of his distant relative at Bangalore. Martin searches and finds the links getting close to finding both of them at different points.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Maradona is not happy with his stay, but he has nowhere to go. The result is that he finds his own moments of happiness in the flat. Soon, he finds new friends in the nearby homes including a girl who works as a home nurse at the adjacent flat, Asha (Sharanya R Nair). The relationship goes further, as both can’t help falling in love with each other. But with the people chasing him getting closer, Maradona will have think about more than just love to make something good out of life. Is there a chance for a happy ending for Maradona? What can satisfy the people who are chasing him? Hope might be the thing with wings, but is Maradona good enough to have some? How much more trouble can he take after being injured in a clash?

The defence of Maradona :: The movie’s game is that of life, and the man named after the great footballer needs to score his goals – life is a tough game, and we can see the same reflected without exaggeration here. The visuals are nicely captured, and the songs are lovely to listen here. The “Kaadhale” song along with its visuals are nothing less than the bliss of solitude, as Wordsworth would compare. The thrills are present with a chase going on right from the beginning. The action scenes are good, and as a movie with more, we see the drama and the romantic scenes working very well too. Above them all, we see the gradual transformation of the character as he goes through the situations which he hasn’t been familiar with. It is a coming of age story in a different way, and there is nothing here that restricts the movie’s slow, but steady movement towards the same.

The claws of flaw :: The movie feels a little bit stretched with its idea, and even then, a flashback to the flawed hero is not that much there. The title Maradona might have mislead many people, but there is absolutely no presence of football in this one; it is just that people kicking others are present all the time. There is also more scope for Maradona, not just with its thrills and action, but also with the cute romantic side – more of the comic side could have made the presence felt right there. The ending might seem a little bit too far-fetched for a movie like this, and it is more or less an attempt to quickly move towards a happy ending loved by the audience, something which Mayaanadhi never really tried to achieve. Dealing with a certain divergence, this one could have thrived on it, but takes a step back as it moves towards the end – there is no doubt of the same being enjoyable though.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino once again scores as the flawed hero – the question here once again whether his flaws lead to his fall or can he rise above it? There are similarities to his character in Mayaanadhi, but clearly, this role is tougher, and there is no asking for sympathy – all actions of this particular character are intentional, and most of them are not good even for the standards of the typically bad hero. The movie celebrates his deeds, whether good or bad, and it is on his character that the movie progresses. We also see the gradual change that come across the character – it is also nicely shown by him. We have the character that is close to life, and we never doubt the flawed hero’s reality that is displayed here, no matter how much it stays away from the usual heroic stuff.

Further performers of the soul :: Chemban Vinod Jose as strong as he has always been, playing an antagonist without backing down at any moment. He has his own moments here too, showing more than one side of the character. Tito Wilson with the Angamaly Diaries fame excels once again, and his supporting role is once again natural and realistic. Sharanya R Nair is the new face in this flick, and this addition to the list of heroines nicely makes her presence felt. All her work here is nicely balanced, and we are glad to welcome her into the industry, being confident that there is a lot more for her to contribute. Leona Lishoy also makes her presence felt with her supporting work again. The cuteness factor does help, but it is not restricted to that, and we see her going through the different emotions at various points of time without any problem that a newcomer would be exhibiting, and all’s just natural.

How it finishes :: There is something about the movie chosen by Tovino Thomas, for they bring the difference almost every time. Maradona also shows such qualities, with the seemingly usual characters and usual tale choosing to go through a divergent path, with quite a different treatment. This one might not be the movie for everyone, but just like Tharangam, it chooses to make something more out of what seems to be a usual story. In a monotonous world, there are only a few movies which try to experiment with its content, covering the possibility of predictability so well – Maradona will be remembered as one of those movies. With some moments which can stay in our minds for long, this one will continue to be the one movie which will go on into the Onam vacations despite nature having its own way with the never-ending rainfall.

Here is a video song from the movie:

Release date: 27th July 2018
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Vishnu Narayan
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Chemban Vinod Jose, Tito Wilson, Sharanya R Nair, Leona Lishoy, Shalu Rahim, Kichu Tellus, Parthavi, Niranjan Harish, Hari Thampuran, Nistar Ahmed, Jins Baskar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kamuki

What is the movie about? :: Achaama (Aparna Balamurali) was born to a school teacher Varghese (Baiju) in a auto rickshaw, and continued to be a headache for her parents from childhood to youth. But her elder sister proves to be a hard working girl who stands on her own feet at an early age, but causes trouble for her parents when she marries someone against their will. Achaama decides to be an obedient girl for some time, but soon chooses against it as she joins MSW at Sree Shankara College, Kalady. Her idea of MSW is to have full fun as she considers it to be an easy course with much less to study, and joining Achaama is her childhood friend Jeena (Kavya Suresh) who hopes to go abroad and earn some extra money, working with some NGOs after this course.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: At the college, Achaama meets Harikrishnan (Askar Ali), a blind student who is her senior. Harikrishnan has been working hard to overcome his problems to do academically better than most of the other students around, who are there only for having some fun. Even though she doesn’t realize it in the beginning, she is attracted to the person who manages to go on with his life without any complaints, and never stepping back. Despite making that promise to her father that she won’t marry against his wishes, she finds that determination under threat. But can the love story of Achaama and Harikrishnan have a happy ending, considering their differences and all the other factors which seem to be good enough to finish the relationship before it even begins?

The defence of Kamuki :: In the medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s work The Canterbury Tales, The Merchant’s Tale section, the proverb that love is blind was found – it becomes further direct with this movie, as the protagonist himself is blind. The dialogues about Deepika Padukone, new generation MSW students and blindness are perfectly hitting the right spot, even though they are somewhat not used according to the situations. It is Aparna Balamurali who rises above the limitations of this movie, and the flick uses her skills to make sure that this becomes entertaining in one way or the other, as it struggles with its story which doesn’t have much in there. There is the message about rising above your disabilities and problems with a positive attitude towards life, to make the impossible possible, but the same could have shown in a better and more effective manner too. Yes, some of the comedy can be termed good enough and the music is pretty good.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is like an unstable thing which keeps showing the signs of falling apart all the time – there is no real direction, and we can never see an attempt to keep things together. The whole movie is spread in all directions, and we are often confused about where it is headed with that love story which gets more added, making the mixture look confusing. The love story in this movie itself seems half-baked, and that never really becomes strong enough to justify the title. The final moments seem to be forced to make things better, but we never get it in full strength or in a believable manner. The dramatic side is weak, because after some time, we just stop caring for the main characters. There needed some better effort in dealing with this kind of things, and we see no signs of things getting any better at any stage, as the path chosen is ordinary.

The performers of the soul :: Aparna Balamurali is indeed the one who saves this movie from drowning, when there were many chances of the same. Whenever the movie struggles, there is something from her that keeps it floating just above trouble. This one never really gets near her role in Maheshinte Prathikaaram, or even the work in Oru Muthassi Gada, but one can only blame the movie’s lack of stability for the same. Whether it was in Sunday Holiday, Sarvopari Palakkaran or Thrissivaperoor Kliptham, she has been doing a good job with her characters. Well, even with movies that refuse to rise, she gets them to do better than they are, and it is the skill that she possesses better than any other actress in Malayalam movie industry. This movie can also thank her for the same.

Further performers of the soul :: As it is said above, and just as it is expected, this one is more of the Aparna Balamurali movie, as Om Shanti Oshana was Nazriya Nazim movie. Askar Ali has his moments here and there, but never really leaves much for the viewers. Kavya Suresh has her own moments too, as the supporting cast did for Nazriya in Om Shanti Oshana – she looks nicely suitable for this role. Rony David who is best known for his role in Aanandam, once again leaves a mark. Baiju’s role is as funny as one would expect from a father character with daughter problems and high expectations. Pradeep Kottayam has some comedy to go with it. We can also find some okay performances from some lesser known actors who play those characters which come and go without contributing that much to the story.

How it finishes :: We can see that Kamuki tries to be different in love, but this particular divergence here is never really believable or interesting except in moments. There was a certain amount of hype about this movie, and the trailer was quite interesting – we just can’t see that level being reflected in the flick, and that is a shame. You can watch this one for Aparna Balamurali though, as she keeps saving the day again and again. We have had movies like Aravindante Athidhikal which dealt with a simple thing on one side, and there was Uncle on the other side which dealt with the complicated on the other side – then we have the movies like Kamuki which won’t fit in both categories. Kamuki could have been something better, and as it is now, it is almost there, becoming an okay watch for these holidays.

Release date: 11th May 2018
Running time:122 minutes
Directed by: Binu S
Starring: Askar Ali, Aparna Balamurali, Rony David, Kavya Suresh, Pradeep Kottayam, Baiju, Rosin Jolly, Ullas Pandalam

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hey Jude

What is the movie about? :: Dominique Rodriguez (Siddique) and Mariya Rodriguez (Neena Kurup), are living a pretty good life with their children Jude Rodriguez (Nivin Pauly) and Andrea Rodriguez (Apoorva Bose) at Fort Cochin. They trace their lineage a long way back, as one of the most respectable Anglo-Indian families at the place. Dominique runs an antique shop nearby, and his skills in doing business depends on his ability to lie so well that he makes a usual thing a symbol of Dravidian world or the last piece of a part of Indian heritage that is not found anywhere else in the country – he sells them at high prices to unsuspecting foreigners who have a strange fascination for the orient, the fine pearls of the East, especially of India. But his son Jude is just the opposite, never able to lie, but more intelligent than anyone else around; at the same time, he completely lacks in any kind of social skill.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jude has no friends in the city, and his co-workers make sure that he gets fired from his job at a hardware company. He spends his time collecting pictures of different aquatic animals – he has all the information about ocean’s creatures, and loves clown fish, jelly fish and gold fish and his dream is about owning a big aquarium one day. While his parents are worried about his future, his sister finds no hope in him, as he wishes to have food at the exact same time every day, and eats only the same food items all the time. He has a list for almost everything in his life, and talks to his video camera about each day about his thoughts. Twenty eight years old and being different from everyone around him, he has a tough time going through each and every day of his life. But he is not ready to accompany his father with the work.

And what follows next in the adventure? :: When Dominique has to travel to Goa to attend a funeral, things change. He has to take Jude and Mariya with him on the journey, leaving Andrea in charge of the antique shop. There, it turns out that Dominique and Jude have inherited everything which was owned by the dead person who had special love for the distant relatives. Now, the problem that Domique faces in selling the newly acquired property and traveling back to Cochin is Sebastian Chakraparambu (Vijay Menon) who lives with his daughter Crystal Ann Chakraparambu (Trisha Krishnan) in the outhouse which cannot be cleared as the building was rented for a period of five years. Dominique comes up with some plans to get rid of the new neighbours, but nothing works. At the same time, Jude and Crystal become good friends, but both have their own troubles in facing life.

The defence of Hey Jude :: From the first moments itself, you are sure that this is that kind of a light-hearted entertainer with messages for life, which will be developing slowly and steadily as the movie progresses. Hey Jude can be considered as the simplest and the most entertaining movie from the director who has known to provide us with strong philosophical side to ponder about. The humour is a clear winner in this movie, as it keeps dropping in all the time. All the characters in this movie are funny in one way or the other, and things never go out of control to bring a possible dark side. The funny side has us more and more interested in the proceedings, and with the grand visuals of Goa, all becomes good for this movie. The music is pretty good, and as it has been talked about, this is a lovely tale of love, self-discovery, healing and transformation. It gets into the list of inspirational movies which have made the big impact in the industry – we see the support for people to be who they want to be.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is kind of longer than one would have wanted it to be. Then, those who wanted Shyamaprasad to go into those deeper human emotions and situations are going to feel the need for more. One can feel that there has been the effort to make things a little too simple – it was surely not needed considering how far our audience could evolve from the time the first movie of the same director released. The movie could have also ended smarter and without a quick full stop. If you don’t like movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, and are unable to connect to the protagonists of those movie, you would have the same trouble here – well, some so called perfect people will always have problems with these kinds of characters, as they jump right out of the firmament with stored thunder in mouth; this one is not for that kind of people born with silver spoons and even golden forks in their mouths.

The performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly surely has the most divergent as well as different character that he has had to play in his whole career, and he could manage the same with great skill. Meanwhile, Trisha makes her Malayalam debut here, and she does that with ease – it is surely surprising that it took her such a long time to be here, but as she is here, it is all good. Well, she has played a Malayali girl in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, making this not the first instance of being part of such a character. Siddique plays the father figure again, as we see him at his best just after watching him in Aadhi in the role of a responsible father – this one is actually more challenging, and his work is light-hearted as well as interesting. Neena Kurup is there throughout as the mother figure, and it is nice to see Apoorva Bose back in action; she was being missed. Vijay Menon plays a funny as well as powerful character present throughout the flick. Aju Varghese has a nice, funny cameo to his credit.

How it finishes :: Shyamaprasad is the one director whom we know the most for adapting the American classic expressionist play, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams for the Malayalam audience, and doing that with such skill, that Mahatma Gandhi University has included it in the paper, Comparative Literature for the final semester BA English students. Arike, which signified the exact opposite meaning to Akale, was another beautiful flick with its quest for love. Ivide with its quest for identity and reflecting rootlessness, was also with philosophical undercurrents. But Hey Jude is rather direct in all that it reflects on the screen, and it can be considered as the most light-hearted as well as the funniest movie from the director with messages to go with it. If you liked movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, I don’t see why you won’t watch this one with family.

Release date: 2nd February 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Shyamaprasad
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Trisha Krishnan, Siddique, Neena Kurup, Vijay Menon, Apoorva Bose, Aju Varghese (cameo), Shyamaprasad (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mooniloraal

Vampire Owl: But there are only two of us.

Vampire Bat: When we are there, the presence of four can be seen.

Vampire Owl: I don’t understand. How can there be four when we are only two people?

Vampire Bat: You need to count the guardian angel too.

Vampire Owl: Doesn’t that make the total as three?

Vampire Bat: No, my guardian angel and yours. It makes a total of four.

Vampire Owl: Are you sure that vampires also have guardian angels? It is never mentioned in the books at the great vampire libraries?

Vampire Bat: Yes, guardian angels are provided without discrimination.

Vampire Owl: Is it a new guardian angel or is it the same as we had before we died and became undead?

Vampire Bat: You are surely angelophobic. The fear for angels is quite common in the case of owlish vampires.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: The three are best friends – Sam (Don James), Jithu (Steve Antony) and the more philosophical of them, Vishnu (Johns Mathew) who is living with the realization that change is necessary, and will happen, as they ponder about their life at Winnipeg in Canada, far away from home. It is a friendship which has been going on for a long time, and is what they consider is forever. Sam and Vishnu meet a restaurant over a cup of coffee, after which they go on a ride in former’s car who tells his friend that their destination is a place where he hasn’t gone, but needs to go at some point. The road through which the car goes is something of scenic beauty, and they enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way, and Vishnu is interested in the surprise which is in store for him in between the busy and rather too modern life they are living.

So, what happens next? :: Their families need them to come back home leaving their life away from home and settle down at their hometown, but they have settled down rather too much to make their return. On their way, their car meets with an accident, but there seems to be no big problem after the collision. At the same time, Vishnu gets a call from Jithu talking about the death of Sam which had just happened in a car accident. This leaves Vishnu confused about the person who is with him in the car and their destination. A rather weird and frightening feeling comes up right from within him. He then shouts to get the car stopped and runs away only to reach a cemetery which has only fallen leaves and tombstones to give company. So, is it true that Sam had died in a car crash? If it is so, who is the one with him? Which kind of demons or spirits are Vishnu hiding from? What is the thing with being at a cemetery far away from the city?

Soul exploration 1: A case of reality and illusion :: Coming up with the tagline “The Strangest Imagination is Reality”, the movie exactly about the same, bringing a mystery in which one is doubtful about what is reality and what an illusion would be. Along with the illusions spread by media and fake news, we also have our own personal illusions which come back to us depending on the situations – on some cases, it is even bigger. The line between reality and imagination is so thin in so many cases that illusions tend to take over. We ourselves have had such feelings more than once, but we are hesitant to talk further about it in fear of the world. We live in that kind of a world where logic gets a better spot compared to imagination and creativity; money gets more value than values – it is a world which is closer to chaos than order, even if it pretends to hold on to the latter.

Soul exploration 2: Friendship and alienation in a land far away :: It feels strange being away from your roots, and even if it is to another city just a few hundred kilometres away, there is that feeling to get back home – the nostalgia and homesickness are things that humans usually can’t live without. It makes people do stranger things, and despite denying the same, there is that feeling about our own lands that come back – unless you are orcs forced to leave your world like in Warcraft, or humans looking for hope in new planets like in the case of Pandorum and Passengers. You have seen similar complications in the underrated Ivide too. In a land a long way away from home, it is friendship that matters the most, and here we have three of them, and their friendship which has something strangely working within – it is what becomes nicely solved by the end. Alienation in an alien land is another level, when you look at it.

How it finishes :: Not to be confused with the 2006 movie Moonnamathoral, Mooniloraal is a short-film which keeps you wondering about what is to happen next. It is the perfect example of another short-film which is smarter than a good number of those full-length movies which have been arriving in the theatres with the labels of being thrillers. Malayalam short-films are coming up with more ideas these days, and Mooniloraal is the reflection of something that has even enough to be made into a full-length movie, as we notice the friendship, thrills and twists maintained in the right balance bringing the clarity between the two, but certainly not radically ending the cycle – it is fittingly established that there are a few things that will never end. Mooniloraal from Triune Productions is the kind of movie that brings the twists nicely, but not without leaving clues – the final twist brings things together, and we once again understand that there is more than what meets the eye.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: This is why I told you that I am not going to the lands of the dark elves even if it is on a diplomatic mission.

Vampire Bat: Dark Elves play no role in such cases.

Vampire Owl: Dark Elves use dark magic to cause disruptions in the bridge connecting life and death, leaving some souls trapped in between. It is a crime.

Vampire Bat: But how is it related to this short-film?

Vampire Owl: Didn’t you see the supernatural forces affecting even technology? It is something which only the Dark Elves can do, joining magic with science.

Vampire Bat: You don’t have any proof for that. The other world always finds a way.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but when they are aided by Dark Elves, it is easier. As the Wood Elves, or the High Elves – they will tell you the stories.

Vampire Bat: There is caste-related violence going on between the three groups of elves – do you think that any of them will tell you the truth about the other?

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that they are no more united against the joint forces of orcs and goblins?

Vampire Bat: Well, you need to read The Great Vampire Imperial Times at some point. These days, they even have a special offer for free coffins.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 25th January 2017
Running time: 19 minutes
Directed by (DOP): Jessay Gopuran
Starring: Don James, Steve Antony, Johns Mathew, Rosamma Nelson (voice)

Watch the movie Mooniloraal here:

Other recommended short-films from India: Red Jacket, Mangalyam Thanthunanena, Moonnamathe Vazhi, Invisible Actor, Grace Villa, Culprit, Ima, Mrithyumjayam.

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Culprit

Vampire Owl: Do you know that I am a culprit in love?

Vampire Bat: How is that relevant right now?

Vampire Owl: I just wanted to remind you that the word applies to me too.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that your experience cannot match the genre of this short-film.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that you are not finished reviewing short-films?

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why I should ever stop doing that.

Vampire Owl: What about those big movies which have got you most of the hits?

Vampire Bat: They have stopped being something that matter. I am supporting smaller ones right now; they are the future. There is more material in them.

Vampire Owl: You are talking like a true vampire apprentice.

Vampire Bat: I am the first vampire apprentice to write movie reviews. So, my opinion counts more than most of the others in the New Vampire World.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Amal (Akhil Vivek) reaches Mumbai from Cochin to meet Jithu (Danish Ashokan), a friend and an elder brotherly figure. It turns out that he has run away from Kerala after the circumstances which lead to a girl named Ancy Kuriyan Thomas (Dona Shankar) going missing, pointed fingers at him. There hasn’t been much progress in the case which only has him as the sole link to the events, but about which he has no clue. Amal tells Jithu his story, which has his best friend Sooraj (Akash Sheel), and an unknown phone call from a female voice which introduced itself as a girl named Devika Varma. As they get closer, Amal asks for her to meet up with him instead of being the random voice on his phone. But despite her agreeing to meet up at Cherai, later calls him to warn him against calling her again unless he wishes to get in trouble.

So, what happens next? :: As they attempt to investigate on the matter, it leads them to Dr. Shafeeq (Anwar Shereef) on whose name, the sim card is taken. He tells them something about the missing girl in the news, Ancy Kuriyan Thomas, which shocks them. But it turns out that they can’t tell that to anyone else, as it would put the shadow of doubt on them. But the police ends up getting a photo which works against Amal, and puts him directly in trouble from the cops as well as the media. Now, he has come directly to Maharashtra and hopes to solve this confusing problem. Can he do that before time runs out? Who is this Devika Varma and how is she related to the mysterious disappearance of Ancy Kuriyan Thomas? Is there a chance than Ancy might be alive after so many days? Why does all this point to Amal when it seems to be clear that he has nothing to do with the girl named Ancy?

The defence of Culprit :: The suspense that the movie has is pretty much huge, and we enjoy how it is told, and it is twisted, in a positive way. From the first few moments, it is established that we have a thriller in store, and then, after a few minutes of the usual stuff to set up the whole thing, we are taken back to staying on the edge of our seats. One would still feel that the end was too quick, and wonder if the absence of the explanation for some deeds were the need – it still lets us think more, and come up with our own conclusions. The movie is actually longer than most of those usual short-films that you see, and so there is plenty of time for the viewers to get drawn into it. With its half an hour run-time over, we end up wishing for the length to be little more, and that is surely a rare thing. Whenever the movie seems to stray away from its path, there will be something, a moment or a dialogue to bring it back on track, and it has a smooth run all the way.

Soul exploration :: Culprit explores what all are there as more than what meets the eye. It shows a protagonist being clueless against a force which seems to have worked against him right from the beginning. There is a mystery here that needs to be solved, as it threatens his own existence, and he understands it should be done as quickly as possible. What we see here is a crime committed, and the person who does that goes to any end to make sure that he is not convicted; for it is something planned well enough to have more than one escape route – there is not much of friendships here to save the day, as the protagonist can trust nobody. We see the movie slowly and steadily getting hold of things, leading to that wonderful revealing in the end. There are things that the movie doesn’t try to tell, and on everything else, what you see and understand gets the clarity.

How it finishes :: Culprit is a fine example of how the right talent shows itself when there is a chance. On one side, we have those big movies struggling to become interesting thrillers, and even with that high budget and big stars, they fail – but here, we have something small in scale, but strong with the idea, which is presented really well on screen. We get a great quality here, without waiting in the queue or spending that extra money on online booking, along with those increased ticket prices – we just need a few MB of data to get into some nice thrilling moments. Culprit also comes at a time when there have been too many short-films dealing with the great nonsense romance in many absurd ways. A well-made thriller lasting half an hour is something that has the strength to go far, and it is hence proven by this short-film.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: Do you think that such people can exist in our society too?

Vampire Bat: We are an alcohol-free society – so it would be difficult, but evil always finds a way.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that they could come through the portal which Doctor Frankenstein had opened earlier?

Vampire Bat: Mr. Frankenstein can only be the means to evil if we allow him to be.

Vampire Owl: It could be through anyone, someone whom we trust the most.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Evil as a person is a clever manipulator.

Vampire Owl: It could be the Lich Queen, Werewolf Anger, Vampire Kung Fu Panda

Vampire Bat: Why do you keep waiting for evil to come, when there is the chance to embrace goodness?

Vampire Owl: Well, you just can’t see so much evil, and still go with goodness.

Vampire Bat: Goodness is difficult, and evil is easy. It is on this that we wonder, and get inspired to think more about the same.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 9th July 2017
Running time: 31 minutes
Directed by: Jithin S Babu
Starring: Akhil Vivek, Danish Ashokan, Dona Shankar, Akash Sheel, Anwar Shereef, Santhu Bhai

Watch the interesting thriller, Culprit here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Role Models

What is the movie about? :: Gautham Shekhar (Fahadh Faasil) is a man who is always concentrating on his work, and is so busy earning money, that the only person whom he regularly speaks to, is the mobile’s assistant app. He wakes up early in the morning and goes through everything according to the schedule. The boss of his company (Dileesh Pothan) is always calling him names in front of his colleagues despite his hardwork, and he lives his life according to calculations, drinking the maximum amount of water and even making sure that he goes to the urinal frequently according to plan. He has no friends and no love, and he is always busy, and when he is not busy, he is just asleep at night. If he ever gets any time to do anything, he dedicates those moments for studying too, and he has special interest in studies regarding astronomy. He has declared himself cent percent against having fun because it is of absolutely no use.

So, what happens next? :: His father and college professor Shekharan (Renji Panicker) is too worried about the same, and therefore contacts his son’s former best friends from college, Rexy Joseph (Sharafudheen) and Jyothish Narayanan (Vinayakan) whom he had himself evicted from the institution to make sure that Gautham wouldn’t be friends with the boys whom he found worthless and making nuisance. The two old friends are not that fond of their former enemy calling them, but decides to have the free alcohol and chooses to help their old friend with whom they had their best moments in life. They are joined by the third person, Shoubahn Khader (Vinay Forrt) who was the fourth member of their gang which used to be called Role Models during their time at the college. The group, along with the mischief making girl Christy (Srinda Ashab) used to create head ache for everyone in the college especially Gautam’s parents who taught there.

And what is to follow with the adventure? :: The three old friends are shocked to see the attitude of their former best friend towards life, as he had changed so much. He seemed to be exactly the opposite of all that he used to be. They try many things to get him back to be the happy and loving person that he used to be, including alcohol, friendship, and even misunderstanding Christy as his lost love from college. But then, they come to know that the real love of Gautham was Shreya Menon (Namitha Pramod), a girl who was more of an all-rounder, present everywhere, but stayed away from becoming a big name. Their search for her lands them in Goa, where she is a changed person. She is happy to see her old friends, but how will they make sure that Gautham can win his love back? Is there any chance for them to have their old friend back in the way that he used to be?

The defence of Role Models :: There are some nice jokes with which the movie begins – it has that kind of a cast with great comic timing, which improves the level, and keep striving for something better in that department. We have them coming quick and steady in the first half, and the trio handling the same never backs down from doing it. “Thechille Penne” song is nice, but you do feel that should have had more relevance in the movie. The movie also has some messages, even though we are not clear which of them needs to get our attention the most. We would figure out that it is more about parenting than any other. It is good to focus on the significance of parents supporting the children in studying what they really want to – almost every time, the father is the culprit, and due to this attitude of the parents and relatives, the youth are transformed into creatures that should just study for scoring high marks, get a good job with big salary and get married to someone rich and of high family value. Well, the movie does end on a good note despite the confusion. A cameo also arrives in the end nicely, but one has to wonder if it was there because there was no other idea available.

The claws of flaw :: Never does Role Models tries to overcome the limitations which it had put on itself, with not thinking much about the story and how it is told with the entertaining elements. The movie just goes on as if it is walking through sleep, as some characters and some incidents are there just for the sake of being there. Fahad’s action scenes were rather useless, and bringing that certain disorder and making it chaos was certainly a real bad idea. If the same was necessary for the makers to do, they could have at least made things more interesting, and presented in a smart manner. The audience often wonders where the movie is actually heading with so many things added as if they are taken from different movies. You feel that with Fahadh Faasil playing a character reminding you of the same in North 24 Kaatham will make things that good, but this one which has its own confusion running through, never becomes something close to that awesome flick which was critically acclaimed. A divergent movie is fair when it uses the divergence to the best effect, the movie makers should have remembered that.

Performers of the soul :: Once again, Fahadh Faasil makes this seem so easy, as he does his character’s both stages with such an ease that we wonder how he is there to make things better for even the least interesting movie. Keeping on rising with Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Take Off, this one will not be another big movie, but his performance is as usual, to be noted; signs were there in that song which became instantly popular. Sharafudheen-Vinayakan-Vinay Forrt combo is also nothing short of a nice call for laughter, and we have them executing the same really well. The friends just makes things so much better. It is also good to see Namitha Pramod back after Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Amar Akbar Anthony – she gets two times of the character’s life here. Srinda has an interesting and funny role too, after Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol and Adventures of Omanakuttan this year. Meanwhile, Renji Panicker is left with not much interesting to do and Suraj is rather wasted in this role.

How it finishes :: It is surprising how close to each other are the three Malayalam movie releases for the Eid holidays, starting from Avarude Raavukal, going through Oru Cinemakkaran and now standing at Role Models. All three of them released on consecutive dates, and are in quality, quite close to each other. They do provide a mixture of genres, and has the comic side as the one fueling everything right from the beginning, and there are twists in store in each of them. Is it a co-incidence that we have all these movies so similar to each other, and those watching it can only give them ratings so close to each other? Well, when Godha, Adventures of Omanakuttan and Achayans had released, all three of them were so different from each other, and we couldn’t consider them to be on the same level. Well, we have regular entertainment in store here for the festival season as Role Models becomes the third movie to release on the third day.

Release date: 25th June 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Rafi
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Namitha Pramod, Vinayakan, Srinda Ashab, Sharafudheen, Rohini, Seetha, Vinay Forrt, Renji Panicker, Suraj Venjarammood, Aswathi Menon, Dileesh Pothan, Siddique, Bibin George, Harisree Ashokan (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Avarude Raavukal

What is the movie about? :: Ashik (Asif Ali) is the popular stage performer in a village on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border who comes to Cochin hoping to work in a movie, after the villagers collect money from their own people to make sure that he gets a chance. Siddharth (Unni Mukundan) is an engineering graduate who is spending his time doing nothing other than to stay at home up-to that extent that his father has to throw him out of the house. Vijay (Vinay Forrt) is an angry young man who was suspended for getting into a fight with another employee in the same company he was working for. Scobo Johnson (Nedumudi Venu) is an old man who is staying alone, and looking for company. Bored and with no plans for future, he comes up with an advertisement calling for bachelors to stay at his place, free of cost – it gets to the three young men who are ready to come right away.

So, what happens next? :: Ashik finds Cochin and the movie world a lot different than what he had thought, and finds problems in even doing the simplest works. He goes to various auditions, but none of them work – he does find a new friend though, in the form of Vinod (Aju Varghese) who is also looking forward to acting in movies, one way or the other. They decide to attend the acting workshop held by Manoj Kuruvila (Mukesh), who is a famous movie director. But even that doesn’t seem to help the two who are more clueless than anything else. Siddharth who does nothing other than staring at girls, even consults Doctor Jayamurugan (Kochu Preman), but his life goes on in the same way until his brother recommends him for a job under Shivani (Honey Rose), which he gets despite performing terribly during the interview. What follows is a terrible mess at the office.

And what follows the events? :: Ashik and Siddharth are not just the ones reaching a higher level of their problems, as Vijay has a bigger issue at hand. His anger issue is more or less the result of something which happened in the past, and his girlfriend Meghna (Milana Pournami) tries to get him out of the same, but with no positive result. Scobo Johnson is the silent witness to all these, and tells them that there are two ways out of it, one the difficult path, and the other, the shortcut. Are the three good enough to get out of the mess that they are in, or is at least Johnson skilled enough to take them through their journeys? Can things finally take a positive twist of events in their lives which haven’t really had much to talk about otherwise? Will their upcoming experiences leave them as better people than who they already are? Only time will tell.

The defence of Avarude Raavukal :: Vinay Forrt successfully leads the group of young men here towards their objectives, as motivation runs right through this one with inspirational dialogues, and featuring the rise of unexpected tales of success; emotional side is strong here. The movie asks its viewers to keep trying, as the fish does; it provides this message without missing its plot, and the direction that it shows is the right one for the new generation. The presence of movies like Mili, Aby, My God and Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam has proved the same, but Avarude Raavukal is more the common person’s story than the rest. There is also the presence of some nice humour in between. There is also some beautiful music in this flick, beginning from “Ethetho Swapnamo” and through “Vaadaathe Veezhathe”, both bringing different but nice feeling. The feel-good effect stays, and despite the certain delay in the movie’s arrival and the morning shows canceled, we are glad to have this movie working and going well enough to provide enough motivation.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t go that close to perfection as the director’s earlier combined venture, Philips and the Monkey Pen, and what we expected was surely more. There are certain ups and downs in between for sure, even as everything seems to have kept at a certain level as much as possible. There are some occasions when we wonder if these things, which do look more and more possible, can ever be solved by the protagonists. The inspirational story is also not something new, and the old man is also a rather strange character, whose twist in the end is even stranger; this one could have just gone simpler and close to life towards the end. Even in the beginning, the movie had taken some time to get going. The cameo roles in the end by Shine Tom Chacko, Sunny Wayne and Sanju Sivram were rather unnecessary too, and the same can be said about a cricket match when it could have been just the engineering classes. You will find the weird and missing sides of the plot, but you can avoid them as they are not that significant.

Performers of the soul :: Asif Ali who is coming out of the late, but sure success of Adventures of Omanakkuttan has done a fine job with a character which had quite something to perform out there. Unni Mukundan comes out of the dismal movie which was Achayans, and makes good use of what was a rather easy job for him. Vinay Forrt had a little less to work with in Georgettan’s Pooram brings the best of them all – his story remains the most interesting one in the whole movie, and he is the backbone of the flick. Aju Varghese should be powered by the grand success of Godha, and does a pretty good job when he is there. Honey Rose who was last seen in My God which was an under-appreciated movie, makes a comeback after two years – not much to do, but good to see her back. Milana works through limited expressions in this one. Nedumudi Venu has some nice dialogues which prove inspirational, and forms the pillars of the movie’s progress.

How it finishes :: It has been a long time since a Malayalam movie with an interesting and long list of star cast released, and being the first movie to release for the Eid holidays, Avarude Raavukal surely has an early advantage among the others which are to follow. Shanil Mohammed, who had earlier directed Philips and the Monkey Pen with Rojin Thomas has his first solo outing here. The flick had won Kerala State Film Award for Best Children’s Movie and Kerala State Film Award for Best Child Artist for Sanoop Santhosh. This one might not create that much of an impact, and has a lot of heavyweights to follow. Getting itself to the list of feel-good movies with messages, Avarude Raavukal will leave with a positive effect more than anything else. There are not many other things that we need for this special season.

Release date: 23rd June 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Shanil Muhammed
Starring: Asif Ali, Unni Mukundan, Honey Rose, Vinay Forrt, Aju Varghese, Mukesh, Milana Pournami, Nedumudi Venu, Sudhi Koppa, Lena, Ambika Mohan, Kiran Aravindakshan, Nisha Sarangh, Aishwarya chandran, Kochu Preman, Shine Tom Chacko (cameo), Sunny Wayne (cameo), Sanju Sivram (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.