Awake

Vampire Owl: We are not supposed to be awake at this time.

Vampire Bat: We are awake because we are not supposed to go through eternal sleep.

Vampire Owl: Nothing is eternal, other than our immortality.

Vampire Bat: There are still limitations to our immortal nature.

Vampire Owl: The limitations have been imposed by the suppression of our true nature.

Vampire Bat: There is no definition of true nature of the undead.

Vampire Owl: It is what separates us, the undead from the undying.

Vampire Bat: You feel that it is going to matter in the end, do you?

Vampire Owl: Yes, we are going to live for such a long time.

Vampire Bat: Life after death do no usually count as life with its original meaning.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jill Adams (Gina Rodriguez) is a recovering drug addict, who is now working as a security guard at a local college, after serving as a United States Army medic much earlier. Along with the same, she also steals drugs from the research lab to sell them outside. She picks up her children Noah (Lucius Hoyos) and Matilda (Ariana Greenblatt) after work, only to meet an accident on the road, as it seems that everything which works with electricity is malfunctioning. All the cars lose control on the road, and there are many accidents. All the buildings have also lost power. The three somehow manages to get to the nearby hospitals, as people keep talking about this being a terrorist attack, maybe from the Chinese. In the hospital, they find out that the patients in coma have awakened, much to the surprise of the doctors and nurses who were treating them. At night, they are not able to sleep, and they attribute this inability to the trauma which they had to go through, related to the accident. As she travels to work using a bicycle, she is surprised to find out that the whole neighbourhood is awake.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: It turns out that nobody is able to sleep anymore. It turns out that anything with a microchip is fried, and of no use to anyone. Dr Murphy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a psychiatrist understands that the sleeplessness will soon lead to the symptoms of complete sleep deprivation, and finally to death, but at a quicker pace. The only exception to this seems to be an old woman, whom they are researching on, hoping to find a cure to this seemingly terrifying disease. Jill then remembers that unlike others, Matilda could also fall asleep, and she searches for her, finally finding her at the church. Brian (Finn Jones) also tries to help them, and asks her to bring her daughter to Dr Murphy, but she disagrees. The pastor tells the followers that the girl is a beacon of hope, and they should pray to God for another miracle like her. But the sleep-deprived people feels that they should sacrifice her. As there is a fight in the church, and as Brian also asks for the girl to be handed over, Jill escapes with her children. But how far can they go?

The defence of Awake :: The movie does have the smart and innovative idea and the fine beginning, which could have surely served better if the move was quicker and better focused. The idea of humans not being able to sleep, which finally leads to their loss of mind and in the end, the extinction, is really an interesting concept – anyone who might have read about it or had a clue about the same would wish to watch the movie. This one can still use the same to make a better sequel in a world which has almost reached its end with humanity. The first few moments of accidents and waking up makes a good start, and then there is the scene at the church which makes one question humanity’s inherent evil, followed by the beginning of the journey of the protagonists – all of these have some good strength. The strange moments of the movie are also innovative enough, and mostly working, especially in the first half. The mother trying to save her children and teaching the little girl how to drive, are all interesting survival additions, and could have had better purpose. Along with the same, the visuals are pretty much beautiful.

The claws of flaw :: Awake is a movie which goes on with a slower pace than it would suit a post-apocalyptic film. It often seems to slow down for no reason at all. It also hesitates to take the opportunities which are there, and despite the grand premise, cannot come up with an ending of similar grandeur. This was one great chance to make something that would be remembered for long, but that is not case here. There are so many moments which could have been dealt with, and it is surprising that both science and religion don’t have the solution, but nonsensical kids do. There could have been better explanation of the happenings around here, as we have had strange events with alien or other paranormal attacks from the skyline or even from beneath. It could have also had more action, and maybe some horror elements too, as we have the beginning of a post-apocalyptic world here, and after all, humans are capable of the worst every time. Some more special effects could have also done this one good.

The performers of the soul :: Gina Rodriguez plays the mother figure really well. There has been better appreciated mothers in the past, but she has her moments too, even though her character remains one flawed mother. Ariana Greenblatt as Matilda is pretty much an annoying kid who is weird enough, and one has to wonder if the character was deliberately designed so – we surely had some better kids in the past. Lucius Hoyos as Noah doesn’t have that much of a work to do, as this one is just another teenager moving around during a terrible event, and nothing more is added here. Finn Jones played an interesting character, but unfortunately, the person is killed all of a sudden. Frances Fisher plays the grandmother figure pretty well too. Barry Pepper who plays the pastor has some fine moments, and he also has the dialogues of faith and hope to remember. Maybe, the pastor and the church could have been there for a longer period of time than a few minutes that we had. Jennifer Jason Leigh also has something to add, but we expected her to do more, after we had her in the earlier stages of the movie.

How it finishes :: The movie has a really interesting main idea – what would happen if we lose our ability to sleep? It is a question which can haunt us for a very long time, and this could have been a brilliant movie with the best use of the same idea. But it is certainly not the case here, as even though they have tried, the movie has struggled to live up to the idea, making it just another usual movie which goes through the post-apocalyptic world without surprises. It is often disappointing that a movie doesn’t use the best use of the opportunities presented to it. But we continue to watch this one as we are curious, and we are concerned about what is to happen next – the movie manages to create that desire to watch, and even with its slow pace, there is the movement towards that final destination, keeping it floating. It is the kind of movie which you can surely watch to pass the time, and at the same time, also ponder about the core idea – what if sleep evades you? How long can you hold on without being able to go to sleep?

Release date: 9th June 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Mark Raso
Starring: Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barry Pepper, Finn Jones, Ariana Greenblatt, Gil Bellows, Barry Pepper, Lucius Hoyos, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sebastian Pigott

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Scary Stories

Vampire Owl: So, we have Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Vampire Bat: Did you notice that it is the name of one movie with a very long title?

Vampire Owl: Yes, do you think that there will be stories which are that long?

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t seem to be about separate movies, not something like an anthology.

Vampire Owl: But the impression given is that of an anthology.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but this seems to be a story in which there are stories written about real horror which happens.

Vampire Owl: Horror has always been real. It is the only original genre in the world. The rest are not that close to reality.

Vampire Bat: Yes, who can expect thrillers and romance in life?

Vampire Owl: But horror happens to everyone, and is very much real.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if it is not present, we can always volunteer to provide them.

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

What is the movie about? :: It is the later 1960s, and three teenaged friends, Stella Nicholls (Zoe Colletti), August “Auggie” Hilderbrandt (Gabriel Rush), and Charlie “Chuck” Steinberg (Austin Zajur), prank play a Halloween prank on the bully Tommy Milner (Austin Abrams) who had been bothering them for a long time. Tommy is not someone who would take this lightly, as he and his gang chase them with baseball bats, they run to a drive-in movie theater, where a young drifter Ramon Morales (Michael Garza) hides them in his car. As he makes sure that Tommy doesn’t get them, he promises to have revenge on all of them sooner or later. Ramon becomes good friends with the kids, especially Stella with whom he has an instant connection, with a special interest in horror stories, and also connecting to her troubled past when her mother left her.

So, what happens with the events here? :: They decide to visit a haunted house for Halloween, where a girl named Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard) had committed suicide. After a kid had gone missing, the place was locked down by the local authorities, but the group manages to get in, only to be locked in by Tommy along with his own girlfriend who is Charlie’s sister, Ruth Steinberg (Natalie Ganzhorn). Stella finds a book which seems to be writen by Sarah who was mostly a recluse, and considered by people to be mentally unwell. She decides to take it home, but on that night, she finds out that the book starts writing all by itself, and it is done using blood. Soon, they understand that Tommy has gone missing, and by finding his t-shirt on a scarecrow, she realizes that he had become the new scarecrow after being attacked by the former scarecrow according to the book. Now, before it starts writing again, she has to stop it with her friends. Can she do that in time?

The defence of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark :: The movie is well-structured, and each death here becomes a special tale of supernatural murder when we look at them, connected by one which gets written by a supernatural entity which has terrible past behind it, that needs to be revealed. The idea is a really good one, and we are immersed in it, even without it trying to do the extraordinary. Everything here is kept pretty much simple, and you can always have time to admire some simple horror. The monsters are nice, beginning with the scarecrow coming alive, and going on to add more which relates to the worst fears of the victims. The Halloween setting is a fine beginning to the tale, and it continues to score well through the haunting in the middle, reaching to the end which is pretty well done, and leading to the option of a sequel being kept open. In the end, you have more than one story in your mind.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much unique being added here though, as this does remind us of other tales, and the predictability does come in, at times. There is not much of a character development around here, and the beginning moments are kind of drag, which could have been shortened to give this movie a better pace at the start. Even though the movie is based on Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a series of three collections of short horror stories meant for children, this could have had some special additions because this is the movie version, and visuals mean a lot of horror. The book is supposed to have drawn heavily from folklore and urban legends, and so anything more can fit in here and there. Then there is the Academy award winner Guillermo del Toro’s name flashed as a producer, and your expectations are even higher, keeping this movie’s level below that. Well, I still want a sequel to his Crimson Peak as soon as possible, just like Dredd always needed.

Performers of the soul :: Zoe Colletti plays the protagonist, and leads the way in a horror movie amazingly well, leaving us hope for a scream queen many years later. From the beginning with silly Halloween pranks, she is someone who leads the way through the murders, and does that without doubts. Michael Garza who plays the next important character also does well, from the very moment he gets to meet the other characters. The other kids who are being hunted by the ghost with a past includes Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Zajur, Gabriel Rush and Austin Abrams, and they all provided good support. Gil Bellows who plays the police officer also has his moments. But as usual, the ones who scores the best are the monsters, and even the book is a fine character enough. When you make good monsters, you inspire better work from the cast, unless you have The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun group, which works anyway.

How it finishes :: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark shows that simple scary stories do come alive, and when it does, there is great scope for horror. There is no usual anthology here when you hear that it is about stories. There are no different tales coming together from different directors this time, like they have been doing for a long time. It does take an amount of such terror, and use it pretty well, with a cast which is not much known, and it works well enough with some interesting moments of monsters to go with it, as well as a past which is worthy enough for a good haunting. The idea to bring these tales and monsters are also nice, as it becomes not a usual horror story with spirits haunting us. It makes a fine thing for Halloween, and maybe you can watch it during the witching hours, with one monster after the other, as you even feel the need to write a horror story by the end of this movie.

Release date: 9th August 2019
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Andre Ovredal
Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.