The Woman in the Window

Vampire Owl: There is a vampire in the window if you look around from here.

Vampire Bat: It is only a picture of the vampire in that mansion.

Vampire Owl: Why would someone put a picture up like that?

Vampire Bat: Maybe it is someone who wishes to be popular.

Vampire Owl: I should put my picture on the window too.

Vampire Bat: We are not that kind of vampires.

Vampire Owl: We are still the kind vampires around here.

Vampire Bat: Why should vampires be kind?

Vampire Owl: Kindness is a quality which can be used to fool people easily.

Vampire Bat: Vampires do not fool people. Humans do. They lie, cheat, steal and murder all the time.

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

What is the movie about? :: Anna Fox (Amy Adams) lives alone in an apartment in Manhattan, New York after being separated from his husband Edward Fox (Anthony Mackie) and daughter Olivia Fox (Mariah Bozeman). She always try to cheer herself up despite the loneliness, and has good support through the phone. Anna suffers from agoraphobia, leading to a lot of anxiety about her surroundings and she observes her neighbors from a second-story window, and that includes the Russell family who recently moved in across the street. She has a large number of medications to take on a daily basis, and also goes on with a lot of alcohol consumption. David Winter (Wyatt Russell) is her tenant who lives in the basement area of her home, and often helps her with some househould work as well as repairs. She does feel lonely at times, and has talks with Ethan Russell (Fred Hechinger), the boy who lives as part of the Russell family, and is upset for some strange reasons – she tries to use her skills as a former child psychologist here.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Anna continues to see the world around her in suspicion and feels that her neighbours are up to something all the time, and that Ethan suffers due to the same. Soon, she also comes across Ethan’s mother, Jane Russell (Julianne Moore), who has some good moments of talk with her, making her happy and relieved. This leads to her believing that Ethan has an abusive father. One night, Anna hears a scream from the Russell family home and then sees Jane being stabbed to death in the living room, but she is not able to find who exactly did that. She has a camera, but forgets to take a photo in panic. She contacts the police, but they do not believe her, and tells her that everyone in the family is just fine. At the same time, Alistair arrives at her home along with his wife, who is a different woman from the one she had met earlier. The police as well as the neighbours tell her that she is hallucinating and making up things, and David also has the same opinion. But she decides to keep spying on the Russells, but it won’t be an idea which will help her.

The defence of The Woman in the Window :: Here, we do have a murder happening, without the surety that it is real, and one would wait for the twist which is to happen at some point of time, as there is the feeling that something is not right, throughout the movie. It puts almost everyone in the line of doubt, and one keep guessing, only to find out that there are not enough clues to completely focus on one suspect. The movie does mix agoraphobia well with the happenings, and we know that it is something that needs serious attention. It is the kind of thing that many of us do feel, and while reading about the same, I have felt that I did have similar problems on many occasions too. I have felt my world to be unsafe with no escape, and had continuous fear and discomfort with regular nightmares for months, as I kept at home for a very long time, and very rarely, I did go out, and that too only with people by my side. Therefore, I was able to connect to this lady very well, and there are moments which make us believe that one of them could be speaking the truth, but that person actually changes as movie progresses.

The claws of flaw :: The Woman in the Window is quite a slow movie, and that is indeed strange, because there were so many occasions here where some more material could have been added to strengthen it further. It could have also focused completely on agoraphobia, and also divide the world into reality and hallucination – it instead focuses on dialogues and what the main character is doing without focusing on the relevant. The time that it takes to start moving is also a little too much, and the revelations could have been made in a more powerful manner, for here we just have it done quickly. It could have also speeded up things at least during those moments which are rather thrilling. The focus on the killer is also a little too less, and we end up not watching enough of his actions of terror and the murders also stay a little too much outside focus. The whole movie focuses on one place with one type of action being focused, thus maintaining the unity of action and the unity of place among the three classical unities talked about by Aristotle, but by doing the same, this movie doesn’t really focus that well on both to elevate the movie, and thus rather brings it down.

The performers of the soul :: If there is a movie starring Amy Adams, I would rarely choose not to watch it, and a thriller does suit her as much as the many genres which she has explored in the past in her career. Nocturnal Animals and Arrival had some fine work being done by her, and both of them were movies which were slow enough too, and you do remember her as a Disney princess too. The superhero movies fans would recognize her more from Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League – well, she is a well-known actress in this part of the world too, and she surely deserved a quicker movie rather than this one. Gary Oldman plays the man who seems to be full of mysteries, and also the one the protagonist feels, is a murderer. He surely has his secrets, and the role is played with a certain amount of class being added there. Julianne Moore seems to be there more as playing a guest role rather than anything else, but we remember her for that scene. Fred Hechinger plays the boy well enough, while Wyatt Russell has his moments. Brian Tyree Henry has memorable times as the detective too.

How it finishes :: The Woman in the Window is the slow thriller that just manages to keep you interested by throwing something in here and there, serving well as the psychological thriller that it is. You do have the doubt about whom you should doubt, even though there is no specific assertion on where you should concentrate that particular feeling. My first thought was that this could be a movie like The Voyeurs, but that is not the case – being a psychological thriller, that path could have also been taken, but The Woman in the Window takes the safe one, lacking in courage and thus being not ready to take the tougher step. But it is nice to see that it still works, and has enough steam to keep it going – the usage of the word “steam” is more relevant than it seems, as it is not innovative or better equipped as some of those newer films are. Well, it can always do better, and if you are standing at the window, witnessing something terrifying, this won’t be the rest during most of the times. The Woman in the Window doesn’t seem to think that further on the same.

Release date: 14th May 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Joe Wright
Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore

<<< 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.

Phobia

Vampire Owl: I hope that she doesn’t have vampirophobia. I really hope that she doesn’t.

Vampire Bat: I believe that the exact term for the same is sanguivoriphobia.

Vampire Owl: What? Who on Earth comes up with such strange names? Who even gets that at first attempt?

Vampire Bat: Well, they call it the fear for blood eaters.

Vampire Owl: How can someone actually eat blood? And we are vegetarian vampires; we have suitable replacements instead.

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t count. Humans are masters of generalisation, and they create opinions based on that.

Vampire Owl: We should have a phobia of them instead – unless they are all dead.

Vampire Bat: You are in no position to call an event which causes human extinction. They have to cause their own downfall.

Vampire Owl: It is something that I have always believed in.

Vampire Bat: Just make sure that Wonder Woman won’t murder you after naming you Ares, the God of War.

[Gets three cups of special tea with Tiger biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Mehak Deo (Radhika Apte), a talented artist who is quite popular with her friends, attends almost every party in the town, becoming more of the popular girl in the city. But after being molested by a taxi driver on a terrible night, she develops the worst of agoraphobia, which keeps her away from public places and large groups, as she keeps herself inside the house and mostly in her room. Living in the same house as her sister Anusha (Nivedita Bhattacharya), it gets worse for everyone, as her actions remain more and more uncontrollable and unbearable for all. With the eccentric and unpredictable nature affecting Anusha’s little kid too, they all feel done with helping her, because it seems to be of no use, and Mehak herself doesn’t want to be treated, staying inside home without making an attempt to go out for months.

So, what happens next? :: Shaan (Satyadeep Mishra), Mehak’s good friend decides to help her, and gets her to an apartment which is empty for now after its previous occupant decided to move away. He hopes that this change, and life alone will be better for her, and she will start longing to meet people after this. At the new place, she seems to have some visions, and she feels that there is something sinister about these particular visions. She has two neighbours there with whom she gets to talk often, one of them being Nikki (Yashaswini Dayama), who is a graduate student who lives on the flat on the right, while on the left side, there lives Manu (Ankur Vikal) who had anger management issues and is using laughter to fight the same. The latter used to be in a relationship with a woman called Jiah Khurana (Amrit Bagchi) who had left the place.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: It turns out that Jiah was living in the same apartment in which Mahek is living right now. Knowing that the girl had disappeared without telling anyone, and that there is no clue of where she is, Mahek begins to feel that there is a big mystery behind the same. She comes up with the idea that an angry Manu had killed Jiah and has hidden her body in his apartment. Mehak also feels that her visions are from Jiah’s spirit which is trying to tell her something about the demise. Shaan feels that this is all part of her disease, and that she is having so many hallucinations. Her psychiatrist (Faezeh Jalali) also confirms that Mahek’s condition is worsening every day, and there is not much that can be done unless she is taken to a mental asylum. But Nikki is curious, and decides to help Mehak in finding the truth behind the missing girl. Now the question remains about what really is the truth here.

The defence of Phobia :: There is one thing about which you can be cent percent sure, and it is that Phobia won’t be like any other movie which you have seen in Bollywood, and in psychological horror, it explores more territories, and most of these areas are divergent. The story is nicely presented right from the beginning, and it keeps you wondering what is happening, and what is to follow. The visuals nicely match the overall mood of the movie, and there are some scenes which are particularly great and deserves our attention. Radhika Apte is once again too good, as you would expect her to be – she is that kind of an actress who has more in store for us than anyone from Bollywood, and it is a fact that you just can’t ignore. There are moments from her which you are going to remember for so long. The next one to make the impact is Yashaswini Dayama who keep the curious college girl act going on very nicely.

The claws of flaw :: One can say without doubt that Phobia is not a movie for everyone; I am sure that it might have already been established by many others in one way or the other which randomly talking about the flick. There are also logic flaws in this movie, and her living alone in the flat is nothing less than strange, and having a knife near her when she goes into the virtual reality is rather comfortable. The way in which the mystery is finally solved is also rather strange, when it could have taken a rather direct approach. The climax had potential to be something more, and for some reason, it chooses not to live up to the fantastic build-up in the first half, and finish the movie on a high. The audience is left clueless on a lot of occasions, and more scary moments could have been built regarding the neighbour and other residents of the apartments. When you have an apartment where someone with a mental problem living alone, there is always scope for more.

How it finishes :: Phobia demands that you take things differently, and get your thinking procedure to go another way, which has almost no relation with a regular Bollywood movie; all that those movies are, this movie is not. It is where movies like Phobia and Raman Raghav 2.0 scores, and it is also what we strive to have. Otherwise, Bollywood can only focus on biopics, and tales inspired from real life incidents like Neerja, Rustom and Airlift, which they need to keep the ship sailing in the right direction. It is during such times that this movie does go against the flow, and what we can do is to appreciate the effort and watch this movie without second thoughts about how it will make us feel, and how well it can relate when we haven’t watched similar movies before.

Release date: 27th May 2016
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Pavan Kirpalani
Starring: Radhika Apte, Yashaswini Dayama, Satyadeep Mishra, Ankur Vikal, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Amrita Bagchi, Faezeh Jalali, Salone Mehta, Arush Nand, Dinyar Tirandaz, Amit Kumar Pandey, Malhar Goenka

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.