Cold Case

What is the movie about? :: ACP Sathyajith (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is in charge of an investigation of a case which has turned cold. As a skull is discovered in the backwaters near Trivandrum, from within a cover, and it becomes an internet sensation, the requirement is to discover its origins as soon as possible. But Sathyajith has to start with no clue on where to begin the investigation, but with the help of CI Ziyad (Anil Nedumangad) and the new recruit Neela (Pooja Mohanraj), he has to make a move quickly. At the same time, Medha (Aditi Balan) is a recently divorced mother of a little girl, and finds a new home somewhere around Trivandrum. She is an investigative journalist who is interested in paranormal happenings, only to find something strange in the new house which she had rented. There is something cold about her new home, and the AC, refrigerator, television, laptop, lights – everything electric seems to have something to do with it. To add to it, her daughter also has a strange doll given by her sister who committed suicide.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Medha finds out a name from a blind occult researcher, Zara Zacchai (Suchitra Pillai), and the presence had a name, Eva Maria (Athmiya Rajan), who has a troubled history. She tries to find out the secret behind the disappearance of the woman with that particular name, while Sathyajith also comes across a similar name, from a dental transplant which remained on the skull. Now the question remains where Eva Maria has disappeared, and whether the skull points to somebody else. Medha’s advocate who filed the divorce, Haritha Manakkal (Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli) points her to Eva’s previous husband who is now married to a wealthy lady, and Sathyajith also digs up her past, from her family which included her stepmother and children. But Eva Maria hadn’t disappeared for everyone, and some people feel that she had taken a spiritual path. There is more than what meets the eye about Eva, but with ghosts and murderers around, can truth somehow make it outside?

The defence of Cold Case :: Here, Cold Case comes up as another interesting thriller with a supernatural side, combining both elements quite well. The supernatural side is also nicely used, even though it is not combined well enough in totality. There are some nice moments of horror around here, and there are fine twists to go with it. With some red herrings added here and there, the film makes sure that we don’t get that much of a clue about who is behind all of these happenings. There is always something here to keep the horror going, and the suspense does keeps us guessing – we do come up with many possible villains, but this asks for more than the usual guesses. The use of refrigerator and the cold works pretty well, but the hair doesn’t. Above everything, the cast is also good, and with fine support, things work better. This one can have its sequel for sure, as there is that opening which is left to be explored in the end.

The claws of flaw :: Cold Case, while trying to do it differently, focuses on too many things, and due to the same reason, has some diversion, which was not needed. The problem with having such diversions is that the most important thing, the police investigation is not always on the lead. The other side following the supernatural lead often seems to be not necessary, as we keep having moments from both sides. An expansion of the supernatural, and making it connect directly with the police investigation would have improved the work further. The idea about another death is also kept in the balance, to be explored in a sequel if there is any. The film certainly had so many opportunities, and it should have taken it, maybe even at the expense of extending the film by half an hour or so. If this had released when most of the Indian states were in lock-down, it would have managed many more audience too, but this is surely going to gain its fans, anyway.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran in a thriller has always been joy to watch, and there is no better example for the same than Memories, one of the best investigation thrillers of all-time as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned. Kunchacko Boban’s triple thrillers of Anjaam Pathira, Nayattu and Nizhal seemed to suggest that a deviation was coming in the genre, and the usual police officer solving a case was gone, a case reiterated by Tovino Thomas in Forensic – none of these films had the police officers solving the problem. Prithviraj as the protagonist, the police officer goes after the case here in a more systematic manner as we see it. He is certainly the hero here, even though the tale does provide a side for the lady protagonist too. He is indeed the one who solves the problem here, and any ghostly help which comes from outside was not that much needed. We see that Prithviraj comfortably go through the role here, and has no direct contact with the paranormal side to ask for help.

Further performers of the soul :: Aditi Balan makes her Malayalam debut in style too. She does have her moments, but her character doesn’t have that much strength to add to this investigation, which is in control of the police. Almost all the supernatural elements are related to her, and she excels in her first Malayalam film, far above her character, as we also see the focus shifting to her effectively. This is also one of the final films of the talented Anil Nedumangad, who died by drowning in a dam reservior a few months ago. He once again proves to be of fine support yet again. Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli who was last seen in Malayalam cinema in the movies Angels and Salt Mango Tree can be seen in a certain kind of a return here too, and she has done a neat work here. Alencier Ley Lopez has much more to contribute here than what earlier met the eye. Athmeeya Rajan of the Joseph fame is once again here as the lady everyone is searching for, and she has done some fine work, even though we have much less of her on the screen.

How it finishes :: Cold Case is not the usual kind of investigative thriller, as there is the supernatural side going strong from one angle, which might have been less expected from the work. There are lots of interesting moments in this film, and it also leaves a scope for a sequel in the end. It is part of that long list of thrillers which have brought the entertainment to us during the COVID-19 season, and with some horror effects to add to the investigation, this is also one nice flick to watch in the theatre, if there is ever any opening of the same in the upcoming months. We can only thank Amazon Prime Video for bringing us films like these which keeps the entertainment coming to our laptops. When Kilometers and Kilometers released on television, people had the feeling that this was not going to work, but now we have so many films which have released or had a later release in the OTT platform. Cold Case makes it there, and it also scores well, just like the other Malayalam films which came to OTT, with Drishyam 2 in the lead.

Release date: 30th June 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Tanu Balak
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Aditi Balan, Anil Nedumangad, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, Nitha Promy, Athmeeya Rajan, Pooja Mohanraj, Suchitra Pillai, Gibin Gopinath, Alencier Ley Lopez, Parvathy T, Baby Aleena, Tessa Simon, Rajesh Hebbar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Demon Eye

Vampire Owl: This was the name of that artifact which the northern witches used.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that they were in contact with the demons?

Vampire Owl: Well, aren’t they supposed to be so?

Vampire Bat: They are usually in contact with those who rise from the grave.

Vampire Owl: Well, this is just one portal away from that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but the demons are not really the undead in any way.

Vampire Owl: You do have something against some popular demons.

Vampire Bat: No, I am not talking about those tik-tok using humans.

Vampire Owl: At least, that episode is over for now.

Vampire Bat: You should know that demons, the masters of hell are not to be treated without extreme care.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sadie (Kate James) haven’t been in good terms with her father John (Darren Day) for a long time, and never really picks up his call, until one day, she decides to do just that. But she hears some stranhe noise from his room, and he quickly cuts the call, citing an emergency. This is the last time when Sadie sees her father, and the next thing he knows about him is that he is dead. Much to everyone’s surprise, he is supposed to have committed suicide by hanging. This forces Sadie to come back to the house, which is in a remote location, and has nobody else to take over the same. There she meets the man with whom the house keys were left with, Dan (Robert Hamilton), and Sadie feels strange to be at that house which has her old dolls and cameras being set in every room, corridor and staircase. Dan also leaves a job for her in a newspaper, passed on to her by her father who had worked there until his death.

So, what happens with the events here? :: She is immediately hired at the newspaper as a photographer, and finds Dan in an awkward position with Faye (Ellie Goffe) who is supposed to be his fiancee. Dan and Sadie get their first assignment to interview Craig (Liam Fox), a local man who is supposed to have seen The Burning Girl (Alannah Marie) – it was part of a folklore which was supposed to have become reality for some people. There is the legend of the Demon Eye that goes with it, as a girl was burned as a witch a long time ago in the name of causing a famine which she had predicted with the help of an amulet some time ago. But on the way, she sees a fire and a person standing in it, and as she tries to take a photo, the battery goes down. Even while interviewing, she gets into a fight with the man whom she was supposed to interview. She is confused about all the information she had managed to get from different people about her father who she hated. Is there a secret to be unveiled in relation to her father’s death?

The defence of Demon Eye :: We have been falling short of some interesting horror movies, and then this one comes up. It is that movie which deals with its subject in a slightly different way, and the subject itself has more than one angle to take care of. The quick scares are all there, and the most effective one is with a severed head in the bath-tub, then there are hands coming from under the bed, hellish hound kind of thing and the usual burned face with all the creepiness that it can have. The length of the movie is also less in comparison, not going to even ninety minutes, and it does make the most of it, with not having much from the dull moments there. The atmosphere is also good, with a setting in the middle of nowhere, with vast landscapes inspiring dark folktales all around. There is always something about focusing on the folklore, whether it is real or not. This setting will impress you, and with moments to remember, makes its point really well.

The claws of flaw :: Among the horror movies these days, Demon Eye is the one which is rather less known, or not known at all at this part of the world. It should have still achieved more with the premise – you know that with the title itself and also with the idea which is being explored here. Whenever there is a demon involved, you can take it further with ease. The demons might have been less scary in comparison to pandemics, but they are not yet completely out of the equation. We have so many moments which could have been something bigger, but manages to adjust with what it has, not trying to raise the bar. The effects of the low budget are there too, even though they have partially overcome that. The ending of the movie also felt a little rushed, because a horror movie like this requires something bigger, and the case of the climax is also the same. The main character also required to make more out of the situations here.

Performers of the soul :: Kate James plays the protagonist in this movie, even though IMDb hasn’t really listed here at the top, or with a photo. Even though there is some struggle in the beginning stages, she plays the character really well, and only gets better in the later stages. She is part of almost every scary scene in this movie, and the best one is that of the bath-tub with the severed head, even though more could have been done with a character like hers. Her portrayal of the troubled character who need psychiatric help from the early stages is believable, without being melodramatic. The other actors don’t seem to try too hard, but manages to hold on. She is way ahead in that case, when we look closely. The other young lady in the movie is the next person to catch our attention, even though she is not there for too long on the screen – Ellie Goffe does a very good job too. Robert Hamilton, Darren Day and Liam Fox, all of them manage just enough here.

How it finishes :: There are always some interesting horror movies of interest, if we keep checking for them. Demon Eye can be on the list too, depending on your preferences, even though you can’t expect it to do too much with its content. This is the kind of horror movie which you watch on Friday nights for some fun scares, and for that purpose, this film is successful, leaving no doubts behind. With a fine premise, from a situation in which things could have gone much worse, the movie takes itself back to make sure that as a whole, it is a pretty good work. There might be a few things left unexplained though, but through the same, it leaves the scope for a sequel, even as we are not really supposed to expect one, considering the response it had received otherwise. Do add this to your horror collection, as one more demon, this time with another witch-hunting past, will bring the entertainment to you.

Release date: 26th April 2019
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Ryan Simons
Starring: Darren Day, Liam Fox, Kate James, Ellie Goffe, Jimmy Allen, Alannah Marie, Robert Hamilton

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Room

Vampire Owl: Are they talking about that particular room in the north-east?

Vampire Bat: That can’t be the room these humans are talking about.

Vampire Owl: Are you sure? It is a room which we consider to be among the best in the Old Vampire World and the new one.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this is not a room of horror unlike what they think.

Vampire Owl: So, there is no Halloween attraction in the room

Vampire Bat: No, there is none at all.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that there are no evil clowns either.

Vampire Bat: Exactly, as this is a room of another kind.

Vampire Owl: Okay, then I will need to find the horror from inside.

Vampire Bat: After you watch this movie, maybe you can have a different kind of horror.

[Gets a chicken cutlet and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Kate (Olga Kurylenko) and Matt (Kevin Janssens) are a couple who moved to a new place in the countryside, and it was a large secluded manor which they had managed to buy only recently. As Matt is an artist and Kate a translator, they hoped to find a better career at this part of the world, while spending some time together without being bothered by anyone else, as they couldn’t have children despite the doctors saying that both of them are alright. After coming across certain electrical problems, they call an electrician who understands that the wiring in the home is a complicated mess of wires that runs through almost everywhere in the house, and he needs to work out an estimate and plans before starting to look for any possible problems in them. Before leaving, the electrician reminds Matt that the previous owners were murdered by an unknown man in the house, something which the couple never knew until then.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But this is not where the strange things about the house begins and ends, as it is a house which holds a mystery which nobody could explain. Matt finds out that the killer’s is given the random name of John Doe, and is now living in a mental asylum. Thinking about it, and unable to sleep, he sits in a room which they had discovered locked and hidden underneath the wallpaper, and wishes for a bottle of alcohol which he finds in front of him. Scared and confused, he moves away, but begins to ask for more including the historical paintings. Kate is surprised when she wakes up finding many expensive paintings in the newly discovered room, and when she wishes for a lot of money, she ends up finding them in the room. Even though Kate is initially reluctant, they begin a hedonistic life-style, staying all the time in house. But there is more than what meets the eye to the house, and as they cross the limits, there are consequences. Can they overcome the following troubles?

The defence of The Room :: The movie holds around seventy eight percent reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, which is clearly justified with the quality being maintained here. It effectively shows the dangers of getting whatever one wants, and what happens when you don’t understand the consequences of crossing the limits. The same is told in a tale of thrills and twists, with a certain amount of hidden horror being present at all times. Once upon a time, there was the magic lamp, there was the wishmaster, and now we have the room which takes the horror to a psychological level rather than keeping it direct. The result is that you are more disturbed with terror rather than being simply scared. You take this idea into your soul, and the message is strong. The psychological intensity is maintained by the movie very well, after a nice, fun-filled beginning which doesn’t seem to point to the terrible fate which is to come later. Olga Kurylenko with what might be her best performance so far, has you interested at all times.

Positive and negatives :: The Room doesn’t try to twist it too much, even when there was the chance. It could have been made more visually terrifying too, even though the setting is indeed scary in another way. It shows how things become complicated when you take the wrong decision regarding a child – the same you had seen in Brightburn and Pet Sematary which told you a few things about alien and undead children. But as William Golding had shown in Lord of the Flies, there are many more which children are capable of, even while staying within their innocence. Some people might not like the fact that there is no explanation regarding why all these are happening, for viewers might at least except a supernatural explanation related to magic, aliens, spirits or demons – but you have to remember that the idea itself is the explanation, as the same becomes the message. The Room is the movie which you just cannot ignore with its content.

Performers of the soul :: Olga Kurylenko stays at the heart and soul of this movie, like she has been for many other movies. She had a wonderful presence in Johnny English Strikes Again, and even more in Oblivion, with her being secondary focus, but in this case, she is the main member of the cast, the one who qualifies as the primary protagonist. Being the Bond girl in Quantum of Solace and acting in modern action movies like Hitman and Max Payne as well as the rather ancient fighting in Centurion, she has been best in those action movies, but she is not that far behind in drama and horror, as we see her excel in those emotional sequences. Whenever she is there she seems to give the best – Olga is one underrated actress whom we should be seeing in more movies. You can see that she excels in the emotional sequences here. Kevin Janssens as Matt matches up in a good number of sequences here.

How it finishes :: Among all the horror thrillers, The Room is different and special, and this is the feeling that you will have, no matter what kind of genre you prefer, and whatever type of horror you have your mind on. With a concept like this executed so well, you know that things are going to better as time progresses. Olga Kurylenko makes sure that it gets maximum effect. The Room also leaves you about a few things to ponder about, regarding what matters the most in life, and where one has to draw the line. It also has a message about human greed, and how they are not able to stop, when luxuries are poured on them. We also have the idea of inherent evil in man at work here. The Room needed to have its elements at the right place to have this working at the exact level, and we see that the movie has managed to do that just fine. The Room is a film which is lesser known, and it deserves to be watch for making everything count.

Release date: 15th April 2019
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Christian Volckman
Starring: Olga Kurylenko, Kevin Janssens, Carole Weyers, Marianne Bourg, John Flanders, Joshua Wilson, Francis Chapman, Vince Drews, Oscar Lesage, Michael Kahya

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Warning: Do Not Play

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

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

Vampire Owl: So, this one provides another warning.

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: I would always support such actions though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Queen of Spades

Vampire Owl: The Russian movies do come back to us like never before.

Vampire Bat: Well, it took some time for me after watching Battleship Potemkin.

Vampire Owl: That was part of your syllabus, and it was a study rather than anything else.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but it was also one of those old silent-era movies which I liked.

Vampire Owl: We still have Abigail and The Iron Mask among the new ones.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I witness how things have changed so much now.

Vampire Owl: Well, the vampires do not change even as the world does.

Vampire Bat: We are not the products of the world well-known, but that of another world beyond human comprehension.

Vampire Owl: At least, this one is a horror movie, and so different from all the Russian movies which we have watched so far.

Vampire Bat: Well, I do have my willing suspension of disbelief ready and working well.

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

What is the movie about? :: Olya (Angelina Strechina) and Artyom (Daniil Muravyev-Izotov) while traveling with their mother Tatiana (Violetta Davydovskaya) has an accident, as Tatiana losses her focus on the road because of the two children fighting on the backseat of the car, leading to the car crashing into a river off the bridge. Even though the river had recorded very low temperature during the time, Olya and Artyom do survive the crash, but the former doesn’t like the boy who is her step-brother, because she detests his father, her step-father too. Igor (Valeriy Pankov) takes the kids to a boarding school which had recently opened at a building which had been an abandoned mansion for a long time, dating back to nineteenth century and beyond. He is a teacher there, and also in charge of the welfare of the two children according to the advice of Tatiana’s second husband. The mansion is rather huge and isolated from the rest of the world, and it also has certain areas where the students are strictly prohibited from visiting.

So, what happens with the events here? :: There, Olya rejects the offer to share a room with her brother and chooses to do so with Alisa (Anastasia Talyzina), the supposed-to-be hottest girl in the school and Sonya (Alyona Shvidenkova), the girl who kept eating something or the other all the time. They do get along well, but Artyom doesn’t, and one day, he ventures out at night to the forbidden area, following a figure which seemed like his mother. As Olya, Alisa, Sonya and two of the boys also follow him, as they are lead to a closed door. As soon as they open it, Artyom runs in there, followed by the others, to find a strange chamber which had items from two centuries ago and also elements of some pseudo-science. They remember the ancient legends about Countess Obolenskaya a.k.a. the Queen of Spades (Claudia Boczar) who would grant them a wish, and then she would kill her. They all decide to make a wish, as they didn’t believe the legend.

And what is to follow further in this tale about the Queen of Spades? :: But things are not the same once they made the wish. One of the boys who accompanied them on the day, Kirill (Vladislav Konoplyov) finds his wish granted, much to his shock. His father’s girlfriend is brutally murdered, and after committing the murder, father commits suicide. He had wished for her to die a painful death, and is terrified. Sonya would be the next one to face the terror. But at the same time, Artyom manages to see his mother, and is addicted to the figure he sees in all reflections, whether it is on water or on the mirror. He soon gets a weird doll which the dead countess had. When the students looked in the internet at the original history behind the countess, they realize that she was someone who murdered nineteen children, orphans whose souls also becoming part of the house – she was coming up with some strange occult practices including the sacrifices of the children, and was murdered by the peasants blaming her as a witch. Now, will she come for them all?

The defence of Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass :: The atmosphere used by the movie is splendid, and the second only, may be to Crimson Peak, the grand Gothic spectacle from Guillermo del Toro – this one even has a stronger legend in the background too, with a Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory model in the background. We also have a mirror world in there, and we have a creepy one out there, which is very effective in providing another perfect atmosphere, even though there is the certainty of inspiration from other movies which released earlier in different forms while dealing with a similar idea or two. Angelina Strechina is a perfect addition to this horror movie, seemingly establishing her as a possible scream queen in the future. She has the skills to be a part of many more horror movies, and with a better English dubbing, she can do even better. The ending of the movie leaves scope for sequels to come later.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass doesn’t use its wonderful atmosphere to its best advantage. The movie could have done even more with such a setting, as there was scope for more terror using the same. If you see whatever is happening around, and the power of the legend, you can hope for more. The kid is also pretty much irritating, and some of it might have to do with the English dubbing – there are moments of scare with which he is involved, but it never reaches the level of The Prodigy ot Orphan, at least as far as spooky children are involved. There are also similarities to movies like Mirrors and The Woman in Black which can come to the mind at times. There could have also been better support from the rest of the cast, and we can also see that the story isn’t told in a way by which it can rise above the creepiness within the movie, and it could have also added some more horrors which are not atmospheric.

How it finishes :: Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass is one of those Russian movies which you can watch to be taken into that atmosphere or mystery and horror which is there right from the moment when the students set their foot in the residential school set in an area far away from the towns and cities. Its effect might be reduced for people these days only by that understanding that being isolated is the best thing that can happen during the time of Corona Virus. Almost all the horror movies have that kind of a feeling now, with people wishing that they could be with the ghosts rather than with a virus. These days, the horror movies have been weakened beyond all means. It has been even reflected in the response to the usual horror movies like The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun and others, which could have had better reception and appreciation if release a long time ago. Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass also gives that feeling.

Release date: 13th August 2019
Running time: 83 minutes
Directed by: Aleksandr Domogarov Jr
Starring: Angelina Strechina, Daniil Muravyev-Izotov, Claudia Boczar, Valeriy Pankov, Vladislav Konoplyov, Vladimir Kanuhin, Anastasia Talyzina, Alyona Shvidenkova, Darya Belousova, Vladimir Koshevoy, Dmitriy Kulichkov, Tatyana Kuznetsova, Violetta Davydovskaya, Igor Yashanin, Yan Alabushev

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Portuguese movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Italian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Latin movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Serbian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Girl on the 3rd Floor

Vampire Owl: What shall we find on the third floor?

Vampire Bat: What if there is no third floor?

Vampire Owl: If there is someone on the third floor, there would be that floor, right?

Vampire Bat: The movie itself seems to depend on illusions and hallucinations, and so we cannot ignore that possibility.

Vampire Owl: Well, death can also be an illusion. Not everyone really dies.

Vampire Bat: And not everyone really lives. I have heard that.

Vampire Owl: I have read some highly polarized reviews on this movie, and so I will also be having some doubts before watching it.

Vampire Bat: Maybe it is a case of the movie being watched only by two entirely different levels of auidence?

Vampire Owl: Well, maybe we can serve as that missing level.

Vampire Bat: This one has CM Punk, and so with all those WWE memories, we need to.

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

What is the movie about? :: Don Koch (CM Punk / Phil Brooks) wants to have a new beginning in life, as things don’t go that well as expected and his wife Liz Koch (Trieste Kelly Dunn) is carrying. According to him, the mother and the child would enter a new house which he bought in the Chicago countryside, and he himself would be renovating it. Without any professional help, he stays at the new house, and prepares it. He meets their religious neighbour Ellie Mueller (Karen Woditsch) from whom he understands that the house has a terrible past, and he even hears some strange sounds inside, pointing to supernatural interventions. He also meets Sarah Yates (Sarah Brooks) who is supposed to be living just near the house, and almost starts a relationship with her, only to try and keep her away after one night in the name of his wife and unborn child.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Don meets Sarah again on the next few days, but decides to avoid her and keep her out of the house, even though she seems to try to visit him every day. He calls Liz’s friend Milo Stone (Travis Delgado) for helping with the work, as the house seems to have a lot more to be done every day, with more and more faults being exposed, and part of it actually falling down – even the piping and electrical lines don’t seem to work well enough. But, as Milo finds out about Sarah, he is not happy at all, as he knows much about Don’s earlier life and how he used to be a cheating husband and a hedonist with no control over his activities. Sarah takes Milo to the basement and murders him with the help of a girl with a distorted face, coming out of the walls of the house. She also manages to kill his dog which seems to be watching everything. Don doesn’t have any idea what is happening, and there is more to the house than what meets the eye.

The defence of Girl on the Third Floor :: There have been many similar movies resembling Girl on the Third Floor in the past, but this might easily be the simplest of them all. The movie does provide the feeling that the house is alive from the beginning itself, and there are those moments which keep us guessing, on the edge of the seats. There is always something within the walls of the house, and it includes a walking, mutilated corpse – but what we see more are those coming out through the holes on the wall and the plugpoints, none of them giving an idea that the terror will be over anytime soon. Danger is established as a part of living in this particular house, that too without showing the mutilated figure much, and there is no violent shaking or shadows telling tales – this haunting is realistic and there is not much of special effects used here either. There are some messages to go with it too.

The claws of flaw :: Girl on the Third Floor is quite slow with its proceedings from the beginning itself. At no point does it seem to try to speed up things, quite satisfied with the pace with which it is working. Even though it is okay to go that slow in the beginning stages, the same can’t be said about the later situation, when picking up pace was needed towards the end. There is no big scare jump in the last few minutes unlike what was expected with all these established much earlier. The movie also ends with scope for a sequel with the process seemingly going on to continue, but there is no real explanation for that. There is no big cast to support the movie, and there is zero humour here, providing nothing to support in between. Parts of this movie can also be confusing for some people, as not many things are that direct in comparison to the usual horror movies with a haunted house at its centre and a mysterious girl.

Performers of the soul :: CM Punk a.k.a. Phillip Jack Brooks is not the person you have known as part of movies, or even television series and short-films. He is a mixed martial artist, but he is best known for his time in WWE, where he had some of the biggest matches in the industry written by his name. In wrestling entertainment, his four hundred and thirty four day WWE Championship reign happens to be the longest of this century. He had retired from all professional wrestling in early 2014, continuing in mixed martial arts, but he still has that skill for cinema shown by WWE stars, particularly The Rock whose recent movie, Jumanji: The Next Level was a big entertainer. CM Punk doesn’t disappoint in this flick, as he plays the role really well, and so does Trieste Kelly Dunn who plays the pregnant wife with all the worries. Sarah Brooks is really good as the girl in the house, and she has the mysterious person here under control.

How it finishes :: Girl on the Third Floor, despite its simple appearance, has enough to keep it going forward within the horror genre. With its setting and led by a WWE superstar, there is enough fuel that is in store and is used well. There is only limited resource that gets burned, and still, the effect is more. The usual Insidious and The Conjuring more of scares are not to be expected, as there are more like The Nun and Annabelle to support such cases. This one is rather the old style movie with a haunted house which doesn’t spend time scaring its protagonist all the time, but instead gets through him in parts, slowly and steadily. It is the house which preys the on a hero’s flaws, and as that includes overconfidence and arrogance, things take a turn for the worse. That would be a reason for a ghost to act on it, and you can’t really blame the supernatural being in that case. Along with this, you can also watch other lesser known horror movies like In the Tall Grass.

Release date: 25th October 2019
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Travis Stevens
Starring: CM Punk, Sarah Brooks, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Elissa Dowling, Karen Woditsch, Tonya Kay, Travis Delgado, Marshall Bean, Bishop Stevens, Anish Jethmalani

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Forest

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

Vampire Bat: And then what happened?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ezra

ezra-2

Vampire Owl: Malayalam movies have always needed more horror movies.

Vampire Bat: This has come after a long wait too.

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time we really loved a Malayalam horror movie?

Vampire Bat: I am not sure about that. We have been loving the Hollywood horror only.

Vampire Owl: I heard that it has a little bit of Jewish culture in Kerala.

Vampire Bat: And that it was also going to be dubbed into more than one other language?

Vampire Owl: I hope one or two vampire languages are added.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that this one will be different. It is evident from the poster and also from what people talk about it.

Vampire Owl: Ghosts need to be shown different, because they are all not the same.

Vampire Bat: Well, maybe this is the answer to the prayers of many such spirits.

[Gets the tickets with masala tea and caramel popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Ranjan Mathew (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is an orphan and a successful professional working in Mumbai. After falling in love with an interior designer Priya Raghunathan (Priya Anand) who is also based in Mumbai, they get married against the wishes of her parents. One and half years later, he gets a transfer to Cochin, and despite Priya’s reluctance to move from the city which had become a part of her, they relocate to the new place, which is a mansion-like old house rented to them upon the recommendation of Father Samuel (Vijayaraghavan) who is not just a priest, but also Ranjan’s uncle. Ranjan’s company is dealing with disposing the nuclear waste from the nuclear reactors in South India, and he is in charge of the operations. Meanwhile, A.C.P. Shafeer Ahammed (Tovino Thomas) is tired of investigating a strange murder in an antique shop which leaves no clue.

So, what happens next? :: As Priya has a lot of free time, she tries to do some interior work for their new house and buys some interesting items from the shop of Moosa (Alencier Ley Lopez) who had managed to bring a few new things of interest from the house of a Jew who died without a heir in the country, as everyone had left for Israel. After getting a box from the shop and opening it, things begin to change, as Priya sees a creepy figure in the mirror as well as the wardrobe, and Ranjan hears footsteps from the roof – and more spooky things follow. As Father Samuel finds Jewish inscriptions on a strange box, he advises Ranjan to consult Rabbi David Benyamin (Babu Antony) who resides in Mumbai. As Ranjan comes to know that Priya is pregnant, he becomes more desperate, but David’s death follows, and now the only hope seems to be in the form of Rabbi Marcus (Sujith Shanker) who has arrived at Cochin.

The defence of Ezra :: There is variety without doubt in Ezra, and the same can be said about the quality displayed in this movie. The visuals are really well-used here to create the advantage, and the darkness as well as some spooky elements are created well with the use of sound effects, and these work really well in the first half to make us interested in the second. There is also a lot in the story told here, unlike the other horror movies, and the creature that this flick chooses here is not among the usual ones, as the myth used is something not many people around here have known before. The use of a perfect setting and antiques happen to be something that works for this flick more than any other horror movie. There is also one twist that happens by the end, even though it is the only big surprise in the movie, and could have been presented in a better way. The songs are good, especially “Lailakame”.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does get a curse, and it happens in the second half, as many other movies – this evil spirit doesn’t really make that much impact as it should in the latter part, and the final exorcism, brings nothing huge. There were so many possibilities with this movie, and the infinite chances are not used at all – it is kind of strange that the movie doesn’t bring the special ingredient; there were so many opportunities and Ezra hesitates to think out of the box, even with a spirit from inside a box. As we see the characters watching The Conjuring 2 on television, one has no doubt about one movie which has inspired this one. But Ezra has so much of hesitation in unleashing the terror – the viewers find so many situations which could have been scarier, but the movie doesn’t seem to find the need to bring huge scares. Also, at one point, you feel that this is the Odette Annable starrer The Unborn, but then it is not; there is just the dybbuk and the pregnancy in common.

Performers of the soul :: In a movie that has Prithviraj as the protagonist, it is him who leads the way – it is the first half that gets the best of him with a simple and rather natural touch to the proceedings – not that much with the final scenes though. Priya Anand makes a Malayalam debut which the Keralites will remember. Sujith Shanker makes a surprising entry here, and in this role, most of us might not even recognise that he is the same person from Njan Steve Lopez and Maheshinte Prathikaram – it is quite solid work. Tovino Thomas, even though he is there for less amount of time, has his moments. Vijayaraghavan is fine there, but Babu Antony’s stay is cut short; the same is the case of Pratap K. Pothen and Alencier Ley Lopez who leaves the proceedings rather too early. Sudev Nair and Ann Sheetal has a nicely created flashback scene which is done fine.

How it finishes :: There is a little shortage of horror movies in Malayalam movie industry, and there is a lot of shortage in the case of good horror movies – the latter is also applicable to the Bollywood film industry too, which is why, for the Indian cinema as a whole, the requirement is for more good horror. There is no need for more drama and more romance – there is too much of the same already, and there is nothing closer to life than horror, in one way or the other. Therefore, Ezra‘s presence is something which has to be appreciated, and despite not using all the possibilities in the scary side, manages to be a horror movie with a difference as far as the Malayalam movie industry is considered. It is evident that the Malayalam movies are back after that break – and each release this year, including Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, Jomonte Suviseshangal, Fukri and Ezra have stayed different from each other.

Release date: 10th February 2016
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Jay K
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Priya Anand, Tovino Thomas, Sudev Nair, Vijayaraghavan, Sujith Shanker, Pratap K. Pothen, Babu Antony, Alencier Ley Lopez, Ann Sheetal

ezra

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ouija: Origin of Evil

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Vampire Owl: I feel that this movie is totally against our own existence.

Vampire Bat: What? Why do you think so?

Vampire Owl: They are talking about the origin of evil. We are not supposed to speak about the origins of pure evil. It is so much against the tradition.

Vampire Bat: The humans know nothing of the origin of evil. This is just what they imagined on one jobless day.

Vampire Owl: So, it is not against our vampire beliefs?

Vampire Bat: Not at all! Don’t believe most of the things that these humans say.

Vampire Owl: I have believed in not believing in them. They are hypocrites.

Vampire Bat: See, I have told you that for centuries.

Vampire Owl: But, still we will watch this movie, won’t we?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I am assured of the entertainment in this one.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with potato chips].

What was the first movie about? :: The protagonist of the movie, Laine Morris (Olivia Cooke) is searching for answers as she hopes that she could have done something for her best friend Debbie Galardi (Shelley Hennig) who had committed suicide, and she laments the fact that she was the last one to talk to her and yet couldn’t stop her from doing such an act. As she finds an Ouija board in her house, along with her sister Sarah (Ana Coto) and other friends of Debbie, Pete (Douglas Smith), Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), and Isabelle (Bianca A. Santos) decides to try and contact their recently deceased friend. Soon, they contact a spirit which addresses them as friends, but what they are not aware of is that Debbie already had made a connection to the other world which lead to her death, and they understand that more than one entity is now free. The friends realize that they will just be killed one after the other and there will be no stopping the terror. [Read the full review of the first movie here]

What is this movie about? :: A relative to the dead people returning as spirits, Paulina (Lin Shaye) who resides in a mental asylum seemed to be the key to stopping the evil in the first movie. This flick goes back, and tells her story as a prequel. In the 1960s, a widow named Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) acts as a spiritual medium to help people who are sad and attached to the dead people who used to be close to them – she makes sure that they let the past go and move on with their lives, accompanied by her daughters, the older one, Paulina (Annalise Basso) and the younger one Doris (Lulu Wilson). This is more of a fake show which the three comes up with, using some nicely executed plans. They don’t consider them to be bad, as they believe that they are only helping people in pain to help people to go ahead in their lives rather than living in sadness and pain.

So, what happens next? :: Most of these sessions end with the spirits forgiving the living, which gives them peace of mind. But one day, Alice adds an Ouija board to this programme, which changes things by a long way. They will end up breaking almost all the rules associated with this board. But they initially don’t realise this, with Doris finding some money inside the walls of the house, which lets them keep their home with them, paying for the debts. Alice believes that it is her dead husband communicating with them, and helping them with their lives, and Doris also thinks that it is her father. But Paulina is suspicious about this, even though Alice assures that this is only for the good, as they will now be able to help people by contacting the other world for real. Father Tom Hogan (Henry Thomas) is suspicious about something strange happening with his students, and realizes that the three ladies are going through a dangerous stage, as evil has already made its stand.

The defence of Ouija: Origin of Evil :: As we remember the predecessor, for which this is the prequel, we can be sure that there is a lot of improvement at work even when there was the need to end this movie in such a way that the connection is made well enough. They have managed to create a better work here, not just with the outside looks, but also on the inside, with better scares, and without doubt a better story. The movie scores with the “evil child” idea more than anything else, as the possessed kid is a level higher than any other – Lulu Wilson scores there, as the little demon gets all the applause with the best moments in the movie. Annalise Basso is not far behind as the other kid, belonging to the age, and bringing the scepticism to us. Along with that, Elizabeth Reaser remains strong as the mother figure. The cast and the setting plays a big role in making this movie a success and claim a good seat among the rest of the horror movies with their own spirits.

The claws of flaw :: There are limitations placed on this movie, and without doubt, it is the work of the previous movie, where this one had to reach as a prequel and kind of an origin story. If this one had come earlier, in the regular order, things would have been better for sure with the second movie too. We could have surely had more terror in the final few moments with a surprise finish – but this one chooses to go simple, which is not a bad thing, but with the spirit being so evil, there was bigger potential. There could have been more appearances of the spirit, and even some visuals from the terrible past of the spirit when it was human. Well, there is always more that we can do with an Ouija board, and this one doesn’t cover them all for sure. Maybe, all the best things are left for a third movie, and we can hope for the same. Still, one will feel that this is nothing like The Conjuring. This doesn’t go divergent like Don’t Breathe and Lights Out either.

How it finishes :: Just like I had mentioned in the review of Before I Wake that came before this opinion, Mike Flanagan at the helm has brought the horror genre back where it belongs. We had the Canker Man in that one, and we have the old fashioned possession along with the haunting in this one. Absentia, Oculus, Hush and the upcoming Gerald’s Game right out the Stephen King book of the same name – well, he is someone we horror fans are going to trust for, a period of time which resembles eternity if it is to go on like this. Ouija: Origin of Evil has an improvement from its predecessor which almost all the viewers are going to appreciate – after all, a movie about Ouija board should do well, as it is something on which a horror movie should be made more often. Well, we get to hear about it more than the usual local ghost, so why not we have more movies in this franchise?

Release date: 21st October 2016
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Parker Mack, Henry Thomas, Lin Shaye, Halle Charlton, Alexis G. Zall, Doug Jones, Kate Siegel, Sam Anderson, Ele Keats, Nicholas Keenan, Michael Weaver

ouija2

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Boy

theboy (1)

Vampire Owl :: All I see is a doll. There is nothing much scary about this one’s appearance either.

Vampire Bat :: We have always been taught and trained to believe that there is more than what eyes can see. What you are doing here is just passing judgment.

Vampire Owl :: I am not judgmental. The hypercritical ones are not my people, but yours.

Vampire Bat :: Still, you are judging this one too early.

Vampire Owl :: The critics have already judged it low.

Vampire Bat :: That is what they do, not us who live with these movies.

Vampire Owl :: I have liked Dead Silence’s Billy, The Conjuring’s Annabelle and Child’s Play’s Chucky. Unlike what you think about this, I am not really judgmental about dolls.

Vampire Bat :: Well, Chucky did put a knife on your neck to make you accept that.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, but I have accepted that dolls can be awesome, and that is the point which I intend to bring here.

Vampire Bat :: Whatever it is, just watch the movie.

[Gets three cups of tea with tapioca chips].

What is it about? :: Greta (Lauren Cohan) is caught in an abusive relationship with Cole (Ben Robson) at Montana. She hopes to escape by becoming a nanny for the Heelshire family based in the United Kingdom. After traveling to Great Britain and reaching the place, she introduced to Mrs. Heelshire (Diana Hardcastle) and the man who brings the grocery, Malcolm (Rupert Evans). Mr. Heelshire (Jim Norton) introduces her to their child, Brahms. But she is surprised to find out that the boy here is just a porcelain doll, treated by the family as if it is a living person. Mrs. Heelshire tells her that the boy had rejected many other nannies and they hope that he likes her. She also asks Greta to follow certain rules, as Brahms is like other children, and special care is needed for him.

So what happens next? :: Greta decides to ignore the rules and just spend her time there. She and Malcolm gets a lot interested in each other, and the doll remains neglected. But Greta finds out that there is something strange about the doll. She feels that it moves a little at times, and there are other strange occurences. On one occasion, she gets locked in the attic, and her clothes are also stolen while she is taking shower. She also feels that the doll is staring at her when she is talking to Malcolm, changing clothes or even while doing anything of personal nature. On another day, a sandwich is served at her door, and she also hears voices calling her name. She decides to find out more about the real child who is supposed to have died in a fire at the age of eight, years ago.

The defence of The Boy :: The idea here is working, and had a lot of possibilities towards horror. It does get working early with its central idea, and we get to the moments featuring the doll easily. The setting in the big old house actually helps a lot. There are lots of spooky moments in this movie, and the scene at the attic as well as the final twists worked very well in the end. How they have changed the supernatural idea works very well by the end of the movie too. The Boy does entertain, that is for sure – among the horror movies which released on one of those days around this one, there were not many of them as much entertaining as The Boy, which follows the much expected horror idea. As the movie follows the basic horror elements, there is sure to be some fun watching this movie for everyone. For people who don’t want movies like The Witch and It Follows as the different horror flicks, this would be the usual kind of replacement following the known path.

Claws of flaw :: It is rather strange that the movie doesn’t really use the elements in hand to the best strength. When there is a spooky doll around there, we expect that things get really scary and remain so throughout its run – but there are those weaker moments here and there. The doll could have been a lot bigger thing than it turned out to be. The movie also does remind one of two other movies, the Jocelin Donahue starrer The House of the Devil and Sarah Thompson starrer Babysitter Wanted. This one could have deviated further and should have come up with more innovative ideas. With so much mystery around, I am actually surprised that they have managed only this much – there was so much to be seen and so much more to be developed further. But our movie here manages to work even with all its inability to bring the best out of there.

Performers of the soul :: The performances of the cast here remains really good. Without doubt, Lauren Cohan as Greta comes up with the best of them all. Best known for her part as Maggie Greene in the television series, The Walking Dead, and being part of other series, here she plays the young lady with a troubled past in a lot believable manner, and so does she manage well with those horror sequences. I have to say that she makes a really good addition to the horror movies, and I hope that she will be there in more of such movies belonging to the genre. Her character actually undergoes changes throughout the movie, and she manages the same without any problem. Rupert Evans also makes a good addition in the flick. Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle who play the old parents also leaves a mark here.

How it finishes :: Well, there has been some impressive dolls in horror movies; Chucky from Child’s Play series might be the most popular of them all, and Billy from Dead Silence has been one scary thing; Annabelle has gained popularity with The Conjuring, and one can never underestimate the strength of a doll when it comes to horror movies. This one here, the Brahms doll is no exception either. It has enough to stay in the minds of the viewers too. There will be something about The Boy that can catch your attention here – from the cast to the setting, and more than everything else, the doll. Unlike what the reviews have mostly said about this movie, The Boy has more strength than most of the other horror movies around here which have somehow managed better reviews.

Release date: 22nd January 2016
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: William Brent Bell
Starring: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, Ben Robson, James Russell, Jett Klyne, Lily Pater

theboy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jessabelle

Jessabellee

Vampire Owl :: Are you sure that this isn’t related to Annabelle? There is not even a distant relationship that you know about?

Vampire Bat :: Not at all. There is just the name which ends in the same way. There is no relationship with The Conjuring either.

Vampire Owl :: I know many people who thought that they were related, and there are some who thought that there was another doll of the same kind.

Vampire Bat :: We, the people of the horror, shouldn’t fall into such rumors. But the similarity in the name might have attracted more viewers.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, I know. But I just believed that for some time.

Vampire Bat :: We could actually go for it in the name of some nice sequences which are there in the trailer. The poster is quite interesting

Vampire Owl :: And also after looking at the producer’s long list of horror filmography.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, that too. But nothing in the name of Annabelle which is not related at all.

Vampire Owl :: Let it be so then! We shall take on this ghost too.

Vampire Bat :: Okay, now we can proceed for the movie. Keep your mind open for more horror.

[Gets a cup of tea with chocolate chip cookies].

What is it about? :: Jessabelle Laurent (Sarah Snook) and her boyfriend has an accident with their car hit by a truck just before they decide to start a new life together. The pregnant Jessabelle has miscarriage and her lover is dead in the accident, with her limited to a wheel-chair. A few months later, she decides to go and live with her father Leon (David Andrews) at a small town of St Francis as he agrees to pick her up from the hospital. It has been a long time since she last saw her father, as she was raised by her aunt after her mother died of cancer when she was a baby. He takes her to their old home, and provides her with the room of her mother which was kept locked for many years. She doesn’t remember anything about her childhood, and she decides to look around the old house and the beautiful surroundings on her wheel-chair.

So what happens at this new place far away from the city? :: Jessabelle is not a person who will keep herself on the bed all the time. For passing time, she finds some videotapes shot by her mother. She decides to watch them and know more about her mother whom she never met as a kid. Even though, the tapes begin nicely with words of motherly love, it soon gets weird with talks about death, transition to something else and the feeling of a certain presence in the house. Leon says that her mother was getting weird and not herself in the final stages of cancer as he tries his best to stop her from watching these tapes, but as he tries to burn them, gets burnt himself inside the shed. She also has regular nightmares, and feels the presence of something in the house. With her father dead, it is only her old friend Preston Sanders (Mark Webber) who is left with her for help.

The defence of Jessabelle :: There are scary moments in Jessabelle and there is creepiness, even when not fully utilized. The environment contributes to that feeling, and this is done by keeping blood and gore to the minimum. Coming from the director of two movies of the Saw franchise, that might be a surprise for some people. The bath-tub scene is the best one, even though that too could have been better. But the movie manages to maintain a certain mood, not trying to bring anything huge – not a big attempt here at all. The final revelation is a fine one, and the twist is something which can be rather easily guessed only for those who have watched many horror movies. But it keeps us guessing until the movie reaches the final stages. It often becomes a mystery thriller instead of a full horror movie, and there is even some drama – it also works as part of another genre which makes up for what is missed out with the horror side.

Claws of flaw :: There is no denying the fact that this movie has its own dose of cliches. There are moments of such horror which have already been tried, and the story itself reminds oneself of the Kate Hudson starrer movie, The Skeleton Key – especially with the ending; but the difference here being the use of Voodoo while it was Hoodoo in that horror movie which came earlier. The chances of you liking this movie if you liked that one is high, but there will be some repetition associated with this in the final moments. There is also a certain amount of slow movement in the case of Jessabelle, and more horror could have been brought here especially while using the marshy surroundings of Lousiana. The environment was something which could have been better used to the advantage here. The potential was surely there to bring something better than what is on screen.

Performers of the Soul :: As you might have noticed in the movie Predestination, Sarah Snook is very much a talented actress, and she does an excellent job here too. Here, she proves to be the right choice for horror too. If she did a bigger job in that science fiction drama, here the movie is better, without ambiguities or boredom as there is the direct entry into horror and mystery. Mark Webber has very less to do here though, and it is the same with David Andrews and Joelle Carter, as the movie is completely focused on Sarah Snook and her Jessabelle. Amber Stevens West plays the ghostly Jessabelle with the needed intensity, but the number of appearances of the ghost is also too less as far as the horror fans are concerned. The bath-tub scene and the car scene are the two notable ones related to the same.

How it finishes :: When you look at the critical appreciation of this movie and the total rating at IMDb, you will hesitate about watch this one. But this movie is undoubtedly better than what you see everywhere; it has never been easy for the horror movies to get the critics on their side – it is more like a curse which this particular genre has inherited through the ages, even though there are exceptions. Sometimes, most of the critically appreciated movies are not really that good horror at all. So, watching Jessabelle is not a mistake that you make, but an attempt to see how another horror movie will work. You have to note that The Lazarus Effect, The Remaining, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death and The Pyramid got lesser rating on IMDb. You can watch this one along with The Skeleton Key which is a similar movie in heart and soul.

Release date: 7th November 2014
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Kevin Greutert
Starring: Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, David Andrews, Joelle Carter, Ana de la Reguera, Amber Stevens, Larisa Oleynik, Chris Ellis, Brian Hallisay, Lucius Baston, Jason Davis, Vaughan Wilson

Jessabelle

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ouija

ouija (3)

Vampire Owl :: Halloween and no horror. Never thought that such a day will come in this century.

Vampire Bat :: There is horror. We can watch Ouija.

Vampire Owl :: Really? The Vampire Panda told me that it was a bad movie and critics gave bloody low ratings to it.

Vampire Bat :: Lets not trust the critics on a horror movie. Besides, that panda is not a vampire. He is just the Kungfu Panda on disguise attempting to sell his noodles and action figures among vampires.

Vampire Owl :: I shall deal with him later. For now, I can surely use a summoned spirit. According to the latest version of the Book of the Dead, the Undead and the Brain dead, they are very useful creatures. We need to get an Ouija Board.

Vampire Bat :: Do you realize that you already create enough problems for yourself?

Vampire Owl :: Absolutely yes. See, I am an evil entity. I am supposed to create problems for the world which includes myself.

Vampire Bat :: You should have a dosa. You turn evil when you need it.

Vampire Owl :: No. I am a dangerous owl. I need to keep it that way.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, dangerous to yourself.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: The protagonist Laine Morris (Olivia Cooke) is searching for answers as she hopes that she could have done something for her best friend Debbie Galardi (Shelley Hennig) who had committed suicide, and she laments the fact that she was the last one to talk to her and yet couldn’t stop her from doing such an act. As she finds an Ouija board in her house, along with her sister Sarah (Ana Coto) and other friends of Debbie, Pete (Douglas Smith), Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), and Isabelle (Bianca A. Santos) decides to try and contact their recently deceased friend. Soon, they contact a spirit which addresses them as friends, but what they are not aware of is that Debbie already had made a connection to the other world which lead to her death, and they understands that more than one entity is now free. The friends realize that they will just be killed one after the other and there will be no stopping the terror. A relative to the dead people returning as spirits, Paulina (Lin Shaye) who resides in a mental asylum seems to be the key to stopping the evil, but will it work?

The defence of Ouija :: The name would be enough to draw people to the movie, and the Ouija board has always been the centre of curiosity for a lot of people for a good amount of time. We have a lot of curious cats among us, don’t we? This movie banks in the same with the board at the centre, throws the usual stuff at us again and again, and there are some scares as one would expect from it. The sewn mouths are not something new, but they surely work here especially according to the circumstance, and the twist, even if small is a working one. There are possessions, suicides, murders, sewn mouths, blank eyes, with some scares here and there, and a creepy environment of the house. The sound effects are very good and the visual horror has its moments. It is quite a success as a haunted house movie, with the board being found from the home where evil has happened sometime ago. Some moments near the end are good, even as their failure to end the movie with the same surprises me.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t try anything new at all. Its biggest asset is that one board, but the flick fails to capitalize on the same. There is not much about that one big thing that it could have used to its effectiveness, and instead the same becomes only the means to what is to come next. It only does the job of any other possessed item which could gain the attention of the spirits. The movie should have stuck to its title, explaining more about the board and how things come to this dimension in relation to the same. But it tries to make the movie go on in the usual pattern often forgetting that the movie is about the board, with the existence of a house where something terrible did happen a long time ago and there is a spirit waiting to possess or murder people. Even a good number of scares are not that effective, but there are a few which work nicely. The plot and the narrative could have had some more attention to make the whole thing better.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has a rather cute lead at the top, and the performances are overall decent. Olivia Cooke plays the protagonist here, the lady who is hopelessly trying to connect to her dead best friend, and she has indeed played this role with such expressions of fear and uncertainty which makes this character so much believable here. Her cuteness helps the cause a lot, and she is a perfect one for this role which has more hopelessness and desperation which she could nicely reflect on her face. You will instantly like her, that is for sure. The next one is Shelley Hennig, and even as she dies early, has her moments too, and is not done even with that separation of the soul. She adds to the beauty of the cast and does enough, while the rest of the cast manages to hold on, but not with anything special. Meanwhile, Lin Shaye is here too, and she is once again impressive in another horror movie – catches our attention.

Soul exploration :: In its search for the spirits within the Ouija board and also outside it, the movie losses its soul. It can’t realize what it has in its soul, whether it is to focus on the board or the haunted house and its scary past. When we finally decide that it is on the latter, then comes the board again as if it is Count Dracula who wants to be part of everything vampiric. The spirit also works a lot like the Final Desination series, planning to just kill them all in freaky ways, even as it is not that heartless to make things too violent. Then you realize that Ouija is a mixture which is created to make it a safe bet, and it adds so many things to itself and makes those factors work in parts even as in totality, there is some mess. There is the lack of soul to hold it together, and it is the same reason why we are unable to bring much of it back home – even Annabelle living in the shadows of The Conjuring had more for us. Ouija boards can inspire better horror movies, and this one has the spirits not that powerful.

How it finishes :: The conclusion is still that even with its list of flaws, Ouija is your movie of the Halloween, even as Annabelle does exist at selected theatres with less number of shows. It will be the choice of the Halloween enthusiasts as Ouija board is not something that is not tried that much, and there are not other big Hollywood entertainers released this weekend. I have successfully kept my distance from Bollywood since Diwali as I had sensed certain danger. Meanwhile, I wish all the followers of this blog and the readers of this post a very Happy Halloween, and the November first is also the birthday of the Indian state of Kerala, the occasion known as Kerala Piravi, so I wish all my fellow Keralites a Happy Kerala Piravi too. For more details about the same, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_Piravi and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala. Happy Birthday, Kerala 🙂

Release date: 31st October 2014 (India); 24th October 2014 (USA)
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Stiles White
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Shelley Hennig, Daren Kagasoff, Douglas Smith, Bianca A. Santos, Ana Coto, Matthew Settle, Lin Shaye, Vivis Colombetti, Robyn Lively, Bill Watterson, Sierra Heuermann

ouija

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.