Lake of Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Unforgettable

Vampire Owl: There is nothing unforgettable in this world.

Vampire Bat: It is not true. Some things just stay. I thought you would agree to the unforgettable nature of things.

Vampire Owl: I have been able to forget everything, and re-programme my brain with ease.

Vampire Bat: Was that part of one of the experiments by Doctor Frankenstein?

Vampire Owl: No, it is my own special skill, and no Frankenstein is required for the same.

Vampire Bat: But I know that you keep remembering Lady Death and your inability to get to her realm when needed.

Vampire Owl: Lady Death is not of past. She is more like the present.

Vampire Bat: This is exactly what I am talking about.

Vampire Owl: There is more to that particular story than what meets the eye. You should realize that better, considering how life has been. Well, it follows.

Vampire Bat: I think that you are going to write a book, considering how you have been talking about your life’s story in the last few days.

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

What is the movie about? :: Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson) is in a new relationship with David Connover (Geoff Stults) who has only recently separated from his wife Tessa Manning (Katherine Heigl) with whom he has a child, Lily Connover (Isabella Rice). They seem to have managed very well as individuals, sharing the custody of their daughter who stays with each of them at one place after the other. Julia herself has her own little secret, with her abusive former boyfriend Michael Vargas (Simon Kassianides) getting arrested for his violence on him, and is on a restraining order, which has only few days left. To add to her fear about the same, she also has Tessa acting rather strange, seemingly intruding into their lives. Her best friend Ali (Whitney Cummings) would comfort her telling her that these are just common things in life, and is surely better than her last abusive relationship which left her with scars on her body.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: After leaving her job and city to arrive at this town, her biggest nemesis remains Tessa who keeps creating problems for her, mostly in the name of the child, and her inability to take care of the kid as she is not a mother. Scolded by her own mother Helen Manning (Cheryl Ladd) for letting go of her marriage, Tessa gets more and more angry and frustrated, deciding to teach her husband’s new lover a lesson. She searches for information on Julia and finds more than enough about her past, which is not revealed to David. She decides to use the same to her advantage, and contacts Julia’s ex-boyfriend. What follows is a series of events which involve Tessa trying to get rid of Julia, while latter somehow manages to hold on. But the question remains about how long can she evade the traps set by Tessa who seems to have everything in control.

The defence of Unforgettable :: There is the suspense associated with this one, and it keeps you engaged about what is to happen next, and how the plan works out. But above everything else, and even above the story, the movie works the best due to its two leading female actresses, Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl. The former shows her desperation to perfection, while the latter is more like the snow queen who has her heart made into ice, having almost no remorse over her action which would destroy lives – the selfishness that is reflected there is more than what a regular villain would bring in a movie like this. Katherine becomes what they describe by psycho barbie between two characters, and there is some terror hiding behind her eyes as she stare into her nemesis. There are some smart movies being made, but twists oppose the same, and thankfully there is no melodrama even while dealing with this kind of a theme. The one doubt left is whether we have loved the villain so much that we were wishing for her to thrive.

The claws of flaw :: There are a few moments which looks not really living up to what seemed to be planned, and we have some situations that seems to be not done well enough – the movie has its problems here and there as it brings its content. There could have been more to the flashback of the villain too, as we see how good she is even without the same. The final sequence is also strange, seemingly made to let the heroine win, and it is only fair for someone’s good side to let her be the last woman standing, and we wished otherwise, and it would have been more realistic that way. The male characters don’t really have anything interesting to do here, and we see that there was so much more of villainy that could have been brought on. There could have also been certain suspense about what was going to be done, and how worse it could become for the protagonist – the psycho barbie idea could have been twisted to the extreme limits.

How it finishes :: When you see a movie like this, there is that category which you fit this one into, and that is erotic thriller, and then there is erotic drama which has more chance to be chosen by the regular audience. This is certainly not a movie that will be memorable for a very long time with its thrills, but thanks to Katherine Heigl, this one gets raised from where it could have stayed otherwise. After watching this movie, one thing is for sure – we would want a bigger version of such evil on the screen – it is more like the purge that takes away all the bad things; we need something like this more often. When you see the negative reviews and you watch this one, you are going to be surprised by what it brings, and we know that thrillers based on relationships and home can also bring some more when you least expected them.

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

Vampire Owl: I think that this particular lady reminds me of someone.

Vampire Bat: If it is about the ex-girlfriend, it might be about Lady Death.

Vampire Owl: What meaningless thing are you talking about? She is not an ex. She is part of my present.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you know that the realm of death has stopped all connections with the vampire world? You can only be trapped in one of the worlds.

Vampire Owl: It is not possible. We are the connection between the living and the dead. We are needed.

Vampire Bat: Even the Lich Queen has been saying the same. There is no real contract regarding the same.

Vampire Owl: There is one with the Vampire Elders.

Vampire Bat: Dude, that connection no longer exists. The Vampire Elders have given up all positions of powers because they are very old.

Vampire Owl: It is absurd. A Vampire Elder rules forever.

Vampire Bat: You should read The Vampire Times at least once a week.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Denise Di Novi
Starring: Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl, Geoff Stults, Isabella Rice, Whitney Cummings, Cheryl Ladd, Simon Kassianides, Sarah Burns, Alex Quijano, Stephanie Escajeda, Kincaid Walker, Aline Elasmar, Lauren Rose Lewis, Jayson Blair, Robert Wisdom

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Akam Puram

Vampire Owl: Why does the title sound to me like Inside Out?

Vampire Bat: It is more like Inside Outside.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the insides could be outside, and vice versa?

Vampire Bat: Are you referring to mind being outside the body?

Vampire Owl: Yes, such things are possible with meditation in a coffin.

Vampire Bat: I have heard that Doctor Frankenstein has developed a method to separate body and mind.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that the volunteer would have lost both his mind and body if Frankenstein was involved.

Vampire Bat: You are being too judgmental about someone who cured you of zombieness.

Vampire Owl: Dude, it was a temporary thing. I was going to be okay in a few minutes.

Vampire Bat: Anyway, this one requires none of these things.

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

What is the movie about? :: Udayan (Sarath Das), a policeman, reaches late to report to his senior officer (Prem Lal) as he goes to pray at the nearby temple. As time is running out for them to present a murder convict (Arun Punalur) to the district court, the senior police officer is furious. But Udayan tells him that he has had no time at all, as his mother is not well. It is her birthday, and usually they all go to the temple together, and this time, after leaving his mother to the care of his sister, he had to go to the temple alone, and pray for her well-being. He remembers how his rich relatives have been hesitant to help, or even look in their direction after the demise of his father, after which his mother had been taking care of him and his sister. Now, she is not well, and he is sad about not being able to be there at home to look after her due to this special duty which has come up because of someone else taking leave for personal reasons.

So, what happens next in the tale? :: The senior officer tells him that it is quite natural with their job, and it is their duty of presenting this man at the court in time that should matter the most – otherwise, they could be suspended, or transferred to somewhere far away; in that case, he wouldn’t be able to take care of his family at all. It is then that Udayan gets a call from his sister letting him know that their mother’s condition became critical, and she is admitted in the Intensive Care Unit of a nearby hospital. Udayan begs his senior officer to take a turn and go to the court after seeing his mother, to which the officer reluctantly agrees. But now, the question remains if they can reach their destination in time. Also, there is doubt if Udayan’s mother could be saved – the uncertainty is there at both sides, and the convict also has something to say about it contribute to the situation. Will at least one of the two things end well for the two cops on special duty?

Soul exploration 1: More than one responsibility in life :: It is the nature of our world that when we have a job, we will be blamed for not doing enough at home, and when we are at home, we are blamed for not being good enough to get a job. It is like not getting a girl for marriage when you have no job, and having no leave for marriage when you have the girl – it is that kind of a world. In this situation when we have to keep working, there is no hope to do our duties well enough, as the balance is so difficult. Yes, there are some people who have it easy as they lie, cheat and steal their way to the top, for the common man, maintaining this balance is eternally difficult. We see the same reflection of difficulties with the protagonist of this movie too, as he struggles to keep up things. Then there are those relatives, who are useful more for the blame game than anything else.

Soul exploration 2: Life running through a busy world :: One can’t predict or judge in a world which is rather too busy. There is nothing that will go according to plan, and the line between good and evil gets rather thin. When nobody has any time for anyone, as we see the protagonist having no relatives to take care of his mother – they are rich, but they don’t have time for their own people, and they pretend to like people only to make money. We see how much lies are being told these days just to make money, and one would wonder if such liars have any honour. But what makes us lovable for the friends and relatives is money, and these days, nobody really cares how you got the money and property if you have them. Well, it is a modernized, mechanical world build out of money, isn’t it? Who wants good qualities? There are parents who will get their daughters married to any fake person if he got money.

How it finishes :: Akam Puram directed by Abhilash Purushothaman is another interesting short-film which makes one think about the harsh realities of life, as one can’t help wondering how it could be any better with the same. We all live in a world which is full of uncertainties, and often when we look at the lives of others, we wonder how different it is. Supported by the performances from a good cast lead by the popular serial artist Sarath, this successfully catches the interest of its viewers, who are made to realize that no matter how hard one tries, there are few things that will never change, and it is the difference between each person in their though process, and their priorities – it is often due to how they were brought up, but as we all know, the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself. Also read the reviews of those movies which are in theatres right now, Thrissivaperoor Kliptham, Varnyathil Aashanka, Clint, Sarvopari Palakkaran, Chunkzz, Kadam Katha, Sunday Holiday and Thondimuthalum Drikshakshiyum.

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

Vampire Owl: I have had similar experience with one of the vampire convicts.

Vampire Bat: You were assigned to transporting convicts?

Vampire Owl: Yes, those guilty of the bloody terror.

Vampire Bat: I believe that it was called blood terror.

Vampire Owl: Yes, during those times, I was working as an apprentice with the vampire imperial guard.

Vampire Bat: You are a soldier? You never mentioned it in your resume.

Vampire Owl: It is because I was dismissed for failure in transporation of convicts.

Vampire Bat: So, how many days did you work with the vampire imperial guard?

Vampire Owl: One day, one job, the end.

Vampire Bat: What a beautiful case of one day’s work.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 14th January 2017
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Abhilash Purushothaman
Starring: Sarath Das, Prem Lal, Arun Punalur

Watch the movie Akam Puram here:

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Shut In

shutin-1

Vampire Owl: I am used to hearing a part of this title.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that you have heard of this movie title?

Vampire Owl: No, I am used to listening to “shut up”.

Vampire Bat: That should happen naturally to you in a growing vampire community which is building a new code of conduct.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that the critics don’t like this movie?

Vampire Bat: Is that a reason why we shouldn’t like them?

Vampire Owl: Well, they liked I Am Not a Serial Killer.

Vampire Bat: That is absolutely ridiculous. They really need the “shut up” instead of “shut in”.

Vampire Owl: It is time for us to bring the balance by supporting the correct movie.

Vampire Bat: This is indeed that movie to support!

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

What is the movie about? :: Richard Portman (Peter Outerbridge) and his son Steven Portman (Charlie Heaton) meets an accident while leaving home after a fight between the two – their car crashes into a truck as the differences between the two continue even inside the vehicle on the road. After the accident takes the life of her husband and leaves the son paralysed, Richard’s second wife and Steven’s step-mother, a psychologist by profession, Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) decides to care of the boy, even though it means being isolated from her own friend circle and spending most of her time with him. Separated from her own people, and often questioning her own decisions, she keeps herself going against all odds. But there is one thing that she is sure about, and it is that she has to take care of the boy.

So, what happens next? :: There is also a young kid Tom Patterson (Jacob Tremblay) who was her patient, but has gone missing. This ten year old child is deaf, and she had seen him for the last time at her own home. She does hear strange noises in her home, and there are also stranger happenings around, for which she can find no explanation. She also has her own nightmares, and the only rational explanation seems to be her inability to sleep during nights, which is bringing these hallucinations to her – but she is not satisfied with the same. Then, later, during a storm, on a strange dark night, she begins to believe that someone else is inside the house trying to harm her and Steven. Who or what is this that has come to her home without an invitation? Why does it/him/her want to haunt her and her paralysed son? Then the bigger question is about the missing child!

The defence of Shut In :: There is a strong line of mystery going right through Shut In, as it keeps us guessing from the very early stages itself. There are those moments of scare and there is suspense, as we get to that twist in the end. If you are going to ask why the protagonist didn’t figure out this or why she didn’t act like that, I am sure that I can ask why the protagonist in your favourite movie acts in such an unbelievable manner – well, it is different for each person, and being a psychologist like the main character of this movie won’t help at all; for you will never become the master of others’ minds, as each person is different as an individual and not as a robot whose “metallic emotions” could be treated by science. It is also the message of this movie – it doesn’t matter how much you think you know about others and their minds, and there is no point about claiming that you have studied it scientifically: you just can’t predict human nature.

The claws of flaw :: There are similarities to another movie which released in the same year, The Boy which also had problems with the critics, who might have decided that these movies were bad even before watching them – it is a clear reflection of the fact that some people are not qualified enough to judge horror movies, for such flicks surely need separate reviewers who understand the soul of horror, hopefully none of them includes those who reviews Bollywood drama. There is something strange going on with these people who keep rating the scarier horror movies low, and give a better score to horror movies which are not horror at all – even the thriller genre suffers from the same. This movie surely had the potential to develop better with its basic idea, and there are some points when things are not that smooth, but the shorter length makes sure that the movie survives that.

Performers of the soul :: From the beginning to the end, Naomi Watts remains the heart and soul of this movie. Seemingly getting younger every time, she is the kind of actress that everyone would love to have a in a horror movie or a mysterious thriller. You remember watching her in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering a long time ago, but we all better recognise her from the much loved horror movie The Ring and its less acclaimed sequel, The Ring Two. But the best of her for me is the 2007 version of Funny Games – she has been perfectly suited to this genre which has the thrills and scares in store. It is the same that she makes sure in this movie, as once again does her job in the perfect way – we appreciate seeing her on the screen in this flick too. Charlie Heaton and Oliver Platt also scores in between, but Jacob Tremblay only gets less to do unlike in that nice horror movie named Before I Wake.

How it finishes :: This is another nice thriller movie which has been wronged by the critics. It is a thing about them to combine and build flaws on some movies, and the critics in India usually have the tendency to copy those in the United States without shame, unless there is someone from Bollywood performing in that movie [then it will be, watch the movie for him or her]. Some people really needs to know what “bad” and “terrible” movie means, and some of those flicks include those which they have been praising so much in the last few years. Maybe they were watching another movie instead of this one – who knows? Or they do judge in a way that only their group of people understands. Shut In is worth a watch; it is no big horror thriller, but it is surely something in which you can try and spend your time – it has enough in store.

Release date: 11th November 2016
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Farren Blackburn
Starring: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay, David Cubitt, Clémentine Poidatz, Crystal Balint, Alex Braunstein, Peter Outerbridge

shutin

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.