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.

Kidnapping Stella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

A Quiet Place

What is the movie about? :: Years into the future, Earth has been taken over by strange creatures which has been murdering humans at will. They can be seen almost everywhere, ready to finish off any human that they can detect. These creatures which have hypersensitive hearing, attacks by listening to the noise, as they are blind. Due to their impenetrable armored shell along with the strength, speed and reflexes, the creatures have been almost impossible to kill, as they spread all around the world, leading to the near-extinction of mankind. There are only a few survivors here and there, and all of them are able to do nothing, but keep running with all that they can gather, and that too, without making any noise to ensure their survival in a world which brings death to the noise makers.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is during these times of trouble that the Abbott family which includes the couple – Lee (John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) along with their deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and sons Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward) go through the abandoned supermarkets of a town for supplies. The family is very careful that none of them makes any noise that can bring one of the creatures – they use sign language instead of talking so that there is no chance for trouble. As the little boy Beau is attracted to a battery-operated space shuttle toy, he couldn’t help giving it a try, and attracted by the noise, the creatures finish him off, despite Lee’s best efforts to save him from the terror.

And what is follow with the events? :: The family of four is traumatized by the event, and they decide to survive, as they live in the countryside with all preparations to make sure that no sound goes outside the house. They live in regret of not being able to save their family member, and comes close to distracting the creatures more than once, yet surviving through the situations well enough. But the problem arrives when the due date of pregnant Evelyn arrives, and they have to go through the whole thing without making a sound. The system that they had built is not without defects, and one small mistake could result in the death of all of them. With an enemy that seems to be invincible, and knowing whatever sounds they make, can they survive through these troubled times and maybe even provide a fight?

The defence of A Quiet Place :: The idea can be considered too good here, as we are taken to that world which follows a near-extinction event for humanity, with only a few survivors, and you see that death comes naturally, and life is eternally difficult. There is heavy intensity that we feel with this movie, and the horror is real, as it makes us feel so much, even the grief of the characters. The credit to the horror’s strength goes to silence, and what comes after it. There are the creatures being different and scary when we look at them visually, but it is the right use of special effects that brings glory to this one. The feeling of danger here is so real too, and each moment has the same – one wrong step, and you are gone; this one has such a low amount of hope than any other horror film with complete human extinction easily possible.

Positives and negatives :: There is certain mystery about the creatures, which can take all the terror further, but some people would still want more information related to them. We don’t know where they come from, if it is a Pacific Rim moment with them coming from under Earth or in space ships like Alien or Independence Day, and there is also the option of an incoming wave of demonic monsters from hell. There are not many dialogues in this movie, as the sign language seems to take over, but we have those subtitles which make sure that there is no problem. As silence is the master here, all those other sounds contribute to the story better than dialogues, and adds to the horror like no visual can, and it is a certain beauty of another kind. There is also the strength of family being depicted here, and the idea of sacrificing one’s life for the others and not giving up, can be seen right in the core of this movie.

The performers of the soul :: Emily Blunt leads the way in this one, and most of the viewers from this part of the world would remember her from Edge of Tomorrow, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Sicario and The Girl on the Train – very unlike those characters there, this one has her struggling for survival with her family. There are moments which some other actress couldn’t have done this well, but she excels here without displaying any signs of stepping back. John Krasinski has a touching performance here too, and with him being the real-life husband of Emily Blunt, the pair has no problem with facing the post-apocalyptic event as on-screen couple too. The two kids, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe make sure that they contribute very efficiently to the scheme of things.

How it finishes :: The movie’s simplicity is so much effective like no other usual horror film. Through the lines of 10 Cloverfield Lane, this one is mostly set within an area, and there is the possibility of terror being present all around. With some wonderful performances from every name on the list of actors, this one makes sure that John Krasinski who has also acted in this one, is one director that we need to trust, and the short one and half hours of the movie makes sure that there is no moment which goes wasted. The horror here feels real, artistic and innovative, and lets enjoy this divergence as we did with those other well-received horror movies like The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Don’t Breathe, It Follows and Lights Out. After some time, A Quiet Place makes sure that horror is alive, and there is more than one idea behind the genre. Why wouldn’t you watch this one at least now, a month and half after its release? The movie deserves it.

Release date: 6th April 2018
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: John Krasinski
Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Punyalan Pvt Ltd

What is the movie about? :: Joy Thakkolkkaran (Jayasurya) was going through a good run with his business of Punyalan Agarbathis, until a series of misfortunes strikes his life, beginning with the death of his wife Anu Joy (Nyla Usha) due to complications related to delivery. It is soon followed by the bank sequestrating his business due to his inability to repay the loan taken. This leaves his best friend and right hand Greenu sharma (Aju Varghese) on a journey to the Middle East in search of a job. Abhayakumar (Sreejith Ravi) is still left there as his driver, and Advocate Peerthanesh (Dharmajan Bolgatty) is his lawyer and the new best friend. They plan to create a new venture, and this would be Punyalan Water, a substitute for the usual mineral water in Kerala, made in an innovative style. But his problems are only beginning, against the system, including the road transport corporation and the city corporation itself.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: As the system seems to stop himself from becoming the businessman that he has always wanted to be, a bankrupt state awaits him. But he decides to fight against it. This would bring him face to face against Shakthan Rajashekharan (Vijayaraghavan), the Chief Minister of the state whose fate is to be decided by the upcoming by-elections, as one seat at Thrissur is all that matters in a close call with the total number of MLAs. With Joy’s challenges going viral in Facebook, and his ideas becoming popular with the common man, the Chief Minister is forced to come live on Facebook, and make a declaration, that would lead to the sequence of events, which have the strength to change the path in the elections. But the question remains if Joy’s new adventure in the business field can be successful in one way or the other!

The defence of Punyalan Private Limited :: There is some motivation to be taken from this movie, regarding the need for the public to be aware of certain things in a democracy, including their own power. At these times when there is so much of debate on so many things both in the state and the centre, this movie becomes very much relevant. There is some humour which has been powered by sarcasm, even though some jokes just go around aimlessly reaching nowhere. At the same time, the movie keeps coming up with more and more ideas, and uses its cast to make things better. You see that the idea here is a much needed one for these times, even though not that strong with how it is executed, with the courtroom scenes also not being strong or funny not going on a path like Jolly LLB. If you liked Punyalan Agarbathis, I don’t see why you shouldn’t watch Punyalan Private Limited here. There is the feel-good factor, and some nice visuals of Thrissur too.

The claws of flaw :: One will notice that there is more dialogues and less action in this movie, and you will also notice that most of the things here might not happen at all, under any circumstance – the common man’s chance is rather too far away. There is also the lack of strength with many arguments around here, and a smart twist doesn’t happen with the protagonist – even when there was the chance to bring the big surprises, they are not there to be seen. The much needed depth is missing here with the tale, something which a political satire could claim to have, in order to reach better heights. The idea was rather limitless, but what comes on the screen is not. We also see the lack of any memorable female character in this movie, as only one who comes close to being the female lead is Arya herself during her short presence as a reporter. Nyla Usha’s character is dead, and Rachana Narayanankutty is replaced by Dharmajan as the lawyer.

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya is once again the one who leads the way, and he has this character played with ease. No matter how the movie fares at the box-office, this character is certain to remain with that strength which it has always had, for that much is clarified with this performance. Sreejith Ravi and Dharmajan are the ones we are supposed to look out for here, as far as the comedy is concerned, and they do deliver, but the same level is not managed until the end. Aju Varghese is sadly limited to a few video calls here, as he arrives and leaves through video chatting. Meanwhile, Vijayaraghavan shines on the other side, as the politician who is interested in nothing other than playing political games to stay glued to his Chief Minister seat – it is something which he has played before with success as we all know, but it suits him very well this time too. As I have already made it clear, there is no female character worth mentioning other than the one Arya plays.

Soul exploration :: There are so many things that the movie criticises, including the terrible condition of the roads, lack of safety for women, irritating situation brought by demonetisation, troubles in beginning a new business venture, pathetic attitude of politicians and the influential towards the common man, compulsory national anthems in cinemas, dumb social media trending, misuse of public funds, inability to eat or drink what one wishes to, hypocritical approach towards public cleanliness, exploitation in the name of taxes and tolls, laziness of the government authorities in doing their jobs and many more. The idea seems to be to criticise almost all parties, the politicians as villains who don’t care about the public at all, and it doesn’t begin or end with one person or one party, in one state, or at the national level. The movie takes on almost everyone, from one end of politics to the other.

How it finishes :: Punyalan Private Limited has been the movie that so many people have been waiting for, after the success of Punyalan Agarbathis, and while the sequel to Aadu Oru Bheekara Jeeviyanu has been a much awaited one for the new generation, this movie is something which everyone, especially the family audience have waited for. It is also surely a waiting long above an over-hyped, over-slow-motion, copied flick’s sequel which has all style and zero substance, recently being talked about rather too much that needed, in those troll pages. This has actually been a little too long a wait, and Punyalan Private Limited has surely delivered something even when the void stared at it, but not that much as one would have wanted to, after this long period of waiting. But, when we look at the two movies separately, this one surely is close enough to the first one, and it gets there without that much of a trouble.

Release date: 17th November 2017
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Aju Varghese, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Vijayaraghavan, Guinness Pakru, Sreejith Ravi, Prem Prakash, Ponnamma Babu, Sunil Sukhada, Vinod Kovoor, Guinness Pakru, Vishnu Govind, Jayaraj Warrier, Arya Rohit, Sathi Premji

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.