The Lazarus Effect

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Vampire Owl :: The zombie minions have sent us a request signed by four hundred and fifty seven of them.

Vampire Bat :: As Uncle Dracula is in the hospital after watching a few terrible superstar Bollywood movies, I guess that we have to deal with this ourselves.

Vampire Owl :: It is sad. We have to accept their request though, or the Lich Queen will take away all our zombie labour.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, they consider the Lich Queen as a weird revolutionary ruler and we shouldn’t just give her the advantage.

Vampire Owl :: So, what do you think about this? They are asking for the review of a movie, The Lazarus Effect. It is about death and return to life.

Vampire Bat :: Coming back from the dead? I don’t believe that the zombies can come up with a better request.

Vampire Owl :: It is a horror movie, and so it should work for the vampire clan too. The request can be honoured without much trouble.

Vampire Bat :: It is a shame that we have to watch this movie without Uncle Dracula. But it is time he realize that he should choose actors over superstars when watching a movie.

Vampire Owl :: So, we will reply to the minions with a yes?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, and lets have some tea and get ready for a movie adventure.

[Gets a cup of tea and butter cookies].

What is it about? :: Two scientists, Frank Walton (Mark Duplass) and his lover Zoe McConnell (Olivia Wilde) have developed a special serum which they have named Lazarus. They are helped by Niko (Donald Glover) and Clay (Evan Peters), while they are joined by the videographer Eva (Sarah Bolger) as this particular serum attempts to do something huge. Even though it was intended to assist coma patients to give them a second chance at life, it turns out that it actually brings the dead back from life. They do manage to bring a dog back from the dead, and all of a sudden, a major pharmaceutical company buys the firm that funded their research and shuts them down. They decides to repeat the experiment, but Zoe gets electrocuted. Frank decides not to lose her and uses the Lazarus serum on her, but it turns out that the returning lady is not the same as the one who left.

The defence of The Lazarus Effect :: I am sure that most of you can agree to the fact that the movie is scary. It is loaded with the scary moments here and there. The moments of the return from the dead, for both the dog and the human are very well portrayed. Another nice design in relateed to the depiction of hell and the ideas behind the same. There are some jump scares which are very well used to make sure that the audience will feel that there is more horror coming. Not only the visual stuff, but the sound effects and the music contributes well to the frightening situations. It also asks us the relevant questions about life, death, soul and hell. The gore is also kept to the very least, even though a movie like this which combines science fiction and horror could have had a lot of it, especially with the death and return from the dead around. Over everything else, it knows how to entertain.

Claws of flaw :: There is no doubt that this movie could have been a better horror movie because it had all which was needed in its story, even though with similarities to other horror movies – the basic idea is not new and so are the scares. This one could have used the abundant darkness to a more creepy effect instead of using the same for some quick scares. The idea of life, death, hell and soul could have been expanded further more. The battle here between the living and dead is also too one-sided and predictable. With the movie being short in length, more scary and explanatory sequences could have been added here and there. The ending could have also been a little more creative. But it is surely better than what the critics claim that it is, no doubt about that – far ahead of this year’s other big horror; the remake called Poltergeist.

Performers of the soul :: The acting department looks safe around here. The best moments in the movie undoubtedly belongs the one who plays the returning loved one an scientists from the dead – Olivia Wilde as Zoe McConnell is clearly the leader here. She begins as the heroine and returns as the demon, balancing both really well. The transformation that happens is not that gradual either as she turns and embraces the dark side further and further after the return from the other world. She is not someone whom we usually associated with the horror genre, but it has suited her very well. Sarah Bolger plays the lead who doesn’t really belong to the group, and she does that fine enough. Mark Duplass has a good run in the movie, and the rest of the cast does some good job in this flick which mixes two genres effectively.

Soul exploration :: The three movies that come to your mind when you watch The Lazarus Effect are Event Horizon, Carrie and Lucy even though this flick is no match for all the three – consider the original movie from long ago when I am talking about Carrie this time. Do you know what else this movie is? It is Frankenstein, as here is an even more modern Prometheus than what Mary Shelley had intended. The idea of bringing back someone from the dead hasn’t gone that well for many characters; Victor Frankenstein paid for it. The Biblical Lazarus of Bethany on whom the title seems to be based did have a fine return from the dead after four days, and may be the serum in the movie was also supposed come out positive, but unfortunately for the characters in the movie and fortunately for the horror fans, it didn’t.

More of the soul exploration and the finish :: The movie’s idea of hell is also interesting; it talks about how hell is your worst nightmare repeated again and again. Its journey to hell and back is like Event Horizon, but not that strong. It has the returning person with the powers of Carrie, and also comparable to Lucy – there is also that idea about using more than ten percent of the brain. This movie has those elements which bring the horror about not just what is seen, but also what extends beyond that. Jason Blum who has been behind horror and thriller movies like Insidious, The Purge, Sinister, Dark Skies, Paranormal Activity, Ouija, The Lords of Salem, Jessabelle, Area 51, The Boy Next Door, The Gallows and The Gift along with the sequels of some of them, has produced this one too. With its collections, The Lazarus Effect will make into the list of the successful ones.

Release date: 27th February 2015
Running time: 83 minutes
Directed by: David Gelb
Starring: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Bolger, Donald Glover, Evan Peters, Ray Wise, Amy Aquino

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hotel Transylvania

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This review features the major excerpts from the interview with Count Dracula by the Vampire Bat during the last full moon night when both the Vampire Crocodile and the Vampire Owl were able to predict what was to expect in the movie After Earth and initiated a cryo-sleep on themselves to save themselves from visiting the theatres, something of which they are incapable. Any relation to any person living, dead, undead, going to die, half-dead, partially alive or those watching Malayalam new generation rom-shit movies/Hindi supposed-to-be-romantic movies (Eg: Annayum Rasoolum/Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani) might be a co-incidence and never practical. To add to it, no vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, monsters or aliens (both Avatar blue and general green) were harmed while this interview was going on, but there is no guarantee about what happened after that. Well, this is that kind of an animated movie which can’t stand alone without Count Dracula, the supposed to be proud owner of Hotel Transylvania, where the world’s most awesome monsters can get away from human civilization and take rest. No, he is not the one who should not be named, so lets not call him just “D” or “CD”, and lets get on with what he thought about this flick.

Count Dracula: Oh its you again. Welcome to Hotel Transylvania! No, wait, welcome to Dracula castle. Hope you will never enjoy your stay here and get lost as soon as possible. You called my place a hotel in your letter – how can you even think so? I have a reputation to keep here, and movies like Twilight and whatever followed already took away half of it, and I am adjusting with whatever is left. Do I look pale? Do I sparkle right now? It has been so difficult to keep up with the new vampire fake myths. Nobody thinks that I am a vampire any more. To add to it, they are using the names like ward and swan related to vampires. And now, you come here with your fangs thinking this is a hotel. This is the worst thing that has happened to me since Twilight, New Moan, Ellipsis and Breaking Teeth – I lose my mind thinking about them and can’t even pronounce them right! Make it quick, Vampire Brat!

Vampire Bat: Well, this is the seven hundred and twenty seventh time in he last five hundred and one years of acquaintance that I am telling you that it is not the Vampire Brat, but the Vampire Bat. The “R” is not there ; it doesn’t even exist. Where do you think you are? In The Matrix trying to be Neo and bend the spoon even as there is actually no spoon? Is that what you want?

Count Dracula: Neo and spoon! Can I feed a little bit of that Neo thing in the spoon to my Zombie Dog who is caught in a loop chasing that local Vampire Cat for eternity? He can’t even stop for death; isn’t that the worst thing that can happen to anybody?

Vampire Bat: The first thing is that I hate that dog. The second thing is that there is no time. The third thing is about your home and your lovely monster friends who come to visit you very often.

Count Dracula: You are talking about Frank frankie freak? Frankenstein’s monster as you call him, is my oldest and the best friend even as he belongs to the zombie category which gives him reservation. He used to get thirty five marks moderation in his exams for which the pass mark for his category was twenty five. We vampires used to be given a maximum of thirty five out of hundred in all exams so that the balance was maintained! He even passed the interview for the job at The Demon’s Keep soul ferry service by only pretending to apply for it. But he is a good friend as I can murder him so many times and he won’t mind as he is already ugly and dead.

Vampire Bat: This doesn’t really feature in the movie, and I would like to stick to it. Your best friends include Wayne the werewolf, Frank the zombie, Griffin the invisible man and Murray the mummy. Your wife was murdered by a mob who set fire to your house and it was for your daughter Mavis that you built this hotel, I mean castle.

Count Dracula: That doesn’t make any sense as I was never married and neither did I have a daughter. I do call doctors here though, most are dentists. Do you like my golden tooth or the silver one? Never mind, please continue, as I like that story even as it is in no way related to me as a vampire.

Vampire Bat: On your daughter’s 118th birthday, you use your zombie minions to trick her and make her stay away from the humans whom you consider dangerous. But a human named Jonathan arrives, and you are forced to make him look like a monster to the other monsters to save your hotel. But soon, your daughter becomes attracted to him and the rest is history. Any part of this which you agree to?

Count Dracula: None of it. This mortal-immortal love story is the worst thing in the world. But I am glad that they didn’t add wolves to it this time. There is still a little bit of attraction which even a vampire would feel to such a simple, and yet different story. Was the movie a good watch for you?

Vampire Bat: I think it was very good during most of the parts. But the death of that mortal and Mavis living the right immortal life would have made it more interesting. She is the most evil one among the monsters as she chooses to go after a mentally retarded creature of modernity who doesn’t care about anybody but himself and his personified stupidity, a characteristic which changes only by his stay with the Count. She will surely be in hell for making such a nasty decision out of pure selfishness, but as it is fiction, let her rest in hell, for that Lucifer, Belzebub and Mephistopheles won’t mind. The visuals were pretty good, but the characters were kind of shallow. You are kind of strange in that movie and so is your daughter. To be frank, none of the monsters retain their basic qualities except for the looks which are made funnier, and this fun is the bright side along with the variety which has been brought.

Count Dracula: I would watch it then. I have many ways of watching a movie undetected by the humans at their own places. Do you think it deserves me by its portrayal of the great Count Dracula of Transylvania?

Vampire Bat: I would say yes. You have been depicted more good than ever, which is not always a bad thing. It is shown that you are a loving and caring father, and also has concern for the fellow monsters. You would even do anything to make all which you believe happen. If you can forget the funny part as just part of the complete fun, you surely won’t find it humiliating or anti-vampire.

Count Dracula: I shall watch it on next full moon with Frank. I trust you on this, and if you fail me, I shall make you watch some movies of nothingness – like that Malayalam movie Kili Poyi.

Vampire Bat: I have watched it and died many times in my immortal hours, Count. Now, it is the time to take my leave, until we collide on a hunt again. Good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, brother; for now.

Vampire Bat (to himself): It might have been sad for such a legendary Gothic horror character to live through something as modern and horribly romantic as Twilight. The same would have happend to the Frankenstein monster as well as the Mummy, but in a lesser manner. This movie doesn’t give him his lost glory, but it surely does provide an alternative to Twilight for the faint-hearted ones who can’t really handle the supreme vampire with all his horrifying powers.

There a few things which are to be kept in mind while going for this movie. It has great animation, and the way in which each monster is detailed needs special mention, especially the Mummy and the Frankenstein monster. But the plot doesn’t stay that powerful, and there is the lack of use of the evil side of each and every monster except Quasimodo whose dark side is not that black to be explored in such a way. The characters are not that strong enough to create a grand experience. It is perfect for the kids with its lovable characters who show no shade of their original evil, and the love between a mortal and an immortal would interest many, as a Twilight inverse made in a cute way. Even Count Dracula gets his due, still not in the way he might have wanted; yet, works in the right manner. But, each and every second, you know what is going to happen, and there are no surprises in this one. If you are expecting something like Megamind, Monsters v/s Aliens, Finding Nemo or Kung Fu Panda, you are going to be disappointed. The attempt is still good, and I would wait for its sequel supposed to release on September 25, 2015 – lets see how much they can improve on this beginning. Adam Sandler voices Count Dracula and Selena Gomez is the daughter Mavis; that should add to the need for watching the movie.

Release date: 28th September 2012
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
Starring (voice): Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Cee Lo Green

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Cabin in the Woods

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On one of those days which supported flashbacks in a big way, I could unintentionally fall into the wonderful trap of horror which was this movie. In this trap that is a horror movie, there was another world, which had a lot from the former horror movies, thus serving as a tribute along with being a great horror treat. It is a perfect story of five friends who become part of a perfectly executed horror reality in an environment which is more of a cage – they are watched through hidden cameras, and are made to act in the way the people watching them wants them to act. But the fact remains that this not just a horror movie, as it drains energy from the earlier slasher movies and along with paying homage to them, there is a little bit of satire involved in the treatment. There are elements of The Evil Dead, Hellraiser, as well as all the vampire, zombie and werewolf movies, and not even leaving the mythological as well as the natural beasts behind. The movie has combined all of these to create an astonishing effect, a mixture which can be scary and creepy enough as well as funny enough. It leaves the horror movies with lots of nostalgia with all these, and there might surely be pure satisfaction on most of those faces. This is a mixture which leaves a long-lasting impression on one.

Five college students Dana Polk (Kristen Connolly), Jules Louden (Anna Hutchison), Holden McCrea (Jesse Williams), Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz) and Curt Vaughan (Chris Hemsworth) travells to a remote cabin in the distant woods away from civilization for a vacation. But the abandoned cabin is more of a controlled environment, as a number of people manage whatever happens in that cabin as they view each and every incident in there with hidden cameras. It is seen that they have an influence throughout the area and not just the cabin. They also give drug the students to reduce their awareness and capability to think in a rational manner. A cellar opens automatically which they feel a result of the wind. Inside the cellar, they find many strange items, including a diary of Patience Buckner, a girl who was abused by her sadistic family. Reciting a Latin incantation from the diary, Dana accidentally summons the whole Buckner family in the form of the walking dead, a group of zombies. Jules is the first one to be killed by the zombies outside, and soon the cabin is attacked by the monsters. With a number of people frequently monitoring and guiding the monsters, as well as trying to weaken the possibilities of the remaining four friends in surviving the horror, it will be a perfect hell-ride for each of them, and escaping the living dead might be more difficult than death itself.

The movie keeps giving that feeling of The Evil Dead throughout its first few minutes in the cabin. There is going to be a little bit of a spoiler from now on, and the base of this movie lies on ritual sacrifice. This is about the need to appease the ancient gods, resembling more of giant monsters who live beneath the facility under the cabin and are kept there in satisfaction by these rituals. The sacrifice should have five constituents, the Whore (Jules), the Athlete (Curt), the Scholar (Holden), the Fool (Marty) and the Virgin (Dana), and the Virgin is supposed to die last with the process usually starting with the Whore. All of these begin with the future victims choosing their method of torment and death, in this case the diary of Patience Becker. They are lead to choosing these, and being unaware through the careful tactics of the people in control, who always check the camera for each move, and manipulate the environment so that the victims will fo what they want, including opening a door or window as well as closing it, or drugging them. Another person could have unleashed the Lord of Pain, a vampire, a merman, an anaconda or a werewolf – the list is almost endless as these creatures are all locked away in the facility.

Kristen Connolly as Dana Polk a.k.a the Virgin; the first movie I ever watched starring her, and she is one of the characters who are in control, keeping within the limits, thus surviving much longer. Even as she keeps tp herself, she is still part of the gang, very unlike Amber Heard’s character in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. But it is debatable if she is really a virgin from what they talk about in the beginning of the movie. She does seem surprised when the director mentions her as the Virgin, and the facility had to admit that they work with what they have, which should imply that she was clearly the better of the two, consider the character of her only female friend in the gang. Jesse Williams as Holden McCrea a.k.a the Scholar is her lover in a relationship which seems hundred percent platonic for now. He works as the perfect gentleman who doesn’t force her into anything and even decides not to look at Dana’s nudity through a one-way mirror and alerts her of the vision he is having in the other room while she undresses. There he also put a block on the desire of the facility’s employees who are watching the same scene to see something. But he is still proud and very confident about his skills, which doesn’t really serve him that well when affected by the drugs.

Chris Hemsworth as Curt Vaughan a.k.a the Athlete is the strongest member of the group, and is extremely confident about his power, and this confidence leads to his death. Anna Hutchison as Jules Louden a.k.a the Whore is a character which proves to be closest to the title from the beginning itself, and even solves the employers’ sadness of seeing no nudity. Her death occurs right after she undresses, about to make out with her boyfriend Curt, as she has completed her role as the archetype which is seen in most of the horror movies. She had already done a sexy dance and even kissed a wolf-head on the wall before this, thus reiterating her position as the one stereotype, the immoral one who gets killed first, and at its perfection, when topless – the facility works with what they had, and therefore, considering her abstinence and also her relationship with the lover, Dana had to be the Virgin, and therefore, Jules had to be the Whore. In that case, even Holden is not too less of an athlete and just loses out to Curt. These roles might have been assigned by the facility’s helper at the petrol pump, who already called Jules by the same title. The employees looking to the screen and waiting for her bare bosom or even extended nudity as well as the betting is less a result of their prejudice and more based on what information the man outside had already given them.

Fran Kranz as Marty Mikalski a.k.a the Fool is the most intelligent one among them all, and the only one without a heroine; no Virgin and no Whore. He is more of the lone wolf who still sticks to the gang without any problem. As he is always on drugs, the drugging never really works on him and he remains in control of his full brain. He might be the first person ever to kill a zombie out there, or at least semi-murder or half-murder those undead creatures. He doubts the presence of puppeteers around right from the beginning, which Dana acknowledges only after the death of Curt. He also saves Dana from sure death in the hands of a zombie. His intellect seems to be more based on movies, and not what is taught in the school and the college which might have helped him to guess things that others couldn’t in such an environment of horror. With his limited arsenal, he has humiliated both the Hercules equivalent and the Socrates equivalent in survival, and he still had remaining darts in his quiver. He even fooled the experts who spent most of their lives in front of the camera, and thus even faked his death, something which might have been unintentional, but still, perfect.

Well, other than the facts that the monster details are awesome, and the leading ladies do a great job along with looking stunning, the more interesting thing is the philosophy involved in it. The gods who are kept underground by ritual sacrifice are more like the viewers who need those good doses of movies in a certain pattern, and the breaking of that pattern might destroy the movie by depriving it of the common viewers, but the gods are change, and variety would come in another generation of movies. May be for a change, the Whore survives, or the whole situation might be reversed. In the case of the giant monstrous gods coming out of the ground to destroy humanity, as the Fool would agree at any point of time, there is the need for another species to be given a chance where humanity failed in its treatment of its own species as well as nature. This movie is a surprise, and it leaves so much for its viewers, to find and deconstruct in their own world, as the gods that they are, and not as the voyeurs who look on the screen from darkness with full confidence that nobody is watching them. There are so many possibilities for imagination related to this movie, and the movie audience got the power. It would have surely been a grand success if its had released here, but what to do for people who can’t even release Evil Dead.

Release date: 13th April 2012
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Amy Acker, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mama

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This one goes back a little to the past in this year itself, and this is one of those movies which could easily initiate such a sequence in the eternal time machine. This is rather more of the present than the past, as it doesn’t really go back that far if there is an intellectual consideration in depth. It was different in being different, and therefore its influence had to be such a lasting thing. There is one point where all the interest about this movie begins, and that is when one reads these lines from its cover – “Presented by Guillermo del Toro, creator of Pan’s Labyrinth“. He serves as executive producer, and as far as it is known, the movie is based on a 2008 short film of the same name in Spanish, about which there is nothing more to shoot in the quiver which is short of its crossbow bolts from that part of the world. The movie comes up with the dark tale of two little girls left in a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods, taken care of by an unknown person or creature that they call Mama, and the same entity even follows the girls to their new home to which their father’s brother takes them after finding them as two feral children.

During a financial crisis, a disappointed and depressed man, Jeffrey Desange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), kills his business partners and wife before taking his little children Victoria and Lilly away from home. Driving too fast on a road paved by snow and upset with all the thoughts about his failures and the crimes he had committed, the car slides off the path and crashes in the woods. Jeffrey takes the children and walks away from civilization, finally reaching something that seems to be an abandoned cabin. He plans to murder his daughters and commit suicide with a gun, but then a mysterious figure arrives in time to instantly kill him and it also feeds the two children. Victoria talks about the figure as a woman whose legs don’t touch the ground. Then the scene shifts to five years later, with Jeffrey’s brother, the kids’ uncle Lucas Desange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), living with his girlfriend Annabel Moore (Jessica Chastain). They don’t live under good conditions, but Lucas haven’t lost hope about finding the children of his brother. He still sponsors search parties hoping to find some trace of his brother and children.

One of them find the children alive in the same cabin, but dirty, half-naked, horribly thin and with an animal-like behaviour – walking on four legs and talking like making some strange noises. The girls are put under the care of psychatirst Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash). They keeps talking about someone called “Mama”. He feels that it is just a creation of the girls’ minds as they were alone in the woods without help. But soon, Lucas is attacked by the same shadowy figure known as Mama and enters a comma. Annabel is forced to take care of the girls all by herself even as Mama’s visits continue. Annabel does get close to the elder child, Victoria, but Lilly remains hostile and highly attached only to Mama. Meanwhile, Gerald finds out something about this mysterious figure from the clues which Victoria gave away. Mama is a mother separated from her child – she used to be Edith Brennan, a mental asylum inmate in the 1800s. He also finds a box containing an infant’s remains from that former mental asylum which was kept as her belonging there. Meanwhile, Annabel has a nightmare revealing Mama’s past which reveals more about her. Lucas also has a disturbing dream of his dead brother Jeffrey telling him to save his kids.

But there might have been more about Mama that what met the eye. She is undoubtedly supernatural as well as tormented. The problem remained if she is normal and thus if she is reasonable. The psychatrist might have thought so, but the experience doesn’t go well for him. Even Lucas and his wife has to go through near-death experiences. So the question would be more about “why mama why?” rather than “who is mama?”. Well, mama is undoubtedly a former mother who no longer exists as a human mother. The nature of her strange love for her child is evident from her asylum background. The question might be about how much torment a mentally unstable ghost can cause to a group of normal, living people. That would be a lot of it, much more than what the mentally unstable father of two little children could do. How much is the chance of one making peace with her? It wasn’t possible when she was alive, and considering the fact that she is more motivated by the love for children rather than anything else, the solution becomes even more complicated in the human world.

Mama is a visual treat of a horror film, and not part of the gory ones which take over in the usual style. There is a well-created world of horror right in front of you all the time, and then suddenly there is a scene that takes your breath further away and then it goes back to normal to await the next thing. Welcome to this story of old-style less bloody horror movie of low gore level. There are signs of Guillermo del Toro’s magical extravaganza Pan’s Labyrinth or El laberinto del fauno, are evident in both the characters as well as the environment. There is the feeling of a dark fantasy through out and there is the lack of sunshine which is more motivating than the depressing thing which it might have become, which is a success in all ways. It’s just how horror films should be, without using any cheap or low class tricks. The looks of Mama is also a revelation, as she emerges from the walls or closet, sometimes suddenly and on other occasions as if part of all the horror that surrounds them. The use of moths to show Mama’s presence is a further effective thing, as it shows more of her tormented sould which is not completely evil, thus owl, crow or bat not chosen; neither is the wolf or cat given a chance at it. Mama is more of a butterfly rather than anything else, but a fierce one.

The movie’s dark world move along the path of Pan’s Labyrinth, but it is still not of that class of ultimate perfection and awesomeness, and still is close enough. It meets Hansel and Gretel in its witch-like creature who is less of a ghost and more of an undead freak of nature. There it shows the qualities of The Orphan meeting The Grudge and The Ring in a good way. Mama could have even made a good creature in Alien or The Exorcist, and the creature’s success is in its strange, but “suitable for almost every genre” looks. She is a dark fairy, the nature’s spectre, the tormented undead mother and the dark elf. She belongs to nature and as a creature to the living, she is more moth or a group of moths rather than anything else. They signify her presence, and if she takes the children with her, there will be more moths for sure. There is the positive thing – the innovation, for how the ghost is treated around here with a difference. The movie is fresh in its treatment of a new ghostly creature with heavy parental instincts. Such a creature is not onne would expect in such a movie, and until it appears everything might look more psychological than supernatural, even if the signs are already there from the beginning itself.

While Mama is a benevolent spirit when it comes to two children, but she is a malevolent and even a death-dealer with everyone else. She hasn’t yet become pure evil, even as her allignment away from goodness and sanity is clear by the climax scene. Even her unseen presence suggests the same. Her moths symbolize the little beauty that she has lost to death and decay and the beautiful world which was lost to her more due to the people around rather than her own madness. There are no usual suspects of the common supernatural, as there is only the variation which is Mama. The movie is very much dependent on your taste to survive, but the fact remains that it is more close to being suitable for all people with not that much blood and gore, or the display of any kind of nudity – well, this one never needed it considering its content and presentation. There is not much of a male gaze or a possible female gaze working out in this one. It is story of an undead mother’s love and with the addition of insanity to it, there is a lot to think about. There is no compromise in being spooky or creepy enough though.

Release date: 18th January 2013
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Jane Moffat

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Silent Hill II

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This is the time for flashback, to a few months ago. This is the time when the thirst for horror has reached its zenith. This movie series itself is a legend in quenching this thirst, as it comes up with that horror which is so difficult to fathom as a simple horror fan. The movie is not just an enigma, for it gives everything away; but the problem is about what we take in. I have to admit that I am at loss; for none of the horror movies came here this year; guess they can’t take the terror from Hollywood, and it must be so beyond them. Did the good horror die a painful death? The answer would be no, as I would try to resurrect this one out of my mind and have that vision of horror which the critics never liked, but I enjoyed without that sceptical mind. There will be no bones scattered and no blood spilled in the review; there would be the horror of returning to the Silent Hill that will be horrifying enough. There will be pain and suffering, for this dimension is not for the faint-hearted. Well, one just doesn’t go to Silent Hill on vacation and come back refreshed with a heart full of immense happiness and pleasure, so as if there was the chance to dance with the daffodils. They can still flash upon that inward eye and fill the world with fear; for nightmares of the night are outdated and those of the day take over.

Welcome to Silent Hill. Welcome to the fictional foggy American town of Silent Hill far beyond the reach of the electronic equipments, and its dark alternate dimension. There is the original world and the Otherworld, both separated by nothing but time. The Silent Hill has a cult, “The Order” which does ritual human sacrifices and awaits the rise of their diety, something which could be equated with the anti-christ. But the concepts of good and evil are inversed in this Otherworld of Silent Hill, and they would stop at nothing to bring the goodness that is pure evil upon Earth. They have their priestess and the good amount of blind followers. Their attempt to create the pseudo-paradise on Earth will unleash the inferno, or the original hell on the planet. It shall be the beginning of the end. Considering such a background which is firmly based on a highly successful video game, people tend to expect more, which would lead to disappointment. But as long as this one is considered, what it does is performing its duty to its genre and scare as much as possible; its scary elements remain strong, and may be it works even better than its predecessor. Everything else will slowly come into terms as the base is still strong, even as the influence is less.

Continuing from where the first part had left off, Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) has managed to save her daughter from Silent Hill, even though she gets caught in that dimension. She made the choice so that the girl as well as her world would be safe from whatever evil lurks inside the foggy dimension of the abandoned town. But the horrors of the alternate dimension hasn’t left Sharon Da Silva (Adelaide Clemens) who is currently living as Heather Mason with her adoptive father Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean) in another town, as they go on changing places every now and then making sure that the people from the cult of Silent Hill won’t find her. But she is plagued by consistent hallucinations and nightmares, and she even feels the shift from this world to the other. She still believes that they are on the move because her father killed a man in self-defense and the police are seeking him. She is also made to believe that her adoptive mother Rose had died in a car crash. Now, as time has passed and she has grown older, the cult has increased the frequency of their search for her.

Heather fails to belong to the class or the school where she studies, and successfully becomes a complete outsider right from the beginning itself with a speech warning the other students against befriending her. She is approached by a private investigator named Douglas Cartland (Martin Donovan) who explains to her that he was hired by the Order to find Heather, but has decided to help her as he come to know some disturbing information about his clients. He also tells her that she is not what she thinks she is, and the life she is living is more of a lie than anything else. Heather is curious, but before he tells more about it, a fierce demon from the other world, the Missionary, kills Douglas, and Heather becomes a suspect to his murder as all the clues point to her. She finds that her father is missing, and at home, she finds a message instructing her to go to Silent Hill. She learns the truth about the place by reading a letter from her father, and decides to go to Silent Hill to rescue him even as the letter prohibited her from going anywhere near the foggy town.

Her classmate Vincent (Kit Harington) who helps her throughout reveals that he is the son of the cult’s leader Claudia Wolf (Carrie-Anne Moss), and was there to convince her to willingly come to Silent Hill, as it would really work if she is forced to be there. But he changes his mind and wants her to survive and therefore he tries to stop her in her attempts to rescue her father. He further tells her that Heather is actually a part of Alessa Gillespie, a girl who was burnt thirty eight years ago by the same cult but never died, leading her to create the town’s shifting dimensions. Heather is the manifestation of Alessa’s remaining innocence and goodness, as the other side knows only pain and suffering inflicted upon herself as well as the others of the town. A quick shift to the Otherworld occurs unexpectedly, and Vincent is dragged away by the same demon, Missionary. Heather enters the other dimension to find her dad as well as Leonard along with knowing more about herself. This is where the next level of horror begins.

I have believed in Silent Hill as much as I had in Resident Evil, as a computer game. The latter had been with me till Resident Evil 4 and has been my favourite video game adaptation so far along with Hitman and Tomb Raider, and the former is more of memories, mostly of Silent Hill 3 which was similar enough to this movie title. For me, this genre of fear was mostly about Undying, the first graphically good enough horror game which I had played. Well, these three games together make such an impact which nothing else can; the horror is possibly better than most of the horror movies around. The world of gaming has almost ended for me, even as there is a little dose of Age of Empires, Age of Wonders and Unreal Tournament at times – who can forget the classics, right? I would wait for the release of the games based on Need For Speed, Deus Ex, Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed though, for they have memories of the other dimension, that reality where I spent a good amount of my life. There is another parallel world, that of computer games, and some games like Silent Hill got another reality inside its reality; sounds complicated enough. But the question would be about which reality being the most evil of them all, and the present human world qualifies for a race to that position.

For a movie made more for maximum horror than anything else, this one has done a very good job. If you are looking for ambiguities, come with a big truck as there might be a huge load of them. Well, it works on parallel universe or alternative reality. When a video game based horror movie deals with the self-contained separate reality which co-exists, there is always going to be loose-ends. Even the first half had its own collection of ambiguities, some which has carried over to this sequel. We can still consider the Silent Hill as that alternate reality which always co-exists, as a place for those belonging to the evil, for they are there even without themselves knowing. For them, it should be the original place and where they live should be their Silent Hill where they do not belong; a place which scares them with the goodness. But considering where the world is going, there is going to be the same reality here and there. There will be two Silent Hills and the choice would create more ambiguities. Still, this alternate reality helps one to live another life, something different, but all the online world which creates a second life can turn into another Silent Hill all of a sudden. It is always about faith which keeps the Silent Hills away, or without evil.

Release date: 26th October 2012
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Michael J. Bassett
Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kit Harington, Deborah Kara Unger, Martin Donovan, Malcolm McDowell, Radha Mitchell

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Up and Down

up&down (3)

We all get stuck in the lift. Those who haven’t are the ones who are waiting to get stuck there. Two years after the release of his Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty, this director has returned with what is listed as a psychological thriller – Up & Down: Mukalil Oralundu, which deals with the same issue. But I would not say that it is psychological, as it is more of a murder investigation; a suspense thriller of the recent Mumbai Police model, but the style resembles Banking Hours 10 to 4. But this surely has a good advantage over that; the advantage of the powerful base plot which forms the undercurrents. But the question would be about how it surfaces and faces those ships and boats, the critics and the common man who watches them after watching Neram, English and Mumbai Police in the other theatres. The more famous movie review sites doesn’t seem to have taken this one well, but as long as I am concerned, this is surely above average, and this successfully entertains more than any other Malayalam movie after the age of Amen. Even with its flaws, and the times when sharks become little crocodiles, this wide sea of thrills manages to make an impact on the viewers.

The whole thing happens in the tallest building in the city, a flat where a major event is taking place at the top, that is the twenty fourth floor. There is a lot of preparation going on, and there are many important guests arriving on the day. But it is not in a room, in a hall or at the premises of the flat that the story takes place, as the film is a story of eight people and a kid who gets stuck in the lift on a day when there is a major program there. The trapped people include the lift operator of the flat (Indrajith), the city police commissioner (Ganesh Kumar), the flat’s builder and a major businessman (Baiju), his wife who is a dancer and is dressed for an item in the program (Remya Nambeesan), an alcoholic writer and a stoic personality with a “Carpe diem” attitude to life (Prathap Pothen), an IT professional who plays the role of Godse in a drama for the program and also the secretary of the residents association of the apartment (Rejith Menon), his girl friend and the one in charge of the program (Sruti Menon), a former NRI from the United States who play the role of Mahatma Gandhi for the program’s drama item (Nandhu) and a little kid (Master Devaraman).

The writer keeps telling everyone that he reached there early morning; the kid keeps enquiring about his mother (Meghana Raj) and the lift operator himself tells the police commissioner about his doubts on the missing person. They are on their way to the top of the flat for the program when the lift gets stuck. The man who comes to repair the lift is an alcoholic (Koch Preman) and this delays the process further. The lift has a lot of problems, and this time, it causes bigger trouble as the function has to begin, and soon the writer has chest pain. They also find that there is a dead body on the top of the lift, and the police commisioner guesses that one of the people in the lift is responsible for the murder. He pledges to find the real victim before the lift is opened. But the question remains if it is possible in such a small space with so many people being related to the murdered person in one way or the other. The talks and actions of the people in the lift keeps on raising more and more suspicions. Even the investigator and the most respected people in the lift doesn’t seem to the kind of righteous people who can’t commit a brutal murder. Slowly, a good number of secrets are revealed, which would change their lives once they get out of the trapped area.

This one is more of Meghana Raj’s movie than anybody else. She is present in most of the flashbacks where the core of the movie is revealed. It might also be Ganesh Kumar’s best police role ever. Indrajith has very little to do as the serious lift operator who never has a moment of happiness in life. Prathap Pothen has the most interesting role in the movie, as an alcoholic who enjoys his life without worrying about the past, present or future. He provides the best comic relief with Nandhu. In many ways, this might be one of the most interesting intellectual alcoholics, a reminder of the wise fools of William Shakespeare (that was a little far-fetched) who provides those funny lines as well as the words of wisdom. It is the strangeness of his character that works the best in a situation of being trapped in such an environment. His character is most well-drawn, and the rest are just a little less developed. Some of them really don’t have any interesting character traits at all. The presence of flat characters subtract some points from the situation, and the scenes outside the lift losses in comparison to what happens inside the lift.

So where does the 2010 American supernatural thriller film come into the picture? No, The Night Chronicles: Devil doesn’t really come into the scene here. It had the supernatural within modern city life while this one has the usual crime within the modern urban life. There is no people getting killed one at a time, and there is surely no devil. The only common thing is the lift and the only similar event is the people getting trapped in the lift. So there is no place for Lucifer, Beelzebub, Satan or whoever he is. But in a world where the humans can do his job better than him, who needs that personality from the depths of the pain’s own abyss called inferno? There are satan’s little helpers who are both intellectually and spiritually better people of evil than the prince of darkness and eternal pain. Well, this one is successful in building that tension which remains there for most of the time. It is close to being brain dead in the end due to its attempt to come up with something strange and the requirement of another twist, but still, considering the fact that we have seen much worse Malayalam movies, and the greatest disasters of the Malayalam movie industry, this is not at all a bad thing in its glory.

The movie would have been better if the creators had simply forgotten about everything outside the lift and there were more incidents inside rather than the outside. That would have been more of the psychological piece as expected. May be the makers thought that the common movie watcher of this world who hasn’t watched movies like Buried might not stand a chance if they had to face with a monotonous environment such as a plain lift. The need for some colourful factors always comes to the scene when entertaining crowd-puller movies are considered. The movie’s subtitle “Mukalil Oralundu” would signify God, but there is no such direct involvement. The operation of the lift can be related to that divinity, but it is not something that can be directly connected. If the title means the dead body on the top, that would make more sense, but that would turn the usage into a rather funny thing. The more interesting thing might be about considering the lift as a character, which works as it wants itself to. Such a thing can’t be avoided even if that factor is also not explored. The supernatural clearly takes the backseat when the not-so-natural human beings takes control and leads the way.

To be frank, I have been waiting for this one for quite a long time, as the release date was changed from 17th May to 24th May; something unusual for me to long for a movie which had no special cast or nothing to boast about – I was impressed by the trailer and this being a thriller added to the longing. But the movie doesn’t seem to give what the trailer conveys to the viewer. The mystery should have been a little more bifurcating for my mind if it was so. But here, the mystery is straight, but still strange. This suspense works very powerfully throughout the first half and the movie soars high despite of some small troubles, and goes through with half of the second half without too much trouble, but it is the end that fails to justify the means. It was as if everything was made just to make the end happen, or the finish was just made for the movie to end. It is somewhat uninspiring, but everything else throughout the movie is worth all the attention. It might not be what one expect after watching the best of the world, but with the limited resources, it has been turned into something which can be watched for the fun and thrills, especially that first half which keeps one guessing about what happens next, or what can’t happen next.

Release date: 24th May 2013
Running time: 115 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: T. K. Rajeev Kumar
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Meghana Raj, Prathap Pothen, Remya Nambeesan, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, Baiju, Nandhu, Sruti Menon, Rejith Menon, Master Devaraman, Kochu Preman, Vijayakumar

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✠The Vampire Bat.

The Croods

thecrood

This one brings back the memories of The Flintstones and Prehistorik, the first one being one of the most watched cartoons of that long lost childhood while the second one was among the first computer games I ever played – still, surely not the first ever. Both of them can be thus said to belong to my pre-historicism. Even as they could be categorized into the same category as cavemen, based on those ideas which originate out of assumptions about something which would never be known as how it exactly used to be, one could dare to say that this one is different – as a story of a predecessor of the modern family and as what came before what was to follow in a world of chaos, disorder and confusion which was not caused by the humans at that time; but now, as the nature has no need to cause the same as humans have themselves become the cause; this story is nothing less than an adventure rooted on more than one philosophy, and a tale of prehistoric truths belonging more to this age than any other, thus creating that connection which the audience could decipher in a three dimensional world of the theatre. They are no longer the stock characters, but the audience are – with their thoughts about specific individuals having certain ways of doing things, and what they are creates that infernal stereotype.

This movie was actually troubled by the large number of trailers which they showed right before the movie, and the interesting fact is that none of them were of English movies; for they were Hindi and Malayalam, and I shall not be depressed and say that they made no impact either, as I might just watch a few of those movies whose trailers were shown – something about which I can be sure as long as those Hindi movies are concerned and about the Malayalam movies, there would be more uncertainty surrounding them. But this long a trailer show was a first time experience for me, and I shall surely be ready to face such a thing from the next time onwards. But the positive impact is that the interval time had no advertisements, and still never did it impress me as the time taken for the second half to being again was long enough. To be frank, this not a movie which deserves an interval – it is quite short and continuous, and there is no loss of flow as it goes on like a river during the monsoon; full and powerful. It could have never inspired an interval with its length, but as we are so much used to having the first half and the second half, it is quite natural to be upset without a break in the centre and therefore it is justified.

The way in which the early prehistoric humans might have looked and behaved has been pretty much similar in most of the depictions in many ways. Their association with caves and pre-historic creatures have been commonly shown. This movie is about a family of Neanderthals who keep themselves confined to a cave as much as possible so that they could be safe from the outside world of predators. They are actually the last of the families out there to survive, as the others have already fallen victim to the creatures of the world as well as the deadly diseases of the age like common cold. Their survival can be attributed mostly due to the strict rules of the overprotective father and leader, Grug. Eep is the cavegirl, his daughter and the protagonist who forms the centre of the movie. The rest of the family includes Grug’s wife Ugga, his daughter Sandy, his son Thunk, and also his mother-in-law whom he always wished dead – the disapproval is more of a two-way procedure than anything else. He keeps telling his family that all the new things are bad, and so is the outside world which is extremely dangerous and they should keep themselves to a cave to survive. Considering the end of their neighouring families, he might be justified by most of his family members.

But this shall not be accepted by all, as this irritates the bored and highly adventurous young cavelady known by the name Eep as she keeps looking for an opportunity to do something new and find new things, and when the family falls asleep after dark, she ignores her father’s advice and runs out of the cave when she sees a light moving outside the cave making her feel that the sun has come down. She might have been troubled just as the Greek hero and adventurer Ulysses or Odysseus, just as Lord Alfred Tennyson had mentioned, it little profits an idle king, and same should be the case of a cavegirl. She cannot rest from travel either, and even with an experience which is an absoulute zero, she has decided “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”, and travel beyond the horizons to the end of the world. She is the pathfinder, lightseeker and the follower of the sun, even as they never worshipped the forces of nature. The situation of herself and her family is later described as “not dying” rather than living, by herself. But the other members of the family have been quite happy with that stuff about not dying, the only person with a slight doubt might be the oldes of them all, Eep’s grandmother.

Seeking the source of light which is synonymous to the sun for her, she meets Guy, an intelligent caveboy who doesn’t live in a cave, and neither does he believe in finding such a dark shelter without light. She is incredibly fascinated with the fire he manages to create and is eager to find more, and even own some fire as her own. He tells her about his new finding that the world is going to end, with earthquakes, volcanic erruptions and other not-so-good things and asks her to join him in his journey towards safety where they could survive. She refuses as she thinks about her family and Guy leaves, after giving her a loud noise-making shell to call him if she ever feels the need for help in a world of natural destruction and chaos. Grug, who had been desperately searching for her, finally finds the young lady and brings her back home, and what she tells them about the end of the end of the world is not believed by them due to the fear of the other and the new. But in a few minutes, an earthquake then occurs, leading to everyone running for the cave, only to be saved by Grug moments before their home and the cave is destroyed by huge falling rocks. When they climb over all the destruction, they discover a land with new types of vegetation, lots of colours and greenery, much different from their usual surroundings of rocky and desert-like terrain with no variety.

Grug is forced to take his family into this comparitively darker, but beautiful woods to find a new cave for them to be safe from the new dangers. While becoming aware of the strange world which surrounded them, the family are chased by a big saber-toothed cat and also by a swarm of red, piranha-like birds who act more like insects than good little flying creatures despite of their cuteness. Finding no solution to a possible question of death, Eep uses a bone from an unknown creature to sound a horn similar to that which Guy gave her. Guy is actually quite close to them and runs to them, creates a torch of fire, and scares the birds away at the very last moment. The rest of the family are incredibly impressed by the fire, having never such a light-giving, heat-giving and life-saving thing before, that they almost set fire to the forest playing around with it. After feeling impressed with Guy’s intelligence, or more of his usefulness in a strange world of unpredictable horror, they decides to use his ideas to save them from possible end. Grug puts him locked in a hollow log and carries him, as they travel to a cave of a nearby mountain mentioned by Guy as their final destination where they could be safe. Remember Ice Age: Continental Drift – for it is the same division of the landmasses that is happening in the background.

It is this journey towards the expected salvation that they undertake together, and even as Guy and the family finds themselves separate from each other in many ways, they co-exist and help each other in moving towards a world which is no less than what is undertaken in The Pilgrim’s Progress by Christian in a work which centres itself in his journey from his hometown, the “City of Destruction” (this temporary world filled with devastation), to the “Celestial City” (the world that which is to come a.k.a Heaven) on the top of Mt. Zion. The Guy is the Evangelist, the Interpretor, the Faithful as well as the Hopeful – they are all inserted into one, for his faith is his ideas and intellect, and his hope is his belief in himself as well as in something which is far beyond his comprehension, that is the light or the word of God. But such an interpretation is not easily comprehensible as the movie is not perfected enough in such a way. If the movie’s childishness was lessened without affecting the funny moments or the philosophy, the movie might have been a perfect depiction of a wonderful journey, and a flawless allegory of this world and world which preceeded. But for now, lets enjoy the movie with all its fun and its effective 3D elements without any expectation to tickle the logic, but still staring at the easily visible message of mutual understanding and co-existence, exploration & knowing & accepting the world for all that it is.

Release date: 19th April 2013 (India); 22nd March 2013 (United States)
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Kirk DeMicco & Chris Sanders
Starring (voice): Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Immanuel

immanue

There has been a certain absence of goodness in most of the movies of the last few years of new generation stuff; this absence which has been reclaimed more by another experimental movie which was Amen, and it is once again regained by this world full of goodness in the middle of evil in this movie Immanuel. The word “Immanuel” or “Emmanuel” has been a common Biblical name meaning “God is with us”. This presence of God and His Word happens to have an influence on this movie, which is more powerful than what is seen at first sight, as the strength lies in what is less noticed, and this strength powers the natural world that is conveyed to the audience; for even without them knowing, there is the power of divinity behind the seemingly ordinary goodness. The belief in essential goodness of man has been clearly broken with those movies which glorified pure evil. But this is not something which needs a theory to support the fact, as it has been proven by mankind by centuries of wars, brutal murders and destruction. The global presence of this evil is unquestionable. William Golding had made us believe the same with his Lord of the Flies which powers the belief in inherent evil in man. That tendency to sin innate in all human beings, held to be inherited from Adam and Eve.

As the “Fall of Man” has become more of an excuse for sins rather than something which acts as an influence, this movie comes up with one man who keeps his alignment towards the good. The mankind might be still inherently evil and this evil resides within everyone and could be unleashed at any moment as long as the situation is suitable, with no need for a Hannibal Lector. The dark side of human nature could be as vicious and as terrifying as the evil that exist unknown to man, and even the most innocent of mankind are vulnerable to it – but not our hero, as we welcome the man of goodness, Immanuel. He is no fairy king, halfling, hobbit or anything, but as human as one can be, in a world of lost humanity. He is the biggest surprise in the movie named after himself, and he is no lesser wonder in a world of utter chaos & misery, as the humane nature of humanity survives through him and runs his sacred endurance to the limits. Immanuel is not just a character of Lal Jose’s imagination, but a much needed reason for the salvation of human race – for the saved are less and the damned are many; for the greatest of the fallen ones has multiplied, not by breeding, but by intellect of the wrong kind calling it science and technology; profit and success.

The movie starts with the character of Immanuel working in a small book publishing firm. When the small company is forced to shut down due to the owner having heavy debts and going on a vanishing act, Immanuel and his family find it difficult to go through their regular lives. There are the usual requirements of a home as well as the needs of his son which makes life uneasy for the family. The difficulties he faces forces him to get a job which is not really suitable for someone like him. For a honest, good hearted person like Immanuel, the corporate world is nothing less than the inferno of the deepest level. He is forced completely out of his comfort zone, but he is also not able to quit the job as his family desperately needs the money. Thus he decides to go on as long as he can, and one day he might be able to find enough money to buy a home and get himself and the family out of the rented house. Most of his co-workers are of not much help to him, as they are all competitors in the same field and would use treachery if necessary to keep their levels high. His boss, Jeevan proves to be the biggest problem, as the cruel corporate master and oppressor, nothing less than a feudal lord or a colonizer. The boss’s aim is only to gain maximum profit, even as he talks about the customer being the king.

Remembering The Pursuit of Happyness, it was a movie which glorified this type of life, and the ultimate aim was to meet the deadline and get the target, but this one takes it upside down. Maximizing the client contacts and thus the profits doesn’t really get the job done for Immanuel. He is the kind of person who is ready to give up all of them as a sacrifice for leading a life of truth and sincerity. May be “happyness” was not what Immanuel was looking for, as it was “happiness” in its most stable form. Immanuel always had the needs, but he never over-valued money over the human relations, a total opposite to Jeevan, the latter who is more suitable to be included in the pursuit of “happyness” than “happiness”, more of a pseudo-happiness which takes a physical appearance rather than mental – for it is of this world in all its limited environment. Such a position wouldn’t create anything more than a void within a void, a point which is made clear through the lives of the two main characters in this movie. But the question would be about the point where humanity ends and divinity starts for Immanuel; and that other point where humanity ends and damnation starts for Jeevan, even if it is not a complete process. Such a question creates more doubts than solutions.

Mammootty’s Immanuel is more of a flawless creature of divinity. Even with contradicting philosophical problems created by the man of goodness, there is so much simplicity in his depiction of the character. There is so much ease around this performance, as the character undergoes heavy transformation from his early troubles to corporate frauds and to the final realization that not all dreams come true and most of them really needn’t. Dreams are also meant to stay as they are, and ambition is just another name for greed triggered by vanity and jealousy. There are two sides to everything, and as long as the black and the white are considered, there are Jeevan and Immanuel respectively, but the white always have the option to walk away from the black, not without loss though. Immanuel still doesn’t loss his qualities that makes him what he is, as he helps two characters played by Sukumari and Mukhta, the first one getting the much needed money for her daughter’s marriage after her husband’s death, and the second one for the treatment of cancer. His help extend beyond the office though, with the poor workers from outside the state, all of these creating more rift with Jeevan and making his staying on the job even more risky. But he continues to stay as himself.

Fahadh Faasil’s Jeevan is never outside the game. He is the boss of the game of sales, as well as the brain in a smaller ship of the corporate world. He is never in good terms with Immanuel, who seems to him as his nemesis from the moment he gets his job under him. Caught between profit-making in his job, loving his family and reading the Holy Bible, he is neither here nor there, but manages to keep his dark side going with his attitude towards those who works under him. It is a fantastic performance, even as the character has less screentime compared to Immanuel. Jeevan is also the exact opposite of those characters we saw in Red Wine and Amen, and a comparison to Solomon takes this further down to the abyss reserved for extreme opposites. Reenu Mathews who plays Immanuel’s wife has come up with another performance which is above the line, and really good for a beginner. Devan plays a role like he played in Gulumaal, and it is easy to connect with the role in this one; Mukesh’s role is also a cameo and the same can be said about that of Balachandran Chullikkadu. It can be said that Muktha Elsa George plays an extended cameo with a few appearances.

Bijukuttan, Salim Kumar and Guinness Pakru provides the lighter moments in the movie, and its comedy is all sensible. There is no stupidity or vulgarity associated with it. All these funny elements are not of lower standards either. Thus it moves on as a movie suitable for all, not just for the fans or the family. But it never runs out of its slowness, and never tries to have a look outside the ordinary. If it had done so, this might have reached a new level. But it may still be more comfortable in its own territory which is in this case, the normal side. There is nothing here like what kept the audience glued to Diamond Necklace – instead, this is just the story of one good human who managed to keep his goodness even as there were so many opportunities for him to lose it along with his soul. This movie is also a story of morality – it preaches and it does so with perfection; not as perfect as one would expect in theory, but as perfect as a human with all its imperfections could manage to do. The goodness needs to be generated in a society which is plagued by lies, and may Immanuel be a good model for the people who fails to deliver truth when it is most needed. The movie’s alignment towards pure goodness is to be appreciated. God is with this movie for sure.

Release date: 5th April 2013
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Mammootty, Fahadh Faasil, Reenu Mathews, Sukumari, Salim Kumar, Guinness Pakru, Sunil Sukhada, Ramesh Pisharody, Bijukuttan, Balachandran Chullikkadu, Muktha Elsa George, Mukesh, Devan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Amen

amen0

There are few movies which the Vampire Bat would watch a few thousand times other than the horror flicks and the Malayalam movies of the 1980s. The end of this movie was that moment when the Vampire Bat actually felt the same – that moment when he was light enough to fly. It was the moment this bat felt that he was that feather which felt the wind lifting one’s self towards the starry sky. It is not exactly the feeling he had after watching Celluloid, as it is more comparable to that status where he was, after watching Pranchiyettan and the Saint. This rarely happens to the Vampire Bat, for this one has the status of being the second. With its visual beauty of nature, it is comparable to Ordinary, as this one highlights the backwaters while the Kunchako starrer had concentrated on the hills, mountains and the related greenery with fog. There is thunder, dark clouds, water bodies in its maximum body – how can one person do justice to this movie with a subjective review is a question which might remain answered; but what would an objective review do other than being too scientific and technical? This soul would keep closer to the former as possible, and in that way find himself in the process. Here, we have the story of an ancient church parish and the people, a love story and a band’s struggle for survival. The whole story can be read better from the beautiful characterization rather than as a plot.

Swati Reddy as Sosanna – such a character and so much of wonder in that performance! I can’t remember seeing such a female character on screen in any Malayalam movie. One has to wonder who she really is! The first guess would be that of a Keralite Juliet who comes out to the balcony (here, as the house is more of a traditional style, looking through the window) listening to the divine music by the artist that is Solomon (Fahadh Fazil). Well, they don’t die and so lets leave the tragic side of Romeo and Juliet behind. They can still have the title in the name of divine love, but on second thoughts, Sosanna is more of Rapunzel, imprisoned in a tower by the evil ones; her use of frying pan even bring the memory of the newer Rapunzel of Tangled (please avoid the hair details). Her character is the centre, around which the whole movie is built, even if our heroes get more screentime. Each and every second of her presence indicates something which is to happen, and the whole divinity rests on herself and the music. She, the angel in white dress, the absence of black and greyness. She is complexity in simplicity – all in one; more than one simple village damsel – lovable and admirable with all her positives and negatives.

She is no different from the Rapunzel of Tangled on most of the occasions – she pushes the kapyar into water and asks her lover if he wants to be the Father in a church or her children’s father; she pours chicken curry over a gunda and hits him with a frying pan; she eats “naranga mittayi” with that happiness which William Wordsworth might have felt after seeing Daffodils; she uses paper rockets as love letters; she reads only from Solomon’s Song of Songs when asked to read the Bible; she talks about love in a cemetery (the Vampire Bat’s recommndation for this one) – the saga continues for Sosanna is not the weaker one to be subdued; for she is the frying pan fighter striking fear in the minds of the most powerful gundas. She is the passionate lover, the advisor, the fighter, the damsel in distress and still in lesser distress than her lover who is the man in distress. She is our blessed damozel; of this world and not the other, not the one Dante Gabriel Rossetti pictured in heaven, but the one person who continues to bless this movie with her presence. How can one not consider this one as a non-animated character at any stage? The words describe less and the scenes visualize more.

Fahadh Faasil as Solomon – he has done it again, and I might end up using this same sentence for the same actor for so many occasions that I would lose count of it. This is not brilliance unexpected, and I would always keep the expectations high on one actor. Fahadh in that Christ costume for the festival was something which made divinity come down from heaven. All the jokes related to his character and Sosanna are so genuine and wonderful – or even beautiful, if jokes could be termed “beautiful” with all its aspects. Here is a character of simplicity, lack of self-confidence and unparallel love. He is the new Romeo in many aspects, and he is the Jack of his ever-sinking Titanic that is a life of poverty which can only be made to be of any hope by getting himself into the music band sponsored by the local parish church. This character’s life surely is a divine comedy as it is subtitled, as the title character travels through his own inferno, purgatorio & finally the paradiso achieved by his merit. He is our own Dante Alighieri. Hell, purgatory, and heaven – they are all in this world for Solomon, the ultimate underdog. If Sosanna is more of an unpredictable character than her lover, Solomon steals the show by being predictable and still rising to the occasion. This might be Fahadh’s best performance ever, even as I am sure that I will be forced to say that again on another occasion.

Indrajith Sukumaran as Father Vincent Vattolli – always been in my list of favourite actors, and I am short of words for talking about this one – no do not bring me the dictionary, for I have word substitutes working for me. He is the exact opposite of the Vicar Father Abraham Ottaplakal (Joy Mathew). While the former tries to save the band, unite the two lovers and keep the church as the ancient structure, the latter tries to dismantle the band, separate the two lovers and rebuild the church. Both have brought the levels to new heights as one becomes so likable and the other detestable – the two characters are played with such perfection that one can’t resist believing them as what they are. There are times when one has to wonder how close to evil and away from the neutrality of the beginning, the Vicar happens to be as the second half progresses. The big paradox here is that the revolutionary new entrant is the stronger believer and the traditional, orthodox Vicar is the lesser believer who has his own agenda. Their church at Kumaramkari is not just a simple old structure, as they say that the legend is that Saint George had made Tipu Sultan’s attempt to raze the church a failure. This belief is what runs in the veins of the parishers and this is where Father Vattolli has reached – this is also where Father Ottaplakal makes his own decisions with no divine intervention; not a desired situation for sure. But there is more to Father Vattoli than it would seem to be, as the end twist would create that dream climax.

Saint George and the church are more like characters in the movie, but more shall not be talked about that divinity. Kalabhavan Mani’s Looyi pappan is a very powerful character throughout the movie; someone who fails to accept defeat – the man who wins the war even as he loses most of the battles. He seeks redemption after the death of his best friend who was the soul of the band – a music band which has been continuously on the losing side for a long time after the tragedy. Rachana Narayanankutty as Solomon’s sister and Natasha Sahgal was Father Vattoli’s admirer, joins the cast’s beautiful performance. Makarand Deshpande’s nemesis character is immensely powerful and Sunil Sukhada’s Kapyar works in more than one way. Lijo Jose Pellissery has given the viewers an early Easter gift, and it might be the best in the theatres right now. What else could be said about such a performance? But it is surely not free from the slightest of negatives – even among the best of jokes, lie the totally unnecessary, ridiculous jokes which tends to take away some of its beauty. But they could be avoided and the movie could be continued to be watched as the divine comedy as it is, for there is more to it than just the usual stuff. No, this is not the typical new generation either – for this is typical divinity, if one could call it so.

This exuberance is magic, and that is just to give the movie its due. But the truth is much better; for exuberance is just a word and so is magic. Amen is something which has dropped from the firmament, not like the fallen angel Lucifer, but as the medium of divinity which the world of the upper level has provided us with. Can you find faults within the story? If yes, isn’t there the flurry of intelligence and brilliance to cover them all? That would be a clear yes for an answer. No, the movie still doesn’t pretend, and it never needed to. It never needed to wear a mask like Annayum Rasoolum; a mask of goodness and reality which that one dragging movie has been wearing! But this one wears its own skin as a mask – no fake faces to cover its simplicity. Everyone has been incredibly good at what they were doing with this movie, both outside and inside – even the songs and the movie posters have contributed in such a way as to make this movie one of its kind – something which can lead and not follow; bring that thunder of wonderful change. I felt the magic realism and dream visions as well as its re-assertion of faith, belief and hope with divine intervention. Oh beauty of a movie, thy name is Amen – anything else would be so inappropriate right now. If I am to die after watching a movie, this might be one of them worth dying for!

Release date: 22nd March 2013
Running time: 160 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Indrajith Sukumaran, Swati Reddy, Rachana Narayanankutty, Natasha Sahgal, Joy Mathew, Kalabhavan Mani, Makarand Deshpande, Sunil Sukhada

amen copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.