Heaven

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Uncle Dracula is going to heaven?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that vampires have a different afterlife.

Vampire Owl: You mean beyond heaven and hell?

Vampire Bat: Somewhere in between, to be exact.

Vampire Owl: Are you talking about the purgatory?

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t know before death, but there would surely be blood.

Vampire Owl: Well, as long as there is blood, I am okay with it.

Vampire Bat: You don’t really take the blood substitute anymore?

Vampire Owl: Until Doctor Frankenstein invents the perfect substitute, I won’t.

Vampire Bat: Then, be assured that it will a long wait, because that pseudo-doctor and scientist with fake degree is involved.

[Gets a paneer puffs and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: A group of NCC cadets discover a dead body in the forest area where they were camping for the holidays from their school. The first police officer to the scene is Bijoy Kuruvilla (Sudev Nair), and the dead person is identified to be Fabian John (Deepak Parambol), with the help of the forensic experts who are led by Narayana Swami (Joy Mathew). According to the descriptions from the witnesses and circumstancial evidences, the police discover the murderer to be none other than Peter Kurishingal (Suraj Venjaramoodu), another police officer. Then, the movie gets a flashback when Peter is in charge of a police station in a village. He had only recently lost his wife, and has a number of cases for investigation, which he takes very seriously so that he can use them to forget the grief of loss. His mother Mariyam Kurisingal (Vinaya Prasad) takes care of his only son, as he remains mostly busy as a strict police officer. But things get worse as he comes up against a case which would prove to be personal for him, as a family is murdered, and along with them, he also find his son’s dead body, much to his shock.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Peter’s subordinate Sukumara Pillai (Alencier Ley Lopez) is posted in the case with the new officer in charge of the investigation, Inspector Kishore (Padmaraj Ratheesh) who seems to be solving the case rather quickly, and a man named Stephen (Jaffar Idukki) confesses to have committed the crime with an immigrant labourer from West Bengal, as part of an attempted robbery. Peter has his doubts, but as one of the victims is his son, his superior officer Revathi Subramaniam (Abhija Sivakala) declines him an opportunity to be part of the investigation team, but lets him have a look at it as part of a parallel investigation for which he would be solely responsible. Soon, he discovers that the man who is accused of murder, Stephen actually had nothing to do with it. This home named Heaven, where the murders took place, seem to have more than one secrets to be discovered. His discoveries soon lead to him taking over the case after joining back on duty. But it remains to be seen if he will like what he would discover.

The defence of Heaven :: Here is one more addition to the smart thrillers of our times with some fine red herrings. The investigation shown in the movie feels solid, and so does the emotional side. The movie achieves its motives without exaggerating anything at any moment. There are twists till the end of the movie, and we see that it has nicely solved the puzzles to come strong in the end with enough strength. The realistic mode is maintained while bringing up the thrills and twists, and it surely feels like something which could happen during these days when different crimes are part of the news more than ever. Even the police procedures seem to be much accurate, and it doesn’t seem to venture into those areas where the smartness of the audience is questioned; maybe it is because the film chooses to have no such superstars who have so many fans wishing for their favourite actor to destroy evil like a fallen angel. Well, this movie is also something with fallen angels, but it knows how to keep it realistic. This is the kind of film that can teach valuable lessons for Bollywood which has its non-performers coming out of nepotism, not able to emote.

The positives and negatives :: The visuals are really good, and the camera is particularly good in capturing the emotions of Suraj Venjaramoodu, with all the grief which is part of the character’s life. The moments after the son’s death is as emotional as it can get, and it is only matched by the determination in his face that comes up later. There are the inner and outer battle shown here are with their own relevance. Heaven does not hesitate in going through the emotional path of the police officer and his investigation, just like it was seen in the movie Memories which had that abiding sadness in it which would return to haunt the viewer. The movie could have actually focused on the darker side even more. The return to the initial moments come rather too late, and due to the same, people might have actually forgotten the events which had happened earlier. The movie does slow down after the deaths and following emotional troubles, and it could have used a serial killer instead of the usual vengeance ideas being repeated. The music doesn’t feel as that great in comparison to some of the other thrillers which dealt with similar themes.

The performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu handles the regretful cop role really well, and it reminds us of his earlier movie Pathaam Valavu, where he had also lost his child. The helpless and lack of hope can be seen on one side, while there is smartness on the other. He is the police officer and father to remember. The emotional struggle which was best displayed in Kaanekkaane, and added with mass in Jana Gana Mana and Driving License works really well here too, as he is indeed one of the best actors to go through a strong emotional side. The biggest support to him is provided by Alencier Ley Lopez who makes a fine cop in a supporting role; I had felt that John Luther could have really used him as a police officer too. The actors like Sudheesh and Jaffer Idukki add more of an emotional side to the film with their shorter presence. Vinaya Prasad also has the emotional grandmother role. Padmaraj Ratheesh and Sudev Nair also makes some fine police officers. Abhija Sivakala as the superior police officer is also solid. Deepak Parambol’s as well Nimisha Sajayan’s smaller roles are effective too. The collection of performers here makes sure that there is something interesting about all of them.

How it finishes :: Heaven gets into the list of interesting thrillers including the recently released Twenty One Grams and Solamante Theneechakal, as well as many others which came earlier. After all, the thrillers of this world mean more than just Drishyam. The movie working a lot better than the heavily hyped movies like CBI 5: The Brain is a reminder that we have some new names who can do the same thing better. Well, this is the kind of film which can never work for Bollywood as the sons and daughters of superstars would not agree to act in movies which cannot progress without throwing hundreds of villains around. Movies like this should open their eyes to the idea that there is the need for more thinking differently, or the drought in Bollywood of blockbusters is going to continue forever. Bollywood’s fight with its own incompetence might be forever, but during those times, Malayalam movie industry, just like the other South Indian film industries, is coming up with some fine works of quality which are to be remembered.

Release date: 19th August 2022 (Hotstar); 17th June 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Unni Govindraj
Starring: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Sudev Nair, Sminu Sijo, Sudheesh, Joy Mathew, Alencier Ley Lopez, Jaffer Idukki, Vinaya Prasad, Abhija Sivakala, Deepak Parambol

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Solamante Theneechakal

Vampire Owl: Do you think that there could be honeybees in this movie?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the bees are different in this case.

Vampire Owl: I was looking forward to see a vampire bee.

Vampire Bat: There has been no bee which has been turned into a vampire.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has transformed a few.

Vampire Bat: They are pseudo vampires. They won’t count.

Vampire Owl: You continue to show your prejudice against Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: I have never shown love for dumb experiments.

Vampire Owl: You will surely love the vampire bee though.

Vampire Bat: You should see how the human bees turn out here in this movie which is noted as a romantic thriller.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Glyna Thomas (Vincy Aloshious) and Suja S (Darshana S. Nair) are police constables who are also best friends – they have also rented a place together in Cochin. While Suja is posted in traffic duty, Glyna is assigned the duties at the police station itself. CI Binu Alex (Addis Antony Akkara) is in the charge of the station, and Suja hopes to get rid of the traffic duty and somehow be part of the station duties. For the same, Suja tries to portray Sharath Balakrishnan (Shambhu Menon) as a nuisance for women, but fails miserably. She even falls in love with him later. Sharath works for Nikhil Davis (Sunil Sukhada) who runs a rent-a-car business, but also has other motives. Their love story continues well until one day Binu and Sharath comes across each other, leading to a fight. Binu vows to make Sharath suffer for laying his hands on a police officer, but it is then that a criminal named Arumughan (Manikandan Achari) makes an entry with a grudge against Binu. Then, on an eventful night, things go out of control, and Suja might be the one to suffer for it. Will at least Glyna stand with her during the crisis?

The defence of Solamante Theneechakal :: It is to be noted that Solamante Theneechakal is a movie that has been much awaited by people who had watched at least one episode of the talent hunt show from where the leading actors of the movie where selected. But considering the performances which we come across here, this is more than that – none of the leading performers show any signs of acting in their first movie. They cast indeed is the biggest strength of the movie, as the newcomers score so well with the elder stars like Joju George and Johny Antony. The thrills remain strong, right after the defining incident. The twists are also there to be taken, and the red herrings are very much effective, to make us wonder about them. The early scenes also remain cute, and the friendship is effectively portrayed, with romance almost having a role to be added. There is also a certain amount of realism in the way the life of the leading ladies are portrayed, as both Vincy and Darshana make everything feel so real. Until the life turns around, everything that they do is so natural and without hesitations – the audience falls in love with such portrayal without exaggerations or pretensions.

The claws of flaw :: The absence of the big stars might make this movie’s collections and early appreciation struggle a bit – most people are still slaves to the superstars, and there are other three already established success stories in the form of crowd favourite movies already running in the theatres, which could make this particular movie take a hit. The dark side that the movie adds, do not get that much of a strength as it was expected, and there is some predictability about a few things, even though not with the grand scheme of things. The songs are not that great, and none of them provides the feeling of romance or terror, two elements which seemed to rise above the others – one or two still provide the feel-good feeling though. The first fight scene might be the only exaggerated moment, but there is no following it up well enough. The investigating officer does seem to deviate from the main concerns in the case, but it is justified in the end. Some of the supporting cast members don’t seem to have been used with the effectiveness that they might have deserved – it is still understandable, as the focus is on establishing the new talent which did such a fantastic job on television and deserves to be in the focus throughout the film. Yet, at times it chooses to defy logic by a little bit

The performers of the soul :: It was news then that the main performers for Lal Jose’s new movie were to be selected through a talent hunt show called Nayika Nayakan which aired on Mazhavil Manorama. Darshana S Nair and Shambhu Menon were the winners of the show, and they play the lead with the romantic side in this movie. Vincy Aloshious and Addis Antony Akkara who were the runner-ups in the show also play the next important roles in the movie as expected. They were selected from sixteen contestants going through multiple rounds, and it was one of the high quality shows from which these people were selected, and they have shown the same set of skills reflected around here too. Along with Vincy, some other participants like Meenakshi Raveendran, Ann Jameela Saleem, Venkitesh VP, Amina Nijam and Malavika Krishnadas were already seen in small roles in movies. Thattumpurath Achuthan had served as a vehicle for most of them to make some relatively small appearances which would not be memorized, and this one was to become the bigger space for these four to perform in a memorable way.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is supposed to be the next big platform for these performers to show their skills, even though their talent hunt show was something which was a memorable experience for the audience. Even the participants in that show who were eliminated earlier, like Ann Paul were enormously skilled – that left no doubt about what these people could achieve. To support them, as the centre of everything, there is also Joju George, who had his best performance in Madhuram last year along with that memorable journey through Pada this year. He feels very natural as the police officer whose portrait never gets exaggerated – we know what he can do with this from Joseph itself. The performers from the talent show makes us feel the professionalism and not the reluctance of the newcomers. Among them, Vincy Aloshious stands out as the star performer, and her moments with Addis are too good. Darshana gets into make things even better – her moments with Vincy are among the best, whether with a funny side or the emotional one, and the two make things work so well. Addis’ villainous side is a strong one, and a lot realistic, but could have used better voice. Shambhu feels perfectly suitable for this role.

How it finishes :: This seems to be a movie which should have released much earlier, if it was not for the corona virus spreading through the world. As it was intended, the movie serves as the fine platform to show the abilities of the performers selected from the talent hunt show, which would reach the bigger audience. I was still surprised to see the less number of audience for this movie, and I would hope for the numbers to increase as it has the quality – we are all admirers of good movies, as far as I know. The other successful movies at the theatre might be a reason, but this need to pick up the pace, and with some good opinions, it should surely do that – this would be one of the first such opinions. The movie has to depend on the content more than anything else with the big names being absent, and it does exactly that, with the thrilling moments and the twists that are added to the tale. With no exaggeration of action or life itself, the movie is something that has the special ingredient, which is the new young cast itself. Seeing them would make us believe that Lal Jose has indeed made the right decision once more.

Release date: 18th August 2022
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Joju George, Darshana S Nair, Vincy Aloshious, Addis Antony Akkara, Shambhu Menon, Shiva Parvathy, Johny Antony, Manikandan Achari, Shaju Sreedhar, Binu Pappu, Sunil Sukhada, Sivaji Guruvayoor, Abhinav Manikantan, Aurora Adya

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<<< Click here to go to the previous Malayalam film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pathaam Valavu

Vampire Owl: So, there is the tenth turn where the twist lies.

Vampire Bat: We vampires are not worried about the turns. We fly over them.

Vampire Owl: Humans do not fly, but their spirits do float.

Vampire Bat: We don’t have the spirits. But we fly.

Vampire Owl: Where do you think a vampire’s spirit cross over to the other world?

Vampire Bat: I am expecting a river of blood there too.

Vampire Owl: So, you think that there will be blood on the way there.

Vampire Bat: Blood will be part of our afterlife as it is now.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that blood also has the spiritual significance.

Vampire Bat: Vampires have been spiritual for a long time.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sethunath (Indrajith Sukumaran) is the officer who is in charge of the Kattappana police station. His wife Suja (Swasika) is pregnant, and Sethunath rarely comes home due to his busy work. After a long time, he finally decides to take a few days off. It is then that he is asked to bring a prisoner who got out on parole and did not return – Solomon (Suraj Venjaramoodu) was arrested as part of a sensational case, and him not returning came as a surprise for most of the police officers. Sethunath visits Solomon’s house with a few other officers in company, just before he goes on a fifteen days leave, as his superior officer as Shihab Ali (Major Ravi) asks for one last duty to be finished. The team gets to Solomon’s home and also finds him, but fails to capture him. But he is caught by Xavier (Nisthar Ahmed) who has a large estate in the area, and they transfer him to the police. On the way back to the police station, there is a landslide on the tenth turn, and the team is forced to stop and have tea and snacks. There, Solomon tells Sethunath his story.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Solomon was someone who survived one of the biggest landslides the highranges had ever seen, at the age of six. He lived as favourite of the locals, especially of the local priest (Sudheer Karamana) who has served as his local guardian. He falls in love with Seetha (Aditi Ravi), who elopes with him with the help of her sister, Anitha (Krittika Pradeep), and in the process, gets disowned by her rich and influential family. They soon have a child too. Varadhan (Ajmal Ameer), the local police officer who was supposed to marry her is particularly angry with them, especially as his next marriage reached the verge of divorce. He also gets transferred to the highranges soon, with a fight breaking out between him and Solomon, and this leads to Varadhan being relieved of duty and going home early. It is then that their child also goes missing, and the dead body is found between the rocks on the next day. Varadhan becomes the usual suspect for the locals, and there is fear in his eyes. His senior officer asks him to go on leave, but he is determined not to go from there. But where does this lead Solomon?

The defence of Pathaam Valavu :: This is a thriller that also goes on the path of a revenge with the support of flashbacks. There are moments of excellence, and unexpected elements of humour are also present with some flashbacks. The visuals give a beautiful feeling to the happenings around here too. The emotional side does the job well, and in between, the cute moments also get something to work on. It is the kind of the movie which could have gone The Great Father way, with the father of a child doing unbelievable acts in stylish dresses as if he was a rich monkey man, but manages to keep things realistic instead – well, you don’t want exaggerations when dealing with this kind of topics. Dealing with the life of the common man which is filled with simple happy moments of family, and turning it into moments of worries have been used effectively in Drishyam and Drishyam 2 along with the remakes – the same idea still continues to work. In the end, it also gives a social message, and finishes well as if poetic justice would return with a little help provided.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does start slow, as nothing much happens in the first thirty minutes or so, as it takes a little bit more time to establish itself. There is also some slow motion forced in there, against the overall mood of the movie. The loss of thrills to emotions can also be seen at times here. There is a lot of predictability that comes to the scene during the later stages of the movie, despite having the twists to provide the power. Some of the clues are also given in the early stages of the movie itself , which is re-established in the later stages too. The clues should have been hidden to keep the audience guessing. The red herring which the movie provides losses the steam because of the unexpected clues which are left in the process of moving the tale forward. The audience had the right to guess the killer differently, but such an opportunity is ruined too early. If the opportunity was better used, this movie could have been something bigger.

The performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu remains the strongest element of this movie, and manages the emotional side really well yet again. He has been doing such roles with perfection for some time now, with its highest point in Kaanekkaane, and most recently in Jana Gana Mana. Yet, the one performance from him which would stay with me even more is from Finals. Indrajith Sukumaran has displayed a certain amount of skill in portraying the police officers, last seen in Night Drive – there is the feeling of not exaggerating the cop role when he is playing the role; it has been there since Angels. Aditi Ravi has been an underrated actress, and her realistic performance as a mother is a reminder of her skills. Her recent release, 12th Man did not give her enough opportunity, and it was only Alamara which used her potential well enough. Ajmal Ameer gets a good role in Malayalam movie industry after a long time, and he did come up with a fine performance until the character was just pushed to the background for seemingly no real reason.

How it finishes :: Pathaam Valavu becomes another interesting addition to the long list of engaging thrillers. It does have the moments, and there are other areas where it could have scored more. Yet, one thing I won’t get is that people call movies like these as one-time watchable; well are all movies not to be watched once? There is absolutely no point in keeping on watching a movie again and again, except for the jokes and songs. There have already been two fine thrillers in this year in the form of John Luther and Twenty One Grams, and this one, even though not that good as the two murder mysteries, still serves its purpose with effectiveness. It is also a reminder that we no longer need those big names to play the central character and make the movie a success. We are no longer in that age of superstars, even though fans can still disagree and go to the theatres as a crowd, providing money to their favourite heroes.

Release date: 22nd July 2022 (Manorama MAX); 13th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: M Padmakumar
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Aditi Ravi, Ajmal Ameer, Sudheer Karamana, Baby Kanmani, Swasika, Sohan Seenulal, Aneesh G Menon, Jayakrishnan, Major Ravi, Nisthar Ahmed, Abhinav Raj, Binu Adimali, Shaju Sreedhar, Idavelu Babu, Joy John Antony, Sudheer Paravoor, Nandhan Unni, Krittika Pradeep, Pria Menon, Thushara Pillai, Anjana Appukuttan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Twenty One Grams

Vampire Owl: I am sure that most of the coffins weigh more than that.

Vampire Bat: I doubt if this a movie about coffins.

Vampire Owl: I have only recently discovered that the coffins weight so less.

Vampire Bat: Why did you lift the coffins all by yourself?

Vampire Owl: There were no vampire apprentices available.

Vampire Bat: You should understand that the coffins feel like having less weight just for us.

Vampire Owl: Yet we have vampire apprentices carrying them for us.

Vampire Bat: They have to be trained in carrying the vampire elders.

Vampire Owl: But I have known that vampire elders can float.

Vampire Bat: They are too old to stay awake for more than five or six hours – coffins are important for transportation.

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

What is the movie about? :: DYSP Nandakishore (Anoop Menon) is assisted by CI Sunny (Anu Mohan) as they go after a series of murders which happened in the city within a small period of time. Anjali (Manasa Radhakrishnan) is the first one to be murdered, and it brought her brother Martin (Chandunath G Nair) back home after spending years abroad, as Father Joseph (Nandu) was the only person who was there to take care of her. But soon, Martin is also murdered, and his body was burnt really bad. CI Sreenivasan (Prasanth Alexander) who was in charge of the investigation had felt that Jimmy (Aji John) might be the one behind these murders as he was a former business partner of Martin, and wanted to settle terms after Martin came back to India. There was a problem between Jimmy and Martin related to a restaurant chains which they owned, and the police wonders if the former tried to bring latter back home and finish the problem forever. But Sreenivasan was not really that much interested in taking the risk against the rich and influential, and was only happy to hand over the case without being a target.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: SP Rachel (Lena) is confident that Nandakishore is the right person to solve this case which has no clues, especially as Srenivasan had kept himself too worried. A new recruit Abhirami (Mareena Michael Kurisingal) also joins the team. As the police check for the goons who were working for Jimmy, they reach a name – Tony (Bineesh Bastin) who seems to be connected. His wife confirms the fact that Tony and Jimmy had seen each other, and an amount of money was provided for some work of eerie nature. But even then, Anjali is understood to have been very much afraid of an unknown person, and there is no clue about who that one was. If the two murders are not related, they would be facing two different killers at the same time or even more. There is also an old contessa car which is seen on different occasions near the spots where the murders had occurred. Is there something more sinister at work? Are there other interesting games of murders happening around here? Can there be a psychotic serial killer at work?

The defence of Twenty One Grams :: We have another interesting crime thriller in store here, with its own fine twists. Providing twists over other twists is quite a difficult job, and this one does the same well, until things come together really well in the end. There seems to be a fine line of events being drawn here so that things could come to that end after drawing a good number of red herrings in between. There are so many characters whom we doubt as being the killer, and we also have so many motives – with the possibility of suspecting being endless, the guesses are to be mostly wrong; the movie seals some ideas in those dialogues which feels to be less relevant when spoken, but through flashbacks, we know that these things were basically clues. Predictability will not be an element here even though the film can trick you into believing that you know things better than the cops here. The movie is very well shot too, and the visuals, especially that of the city is impressive – it suits the movie’s mood really well too. The music used in the background here is really good and some effects nicely contribute to the totality.

Positives and negatives :: The pace at which the movie progress is very good, even though at times, it seems to talk more and do less – it still works as we look closer. Some background is predictable. You ability to guess the killer is so continuously tested that there are so many people you will note down as killers. A quality that this movie has, is to know how, when and where to hide, and how to reveal them all when least expected – it never uses the mass style to do that, and that makes this one a movie more for the OTT rather than for those theatres infested with mindless fans. This is certainly not a one killer or a killer with a helper movie like Forensic, John Luther, Anjaam Pathira or Antakshari. Here, we don’t have the star power of Drishyam, Cold Case or Memories, but the effectiveness makes sure that it won’t need that. The movie also has a conspiracy which needs to be brought to light, and we see that there is more than what meets the eye. This is one of those movie releases which I had actually missed – there were so many shots of this movie which could have made the film feel effective in the trailer; unlike those overhyped films, this one could have used more initial hype.

The performers of the soul :: Anoop Menon always feels like the right choice for a police officer like this – the intellectual non-CBI police officer works like a dream for him. He did play the role of superstar in Home, and there is a fine presence that he has at all times. One strong performance that we here is that of Leona Lishoy though, as the lady left in sadness due to multiple reasons. Anu Mohan provides some fine support as police inspector aiding in the case. Manasa Radhakrishnan, despite playing the character who is killed early, remains central to the plot, just like Chandunath G Nair who plays her brother here. Nandu has the role of a priest which comes well for him. Mareena Michael Kurisingal of Mumbai Taxi and Aby fame only gets a few moments to shine though. Shanker Ramakrishnan and Renji Panicker got some smaller roles, which won’t be remembered much. Bineesh Bastin has a little bit of work to do, but not for long. Aji John and Jeeva Joseph plays two characters who are part of the schemes well. Ranjith who appears only in the later half of the movie, also brings some moments of glory.

How it finishes :: Twenty One Grams might be a lesser known movie, but it manages to be a lot better than most of those higher budget films made with the bigger superstars and having those dumb mass elements for the fans. There are so many moments that keep us guessing, and after all those guesses, we feel that we had gone the wrong direction – there is a lot of skill being used here in bringing things together in the end. Maybe, one of those superstar movies can take some of those superior ideas out of this one. It seems that the movies that we less expect to be the big mystery is actually the smarter one – the best minds behind making thrillers are often hidden in the background, and to know them, we have to travel beyond the usual. There are so many movies which have gone rather unknown because they couldn’t marketed well, or the names of the actors were not part of any fan club – this one shouldn’t go lost in that manner. This is another thriller which needs to be celebrated for its smartness, and let it not fall into the deep abyss of avoidance – watch it and see how well it uses the puzzles.

Release date: 10th June 2022 (Hotstar); 18th March 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Bibin Krishna
Starring: Anoop Menon, Leona Lishoy, Renji Panicker, Prasanth Alexander, Anu Mohan, Ranjith, Vivek Anirudh, Lena, Chandunath G Nair, Aji John, Jeeva Joseph, Bineesh Bastin, Manasa Radhakrishnan, Nandu, Mareena Michael Kurisingal, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Rajeesh Kartha

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Luther

Vampire Owl: It has been 826 days. That is a long time.

Vampire Bat: 826 days after watching a movie in the theatre, and now we are back.

Vampire Owl: The OTT life was quite long during that time, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, mostly of Prime Video and Netflix, and then others.

Vampire Owl: The last one we watched was Forensic.

Vampire Bat: That was a good end to the sequence before corona virus.

Vampire Owl: Well, we remain the same even now.

Vampire Bat: We continue to live in a world without hope.

Vampire Owl: There is no movie that can be close to the reality of hopelessness.

Vampire Bat: Well, we will watch this movie for now, and think about the meaninglessness of a hopeless life later.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of cadamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Circle Inspector John Luther (Jayasurya) of Devikulam police station is someone who is very much committed to his duty. He is fully supported by Sub Inspector Felix Joy (Deepak Parambol) who also spends a lot of time dedicated to duty. The absense of John during the major programmes at his home has his wife Jessy (Athmeeya Rajan) and sister Leena (Drishya Raghunath) in sadness, and his parents (Siddique and Sreelakshmi) in disappointment. On the night before his sister’s engagement, John finds him in trouble due to two cases. The first one is related to a political murder and the second one is a man-missing case following an accident which kills another person. The first case leads to John getting physical with the goons and ends up getting smashed on the head with a tube-light, which leads to him going deaf on one year, and requiring to use hearing aid on the other. But with a boy also found to be missing, he has to get back to the case and solve it within a deadline of two weeks.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He discovers that the two missing cases have no relation with each other, and there is soon a woman that goes missing. The death in the first accident, and the missing person of the same accident seem to have no common person behind them. Their only clue is a pickup truck which doesn’t have the registration number displayed on one side, which makes it very difficult for them to go forward. All of these incidents have happened in a certain area which doesn’t seem to have many people around. As this takes place in the high-ranges between the tea plantations, there seems to be a shortage of CCTV cameras too. But they hope that there could be that one witness who might have seen one of these victims just before or after being taken away by the criminal. Still, it is to be noted that the man who is behind all of these can’t be a common criminal – there might be a lot more to him. John and Felix have to be very careful in this case. Can they find out the mastermind before there are more victims?

The defence of John Luther :: As far as the thrills are concerned, they are here to stay with this particular movie. There is the grand mystery running through the middle, which never losses strength. The suspense could be maintained, and it keeps us guessing. There are red herrings which almost makes us think the other way. The quality that we see on the big screen is too good – the beauty of visuals is always there, whether it is about the long shots of the enchanting Munnar and Cochin or the classic shots of night with danger lurking in the corners. The final moments have us more in fear than anything else, as the villain is revealed, but not with further twists. The songs are interesting, and they support the happenings of the movie well. The background score is effective, and the use of sound effects to support the proceedings also need to be appreciated. The darkness in a very good ally for this particular movie, as much as the different noises used around here – the scene at the beginning is a nice example of the same.

Positives and negatives :: One would be right to find some cliches here, but we have always required most of them to keep the cinematic world moving forward with strength. The movie could have given more significant chances to its female main leads to perform, as they are pushed to the background rather too early. There is a little bit of horror touch to the movie at times, and that could have worked even better if the elements were introduced much earlier. The movie is a reminder to us that any person among us could be a psycho killer, and idea that could save lives – well, those who enjoy when we fall are no less of such killers either. After all, all human beings are born evil, and this film once again shows how effective in evil they can be, especially when they feel that they are done with the society. We blame the evil spirits and demons, and maybe even categorize vampires as pure evil, but humans have always been the root of all evil. The dark world of the investigation in this movie also points towards the same, and we can’t agree less.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya is someone who performed all alone in Sunny last year, and this time, he gets a fine team, and we have him with a fine performance here. We believed that he was indeed the actor to be trusted while booking a movie ticket after such a long time, and also at Lulu Mall; quite an expensive one in this case. One would think that after watching so many films in the theatre from 2013 to 2020 until corona virus brought the trouble, the celebrities will be supporting this blog, but that is wrong, because only a very few of my reviews like Meppadiyan and Luca have been shared by the leading actors of respective films. Anyway, coming back to Jayasurya, he looks and performs like the dedicated actor that he always has been. From the perfect police officer to the flawed one like we see in Memories, he is to be appreciated for how well he has brought the quality in here. It is to be noted that Deepak Parambol also brings some fine support in here, as the police officer who is not left far behind, but stays beside the main character. Athmiya Rajan and Drishya Raghunath are lovely, but has less screen time. The villain is really good, but can’t reveal more about him due to spoiler possibilities.

How it finishes :: You always have time to support a dark mystery thriller placed on an investigation. We did welcome movies like Anjaam Pathira, Antakshari and Forensic with much appreciation. Like the latter movie, this one also keeps its killer as the psycho and not a revenge seeker, which lets it have the advantage over the rest of the similar movies which attempt to turn themselves into random movies of vengeance. The time it takes to come to the final villain also needs to be appreciated, as the suspense is successfully maintained until then. This is also the first movie I have watched in the theatre after 826 – the last one was Forensic just before corona virus had made that big run. It is always good to watch thrillers as much as horror movies, as we are better prepared to face all the evil in the world after watching these movies, and we know when to be ready, and when to give up and just die. After all, evil is too natural for humans, and there is always someone trying to lie, cheat and steal, as well as murder us, or make our life a living hell; its in human nature.

Release date: 27th May 2021
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Abhijith Joseph
Starring: Jayasurya, Athmeeya Rajan, Drishya Raghunath, Siddique, Deepak Parambol, Sivadas Kannur, Pramod Velliyanad, Sreelakshmi

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

<<< Click here to go to the previous Malayalam film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Yara

Vampire Owl: Another Italian film? This is very soon.

Vampire Bat: Security was such a movie of higher class.

Vampire Owl: A Classic Horror Story was also a movie of class.

Vampire Bat: I am very much interested in investigations more.

Vampire Owl: Well, not all investigations work well enough.

Vampire Bat: Some can still be Memories or Cold Case.

Vampire Owl: And the others are just lost without any trace.

Vampire Bat: Some movies deserve to be lost completely.

Vampire Owl: Yet, some dumb mass masala movies become blockbusters of a life-time.

Vampire Bat: The dumb human fans. We don’t really need them to watch good movies. They are bloody disgrace to any civilized society.

[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: In 2010, a 13 year old Yara Gambirasio (Chiara Bono), who is trying to be a rhythmic gymnast goes missing, after leaving Brembate di Sopra Sport Centre alone. On that snowy evening, she doesn’t reach her home which is less than a kilometres away. As she doesn’t pick up her phone either, her mother Maura Gambirasio (Sandra Toffolatti) goes searching for her in and around the sport centre, but is able to find no trace, except for the fact that she had left at 6:30 itself. Her father Fulvio Gambirasio (Mario Pirrello) is quick to report to the police station. All attempts to find her seems to reach nowhere, as if she had vanished into thin air. The police is not able to find any clue, as the signal of the mobile phone can’t be tracked, and nobody seems to have seen her on the way. She was actually not at the sports centre for her usual training, but to leave a radio there for practice.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Her friends tell the police officers that she didn’t spend that much of time there, and didn’t even stay to talk. The officer in charge, Letizia Ruggeri (Isabella Ragonese) decides to go to any extent to find the killer, even though there is not enough proof available. Then there is a story about a pervert who might have been spying on the girls, and therefore all male visitors were banned, even from visiting the boys who were practicing there. The police dogs seem to be on to something, but with no result – the CCTV all around the area is no exception. The family of Yara is disheartened, especially her sister who was very close to her. The police wonders if the family made some enemies, but that also ends without any positive results. They find the dairy of Yara which has some usual details, and no clue to someone who might be looking forward to kidnap her. Yara was never involved in anything terrible, as she was the near perfect girl in her actions. The people at the school and neighbours were also very happy about her.

And where does these search procedures lead as time is running out? :: Yara might be the one person who had the least probability of getting kidnapped, and the search goes on. Later, her dead body is found in the middle of nowhere, in an advanced state of decay, as if it has been there since the time when the girl had gone missing. This makes the situation more serious. Her head and body has blows with some blunt instrument, and the attacks feel to be continuous. But there has been so sexual violence, and that baffles the investigators. Letizia feels that the man who did this was insecure, and they should continue to be afraid of him doing the same thing again and again, unless they catch him soon enough. They have the DNA of the man who is supposed to be the attacker, but will that be enough? How big should the database would be in that case, as almost everyone who were in that area in those days needs to tested? Are these investigators good enough to find the culprit even then, as it has been too long, and enough time was there for the person to escape?

The defence of Yara :: The movie has an interesting investigation going on throughout its run, and there is no place for anything else. It is directly into the same, and any other incident or unrelated character won’t matter around here. In doing the same, Isabella Ragonese is successful as she portrays the main character, but she is all about the investigation only, as we look at the character. Chiara Bono’s presence as the teenage victim is small, but remains likable. Those who play the parents of the child, Mario Pirrello and Sandra Toffolatti also come up with some good work. Those who are familiar with the real-life incident might find the movie to be a lot more interesting. The ability of the movie to never go over dramatic can be appreciated, but that leaves it without emotions. A killer without a motive like in Forensic is always better than the vengeful fool in Anjaam Pathira – this film also gets that right with the reason. The murderer could be anyone, and the person should be found by procedure like shown here, and not by a psycho father with fascination for shades and coats like in The Great Father. Then you do love the locations here too.

The claws of flaw :: It is surprising that the police is providing too much of data about an unknown killer to the press – the murderer should be watching that, I would believe. When everything about a possible serial killer is left on the media, he should just be escaping or trying to murder the investigating officer in the usual movies. The film also goes slowly for any kind of thriller, and there is no real attempt to speed up things around here. At least decreasing the length of the already short movie would have been a fine choice – it is something that can go for a maximum of one and a quarter hours with this content before getting into the lagging level, without adding more moments of creative recreation. There were so many scenes which could have made the movie better, and they could have done that without making anyone angry – the small details can always come in, or some other unrelated, but still interesting incident could be of use. We know that the makers of movies don’t listen to us, but we the audience see the opportunities all the time.

How it finishes :: There is no doubt about the fact that Yara could have achieved more, as it already has the content ready with a real-life case – being inspired from real-life incidents do bring some restrictions on the creative imagination, but brings a better base to start working on. I would have expected the police department to do better in the early stages of working on the case too – being duped by a random person who don’t have that much of an intellect, money or influence feels rather strange; getting no clue is a little bit too much for any office. The movie’s closeness to a documentary might not be liked by everyone either – there is not much of a development of the main characters; one wonders if that is because of the feeling that there is the need to keep close to reality as much as possible. Even in a place where things can get controversial at all times, Virus based on real-life incidents did well, and so that can’t be an excuse. Still, this one goes through the procedures effectively, and comes out well out of the whole thing as a pretty well done investigation.

Release date: 18th October 2021 (Italy); 5th November 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Marco Tullio Giordana
Starring: Isabella Ragonese, Chiara Bono, Alessio Boni, Roberto Zibetti, Aiman Machhour, Mario Pirrello, Sandra Toffolatti, Thomas Trabacchi, Lorenzo Acquaviva, Donatella Bartoli, Andrea Bruschi, Guglielmo Favilla, Nicole Fornaro, Miro Landoni

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Photocopier

Vampire Owl: I remember taking the photocopy of the Vampire Deed of Blood.

Vampire Bat: It is originally called the Nocturnal Crimson Deed.

Vampire Owl: That reminds me of the movie, Nocturnal Animals.

Vampire Bat: Do you remember the other Indonesian movies we had watched?

Vampire Owl: Yes, two of them – Impetigore and Gundala.

Vampire Bat: They were some very interesting flicks with a divergence.

Vampire Owl: Yes, one horror film and a superhero flick.

Vampire Bat: It took us some time to watch another Indonesian movie.

Vampire Owl: Well, we can’t watch them all, right?

Vampire Bat: We never get to watch enough of them after the arrival of corona virus and the following warning.

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

What is the movie about? :: Suryani (Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon) is a college student who is also part of the theatre group at the campus, named Mata Hari. After the performance, she returns home to a very strict father and a mother who is always working, far away from the city. At home, she finds out that their performance called Medusa et Perseus in the Student Theatre Festical was accepted for the Asian Student Festival in Kyoto, Japan; her father asks her to focus on her studies. There is a party at the house of their leader Rama Soemarno (Giulio Parengkuan) to celebrate the triumph, but her father does warn her against it, especially related to consuming alcohol and wearing revealing dress. Another girl, a senior named Farah (Lutesha) also asks her not to go to the party, and advices her to instead focus on getting the scholarship that she had always wanted. She feels that Farah is saying so because he was kicked out of the theatre group. The group also finds the suitable sponsors for their flight tickets to Japan.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The party feels more wild than she had expected, and forgetting what her father had told her, she decides to have the alcohol, even though not without difficulty in drinking it for the first time. She also forgets the earlier decision to leave the party before it gets too late, as she enjoys a lot under the influence of the alcoholic drinks. In the morning, she wakes up very late, and arrives for the scholarship interview on the next day just in time. But she is embarrassed in front of the interviewers who had checked her social media, which had her pictures of drinking alcohol and enjoying the party. Even though she has good scores and attendance, they reiterate to her that drinking alcohol and attending late night parties are not Indonesian culture; they are looking forward to give scholarships to students who set good examples and not those who could go on to become nuisance for the society in the future. They also added that instead of doing work within her department which was Computer Science, she was wasting time with theatre. She had also attended the interview in party wear, and has to walk out of the room humiliated.

And what more is there for the girl in trouble right now? :: The teacher asks her to join the class only after paying her fees, which she can only do with the scholarship. Back at home, she comes to know that her parents had received the message that her scholarship was terminated due to inappropriate conduct. Her father throws her out of the house for breaking the religious laws by drinking alcohol, and tells her that everybody knows about it now, as some guy was carrying her back home, knocking on each door on the way to know her residence. That had caused a big mess in the neighbourhood as it was three in the morning, causing humiliation to the whole family. He asks her to leave and spend time in repentence. The leading performer of the theatre, Anggun (Dea Panendra), the party host Rama (Giulio Parengkuan) and the group leader Tariq (Jerome Kurnia), are all ready to help her, but nobody knows what exactly happened in the drunken state and who uploaded those pictures of her being drunk at the party. Now, she has to find it out herself, can she?

The defence of Photocopier a.k.a. Penyalin Cahaya :: Photocopier nicely goes through the adventure from the beginning to end, keeping us curious, and as a part of the whole mystery that is happening around here. Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon nicely goes through the role of the desperate student hoping to prove to everyone that she didn’t do what she was accused of doing, also desperate to get her scholarship back. The feeling of a curious as well as a sad and depressed girl is always there. Lutesha plays the next person to be of interest here, and her role is also worked out with quality. Dea Panendra as Anggun and Jerome Kurnia as Tariq remain strong parts of the work too. Ruth Marini and Lukman Sardi who plays the protagonist’s father are strong with the emotional side. There is no questioning the movie’s emotional strength as much as its strong elements of mystery, which seems to be almost impossible to solve, unless passed on as hallucinations or with a high dose of luck added here and there. Giulio Parengkuan and Chicco Kurniawan also have their moments.

Positives and negatives :: This is one of those movies which could have actually gone darker with its contents – instead it chooses the safe path. It still has its dark side hiding in plain sight, but strong enough. There seems to be a certain amount of hesitation in taking the risks with this film too. The movie has its fine setting in different parts of Indonesia, and this is a tale which could be put in the worlds of a few other nations too. With a few red herrings, it makes one feel that the innocents and the culprits and vice versa, while also making one wonder if there is actually any mystery about all of these or if it is already in the head. In a movie which feels close enough to reality, you won’t expect this many twists and turns, but there are many, and most of the characters here are not really what they seem. The movie talks about privacy in a world of mobile, CCTV and hidden cameras as well as the factors working on physical and mental health. The movie ponders on life, friendships, trust and betrayal at the same time. Still, there is the question about the uploading of the photos in social media that remains – the film seems to be too abstract about that.

How it finishes :: This is the third Indonesian movie that I am watching, and there was a certain interest in watching such a movie during our earlier trip to Bali too. This is that kind of a movie which doesn’t want us to skip forward even if it is not that quick – we do feel the need to be part of it. The negative effects of social media and lack of safety during night parties are the two things that this movie adds along with the interesting investigation that goes on here with the thrills and twists. It is also a reminder that people and things around are not the same as what we think they are. The movie reminds us that nobody is safe, and not everything that you hear from the most trusted people are true. Well, we know that those who are too rich and influential always gets away unless facing someone of a similar or higher status – in the case of celebrities, we have seen how people get away with everything. Well, not with Photocopier, as it does have the power of many. As it follows a realistic route, there is no stopping it from being something we can connect at points.

Release date: 8th October 2021 (Indonesia); 13th January 2022 (Netflix)
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Wregas Bhanuteja
Starring: Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon, Lutesha, Chicco Kurniawan, Dea Panendra, Jerome Kurnia, Giulio Parengkuan, Lukman Sardi, Ruth Marini, Mian Tiara, Yayan Ruhian, Landung Simatupang, Rukman Rosadi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

12th Man

What is the movie about? :: A few friends from college come together at a resort far away from civilization – Zacharia (Unni Mukundan), Mathew (Saiju Kurup), Nayana (Sshivada) Shiny (Anusree), Merin (Anu Sithara), Sidharth (Anu Mohan), Jithesh (Chandhunath), Sam (Rahul Madhav), Fida (Leona Lishoy), Aarathy (Aditi Ravi) and Annie (Priyanka Nair) come together with their families after a very long time. Zacharia and Annie had just found out that they are going to be parents. Sidharth and Aarathy are going to get married soon, and this particular party is on them. The resort is fully booked only for them, and a lot of facilities are available for them. As they play cricket, Siddharth’s big shot ends up hitting Chandrashekhar (Mohanlal), who is angry that he lost his bottle of liquor when the ball hit him. He asks for a replacement, but there are not bars or beverage shops nearby. To avoid him, the resort arranges some local toddy, but in the final stages, that also becomes becomes unavailable, and the group has to provide him with the alcohol. He accepts it and leaves.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: After Chandrasekhar leaves, the group decides to take it to the next level. There are too many calls attended by the participants of the programme, and they decide to make all calls and messages which reach their mobile phones during the time period public, in a game of trust. But it is not that simple a game as they had thought, despite Nayana and Fida supporting the same very much. In the first phone call itself, the problems between Zacharia’s mother and wife is revealed, as the former talks about latter’s pregnancy and related issues. Now, Zacharia is in support of the game, saying that let everyone go through the same situation. Two phone calls go on without creating much of a problem, but soon, Mathew’s financial problems are revealed to everyone. But that will not be the biggest revelation, and soon, there would be a revelation that would affect their friendship. Then, soon enough, there is a murder in the premises. Now, the question remains about what can happen next in this small world in the middle of nowhere? Who is the trouble maker here?

The defence of 12th Man :: What interests us the most here is the visual setting, and the atmosphere that it provides the catalyst to help the whole story. This is the kind of world where murders could happen without a trace. The beauty of the place is another thing, and that would surely make one want to visit the area, The twists are really well built in the movie after the death happens. There are different viewpoints being nicely explored around here. Most of the film keeps close to the three classical unities, and maintains its effectiveness using the short time period of the tale. The voice cast is also strong around here – Mallika Sukumaran, Kottayam Pradeep, Soubin Shahir, Aju Varghese and Murali Gopy. Mohanlal can be seen as nicely taking over control here from an environment in which there was nothing like that. He has played a different police officer, and excels in the second half. The movie does a fine job in exposing the fake friendships going on with masks always present there. It reflects how friendships over drinks are the quickest to break apart, and that those built on lies have no existence at all.

The claws of flaw :: Playing games in a building was earlier seen in the Bollywood movie Chehre. This movie takes a lot of times to get there. The final conclusion with the killer is not that conclusive. Some of the revelations are rather too predictable, and with a setting like this, they could have tried more to keep things smarter – this is not the same audience that the makers are facing, or OTT has changed their world by a long way, and the expectations won’t be the same. The initial moments with silly jokes based on the protagonist surely feels more dumb than ever; maybe it would have worked in the theatres with the fans sitting all around. The fans are known for making the nonsense a case of brilliance, but when a movie is releasing on OTT, it has to be smart, as the fans can’t create that kind of an influence, and there are people around the world who are judging this. The movie could have also used the environment in an even better way. Each character could have also been explored further, for there was a lot of talent out there. The film is also too long.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal is not present on the screen when a lot of interesting things happen around here. He has a terrible, mostly dumb entry in the beginning, which falls flat on its face, while going on becoming more and more irritating. It seems to be fashion to show drunk people becoming heroes. But later, after a murder happens, things only get better, and the character is finally given a true existence outside alcohol and talking nonsense. Mohanlal is completely in control of things in the later stages, as he leads the journey with efficiency. It is always nice to see the two sides of him – Bro Daddy was there on the other side. The next person to catch our attention is Leona Lishoy, the actress who has been seen as someone with different dimensions, always notable in any role that she plays, whether it is the mother in Annmariya Kalippilaanu, sister in Maradona or the investigator in Anveshanam; often rising above the movie itself. We knew how she fared in Mayaanadhi, and she comes up with the divergence here too. Some people do their roles rather too perfectly and she is one of them.

Further performers of the soul :: The next person who catches our attention is Anu Sithara, and she has played the good girl image really well – she does look different around here, and that also suits her. Anusree does the job of the most irritating female character of last few years after Srindha in Sherlock Toms. It does feel like a little too much at times. Priyanka Nair and Saiju Kurup are here after that interesting thriller called Antakshari, and both of them once again proves to be solid performers, even though not seen as a pair this time. Unni Mukundan does nothing heroic like in Meppadiyan, and has only a role which is at par or at times, a little below most of the others. Sshivada seems to be playing the one respectable character out there, who doesn’t keep secrets to save herself. Anu Mohan and Chandhunath comes into the picture strong enough. Rahul Madhav plays another character with more than what meets eye well, and that actually applies to all of them. Nandhu and Siddique gets rather smaller roles which they go through with ease. Aditi Ravi supports well within the group.

How it finishes :: When the name Jeethu Joseph is associated with any movie, we know that it will have something of relevance as far as the thrills are concerned. Even though Oozham did have a struggle to go through its nonsensical world, Memories and Drishyam were the biggest thrillers of the industry at that time. This movie attempts to get into that particular group of greatness too. Yet, the journey is not of that high quality, and never does it provide the innovation to feel that this is not something we haven’t seen before. The best movies are indeed the ones which have Jeethu Joseph writing and directing all by himself, but this one doesn’t have the script from him. Yet, this one surely goes on an interesting journey, with its own twists and turns in a setting which adds to the overall mood. I am always in support of a murder investigation mystery in which everyone is a suspect – with the perfect surroundings, things have a minimum guarantee.

Release date: 20th May 2022 (Hotstar)
Running time: 163 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Mohanlal, Unni Mukundan, Saiju Kurup, Anu Sithara, Leona Lishoy, Sshivada, Aditi Ravi, Priyanka Nair, Anusree, Anu Mohan, Rahul Madhav, Chaghunath, Nandhu, Pradeep Chandran, Chali Pala, Siddique

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Soul

Vampire Owl: Do you think that vampires can have an extra soul?

Vampire Bat: I don’t understand why one would require one as extra.

Vampire Owl: What if a soul is lost? We can use the other one.

Vampire Bat: The souls are not lost as long as we are living dead.

Vampire Owl: When did we start referring to the undead as living dead?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we have always been the living dead.

Vampire Owl: Well, I wouldn’t argue as death is only the beginning.

Vampire Bat: There is no undead without the appropriate kind of death.

Vampire Owl: Maybe humans will also understand that death is the true solution.

Vampire Bat: They are less afraid to kill than to die, which is strange.

[Gets a mango cake and three cups of Munnar tea].

What is the movie about? :: Wang Shi-Cong (Samuel Ku), a very rich man and the founder of a medical firm developing cancer treatment based on ultra-modern technology is found murdered. His wife who has also remained a respectable figure, Li Yan (Sun Anke) is discovered to be holding the weapon used for the brutal murder, quite a strange knife-like blunt thing indeed. There are also some strange writings on the door and all over the walls. At the same time, Ah-Bao (Janine Chang), a detective is expecting a child very soon. Liang Wen-Chao (Chang Chen), her husband is having an advanced stage of cancer, and it doesn’t seem to get any better. His cancer seems to be spreading and resisting the existing modes of treatment, and the doctor gives them the advice to consider doing a RNA restoration technology. Liang, who has been working as a prosecutor, decides to join back, as a lot of money is required for his treatment – he had asked her to let him skip that costly treatment, but she has been very adamant in keeping him alive.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Ah-Bao is assigned the case of Wang’s murder, and Liang goes on to become the prosecutor once again, much to the surprise of his wife who was expecting him to take rest. Li Yang tells them that it was their son, Wang Tian-You (Erek Lin) who committed some strange rituals in the same room and murdered his father who had earlier disinherited him because of his strange and unacceptable behaviour. They remember that he only comes back home rarely, and has the same symbol which was seen in the room, tattooed on his body. He has a lot of magical symbols tattooed on his body, and talks about some particular gods and spirits which are not that well-known. He was heartbroken after his mother, the first wife of Wang died, and has been talking about vengeance since then. It seems that other than his wife, the dead man had left another inheritance as the next in line. The detective also understands that the dead man used to have different affairs with many women, which had ruined their world. The first wife also had enough information about hier husband’s life.

What lies beneath the secrets which are unveiled around here? :: There is also the talk about the first wife placing a curse on Wang before death, and about the second wife coming out of an orphanage, with no roots. But they do understand that this particular woman had changed a lot after coming to the mansion. In the beginning, she was very nice to everyone around, and very careful in her behaviour. It felt as if she wanted to be good to make an impression. But that seems to change soon, as they look through the CCTV cameras for some old footages. She wasn’t the person whom she used to be, as she even started talking to nothingness, which she understood as ghosts. They wonder if it was a case of possession or the result of some drugs which were introduced by the medical firm. A bigger surprise is that she who was a right-hander is now a left-hander. Is it science or some dark curse which is behind all of these? After all, isn’t science the modern necromancy? How many secrets can this particular world hold? There seems to be something really strange going on around here, and is anyone good enough to find the truth?

The defence of The Soul a.k.a. Ji Hun :: The movie never stops keeping us interested in the mystery of science or magic, whichever seems to surround a grand investigation. It does keep us guessing through its run, and is very much effective in doing the same. The twists are very much unpredictable, and with so many red herrings around, one only keeps wondering about how good are the characters who have figured it out inside the tale. At a specific point, you make a guess about the characters, and then you have to think differently about them. At one point, you feel that there is the talk about soul in its original form, but then all you see is science. You wonder about psychological problems and demonic possession at the same time. In the end, it is not anywhere close to what you were thinking in the early stages, and there is so much going on around there. Any more revealing would annihilate the beauty of the surprise and twists in here. The movie moves forward beautifully, as if it is poetry in motion, and the level of immersion of the audience that it provides is simply magnificent. The emotional side does help further in its movement forward – you do feel them running strong. The visuals and the music also remains extraordinary and contributes well to the dark beauty.

Positives and negatives :: The movie’s slowness also has a certain amount of beauty related to it, and we watch it move as if part of an elegy written in memory. Well, there is no doubt that it could have traveled somewhat a quicker path as it seems to be in need of being called a thriller rather than anything else – yet, it can be said that The Soul keeps us immersed around here, even without picking up the pace that much when it could have done the same. The details in each moment will still make sure that you are always attentive around here, and there are some top performers to support the same. Chang Chen gets into this character so well that we become attached to the same – there is a lot of immersion into the plight of the character taking place here, and that feels unbelievably realistic. In the beginning, one feels that Janine Chang is the one playing the protagonist, and even though she is not the one doing that, blends in perfectly, and excels in the emotional moments. Then there is Sun Anke who plays the woman in identity crisis with a lot of perfection – it is a role which requires a lot of dedication, and her different expressions are so much of the reflection of her calibre.

How it finishes :: The movie has one of the most complicated plots than any film has had in a long time, and it makes sure that we are always guessing. There has not been many movies which had our guesses going wrong by such a long way. By the end of the film, you are standing on a lot different ground than where you found yourself in the beginning. Well, the world of science and spiritual beliefs can both be strange enough, and this one makes use of both, while placing them in a corporate world where the only thing that reigns supreme is selfishness and a display of a fake “normal” image. I would consider this to be the best movie of the year and also the best film which I have found on Netflix among the last few years’ releases. Then, there is also those final questions which the movie leaves for all of us – what makes one a person? Is it the soul? In that case, where does the soul lie? In the memories of the brain or the emotions of the heart? Or is it something which has no real shape or size to be seen? Well, we will never know, that seems to be a surety. Until then, there are some fine Chinese movies to watch.

Release date: 29th January 2021 (China); 14th April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Cheng Wei-hao
Starring: Chang Chen, Janine Chang, Sun Anke, Christopher Lee, Baijia Zhang, Erek Lin, Samuel Ku, Daniel Chang, Lu Hsueh-feng

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Antakshari

Vampire Owl: This reminds us of the great game that we had in the castle.

Vampire Bat: The human game was indeed interesting.

Vampire Owl: Yet, humans play more of the evil games.

Vampire Bat: It is just a part of their evil nature.

Vampire Owl: Evil is part of their nature more than ever these days.

Vampire Bat: Can you guess how many evil humans are in this movie?

Vampire Owl: I am guessing that at least ninety five percent of them will be evil.

Vampire Bat: It is not really a big percentage for any group of humans.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has determined it be as high as ninety nine most of the time.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that this has anything to do with Mr Frankenstein and his fake experiments of no meaning.

[Gets a chicken samosa and three cups of orange tea].

What is the movie about? :: Circle Inspector Das (Saiju Kurup) is the officer in charge of a police station in the remote area of a hilly terrain, where Srinivas (Sudhi Koppa) joins as a probationary officer while hoping to solve a big case as soon as possible. Das gets into a fight with Vasudevan (Vijay Babu), who is a local leader of a prominent party, and also has multiple business interests. On the very next day, Das’ daughter is almost strangled to death by a man wearing a paper mask, saved only because of his wife Chitra (Priyanka Nair) noticing it at the right time. Despite threatening Das and his family before, Vasudevan denies any kind of involvement in the act, affirming that his problems are solved face to face, and there will be no hiding. Das has the habit of playing antakshari where each person sings a song, and the next person begins with the letter on which the previous person’s song ended. On the day on which his daughter was attacked, he had also received a call from an unknown number asking him to sing a song, or his daughter will be singing instead.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Their senior officer Jayachandran (Binu Pappu) and the local head constable Hariharan (Kottayam Ramesh) are not really fond of Das, as they are on the side of Vasudevan, and do not want him to solve too mysterious a case. He also comes against a strange, mute girl named Nayana (Ishita Singh) who has come to her grandparents’ home from Delhi. There is something about her, as she also seems to be hiding some secrets which nobody would want to know. Das and Srinivas slowly, but effectively connects the dots and finds out that similar murders have happened before, but police had closed the cases. Some of those murders were also considered to be accidents, and the deaths of the fathers after the murders of their children were considered to be accidents or suicides as a result of alcoholism and depression. The two officers end up finding a chain of events which lead a long way back, but will they be able to find the person behind it in time or is there another murder on the path?

The defence of Antakshari :: The movie has a police officer who is rather ordinary, and it has his struggles in finding the psychotic murderer, who is really that crazy as in Forensic, and very unlike the non-psychotic revenge seeker in Anjaam Pathira. The cop doesn’t have that much of a flaw as the protagonist of Memories, but is very much relatable with a usual kind of family and personal problems. The movie is shot nicely, and with some fine performances, leaves scope for a possible sequel – despite the low chances, we hope that such an attempt is made; there are also other similar trials of investigation which can be combined with this one to create a shared universe. Such a sequel can also talk about those elements of this movie which seems lost, and maybe, it can be a serial killer universe instead of a cop universe. This is the kind of movie which Bollywood would use to make a super-cop, but thankfully, we don’t leave it in their hands. The movie doesn’t take the predictable path either, as there seems to be the possibility of fun discovered in taking the road less taken, on the lines of Robert Frost.

The claws of flaw :: Antakshari is quite slow in its progression, and there are characters who don’t really play much of a role in moving the tale forward. A few things also go without explanations. The whole saga of one family with an abusive father, frustrated mother, music-playing son and cat-loving daughter facing a mysterious girl don’t fit in here at all – neither do the broken guitar and dead cat. This is that kind of a family which could have been there for namesake, but so much of time is wasted on them. If a red herring was intended, that should have been a part of the storyline – there was another villain out there who could have served the same. The young engineering student who is in love with a mysterious mute girl makes no sense, even if the vampires were to turn cent percent vegetarian. Without these moments, the movie could have been shorter, and the pacing could have surely been better. This one lets the lost moments go lost rather than get it back and link them. There were so many paths that this film could have taken, that is for sure.

The performers of the soul :: Saiju Kurup shines really well as the police inspector who has this investigation on a personal level rather than anything else, like Joju George of Joseph. He has been one actor who didn’t get enough opportunities to lead, but this is one chance which he holds on to. He is someone who suits this kind of a police officer really well. Sudhi Koppa plays the role of the supporting officer well, and it is also not a role he is stranger to. He is another performer whom we need to see very often, as there seems to be a lot of requirements for quality actors rather than entertainers. Binu Pappu doesn’t have that good and understanding police officer role here, but does this shade with ease. Priyanka Nair who did have some fine roles years ago has another one to remember here. Among all the roles being performed here, Ishita Singh’s role remains the one which doesn’t seem to give us any idea of its purpose of existence – feels like an absurd side around here, even though she suits the character. The rest of the characters mostly just have to play along here, but more notable are the woman and child from the flashback. Vijay Babu has a small role.

How it finishes :: Like Salute, Antakshari is another movie which doesn’t depend on the foolish mass masala to go through investigations by police officers. It is very good and effective because it doesn’t cater to those brainless fans who visit the theatres and get a movie crores of business while losing all their money to petrol, parking fees, highly expensive food and others. This movie is for the others, who look out for the new releases on OTT platforms, as the Corona virus pandemic has shown us that it is indeed the right thing to do. Well, you have the choice not to go to the theatre and watch those foolish dance and music to which insanity is unleashed in between a story – I would call for the lack of the same every time. The mass masala genre itself is a fake thing created for the superstars and their children to call their fans to the theatres and by creating the fake vibes, they make the rest of the audience feel that the movie is fantastic – lets see how long these star kids who fly around beating people and doing dumb romance will go. After that, you can come back to good movies like this one.

Release date: 22nd April 2022 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Vipin Das
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Priyanka Nair, Sudhi Koppa, Vijay Babu, Binu Pappu, Thomas Kunnampuzha, Shabareesh Varma, Sruthy Suresh, Kottayam Ramesh, Boban Samuel, Sandeep Pradeep, Ishita Singh

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Night Drive

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time when the vampire team was on a night drive?

Vampire Bat: We only have night drives around here. We don’t go for morning drives.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the night drives have been rare too.

Vampire Bat: That is because we don’t drive, but fly.

Vampire Owl: Not all vampires can fly, or even glide.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we bats and owls do.

Vampire Owl: Yet, we can go for a drive in the vampire-mobile.

Vampire Bat: It is a bat-mobile, and it is my private property.

Vampire Owl: You don’t use it as you can fly.

Vampire Bat: It will not be used for night drives, and that is final.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Georgy Jacob (Roshan Mathew) works as an Uber driver and hopes to migrate to the Middle Easy for a better future. He is in love with Riya Roy (Anna Ben), a very popular news reporter, and they used to be childhood friends for a very long time. They do keep a certain amount of distance between them, as Riya’s father, Roy Mathew (Renju Panicker) who has retired from the military forces is not fond of Georgy. For Riya’s birthday which is also the Christmas evening, they decide to go on a night drive without her father knowing anything about it. At the same time, Rajan Kurup (Siddique) is caught in a gold smuggling scandal which was discovered by Riya and her channel, a case which has been transferred to NIA. He expects to be arrested by the squad on the very next day, and asks Chacko Cherian (Kalabhavan Shajohn) to find a way to get rid of the gold in his home before NIA comes for the raid. Rajan’s trusted aid Jaleel (Sudheer Karamana) assigns the minister’s personal assistant Balu (Kaliash) to get the gold to a safe house.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Meanwhile, Riya who was driving the car gets into a fight with Circle Inspector Benny Moopen (Indrajith Sukumaran) who was doing routine vehicle checking. Benny lets them go so that he can avoid any of the people there spreading the news about him bothering a lady in the middle of the night, but is clearly angry about the incident. Riya who keeps arguing with Georgy over the earlier incident suddenly spots someone in front of their car, and the vehicle seems to have hit that person, who is revealed to be Balu with a bag full of gold. The two manages to take him to the hospital, which brings Francis (Prasanth Alexander) who owns the car they were driving and Ammini (Sreevidya Mullachery) handles that particular Uber fleet operations to the hospital too. The police officer in charge of the case is Benny, who is only happy to torment Riya and Georgy over the incident. He decides to keep them in the hospital, but the arrival of Chacko at the hospital with other motives complicates things.

The defence of Night Drive :: The movie seems to move forward naturally in the beginning stages, with likable characters and the incidents which can be related by different people from various stage of their lives. The beginning stages go on with the usual, and feels like the natural order of things. It does have some fine twists, and a few red herrings are also there to make sure that one doesn’t guess it the right way. The different characters in the movie are not really what they seem to be, as the visages tend to show differently on diferent occasions. There are moments which keep you at the edge of the seat, as these are characters whom you like. The cast has been chosen well here, as you feel that there would have been tendency to go for a few others, but here we have characters getting equal importance instead of the focus shifting to one person. The visuals of Cochin are really good around here. This is the kind of movie which should have released directly on OTT, as there is a certain possibility of this going popular among the audience outside Kerala if it was first released online.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie had built up so well, the final scenes are not that much up to the mark. There is the plan to bring some mass action in the end, but it doesn’t suit the overall mood of the film – a darker version of the final moments would have done better for this particular movie. Let the outdated superstars do the mass action for their brainless fans, and the new generation of actors should go for class and perfection. These are not the times of such fan nonsense in the theatres, as we have the post-corona virus OTT loving audience as a strong force, and this is the flick which will be watch more on such platforms rather than anywhere else. It had a certain realistic side to the proceedings until the makers decided to go full action in the last few minutes with a specific background story added to the main characters. The first few minutes could have been shortened too, as there seems to be an extension of the less important happenings then. The conclusion could have also been kept at a higher level.

The performers of the soul :: Roshan Mathew has been continuously working hard to come up with some memorable performances, last seen in the Amazon Prime Video release, Kuruthi, a thriller with many messages. Coming out of the first big role in Aanandam and the earlier smaller ones in Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Puthiya Niyamam, he has evolved a lot to reach this higher level. His performance in this movie is realistic for most of the time, and something to be appreciated, until the mass moments come in the end. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen has already let Anna Ben set a bar which is difficult for her to overcome – even with a film like Sara’s having her as the life and soul. Indrajith Sukumaran is solid as the police officer who seems strict as well as menacing, and at the same time, likes to have a strong grip on his investigation. Siddique once again plays the corrupt politician with sinister motives well, and reminds one of Jagathy Sreekumar of Passenger. Kaliash once again has a good supporting role and so is Kalabhavan Shajohn, while it is nice to see Sreevidya Mullachery of Star Magic fame playing a memorable role here – she is indeed a lovely talent, and the fair reason for anyone to watch the popular show in Flowers television channel.

How it finishes :: Night Drive becomes a movie of interest without that much of a hype associated with it. It has some fine moments of interest, and successfully deviates from the tendency to go full nonsense like in that Shane Nigam – Shine Tom Chacko film of misery and shame, the pariah of a movie called Ishq. When two lovers are on a night drive, the situation can be tackled well to make a thriller of quality beyond the usual and the expected, as shown around here. This movie seemed to have Roshan instead of Shane, Indrajith instead of Shine and Anna instead of Ann, with the main characters going for a night ride as part of celebrating the lady love’s birthday, and in the process being stopped by the man claiming to be the police officer – seems so familiar for those who have watched that movie, but this one takes a completely different route, and also involves other characters in a journey of twists which are not about just two, three or four people. Night Drive is successful and delivers nicely when we take a fine look.

Release date: 11th March 2022 (Theatre); 10th April 2022 (Netflix/Manorama Max)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Vysakh
Starring: Roshan Mathew, Anna Ben, Indrajith Sukumaran, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Sreevidya Mullachery, Kailash, Muthumani, Prasanth Alexander, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Siddique

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jolt

Vampire Owl: Usually, the jolt happens during one of the experiments of Doctor Frankenstein and his minions.

Vampire Bat: So, Mr Frankenstein is having his own minions now.

Vampire Owl: Yes, they are a few braindead zombies who were given special passport.

Vampire Bat: You just cannot allow zombies into the world of vampires.

Vampire Owl: They are completely braindead. They won’t remember that they are zombies.

Vampire Bat: Then how can Mr Frankenstein make them useful?

Vampire Owl: Well, he just needs someone to do exactly as he says.

Vampire Bat: Someone to pass through those experimental portals?

Vampire Owl: Yes, and also through those experimental time machines.

Vampire Bat: Well, even zombies would hesitate to do that.

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

What is the movie about? :: Lindy Lewis (Kate Beckinsale) has always had intermittent explosive disorder, which was often triggered by interactions with people around her. As a child, she was so angry that her parents had some really tough time handling her. The parents didn’t have much of a good relationship among themselves to boast about, which made the parenting procedure even worse. This situation had also made her stronger and sharper, and she could beat up even a person or two who were twice her size. The parents no longer wanted anything to do with her. The mental health institution is not able to handle her, and even the military training works against her as she doesn’t take orders from anyone, the process ending with her beating up the commander. A psychiatrist, Dr Ivan Munchin (Stanley Tucci) seems to find a solution, and tries to treat her disorder with a vest which gives electric shocks whenever she gets really angry and a threat to others around her. But it seems to be less effective as days and months pass.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: She feels that as a new option, a social change might help, and with the advice of her psychiatrist, decides to go on a date with an accountant named Justin (Jai Courtney). They become very close to each other, but just before their next date, she finds out that he has been murdered, which means that from requiring no more of the shocks, she will be in need for a lot of them to keep her not angry. The police seems to be not too confident about finding the ones who murdered him, as there are not many clues left there. She feels that she should find out the people behind the murder, and wouldn’t trust the indifferent police officers to do it. As the first step towards the same, she manages to steal his belongings from the police station, much to the dismay of the officers who are in charge of the case, Detective Vicars (Bobby Cannavale) and Detective Nevin (Laverne Cox). Can she be of use in solving this mystery?

The defence of Jolt :: The movie does manage to be funny at times, and the action is pretty much effective. Having Kate Beckinsale at the centre is the big advantage that this movie has, and she is the one reason why things are going on so well. You can always trust her with the action sequences – the fighting on the screen seems to need her every time. The final twist is an effective one, and even though there were were some doubts, we don’t really guess it that well. There are some fine visuals, and the fights also take place at some interesting areas. A touch of humour being added with the fights also works really well. When there is a furious heroine added at the centre of all these, you are into more fun. As a simple fun movie with action, it scores well enough, even though not that much like those older movies starring Jackie Chan and friends – we all miss them for sure. This one is an entertaining ride, and one cannot question the same at any moment, as this one is only as long as it should be, not adding anything extra to increase the length – you enjoy this with the short length really well, without complaints.

The claws of flaw :: There are so many things which seem too usual for this kind of a genre combining action and comedy. We do have so many elements which some dumb people think are funny, even after so many years of repeating the same thing. Some of the jokes make you feel that they have just run out of ideas. A movie like this should always have a better idea about being innovative, as it is not supposed to be full of just dumb humour. It should have known where to stop with the available humour. There were so many opportunities in there. The progress of the movie also has some moments when it doesn’t seem to think enough. With a premise having enough to be so funny, there is always something around here to make the whole thing more innovative, funny and action-filled – much better than what it happens to be. It could have also followed the Kate, John Wick and Hitman mode with more interesting fights. As of now, the hope to have more of the same is only there for future with a possible sequel.

The performers of the soul :: Kate Beckinsale can always do an action thriller like this and provide cent percent without having to think too much about it. As the lady of the Underworld vampire movies and the one in charge within Total Recall, she has done more than enough fighting on the screen than we would think about it. There is the funny and emotional side to her too, which she has also managed very well. We will continue to remember her more as that vampire-figure, but this one is a welcome addition. Nearing her fifties, she is still the one actress who will want to have in an action movie, as much as Resident Evil‘s Milla Jovovich. Jai Courtney has only a few minutes of presence here, but is effective for sure – had the memorable moments with the Divergent and Terminator series in this part of the world too. Bobby Cannavale adds to the humour and does a solid job in doing the role of the good cop. Stanley Tucci also does a really good job in being the man of experimentation.

How it finishes :: Jolt is surely much better than what the critics seemed to talk about, and with Kate Beckinsale in an action thriller, it has managed to maintain a certain amount of quality – it is something one is assured of. If there director had a better vision, this might have transformed into something big, but she has settled with the common and simple path to quick dose entertainment, an action comedy with not many new jokes to be added there. The fact that it remains an entertaining journey is a testimony to Kate Beckinsale once again, as over the years, she seems to have become more experienced in action rather than becoming aged like the Ulysses who said that they were not of the strengths that they were used to be. The movie did release without much hype around here, which might be the reason why most people of this part of the world haven’t watched it yet. But it is a pretty good choice for the entertaining side.

Release date: 23rd July 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Tanya Wexler
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Bobby Cannavale, Laverne Cox, Stanley Tucci, Jai Courtney, Susan Sarandon, David Bradely, Ori Pfeffer

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Salute

Vampire Owl: This movie surely had our attention early enough.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we noticed something about this one quite long ago.

Vampire Owl: We have all been fond of such thrillers.

Vampire Bat: This seems to be something on the lines of Meppadiyan.

Vampire Owl: Yes, a thriller which seems to reflect the usual happenings.

Vampire Bat: A thriller that makes us more conscious then!

Vampire Owl: We should be better aware of the human world for sure.

Vampire Bat: We can never be aware enough about human evil.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but it is always better to be prepared.

Vampire Bat: Well, you will know that you can never be enough prepared for anything what the humans can offer.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: SI Aravind Karunakaran (Dulquer Salmaan) was one of the investigating officers on a murder case which was investigated by him and his brother who is also in the police force, DySP Ajith Karunakaran (Manoj K Jayan) along with a few others. They find the only person who holds a definite grudge against the murder victim and had also spoken against him – the same person had so many motives to commit the murder. The police feels cent percent sure that he was the one who committed the murder, and plants evidence against him, leading to his arrest. It is at the same time that another person seems to be linked to the murder, but the same police officers decide not to investigate on the case any more as it is closed, leaving everything to the court. Aravind is not happy about it though, and wishes to make a difference. But his brother and other senior police officers make sure that he won’t have any access to any clues, and keeps him busy with other work.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Aravind is fed up with the situation and decides to take five years leave without salary. He pursues a course in the North, and in the process meets Dia (Diana Penty) with whom he falls in love. She is the daughter of a military officer, and they start a live-in relationship. Things seem to go on in a usual manner, and then his niece Malavika Ajith (Saniya Iyappan) invites him to her wedding which is to happen soon. Ajith also asks him to come home early and be part of the preparations. He decides to return home, even though he had decided to leave his past behind. When he gets back to his hometown, he takes Dia with him, and the family members except Malavika are not pleased about the same. There, he gets the news that the man who was framed in the murder is now convicted in the case. He decides to cancel his leave and ho after it once again. But can he solve the case better this time, after so many years?

The defence of Salute :: It can be seen that Salute keeps the whole thing procedural, and there is no masala which is often added with the usual police movies which are more categorized to action rather than anything else. Some of the Bollywood movies have brought us shame in the recent years with their depiction of police officers, and I am sure that most of the sensible people wished for a change – mass masala is indeed not a genre, and is the lack of creative imagination and skills. Even for those films without much of action added, this remains very realistic in comparison. The emotional side also remains strong throughout the movie, as not all battles here are meant to hurt the others, and yet requires to serve justice. The way in which the story is told, as it moves from one point to the other, is to be applauded. It also have very less predictability in its working. There is the reflection of the intelligence of the writers and director displayed at regular intervals though the progression of the tale.

Positives and negatives :: The movie talks about impersonation, which happens rather too often than one would think about. It is something which can easily happen in our world, as people tend to believe others rather too easily. Some people have the skills to talk very well, and in the end, the common man will only end up believing the person and as a result, is cheated. The movie is still slow, and it has a little too much of a length than what was needed – maybe it could have been shortened by removing a few moments with the romantic side or family drama. This is also not the movie for everyone, as some people will be looking for a much different thing. You don’t get an invincible hero here, but you do get the faceless villain, and there is a certain amount of beauty related to it. Along with the same, there are many red herrings, and as we move from one clue to the other, we feel that we are so close to finding the person responsible for all of these, but the slip is so nicely orchestrated around here.

The performers of the soul :: This indeed among Dulquer Salmaan’s best movies in some time, and he has given the right controlled performance required for this particular role. There is no beating up the villains or taking the extreme measure to catch one of them – he is a flawed character like the one Prithviraj Sukumaran played in Memories or Joju George played in Joseph, even though much younger and more energetic. Dulquer plays the police officer who is held between the requirements of duty and family really well, and in between all of these, romance was indeed unnecessary. I am not fond of people who remember Dulquer for movies like Bangalore Days – he needs to come the mind for works like this one! On the other side, there is Manoj K Jayan, and the tension between the two brothers are shown very nicely, as the veteran actor also comes in strong as the elder brother and superior police officer. Diana Penty’s Malayalam debut is good to watch, but nothing much is added by the character. Saniya Iyappan plays the happy and cheerful niece well. There are a good number of people who play the police officers well here too.

How it finishes :: Salute is not your conventional police investigation thriller, as it follows a path which is much better, even though not for the taste of the typical fan boys. This is also a good reason for the movie to release on the OTT platform rather than the theatre. Movies like this one will not have that much of an appreciation from the usual crowd of the theatres, but with the release on SonyLIV, it has reached a bigger audience all around India – it is the kind of crowd that would be happy with divergent movies like this. With a fine narrative style, and having no police officer who throws people around, we are into the realistic mode – the cop here is not perfect, and neither is the world around him. We see the reflection of our own universe, for the usual police movies with throwing people around seem to belong to another multiverse, a parallel universe where the protagonists are superheroes with special powers which will bring the DC and Marvel metahumans to shame. We are real, and so is this movie – there is no wrong turn.

Release date: 17th March 2022 (SonyLIV)
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Diana Penty, Saniya Iyappan, Manoj K Jayan, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Saikumar, Binu Pappu, Alencier Ley Lopez, Sudheer Karamana, Deepak Parambol, Irshad, Rajesh Sharma, Boban Alummoodan, Ganapathi S Poduval, Indrans, Vijilesh Karayad, Maala Parvathi, Nitin Thomas

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Woman in the Window

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Bat: We are not that kind of vampires.

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

Vampire Bat: Why should vampires be kind?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Major Grom

Vampire Owl: It is a shame that vampires don’t have the ranks of major.

Vampire Bat: We do have titles like vampire-at-arms and master vampire.

Vampire Owl: They seem to be a little too much limited in scope.

Vampire Bat: Scope is what Uncle Dracula talks about it.

Vampire Owl: Uncle Dracula is no longer interested in matters of war.

Vampire Bat: He is not against the peace which prevails among vampires, werewolves and zombies of all realms.

Vampire Owl: He is too old for another war, just like the vampire elders.

Vampire Bat: The wars are led by vampires-at-arms and master vampires.

Vampire Owl: But there is always one Uncle Dracula banner in the front side.

Vampire Bat: The limitations of not having a new banner designer. Nothing more.

[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Major Igor Grom (Tikhon Zhiznevsky) is chasing three bank robbers dressed like clowns, supposed to look like hockey players from a popular Soviet cartoon. He manages to catch them, but at the same time, causes a lot of damage to public property. Colonel General Fedor Prokopenko (Aleksei Maklakov), Igor Grom’s boss and head of the Saint Petersburg Police doesn’t like what has happened in the streets, causing ten million of currency to be lost, putting the blame on the police department. He doesn’t like the fact that Grom is not wearing police uniform and not having any police equipment. He asks Grom to quit, but tears apart the resignation himself, as he feels the need for his presence in the police department. It is then that the trial of Kirill Grechkin (Yuri Nasonov), the son of a billionaire, takes place, and he is accused of a hit-and-run incident under the influence of alcohol. Kirill, despite being apprehended with proof by Grom himself, feels that he won’t be convicted.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Aleksei Lyosha Makarov (Oleg Chugunov), a boy from the same orphanage where the girl who was hit by Kirill lived, feels that the court is corrupt, and is against the common man. He is extremely disappointed, and is also supposed to have disappeared somewhere after the verdict acquits the rich boy. IT millionaire Sergei Razumovsky (Sergei Goroshko), who is the founder of a new social network Vmeste, and his friend Oleg Volkov (Dmitry Chebotaryov), who grew up in the same orphanage as the murdered girl, are not happy with the court’s decision. A masked man attacks and burns Kirill Grechkin, whose car is also destroyed completely. With flame throwers, armour and great skills in combat in possession of the killer, Grom is not able to catch him. Lyosha is taken by the police for the murder, but Grom tells everyone about the incidents of last night, which the police dismisses. He investigates on the case, but it seems that almost everyone wanted the boy to be dead, as he was such a nuisance.

And what more is added to the tale as something strange is coming up? :: Yulia Pchyolkina (Lyubov Aksyonova), a blogger and journalist also wanted a role in the investigation. Later, Oleg comes to Razumovsky and confesses the truth that he is the man on the streets with the flamethrower. Razumovsky is upset by this, but doesn’t want to turn his friend in to the authorities. It is then that videos of a strange man known as Plague Doctor appear on the internet. He wears a mask and a combat suit, and has bombs and flamethrowers – he promises to clean the city and take it out of all the criminal mess. Olga Isaeva (Anna Nevskaya), head of RosGarantBank is the next victim of the Plague Doctor, as she is accused of taking away the money of the poor. There seems to be a war on the rich and influential, called on by the Plague Doctor, while Lyosha is released. The newly formed vigilante is now considered as a hero by many people, who don’t want him to be caught. What does this change do to the law and order situation in the city?

The defence of Major Grom :: The movie does have a hero played well by Tikhon Zhiznevsky, and Sergei Goroshko makes a fine antagonist. Lyubov Aksyonova plays the lead well too. The film can also boast about its stunning visuals, which is interesting in more than one way. There is the feeling of quality here, which is maintained at all times. The beautiful world of Saint Petersburg is a boost, and we do get some fine action sequences around here, with the strong antagonist who seems to be better than the most. The protagonist here is not a Batman, Thor, Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Spider-Man – kind of hero, as he has no specific superpowers or a lot of money, except for the fact that he is strong and surely has an expertise in fighting. The film focuses on his strengths and moves forward well. Even for a seemingly superhero movie, it does stay close to reality, and keeps the hero somewhat flawed too. There is also the presence of some humour which works, and keeps the pace quick at all times.

Positives and negatives :: The movie basically follows the usual plot, and that too, without trying too hard. It is not really different from the usual superhero movies, with a villain having a grand motive, and also having those psychological problems, but talks about being ideologically superior. The choice of the villain’s costume is interesting as well symbolic, as he intends to take away the plague in the form of a few people, from the city, striking as the Plague Doctor providing treatment. It is no surprise that movie makers outside Hollywood are making some fine superhero films these days, for the cultural difference is contributing very nicely to making these flicks more interesting than seeing something which we have seen for a very long time. Yet, there is always more that these kind of movies can do, with creative imagination that can go beyond some comics, suiting the age. A superhero can be built differently, and transformed as much as a creative thinker can – something which would make the admirers of the genre proud. After all, you are never really far away from finding the perfect superhero.

How it finishes :: Here is another interesting heroic adventure of our times, based on another comics. For a change, we do have the superhero policeman, and not the common man who takes the law into one’s hands, mostly due to circumstances. Well, we require our superheroes in all forms, even without the superpowers – defeating what seems to be a supervillain is surely what matters the most. It does remind us of those other superhero movies, but with its setting, as well as with the choice of cast, it does stand apart. There are not many superheroes who can get a strong villain like this one, and therefore, just like Minnal Murali, this one powers up well enough. In a world populated by humans who have been degrading further into their evil ways, the requirement of a superhero seems to be understood better these days, along with the understanding that one can never have such a hero in reality. With the same, the movie does provide some good escapism, even though it is still close to reality than most superhero works.

Release date: 5th May 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Oleg Trofim
Starring: Tikhon Zhiznevsky, Lyubov Aksyonova, Aleksei Maklakov, Aleksandr Seteykin, Sergei Goroshko, Dmitry Chebotaryov, Mikhail Evlanov, Oleg Chugunov

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.