Meander

Vampire Owl: I remember having met an elf with a similar name.

Vampire Bat: Well, this is certainly not a fantasy movie.

Vampire Owl: Elves are as real as we are. None of us are fantasy.

Vampire Bat: Well, for humans, we are all fantasy elements.

Vampire Owl: The girl on the poster does look very much real.

Vampire Bat: You surely cannot say the same about her surroundings.

Vampire Owl: The poster here doesn’t seems to mean anything.

Vampire Bat: It could be a reflection of the useless lives that the humans lead.

Vampire Owl: Well, with the terrible mindset that they have, what else can they do?

Vampire Bat: They could always choose to be extinct and save the planet and the other life forms that live without hate.

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

What is the movie about? :: Lisa (Gaia Weiss) who works as a waiter is seen lying in the middle of a road in the countryside until a car arrives from a distance. She starts walking, but the man in the car, Adam (Peter Franzen) who works as a night watchman offers her a lift, as there is nobody nearby, and there is no hope of finding civilization soon enough. They seem to get along well enough, and Lisa is disappointed about her daughter’s death – she realizes that the girl would have been nine years old on that day if she was alive. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through her, and she hopes that she could die one day and unite with he daughter again. It is then that it turns out that the man who is with her is a murderer, and the police is in search of him, as she realizes the same from the news on the radio. But the realization comes a little late, as he slams her head against the dashboard of the car, leaving her motionless.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Lisa wakes up in a small room which seems to have no way out. She is clothed in a strange suit which tightly fits her body, and a strange light-emitting device is attached to her wrist. Later, a door on the side opens and reveals a narrow tunnel through which she crawls with great difficulty, and the door closes right behind her, leaving her trapped inside on her all fours. She has no option, but to continue crawling, trying to find and exit which could lead her to freedom. The device on her wrist also seems to have a timer and alarm, as it seems to remind her of time running out, as she has to go squeeze through extremely narrow passages, as she moved towards light. As the roof of the tunnel comes down, almost catching her buttocks stuck within, that would be only the first of the challenges that she would have to overcome, soon to be followed by a rotten body, water, acid and others.

The defence of Meander :: Almost whole of the movie has just one setting around here, and it has also dealt with the same effectively. There are some fine traps in here, and the more terrifying thing is that they are all within a crawlspace, with the chance of escape being really minute – I wouldn’t give most of us any chance with this, but we root for the lady in distress here, as we are more confident about her getting through, even though not as much as Prince of Persia or Tomb Raider would. Here, in between, we come to know that there is more to all of these than what meets the eye, and that there is something beyond our comprehension, most probably supernatural or paranormal at work. The same is revealed in the end, and it means that we have further scope for a sequel here. After all, this kind of a premise, like that of Prometheus and Alien Covenant, even though lesser in grandeur, can have many different paths to follow. The mysterious feeling never really leaves us.

The claws of flaw :: Meander is surely not the usual kind of a movie, and it goes divergent from even any other possible film who can deal with a similar circumstance. It doesn’t have much more than what it provides here, and leaves us with minimal settings. People who don’t wish to see one person trying to fight it all to make the way out of a long crawlspace won’t find this one to be of their type. Even though this is supposed to be science fiction, the same type of elements show less of a presence around here. We also feel that this could have been better, more direct in what it does, because you know how these have worked really well with the video games. There could have been direct ideas provided here, and even though there could be symbolism being connected here, there is not much that we can use directly. We do have many films with one actor getting all the focus, and others being almost absent – Sunny is a recent example, and this one could have done more with the one character other than the trap escape acts.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has only two actors, and it is more or less about Gaia Weiss, who is there for the whole of the movie, and works through it very all, as her character keeps trying to survive against all odds. She nicely fits in here, and one would feel that if there is a full action film coming soon, she could be right in there, doing a great job. She plays the character that has do the impossible, and she does some fantastic work as the one person who goes through all of these. To add to it, there is also an emotional side to her character, which is also portrayed well. Peter Franzen also has some work to do, but he has a very less time on the screen. Basically, we can say that everything is left to Gaia, and she becomes the sole pillar on which the movie depends on, as far as performances are concerned. She never looks like she is going to lag with that much of a weight on her. Not many people could have handled the same so well too.

How it finishes :: Meander makes a fine French movie that has different elements coming together even with almost everything set in one particular place. It is all about survival, set in a seemingly difficult situation, much scarier than The Shallows where we know the enemy, and much hopeless than The Platform in which there was at least the certainty of food and a possible companionship. Unlike the rest which has some hope for its protagonists, this one is at an advanced level of leaving almost no chance to survive, like a hopeless level of The Maze Runner. As a film which gives you claustrophobia, this one is surely an experiment which you might want to remember for long. As the lady moves through this particular crawlspace world, you are into some slow and effective moments of thrills, unlike the ones that we usually see elsewhere. It is that tale of survival which once again has the protagonist fighting against all odds, and we are all hoping for her to survive.

Release date: 11th October 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Mathieu Turi
Starring: Gaia Weiss, Peter Franzen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Madres

Vampire Owl: How many horror movies can one watch in a small gap of a few hours?

Vampire Bat: We vampires do not have limitations in horror.

Vampire Owl: During the Corona virus times, there should be restrictions.

Vampire Bat: Not in the case of films, for we are not watching them in theatres.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that vampires should go back to horror.

Vampire Bat: We were always in horror. You didn’t know that?

Vampire Owl: This is not the horror that we were born into.

Vampire Bat: You should remember that all kinds of horror are connected.

Vampire Owl: Not in the watch of owls. Maybe that works for bats.

Vampire Bat: Still doing better than the Vampire Crocodile.

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

What is the movie about? :: In the 1970s, a Mexican-American couple are expecting their first child, and during this time period, they move from Los Angelos to a migrant farming community in the nineteen seventeens, and he would be working as a manager in a farm. The area chosen for the same is in California, and the place seems to be quite peaceful and quiet enough for the baby when it arrives. Diana (Ariana Guerra), the pregnant lady is American, while Beto (Tenoch Huerta) is Mexican, and had migrated to the United States. The small town where they move to, seems to have more of a Spanish influence too. The first person that they meet in the town is Anita (Elpidia Carrillo), who provides them with a blessing of Holy Mary, and assures them that the town can be a wonderful place to live in, much to the dismay of Diana who wonders why it is not already such a place. Beto doesn’t work much about the same.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: As Beto goes for work, Diana feels that there is something strange about the place, and that doubt leads her to the outhouse building near the house, and she finds a few things which might have belonged to the previous owners. She also gets locked inside, and after somehow getting out, finds a severed eye being hung on tree outside the house. Beto feels that these were not things to be worried about, as the door might have closed due to the wind and the severed eye might have been there for a very long time, and maybe it meant something for the previous owners or the locals. They also meet the locals who seems to be friendly enough, but don’t get much of information, even though they end up having more acquaintances. Still, they remains more of Beto’s friends, as he is Mexican and good at Spanish. Diana only gets more and more disoriented during her time there. She wonders if there is more than what meets the eye about the place.

The defence of Madres :: The one advantage that this film has over the others is that it really has its creepy world going strong during all times. The environment here is really good, and very much notable. An ancient curse in the background seems through run through here, and adds to the creepy atmosphere really well. Even though there seems to be something supernatural around here, we soon come to know that it is not all, and we soon face the mystery being revealed. Some of us might be able to guess the final twist, but it also has its own small changes related to the same. It also leads to a few things which really happened, and it does remind of a few things which can happen if we are not aware. It leaves the message that with or without the presence of the supernatural, the world and its people are not what we feel they are, for people will always have their hidden agenda and a good dose of hatred inside. The music here is also very much suitable for the same.

The claws of flaw :: Just like the case of The Manor, this film also has the problem of being classified completely into the category of horror, as this one is also no fully something that focuses on the scares. It could have used the horror, as well as the grand atmosphere that it possesses with the house and the town with maximum effectiveness, for these days, many horror films are on a continuous struggle to be what it really should be. It is actually not restricted to one location with scope for here, as there is a lot more in here, for the town itself has something in store at different parts. A faster movie could have dealt with all of these with better strength, but this one hesitates to pick up the pace. The movie also released without much of a hype, and not many people know about its entry into Amazon Prime Video – the title also has people confused about the language. The movie came silently, and it is still there, but not many people know about the same.

Performers of the soul :: Ariana Guera plays the one character who seems to be fully English, and she is also the upcoming mother in trouble, here she is acting as the main protagonist, as well as the centre of attraction. She achieves the same really well, as we look at the scenes here. She is not that much of a believer in the supernatural, and we see her knowing things the hard way. Tenoch Huerta gets into his role really well too. The next important character is played by Elpidia Carrillo, and you will remember her from Predator, fighting the monster with her newly discovered American allies. She has blended into this role, even though one does feel that it should have been better written. The others are just part of the usual process, and they just blend in here too. Most of these characters become relevant at some later stage of the movie, and we are not to avoid them – there is the twist about this particular mystery that awaits us later.

How it finishes :: This one has some similarities with The Manor with how it progresses, how it deviates from its genre, and how it joins different things in a building as well as with an environment that catches our attention. Instead of the old age home and the strange surroundings, this one has one home and a lonely enough world around it. As far as the whole atmosphere is concerned, and related to the progress that happens in each minute, Madres has the advantage. This is also part of the Welcome to the Blumhouse film series, just like The Manor. I would suggest this movie to those who are interested in some slow, atmospheric horror, with a strong base on ancient legends and curses, and this is not your Annabelle, The Conjuring, Insidious, Don’t Breathe and Lights Out. You just need to live through this atmosphere rather than trying to be scared at all times, for there are different things of interest here.

Release date: 8th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 83 minutes
Directed by: Ryan Zaragoza
Starring: Elpidia Carrillo, Ariana Guera, Tenoch Huerta, Jennifer Patino, Kerry Cahill, Evelyn Gonzalez, Britton Webb

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nizhal

What is the movie about? :: John Baby (Kunchacko Boban), a district court judge gets into a car accident after being in a fight with rash bike rider. After the accident, he begins to see things, and when there is sunshine, he keeps seeing dark clouds and rain. His psychatrist Dr TP Basheer (Rajesh Hebbar) tells him that it is just post-traumatic stress which will be over in a few days. He is also forced to wear a mask to make sure his damaged nose wouldn’t suffer any more damage, and will stay stable. He is not able to continue with his job as he used to, and his senior, Ajith Kumar (Saiju Kurup) is doubtful about his mental status. His best friend Rajan (Rony David) and wife Shalini (Divya Prabha) helps him, as latter is also a psychologist. From Shalini, he gets to know about a boy named Nitin (Izin Hash) who had written a story of murder when teachers had told the students to do some creative writing exercise. The teachers are concerned because as a child, he was supposed to write about things less terrifying by a long way.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As this has him interested, he meets Sharmila (Nayanthara) the boy’s mother with the help of Shalini so that he could get rid of the feeling that something is wrong. Even though she doesn’t agree in the beginning, she lets them into their home fearing the police getting into the act. Nitin seems to be a happy little boy who lives with his mother in a luxurious flat in the middle of the city, and his only contact is Megha (Aadya Prasad), a college student who comes regularly to teach him, and is his only real friend. Nitin gets close to John easily, especially due to his mask which reminded him about Batman and Robin. Soon, things take a turn, as they understand that the murder which the boy had talked about, is something which had really happened. The body which was supposed to be hidden in the area which he mentioned actually existed, as they fnd a skeleton which was about thirty years old. Now, the boy has another story, and things begin to get serious with police involved.

The defence of Nizhal :: There is a certain amount of quality that we can witness as far as b is considered as a mystery thriller – this is the style which some of the Prithviraj movies had possessed, those belonging to the same genre. The technical department is quite strong here, and we see some fine visuals and the background score as well as the other sound effects are of top quality. The mystery is well maintained throughout the film, and there is the suspense which is not revealed that easily. The movie, as a thing of mystery has that Hollywood touch in different areas. It never lets the slowing down of the tale to hurt it, because there is the artistic quality which makes everything feel relevant and running. The first half is surely better than the second, and the interval punch is of top quality, as it is where you get your expectations to the highest point. From there, the movie travels through the safer zone in comparison.

The claws of flaw :: The climax could have surely been better, instead of seemingly taking everything towards what seemed to be a rather convenient ending – not really appropriate for a movie which had taken itself out of the comfort zone in the early stages making one feel that this was going to be something divergent beyond expectations. There are also those situations which could have been more twisted than what is seen on the screen, and moments when it could have taken a big leap. We could have also seen better reasons for what has happened on the screen, but that is also not here to be taken. The comic relief, even though is pretty good, disappears too soon, and the seriousness is not transformed into that next level as it was needed, when we see the final moments of the film. One can’t really blame that as the biggest mystery and fear has been about the Corona virus for some time now. The movie also needed better advertising because there are still people who don’t know about this one.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchako Boban has been winning with his thriller movies, from Anjaam Pathiraa to Nayattu, the first one being an investigation thriller and the second one being a survival thriller against all odds. With all these movies, it is clear that he is getting rid of that romantic hero image once again, as this works really well for him. I would expect to find many more of similar movies with him in the lead, as we see how well this has suited him. After Love Action Drama, Nayanthara makes another return to Malayalam cinema, and this time it is into another genre, even though this time, we don’t have the whole thing centered around her – there is no real romantic side to this tale, and it is indeed a positive thing in a mystery thriller based on murders. Her character is also limited in comparison, and maybe it could have had more dimensions rather than being important as the mother of child causing trouble.

Further performers of the soul :: Izin Hash who plays the kid does the usual job quite well too. Saiju Kurup does things well in a role which suits him. Lal makes an appearance in the end, and it is the kind of role, though significant, stays on for the last fifteen minutes or so. Maybe, he could have had something to do earlier in the film too, and that would have made the whole thing better. Rony David who is best remembered for Aanandam, plays a significant role here too, and Divya Prabha who were among the nurse characters in Take Off has a nice role here, as a child psychologist, which she does to perfection – another case of finding the right support cast. We also see Marimayam‘s Vinod Kovoor and Star Magic‘s Kollam Sudhi in smaller roles, and we can hope for more of them later too. Among others, Aadhya Prasad seemed to be a notable newcomer, and we can find out that the lesser roles are given to those who are suitable for the job.

How it finishes :: Nizhal is the latest in the list of those Malayalam movies which were forced out of the theatres due to the COVID-19 complete lock-down being brought on the state. It is a fine choice, as nothing reaches viewers like Amazon Prime. After Drishyam 2 became a huge success and Joji received some high level critical opinion, it was already too late for a movie like this to have its release in the OTT platform. So, finally it arrived, and one can be sure not to be disappointed with this mystery thriller, as it is more than the usual mysteries which you see everywhere. It was also nice to see parts of UC College, Aluva being included in parts of the movie – the college had its biggest appearance in Premam, but here also, we are happy to see that grand educational institution which only recently completed one hundred years since its beginning. Nizhal, as a mystery thriller wins its battle, and lets hope that we win ours against COVID-19 too. Stay safe, everyone.

Release date: 9th April 2021 (Theatre), 11th May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Appu N Bhattathiri
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Nayanthara, Lal, Rony David, Saiju Kurup, Izin Hash, Divya Prabha, Vinod Kovoor, Aneesh Gopal, Siyad Yadu, Sadiq, Aadhya Prasad, Rajesh Hebbar, Kollam Sudhi, Sreelatha Namboothiri

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

It: Chapter Two

Vampire Owl: Have you met the vampire clown?

Vampire Bat: We have a vampire clown now?

Vampire Owl: Yes, even the zombies have their own clowns in a zombie-infested theme park, and it was necessary for us to arrange one.

Vampire Bat: Now we have to pay him too. Being a clown is not even a real job in the vampire world with base in horror.

Vampire Owl: It is okay, because he will be playing the It clown only.

Vampire Bat: It clown is a creature that vampires shall not accept as their own.

Vampire Owl: But he has become a trend, and we have to accept him as our own too. This is not child’s play.

Vampire Bat: Well, I am sure that he was not the kind of clown the vampire elders had approved.

Vampire Owl: But he is trending on Vampire Twitter, and it has been so for the last one year.

Vampire Bat: What? Even the vampires are letting a clown trend when we have pure non-vegetarian vampires!

[Gets some tapioca chips and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: In 1988-1989 time period, in the streets of a small and lesser known town Derry, a his six-year-old child was taken into the sewers and eaten by Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard), and a team of children had forgotten their fears to destroy the creature, and send it into hibernation for twenty seven years, hoping that it would starve and die during the time period with no option available. The team of children known as the Losers swears a blood oath that they shall be returning to to the town of Derry as adults if It returns to haunt the place ever again. Twenty seven years later, a young man is murdered by a clown which is said to have eaten his heart. A young girl who was watching a match in a stadium is also lured by It, and murdered under the seats of the gallery. Derry town now has more than what it can handle.

So, what happens with the events here? :: This ancient cosmic evil which preys upon children and possessing a large variety of powers including the ability to shapeshift, manipulate and create illusions has gone unnoticed by the police and the people in charge there, but the same cannot be said about Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) who discovers clues to the presence of the creature. As the only person left in the town out of the children’s team serving as the town librarian, he decides to call the other members of the gang. Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain) who has been going through sexual and physical abuse in the hands of her husband is only happy to come to the town, while the successful novelist Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) is quick to respond. A frightened Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) commits suicide and a lonely Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan) is only happy about a get together. Others, Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone) and Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) also reach there, but are they good enough to face this advanced It?

The defence of It: Chapter Two :: Even in the absence of the quality of the first movie, the second one manages to stay floating against all the ice it had created in the water as hurdles including the dumb humour, silly bonding among friends and the not so scary frightening scenes. There are moments of horror which works in the movie, and in the final fifty to fifty five minutes of action, almost everything works as far as the scares are concerned. The adult replacements are good, but not that much as the children, and not all of them works accordingly. The clown remains a fantastic figure of horror, and it is only when the creature comes out there with all its glory that we realize that there is something special in this movie – whenever It is there, the movie raises its level, and the so called adults don’t really live up to the quality of the clown. Among the scary scenes, the most notable one might be the creepy old woman thing, and then the murder of the two kids.

The claws of flaw :: It can be seen that It: Chapter Two fails to meet the standards of the first movie which had that first scene of the child taken into sewers being among the best scenes ever in a horror movie. It also had a projector scene to stay in our memory along with others. Yes, the old woman scene is creepy, and there is some continuous dose of horror in the last few minutes, but they are more or less for the quick scares rather than being there to stay for long. There is no scene as in the first movie to remember in this second film in comparison, and it also drags a lot. There is a lot of slow movement inside the movie during the first half, and it is during the last one hour or so that the movie picks up its pace. It should have had that kind of horror which keeps us awake at night in the darkness like Lights Out could do when lights were turned off, but this second movie focuses too much on other things, as the bonding is too much and the humour is dumb.

Performers of the soul :: With its flashback, this movie is more or less drama than horror, as the children keep coming back to this film too, with its flashbacks. The young generation of the cast continues to score over the older ones, especially Sophia Lillis who becomes Jessica Chastain as an adult, and stay pretty well throughout the movie. James McAvoy is also very good, and is the next notable character in the flick. Jay Ryan is the one who seems to be completely different from his childhood avatar, and manages to be just okay. James Ransone provides the fun here, even though the humour itself is not that much working. Bill Hader with the comic side is also only somewhat working. Isaiah Mustafa does a good job as the one who brings them all together, the confident one among the Losers. Andy Bean is wasted while Bill Skarsgard as the clown continues to entertain – maybe some more kids would have added more here.

How it finishes :: It: Chapter Two is too long a movie, and has most of its best moments directed to the final one hour. A lot of the movie was rather not needed, including the first scene and the hallucinations when the protagonists come together. The collection of artifacts could have also been shortened to make this a one hundred and twenty minutes movie, which would mean an accurate movie filled with horror at all spaces. Still, with whatever we have, rooted in the Stephen King novel of the same name, the film takes the scary elements to the screen well enough. The predictable moments, silly jokes, and the overdone friendship can be avoided though, and we can quickly move towards the last few minutes to enjoy this movie at its best. After all, an evil clown like this is not to be left behind – for terror is real, whether there is Corona virus or not.

Release date: 6th September 2019
Running time: 169 minutes
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, James Ransone, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, Bill Skarsgard, Andy Bean

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wretched

Vampire Owl: These humans often refer us by this name.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is clearly wrong, as we are not in a wretched condition yet.

Vampire Owl: I am pretty sure that the humans are in a more wretched situation now.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the Corona Virus has gotten into them pretty badly.

Vampire Owl: I believe that they have always been wretched enough.

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t say that for every one of them.

Vampire Owl: You have always been too kind of the humans.

Vampire Bat: And you have always been the cruel one.

Vampire Owl: Nobody in the known world are as cruel and wicked as the humans.

Vampire Bat: Now, this is something you don’t even say about the werewolves or zombies.

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

What is the movie about? :: A young girl names Megan (Sydne Mikelle) has a babysitting duty, only to find a creature feeding off the little girl, and as she tries to escape, it seems that Megan also meets a similar end in the hands of the demonic creature. Later we see Ben (John-Paul Howard), a youngster joining his father Liam (Jamison Jones), as his parents are in the middle of having a mutually agreed divorce. Ben gets to work in the local harbour in the countryside with his father on a temporary basis. At the same time, Liam is getting too close to his co-worker, Sara (Azie Tesfai) while Ben becomes good friends with a local girl working there, named Mallory (Piper Curda). Ben also can’t stop himself from noticing their new neighbours, Abbie (Zarah Mahler) and her son Dillon (Blane Crockarell). They do get lost in the woods, and Dillon gets called by a tree into the hole underneath, but they do manage to bring home a deer which their car had hit and killed, much to the dismay of Abbie’s husband Ty (Kevin Bigley). She tries to cut the animal for a dish, but messes it up.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, we see that a certain creature is coming out of the body of the deer through the cut which was made earlier, and Ben also sees something sitting on the rails of Abbie’s home – seemingly human, but something else in reality. It does disappear when the light goes off, but makes appearances inside the house of Abbie. Ben tries to mingle with the young people in the neighbourhood with a party, but is publicly embarrassed by the most desired girl of the locality JJ (Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden). As he returns home, he finds Abbie walking into the woods with her toddler, but is interrupted by Liam and Sara, leading to a dispute. Even though Abbie returns from the woods, she doesn’t seem to be the same. It doesn’t seem to be the usual trouble that haunts the small town, as there is more to it than what meets the eye. There is a force beyond one’s understanding, and if someone tries to solve the case, that person might be considered a lunatic. How many lives will be lost before such an evil vanquished?

The defence of The Wretched :: There is no doubt about this particular movie’s ability to score with the ambiance, as the setting as well as the neighbourhood where the people are living, can all be considered to be very much perfect. We have the small town where people are denying the existence of evil, but there has always been one in the woods, and a tree has been central to everything. To get to the depth of this evil, we have even more twisted ideas in there, and more of terrifying suspense will be revealed in the end. There are also some scares to support the same, and the nature around the place is indeed beautiful. It is more or less like a dark fairy-tale, as there are elements of a dark fantasy which runs right through. The characters are the kind of people whom you can relate to, and that makes the transformation caused by the witch feel even more real. After all, it is always nice to be taken back to the idea of that witch who used to haunt us during the childhood and reached as far as The Witch – until you had the older version of Evil Dead to scare you in the best possible way.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that the movie does try to have a little too much than a regular witch story, which doesn’t always work in its favour. The mixture doesn’t make the best use of its elements, especially as there are so many things which a witch possessing a lady or two can do. The terror could have had even stranger forms, and it also takes some time to make one feel the seriousness of the same. Some scenes are also not needed, even in a movie which goes just above one and half hours. Some people can even find this movie to be confusing in parts, and the creepy poster doesn’t come up in there, which is also disappointing. The mask does come though, and just like the other elements related to the witch, there could have surely been more. The ending has also been left open, maybe for a sequel, but that would need more, and not just the type of material that we have here. There are also some characters who could have done more – some are just left not explored well enough, and we feel the need to see them more.

Performers of the soul :: It is to be noted that the main characters are driven by a terrifying feeling – if you die, and nobody remembers you, where you really alive? That existential crisis is first discovered by John-Paul Howard who plays Ben well enough, but the truth is that it is not just his neighbour who has forgotten his son, as the darker secrets are there to make him realize the terror further. He plays the curious youngster who understands things happening around better than the others, and he does that well. At the same time, Piper Curda remains very cute and brings a lot of charm to the movie – not your usual leading actress, she brings a few joyful moments here and there in what really is a dark movie as it progresses. Zarah Mahler is really good as the young lady next door who is possessed by the witch, as she makes some really scary appearances, and there are scenes with her skin ripping off, which takes it to another level. Azie Tesfai with that deer-skull mask on her face is joy to watch, even though it is only for a short period of time to make a good enough bad witch. Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden could have been there for more though.

How it finishes :: We have always had the supernatural creatures running around in different movies, but the witches have always struggled to keep it going in comparison to vampires, werewolves, zombies and other creatures of the dark who have been competing well with the demons and ghosts. But The Wretched does manage to bring some of such interest back to us during these days, as the witch gets her due, without a broomstick, staying close to an evil tree in the forest. It has enough surprises in there to keep the whole thing going, and with such a setting to help its cause, The Wretched is sure to take you to a world of forest’s witches whom we have known since childhood. You can always expect more, but this is indeed a good beginning to a type of horror cinema which hasn’t made that much of success in comparison to the others. After all, elves and similar creatures of light are not the only ones you keep finding in the middle of the forest.

Release date: 19th July 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Brett Pierce, Drew T Pierce
Starring: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Zarah Karen Mahler, Kevin Bigley, Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden, Richard Ellis, Blane Crockarell, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vivarium

Vampire Owl: I have heard that Vive la France is an expression used in France to show patriotism. Does the title have anything to do with it?

Vampire Bat: Well, I think that they have chosen an interesting name. It means an enclosure made for keeping animals in semi-natural conditions for observation or study.

Vampire Owl: It is strange, but I will agree to it. The name does catch one’s attention.

Vampire Bat: Do you wish to rename your vampires quarters with this name?

Vampire Owl: I haven’t even come close to renaming it. The present one is a highly intellectual one.

Vampire Bat: There is nothing intellectual about naming a home as mansion.

Vampire Owl: You will not understand. I have always wanted to have a mansion.

Vampire Bat: I will not understand such foolishness, ever.

Vampire Owl: I would rather be anywhere other than a vivarium.

Vampire Bat: Well, lets see where our main characters here happens to be.

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

What is the movie about? :: A young couple, Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) and Gemma (Imogen Poots) want to purchase a house and move in. Both are not married, but looks forward to start a new life together soon. For the same, they visit an estate agent, Martin (Jonathan Aris), who seems to be acting strange, but comes up with a special offer for them. According to him, a new development known as Yonder might be perfect for a young couple who is trying to begin a new life far away from the busy city life. The place which as a series of homes looking almost the same, seems to be beautiful, and at the same time, silent, empty with no house seemingly occupied, and also giving the feeling of being out of the world. Martin shows the couple around house number nine and then they cannot find him around. Gemma and Tom try to leave Yonder, but however they keep moving, they end up in front of the same house. The car eventually runs out of fuel and they are forced to stay in house number nine.

So, what happens with the events here? :: They try to go up to the roof of the building and see if they can have a better look, but there is only an unlimited of series of similar houses to be seen, and nothing else. All houses seem so perfectly identical, and even the sky looks the same everywhere, with the clouds also being perfectly shaped. As they looked towards infinity, they decide to follow the perfect sun-like thing by jumping over walls of the houses, going in a straight line. But that also leaves them at the same place. Then at home, they find food items and groceries being delivered. But soon, they find a little boy being delivered – “Raise the child and be released” – the message written on the delivery box said so, and they begin to think that it is their only way to escape. At the same time, Tom also begins to dig of a pit hoping to escape underground, as there is no other way to go. Can the couple escape from this seemingly impossible situation? Or will they be stuck there forever? What is with this child who seems to be growing up faster than normal?

The defence of Vivarium :: The movie keeps its mystery elements strong, and it arouses the curiosity of the audience with ease, and as it gets into such an environment very early, we are also into it guessing soon enough. This time, it is a kid who is at the centre of everything, and you remember the other kids who were indeed dangerous, including Orphan and The Prodigy. Lord of the Flies proved it with a group of kids, while The Room had another kind of child, with The Influence having a child becoming a nightmare. The movie shows the dream of buying a villa, and shows how the protagonists are trapped by it. There are many points in the movie which become classic, and its idea of the aliens is nicely divergent. The creepiness here is not in frightening people, and the maze-like structure which the villa becomes, is going to make even a Minotaur proud. After all, we are in such a structure, with no chance to escape, as each and every day brings the same routine, while we are caught in it.

The claws of flaw :: There are areas where Vivarium goes unexplained, and even though it does try to live up to its name, there is not really an attempt to go into that further, or give a stronger feeling about it. The aliens seem to be a little bit clueless about what they are doing too, at a time when all these could have had better explanation that showing a cuckoo growing up – this doesn’t exactly become the same. As the two protagonists have been alone for a long time, there were more that they could have done, and further methods of escape could have also been attempted. The boy here could have also been a little bit threatening rather than remaining annoying all the time – you remember the boy of The Room who was surely developing into a genuine threat. More additions could have been done within the neighbourhood to make it further creepy or rather scary.

Performers of the soul :: Imogen Poots is a highly underrated actress, and she proves to be fantastic yet again in this movie. The audience from this part of the world might know her from Need for Speed, the game-based movie which had her as heroine, looking kind of like Anushka Sharma from an angle or two. There has been many movies with her name with it, but I don’t think that any of them had a theatre release around here, except for, maybe the A-1 cities with big malls, like Chennai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad – maybe cities like Pune and Ahmedabad had them too, but that wouldn’t have attracted much of the audience. The British actress takes this role to perfection, and you can see many situations reflecting the same. Jesse Eisenberg will be known for the audience here for Now You See Me and its sequel as well as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which were the last big movies of him widely released here, and he also does a fine job. The rest of the cast just gives some good support.

How it finishes :: At a time when people got caught in their homes, or at times the neighbourhood with nowhere to escape, Vivarium becomes a fine reflection, as the protagonists are also facing the same situation. They are left with a house in the neighbourhood, and they can’t go into any other houses around there, and are to spend their time inside with whatever food is being delivered from outside. It does feel like a certain kind of quarantine, but this is the kind from where there is no escape. There is no network coverage on the mobile phone, and the television only shows some strange lines and grains all around. Vivarium doesn’t seem to reach that greatness that it intended, but it is so much close to it. The movie makes us feel our emotions, and make us think about the usual themes about humanity and other species well enough. It is a movie that we should watch, and will like more or a little less according to our tastes. You can feel an experiment, even though not exactly in the form of The Belko Experiment or The Platform.

Release date: 18th May 2019
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Lorcan Finnegan
Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Danielle Ryan, Jonathan Aris, Molly McCann, Senan Jennings, Eanna Hardwicke, Come Thiry

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Impetigore

Vampire Owl: This should be one strange case of gore.

Vampire Bat: The original title in Indonesian is rather too long.

Vampire Owl: Well, at least we get to review an Indonesian movie this time.

Vampire Bat: Yes, after that visit to Bali last year, it was needed to happen at some point.

Vampire Owl: Corona Virus did make sure that it was one final foreign trip.

Vampire Bat: Well, we are now more distant from other parts of the world than ever.

Vampire Owl: At least the human pride in their technology is now crushed.

Vampire Bat: Yes, now they know that science cannot bring them everything.

Vampire Owl: You cannot take science to attack nature, for it is too dumb an action.

Vampire Bat: Well, the vampire elders have made that clear too.

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

What is the movie about? :: Maya (Tara Basro) with her best friend, Dini (Marissa Anita), are trying to survive in a city without family or relatives to support them, as they work at expressway tolls. But they never really earns enough money to keep them going in the big city. On a fateful night, Maya is attacked by a man who had been stalking her for a long time, and as he discovers a mark on her right thigh, tells her that he should kill her to keep a curse away, but the police arrives in time and shoots the man. A few days later, the two girls leave their jobs and start a small clothes store in a corner of a market, and nobody really visits their place. The business is making them no profit at all, and they keep thinking about a way out. It is then that Maya comes up against a photo from her childhood which shows her standing with her parents in front of a big house, and she also manages to get an address at a remote village which is not in the Google Maps, but is part of the territory.

So, what happens with the events here? :: They travel all the way there, and finds out that not many people wants to go to the village area, except for one young man who charges them a lot. When they reach the village, they find the house to be locked and deserted, with nature taken over parts of it. The lack of maintenance was surely there as far as the house was concerned, but it was indeed a lot spacious inside, and it also had all the furniture there, as well as some lighting which could be used along with the option for getting some water. Yet there is something wrong with the village and the house where Maya had lived with her parents. The villagers believe that the house belonged the demons and there was a curse associated with it from a long time ago. There are also deaths happening in the village, and it seems to be children who are facing death. The two girls are afraid that if they tell the truth, it might be troublesome, and they pretend to be research students from a nearby university. But who long can they keep the lie going against terror awaiting to unleash on them?

The defence of Impetigore :: There is a talented cast which makes sure that this movie never losses its strength, and the lead Tara Basro seems to be that king of an actress who would be part of a horror movie instantly if it was in Hollywood, and Marissa Anita as well as Asmara Abigail also maintains such qualities. If you have a look at it, you will know that Indonesian movies are also superior in horror, and among the East Asian movies, you just can’t give all the credit to the Korean movies only, with the level being consistently increased with those from different languages. The atmosphere of the movie is just too good, and we feel that mystery and horror running through the stylish, abandoned, rural world. The setting is such a big advantage that you are going to get immersed in it. The visuals are really good, and you can see the environment coming up with natural beauty as well as the horror of the world that lies at almost every corner.

Positives and negatives :: As a stable mystery horror thriller, Impetigore is that kind of a movie which is difficult to find faults with, having the same level maintained for most part of it. Still, people can always find some problem with horror movies, and here also they would wonder about how the main characters are acting when facing certain terror being present all around there – but, that kind of a judgment has always been flawed in the soul itself because people are basically supposed to be like that, being evil as well as dumb whenever the emotional side takes on. The building can be considered slow, but it is more or less expected because the grandeur of terror had to rise step by step to create the best of impact. The familiar horror contents have more additions here too. The superstitions and the beliefs in curses and spells also gets a place, and it stays close to more of Indonesian style as we look at it, and we feel that it is nice to understand a different folklore. The beautiful shots along with the shadow puppetry can make some people strange with its beauty, but they add to this being one of the best shot movies of all-time.

Performers of the soul :: We do have our focus on how well Tara Basro is handling her work here as the protagonist, the grown up child who is supposed to be cursed with something which she has no clue about. Marissa Anita who plays her friend also has her moments which make a difference, and she even has a funny side here which brings a smile on the face as humour strikes against the horror which is always present. It is still a shame that we don’t see her throughout the movie, or at least until the last few moments of the tale. Faradina Mufti also has her charm in the flashbacks, and we see that added to the beauty of the visuals of the grand past. You would also love Asmara Abigail who might be the best noticed supporting character who seem not important in the beginning, but elevates the level when she gets a part to play in the final stages. Then you have Ario Bayu who has the best role of to play among the male characters in a female dominated movie, and he does very well, and so does Christine Hakim here.

How it finishes :: Among all the common horror movies in Hollywood and its lame partial adaptations in Bollywood, Impetigore stands apart. It shows how horror can be done using the local legend and after building a flashback out of possible folklore which might have always been there. A number of Malayalam movies from the past had successfully attained success with the use of local legends and myths, and Impetigore is one Indonesian movie which does the same, maybe in a more effective way than any other horror movie has done in the last few years. You are taken into the atmosphere of the movie, as you become part of that setting, which is not just strange, but also terrifying even without showing that much of horror on the screen. What is seen might be scary, but what is not seen or implied feels even scarier in this film which is also about what doesn’t meet the eye. This is the first Indonesian movie that I ever watched, and it is highly effective indeed. I am watching this movie an year after my visit to Indonesia too!

Release date: 17th October 2019
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Joko Anwar
Starring: Tara Basro, Ario Bayu, Marissa Anita, Christine Hakim, Asmara Abigail, Kiki Narendra, Zidni Hakim, Faradina Mufti, Abdurrahman Arif, Muhammad Abe Baasyin, Mursiyanto, Aura Agna, Ahmad Ramadhan, Devona Queeny, Sindris Ogiska G

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Dark Almost Night

Vampire Owl: And, we are getting some dark movies.

Vampire Bat: This is only the second Polish movie that we are watching.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and it should be a really dark one, as seen in the title.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that it could be related to the vampires in anyway though.

Vampire Owl: Who else can have the darkness around them without fear?

Vampire Bat: Ghosts, witches, demons, dark elves, orcs, goblins?

Vampire Owl: Okay, but there can still be something vampiric about it.

Vampire Bat: I am actually sensing a serial killer around here.

Vampire Owl: Well, there are heroes being made out of such killers.

Vampire Bat: Actually, we are not at that part, just not yet.

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

What is the movie about? :: Reporter Alicja Tabor (Magdalena Cielecka) returns to the city from her childhood, Walbrzych after a long time. A series of mysterious child kidnappings are occuring in the city, and nobody has any clue about what is happening. Using her skills as an experienced reporter, Alicja tries to solve at least a part of this strange mystery which has become quite baffling for the police department. She would have to meet the families of the missing children and solve a mystery which puzzles even the smartest, but at the same time, she also has a past which strangles her reasoning skills, as her childhood has that kind of memories which won’t let her sleep in peace. There are some of dramatic events which started decades earlier, at the same place. Now, she will have to face whatever she had been running away from during her earlier life – the terrifying secrets of her family and the horrors of her own childhood. Everything seems to be linked in one way or the other, and can she go beyond her own demons to solve the mystery?

The defence of Dark Almost Night :: This is one atmospheric movie like no other, as the setting and the environment that we see around raises this movie to a much higher level, better than any other quality. You can feel the invisible terror at all times, even though it is certainly not the kind of danger that is shown that much on the screen to bring the horror. Magdalena Cielecka nicely fits into that atmosphere, as the blending is perfect as far as her highly vulnerable character with a troubled childhood is concerned. Adapted from a much appreciated novel of the same name by Joanna Bator which is supposed to be a satisfying version, the movie does focus on the visuals really well and has found the perfect actresses to bring it to the screen. With such quality adaptation, we can say that the trauma and the emotional side are strong even when we don’t see them shown as melodrama – it is here that the beauty lies, as we can feel the same even when they are not focusing on it, for the movie has the feelings running through at all times.

The claws of flaw :: The movie lacks enough dialogues of significance to keep the tale going forward. There is also the presence of some confusing elements, and as the story keeps on going here and there, we will find the requirement for better explanations. There are moments when the movie should have been more direct with things, and as we are from another distant part of the world and another culture with no knowledge about the language, we do have some trouble, especially when the subtitles are not that great either. A good number of scenes are shown, and suddenly, they disappear, leading us to the present, past and the lives of different people without having enough focus on the necessary moments. The final moments could have also been stronger, as we just get there all of a sudden, and things end too fast. Instead, the focus should have been on the protagonist, and she should have been facing her demons in a highly emotional moments which could have no parallels by any means – the slower moments earlier could have been thus justified.

Performers of the soul :: Magdalena Cielecka, the almost fifty year old actress plays her role to perfection with such passive energy which would make the younger generation of actresses feel weak – Virginie Efira who is a little younger than her did the same in Sibyl, and her passivity was also stronger than a much younger secondary female character played by the lead from the much acclaimed Blue Is the Warmest Colour. Both are actually vulnerable characters, but don’t really show that to others, with some extreme feeling lying deep inside them which forces them to take some strange decisions. Magdalena actually shows that on so many occasions, and the melancholic reflection which can be seen on her face as well as a body with scars, in a believable manner. Eliza Rycembel who plays Ewa as well as Helena Norowicz who plays Rosemarie also gets into the creepy mystery really well, even though the film is very much Magdalena-based. The atmosphere itself is a fine performer, as you look around here.

How it finishes :: Dark Almost Night is not your usual kind of movie, and therefore, won’t satisfy all kinds of audience. The value of the film as an entertainer might be questioned by many people due to the divergent way in which it deals with the subject. Magdalena Cielecka has things in control, but the pace will still trouble people. But you are sure to love being transported to this particular dark world of mysteries and possible terror. This is the kind of atmosphere which Hollywood should use, as they already have the special effects to take the best advantage of it. Maybe, The Conjuring universe can combine it with the supernatural to create magnificence. We can wait for that, and for now, it is up to us to enjoy Dark Almost Night, something of visual quality that we will remember. I am surely hoping to watch more Polish movies after this, especially those which have the same leading actress. We are never that short of such a need during the COVID-19 crisis.

[Gets a vegetable puffs along with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: This movie could have scored better in things other than atmosphere.

Vampire Bat: Yes, they could have better used the potential which was there.

Vampire Owl: This is a movie which was surely not watched by many people, and so, not many people know about it.

Vampire Bat: But the leading lady here is perfect fit for such a mystery, don’t you think?

Vampire Owl: Yes, and she needs a usual type of horror movie to add to her list.

Vampire Bat: The melancholic emotions that she display has a certain amount of beauty.

Vampire Owl: There are so many talented actresses whom we never knew about.

Vampire Bat: She is just one of the many such actresses with high quality skills.

Vampire Owl: There are so many performers we should know about.

Vampire Bat: As knowledge doesn’t come with immortality, we need to look forward to other areas including books.

[Vanishes into the shadows behind the teak tree].

Release date: 22nd March 2019
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Borys Lankosz
Starring: Magdalena Cielecka, Rafal Mackowiak, Modest Rucinski, Eliza Rycembel, Antonina Litwiniak, Roma Gasiorowska, Aleksandra Konieczna, Wlodzimierz Dyla, Jerzy Trela, Nikola Karwowska, Helena Norowicz, Malgorzata Hajewska, Mateusz Czulowski, Marcin Dorocinski, Piotr Polak

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Proxima

Vampire Owl: Have you heard about the vampire team planning to travel to Proxima Centauri?

Vampire Bat: No, such a plan was discarded after Doctor Frankenstein created a portal and ended up being crazy for three weeks.

Vampire Owl: It is depressing, because vampire space travel was only beginning to get popular.

Vampire Bat: You could have some temporary relief by watching a movie on space travel.

Vampire Owl: This one seems to be drama and not really science fiction.

Vampire Bat: Drama is more close to life than science fiction as far as humans are concerned.

Vampire Owl: I wouldn’t disagree with that statement. They always create some drama.

Vampire Bat: It is also the one reason why humans stopped evolving.

Vampire Owl: I do feel that they can still evolve like some of the alien species which we had met while traveling through one of those portals.

Vampire Bat: Well, lets see how far they can go and fight their own upcoming extinction.

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

What is the movie about? :: Sarah Loreau (Eva Green) is preparing herself for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station, after different stages of training on Earth, and a final quarantine which would follow. She is very excited about it, as she finally had the chance which she was waiting for, throughout these years. She had kept so many things away just for this special opportunity which rarely comes to her field. But her daughter Stella Akerman Loreau (Zelie Boulant-Lemesle) is certainly not even close to being happy about it. She does like the idea that her mother is going to the stars, but hates the fact that she has to leave her for such a long period of time, first out of the nation and then far away from Earth itself. This would mean that Stella and her cat would have to stay in a new house in a new neighbourhood in a distant city, with her father Thomas Akerman (Lars Eidinger) as the parents had separated, despite falling in love while working at the same space agency.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But things have to go as planned, and they have to follow the procedure, as she has qualified with great difficulty, and now there will be no replacement in her place. Sarah leaves for further training, much to the dismay of Stella who is left to adjust with the new home and the new school were she keeps struggling with Mathematics and also in making new friends, being a new loner. At the same time, Sarah has some initial struggles with keeping up, and her colleague from the United States, Mike Shannon (Matt Dillon) considers her to be more of a space tourist, as he is a war veteran who has served in Irag and Afghanistan. But he does appreciate her hard work as time progresses, but as she develops an infection in a new wound, Sarah has further struggles to go with. At the same time, the bond between the mother and daughter which was very strong and special seems to be having some cracks here and there. Now, Sarah has to keep up both her lives going, and it is a question whether she can do the same.

The defence of Proxima :: As one would expect, the movie thrives in the work of Eva Green, who excels as the astronaut mother who struggles to keep the two sides of her life going. The movie serves as a reflection of anyone who is trying to seek new heights, but cannot let go of the old world to which the person belongs to. The training sequences are nice, and the emotional moments are all in control, with everything safely handled by Eva herself, for this is her movie. As the movie was shot in different original training facilities of the European Space Agency, everything feels more real, just like the feelings. The movie’s progress is also steady, even though we are given the idea of what to expect in the beginning stages itself. As the movie chooses to go realistic over everything else, we do have the interesting family drama which depicts the mother-daughter relationship without much of a trouble. In the same, there is quality guaranteed.

The claws of flaw :: Proxima had scope to be something more, with both its dramatic side and it could have been an action thriller of a lesser level too, with more twists being added to the training sessions and time of quarantine. People who are looking for some science fiction are going to be disappointed, because the same is not there, and we can say the same about the action and thriller side too. It could have also had more of emotional moments together, and there could have been more of bonding scenes between the astronauts in the facility. The fact that it keeps changing the language in between is a little bit strange, as it remaining a French movie with English subtitles would have been fair enough. It could have also used some flashback to add to the tale, because our protagonist here does seem to have had a long interesting past. If it had used all the elements perfectly, there was chance for a flawless film here, but Proxima does come somewhat close.

Performers of the soul :: With birthday on the 6th of July, it is a good time to give Eva Green some lovely birthday wishes, as she is one actress who has been special throughout her career, reminding us of some fine roles which she had played so well – this movie is not that much of an exception in that case too. The lovely actress has that kind of movies in her list which I have loved to watch, with the last few being my personal favourite Dark Shadows, the grand sequel 300: Rise of an Empire, the much different Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to be added to the list. She is fantastic in this movie, and we see the emotions running wild on one side, and the determination of the character on the other – Eva is delightful to watch in this film too, and she carries the movie on her shoulders with so much of ease. Zelie Boulant who plays the daughter also comes up with a fine performance. Matt Dillon does a fine job in the supporting role too. The rest just working along, as this one is indeed the Eva Green show from the first moment to the time when the credits starts rolling.

How it finishes :: It is no surprise that Proxima‘s biggest asset is Eva Green, and the same is reflected throughout the flick, with the focus never really shifting from her, as she brings the magnificent performance to elevate this movie to where it would have been, with another actress in her place. But those who watch this movie should note that it is not science fiction unlike some idea being given here. As the movie stays as close to a realistic world as possible even with an upcoming space travel, Proxima does deliver a strong drama which works with the mother-daughter relationship very well. It is the kind of movie that one can choose to watch during Eva Green’s birthday week, and the French actress’ work is reason enough to go for it. If you are going for science fiction in space or other planets, we do have those other titles, and expecting a Gravity, Interstellar or The Martian in this case will be wrong, as the tendency will be there as people see the lady wearing the spacesuit on the poster, but that is just one side of the tale.

Release date: 27th November 2019
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Alice Winocour
Starring: Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Zelie Boulant, Lars Eidinger, Sandra Huller, Aleksey Fateev, Nancy Tate, Svetlana Nekhoroshikh, Anna Sherbinina, Vitaly Jay, Lionel Ferra, Manuela Aguzzi, Gregoire Colin, Trond-Erik Vassal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pinocchio

Vampire Owl: I know this person very well from childhood itself.

Vampire Bat: It is a fictional character from the children’s novel The Adventures of written by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence.

Vampire Owl: Okay, so it is from the land of Renaissance indeed,

Vampire Bat: Yes, most people don’t really know that this tale is not really English.

Vampire Owl: But it went on to become so popular all around the world.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is that kind of a story that appeals to everyone.

Vampire Owl: And it is a fine story to read for the children of all ages.

Vampire Bat: We also add an Italian movie dealing with the same story to our list on this day.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this one will become a fine deviation from our usual path.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and takes us back to childhood too, at least in parts.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Geppetto (Roberto Benigni), a poor Italian carpenter has a hard time making his living, as he rarely gets any work, and nobody appreciates him for the quality products which he come up with. But one day, he sees a puppet theatre in the town, and becomes a lot interested in creating a puppet all by himself. He feels that he could create something special which would be appreciated all around the world for its beauty on wood. He manages to get a log of wood which its owner wanted to leave behind because it seemed to have some kind of magic associated with it. Geppetto spends all his time creating the perfect puppet, and in the end, when he finishes the same, he finds out that it can talk. After naming the puppet Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi), he decides to take him as his son. But the newfound son out of the log isn’t really an obedient one, as he keeps exercising his freedom against the wishes of his father.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Pinocchio does get into trouble due to his actions, and Geppetto decides to send him to school, so that he would study well and also mingle with the other children of the town. Geppetto sells his inherited jacket to buy Pinocchio an ABC book which is necessary to accepted into the school. Pinocchio does go for his first day at school, but notices a puppet theater, and he ends up selling the book to buy the ticket. In the theater, the other puppets notice Pinocchio among the viewers and calls him up the stage, thus messing up the show. A furious puppeteer Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti) catches Pinocchio and locks him in his caravan with the others puppets, and leaves the town. Mangiafuoco who has been very angry about what had happened, plans to use Pinocchio as firewood to help cooking his dinner. Pinocchio begs him to release him in order to return home from his father, who would be very much worried by then.

And what else is to follow around here with the puppet? :: Mangiafuoco decides to let him go, and seeing his compassion towards the other puppets who he saves from being burned, he gives him five gold coins to give to the poor carpenter whom he calls father. Pinocchio is really happy about it, and tries to get home as soon as possible, but is lost in his way, not sure where he is heading. As he tries to find the right directions, he meets Fox (Massimo Ceccherini) and Cat (Rocco Papaleo) who discovers that the puppet has some gold coins with him which they can use during their jobless ways. They tell him a tale about the Field of Miracles, a special place where they can bury the coins, and a tree full of money will grow rapidly. But they intend to murder the puppet and take the money. They make some fine plans for the same, and takes a room in the nearby tavern. Pinocchio is not aware of such sinister plans, and despite being warned by Talking Cricket (Davide Marotta). Can the puppet keep the money and finally get to his father who is looking for him?

The defence of Pinocchio :: The movie, as expected is a journey to a special world, and those who have known the tale before, will relate to the same very well. There is a beautiful world that provides a certain amount of enchantment close to the original version, and we have one puppet who is not familiar with the ways of humans going through. Roberto Benigni whom we know from the movie Life is Beautiful is here again playing the father figure, and that is indeed beautiful, as we remember how he managed to be a great father there – here, he is not far behind either. The one who used his imagination to shield his son from the terror within a Nazi concentration camp is not to be forgotten that easily. Marine Vacth who plays the fairy and many others also catch our attention, being out of the usual world, getting close to fantasy. With the cat, fox, snail, cricket, characters, the movie is as child-friendly as anything can get, and therefore makes itself a fine watch for the families. Well, a journey through rural Italy of those times never really gets to be less interesting for the eyes.

The claws of flaw :: Pinocchio might be different in looks from what many people might have imagined him earlier. The movie could have had a certain amount of visible magic in there too, not as being regular part of the proceedings, but as something completely out of the world. For the same, more special effects could have been used to create a visual extravaganza, because even lesser films these days seem to display the grandeur – after all, this is a children’s classic of a higher level on print. The fact that the puppet keeps falling into trouble due to not listening to the good advice makes it feel repetitive, especially for the adults who would be a long way past this tale by now – even I don’t remember most of what I read during my childhood. It could have also had more focus on the father-son relationship because the puppet as the adventurer is not of that much interest as a person, and we have to look forward to the fairy to find the next lovable character, followed by the snail. The growing nose could have also been used better.

How it finishes :: As far as the idea of Pinocchio from The Adventures of Pinocchio by the Italian author Carlo Collodi is concerned, this one manages the same well, and it is to be noted that usually the adaptations are supposed to come in the form of cartoons. Making a live-action movie with this type of characters is indeed difficult, but we can see that they have managed everything pretty well here. The Adventures of Pinocchio has been the world’s most translated book excluding religious works and had such a great impact on different cultures, also being a children’s favourite. But we see that it also explores the human condition, about what it means to be human, right here. We do have that usual child who doesn’t like to go to the school, and is not interested in obeying parents, with a certain love for entertainment and adventure over the rest, and is naive when facing the dangers of the outside world. Yes, this version is a successful one too, and you can choose to watch it, without expecting anything too special or highly innovative.

Release date: 19th December 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Matteo Garrone
Starring: Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi, Rocco Papaleo, Massimo Ceccherini, Marine Vacth, Gigi Proietti, Paolo Graziosi, Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Timo, Davide Marotta, Alessio Di Domenicantonio

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Piranhas

Vampire Owl: I has been wondering why there has been no Italian movie on the website so far, even with French, Spanish and German being there.

Vampire Bat: You have to note that I don’t have any Portuguese movie either if you are looking at the Western Europe.

Vampire Owl: Still, it is different about Italian. Bicycle Thieves from Vittorio De Sica is your favourite, and you have studied it in college.

Vampire Bat: I would say the same about Life is Beautiful from Roberto Benigni too.

Vampire Owl: But we still had to wait for so long to get an Italian movie here.

Vampire Bat: I do not intend to write about movies from each and every part of the world.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but you have to agree that this one was long due.

Vampire Bat: Well, I did have my plans of writing one earlier.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and I had guessed that long ago.

Vampire Bat: There are no awards for guessing this one though.

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

What is the movie about? :: The movie is set in Naples, the third-largest city of Italy after Rome and Milan, and one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. A group of teenage boys from one of the thickly populated neighbourhoods in Naples, hope to gain power, fame and easy money, and for the same, they enter into the city’s world of crime which is rather complicated. Nicola (Francesco Di Napoli), who lives with his single mother and younger brother, feels that there is no option left for him, but to choose crime as a real opportunity, as the group moves through the streets as gangsters would. Nicola falls in love with an aspiring model who works in her father’s restaurant, Letizia (Viviana Aprea) whom he helps in the street once and again meets her at the swimsuit of a beauty contest which she losses, and he helps her out in the following brawl. Soon, Letizia returns the same affections, and they start a relationship, with the support of his friends who are happy to see him with a girl.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As they try to take control of different areas, Nicola finds it difficult to be with Letizia because she is living in another part of the city which has the presence of a rival gang who wants his gang to keep away. Still he does manage to sneak into her room at times, beginning a part-time live in relationship. Nicola and his friends dive deeper into the world of crime with guns received from one of the notorious dons of the area, and they begin to show no regret after crimes. Nicola’s mother (Valentina Vannino) is not exactly happy about it, but doesn’t say much about it, as his idea itself seems to make her happy, as extortion by gangs at her shop seemed to bother him more than anything else. But with more and more of teenagers’ gangs being formed, and the youth committing further crimes, how long can he hold on a gang within a world of crime? Is survival an easy enough thing here?

The defence of Piranhas :: The movie is undoubtedly good looking, as far as the locations and visuals are concerned here. Naples is indeed a fine place to wander around, and we see different sides of the beautiful city, even though we have only been familiar with the other cities like Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan which we have seen on television, but never this charming city. At the same time, we wish the nation of Italy with its grand history and culture a speedy recovery from the Corona Virus which seems to be happening right now too. The tale also progresses in an order which makes the new generation attitude and their loss of innocence if there was something like that, feels very much close to reality. If you notice the first scene, there is something that reminds you of William Golding’s Lord of Flies, both the film and the movie, as we notice the return of inherent evil in people, and as it returns to the kids who claim to be fifteen year old youth, we understand that evil has been invoked in them too early, and we just can’t trust the children to be good and display innocence any more.

The claws of flaw :: Piranhas doesn’t move away from the usual gangster movie mode, and there are many occasions when you keep feeling that you have seen these before, and at different times, and it has nothing new that you would want to treasure. It also doesn’t manage to explore that much, and extend its strengths a gangster movie, with something seemingly pull it back, which is why even with a run-time of one hour and forty five minutes, it does feel to be longer. It doesn’t try to venture that deep as a movie about youngsters becoming criminals and wandering in the streets. We have had many Malayalam movies dealing with the same topic emotionally as well as in a funny way. Piranhas could have ended with a bigger scope, but it chooses not to do that, and it doesn’t deal with its female characters that well either, as it chooses to keep them down and without significance throughout the time when there was chance for them too.

Performers of the soul :: As the feeling of Lord of the Flies seems to be invoked here, there is much to do for the young cast, and they do not stay far behind with the same – it seems to come naturally to them here. As the leader of the junior gang, and the one to take the big decisions every time, Francesco Di Napoli’s character steals the attention more than anyone else, and he does manage to come up with a straight-forward performance here which rises above everyone else with ease. He does seem to be in control at all times, as he tries to do whatever an older crime boss would do, and in the final moments of the movie, we see that he is more or less a young gangster who has gone through his coming of age moments, and it is where his bildungsroman reaches to final point. Viviana Aprea is a lovely addition to the movie, and she is someone whom we can see with passionate and true love for the main character, but can’t follow the same well enough due to her lover’s gangster kind of life which threatens to separate them forever. The supporting cast does a pretty good job too.

How it finishes :: Piranhas does make an interesting gangster movie which follows the usual style of such movies, but doesn’t work on the same idea that much as one would have wanted it to. As the first Italian movie which I watched since Life is Beautiful a long time ago in the order of its release, and after Bicycle Thieves if we considered the order of release, this one made an interesting watch. There is a certain amount of reality in these movies, and that feeling keeps on going throughout the run. There is no melodrama, but we do feel with the characters, and everything remains so subtle. It is the same reason why I decided to choose an Italian movie to watch for this time of Corona Virus. I hope that all my reader are doing okay during this season of terrible crisis with one virus trying to kill us and our spirits in more than one way. But we will survive, and we shall go past these terrible times – we are all together in this! Stay safe and watch more movies!

Release date: 12th February 2019
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Claudio Giovannesi
Starring: Viviana Aprea, Francesco Di Napoli, Alfredo Turitto, Ar Tem, Carmine Pizzo, Ciro Pellechia, Valentina Vannino, Ciro Vecchione, Luca Nacarlo, Mattia Piano Del Balzo, Pasquale Marotta, Adam Jendoubi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Furie

Vampire Owl: This surely sounds like fury with the original spelling.

Vampire Bat: There is another movie with this title in English itself.

Vampire Owl: So, you are beginning to explore other language.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one is Vietnamese, and other languages will follow.

Vampire Owl: Does this remind you of any of your previous journeys to East Asia.

Vampire Bat: No, the journeys were to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. None of them are the same.

Vampire Owl: So, this doesn’t bring much of those memories back?

Vampire Bat: Well, those memories are not going to return. The trips have all ended with the Corona Virus.

Vampire Owl: Well, a Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos trip should happen at some point.

Vampire Bat: It might come a long time later, and that would mean many years later.

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

What is the movie about? :: Hai Phuong (Veronica Ngo) is a former gangster who used to belong to a powerful family in the city, but is now living in the city with her daughter Mai (Cat Vy), working as a debt collector, while she used her skills in vovinam, a Vietnamese martial arts from. With the kid’s father having died a long time ago, she is having a hard time, as both the mother and the child are harassed due to the kid being born out of wedlock, and also because the mother is a debt collector who is seen as a continuous trouble maker. Mai wishes to stop going to school and start a fish farm with her mother, so that they won’t be bullied again, not at the school and not at the market or the streets. But one day, after having a verbal fight with her daughter, Hai finds Mai being kidnapped by some men, and she follows them through road, but can only see them taking her away on a boat, and then into a transport to Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hai is returning to the the most populous city in Vietnam, and the capital of the former state South Vietnam after a long time, this time, not as a gangster, but as a mother looking for her daughter who was kidnapped. With no clue about where to search, she asks her former gang members to help, but they refuse help because things did undergo some change around there, and the power balance has shifted – not helping them would be the best for the safety. As he approaches the police, she finds them not good enough, but she does manage to steal the reports of some criminals who could be related to the case of missing children. Detective Luong (Phan Thanh Nhien) is in charge of the cases related to the missing children, but she just misses him. There seems to be a big international gang working behind this, and it could also have a link to her notorious past. Now, can she survive and manage to find her daughter in time?

The defence of Furie :: There is a high dose of action here, provided from the beginning to the end, without any break. All the action sequences are too good, and at the same time believable, taking the best out of the Vietnamese martial arts. We only have the realistic moves here though, with no bodies flying around like in some third-rate superstar movie that we know. We are amazed by the leading lady’s skills in performing action as well as depicting the feelings so well. There is the final action scene on a train, which has been taken in the best possible way. The emotions are also running high, and there is the raw beauty of rural Vietnam as well as the charming style of Ho Chi Minh City. We have those shots from a distance and from the heights, as we get caught in those visuals. We do manage to have a fine chase or two in between here. Furie is a thrilling ride, and we are with a mother in this one, like we were with a father in Taken and its sequels – she is also John Wick of another kind. This is a fine movie to begin your love with Vietnam.

Positives and negatives :: Furie is more or less a full martial arts movie which depends on the same to keep things interesting, taking out John Wick‘s shootout side completely. It is also a tale of redemption, but you need to like the action elements to fall in love with the movie. This is also an amazingly stylish movie, not just with the action, but also with the visuals. You can see the difference between the city and village life, enjoying the beauty of both. With a movie like this, action had to click, and it does, amazingly well, as you are kept on the edge of the seat. If you have watched the Malayalam movie Thira, you will know that it had to be thrilling, but that one never had the need for action sequences, but Furie needed it, and with a desperate mother in the main role, nails it. The chase scenes and the brutal fights will keep this one going strong. The fights are not only on the ground, but also on trains, boats and motor-bikes, as the environment also contributes to making this feel better. The flashbacks give a better idea of the story, but at times, they are redundant.

Performers of the soul :: It is Veronica Ngo who steals the show throughout this movie, with her martial arts moves. There is something that you don’t usually see with the fight scenes as long as she is around. She was there in one of the Star Wars movies, but not noticed much because it was a smaller role. The other main characters are also female, except for a police officer and some others who seem to come into picture for shorter intervals of time. Most of them are there only to get beaten up by her, as the lesser troopers of the evil side. Tran Thanh Hoa plays the antagonist, and she also has her smart moves with some nice action sequences to go with it. Phan Thanh Nhien has a few of them, and is there in a supporting role, after he comes to the picture rather late. Pham Anh Khoa has a smaller, but noticable role to play, and so does the one who plays the nurse at the hospital. The main characters in the village markets are all female too. Cat Vy who plays the daughter is also a fine child actor as proven here.

How it finishes :: Furie is a high quality movie from Vietnam, and it is the first, as well as the only Vietnamese movie which I have watched. This is the kind of movie which has you a lot interested in the movie from the beginning to the end, never wishing to take your eyes off, as you will end up missing the action. The movie was the Vietnamese entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. Among the foreign movies that we watch from here, this movie should have a higher status, and something above the rest of the movies from East Asia. Vietnam surely scores with that, and there is the need to focus on some more of the movies from this nation which makes some very interesting movies along with being a tourism destination that everyone should be visiting. I also had a plan to visit the place, but that didn’t work out – with the Corona Virus problem going on and on, I will have to be satisfied with what can be seen in this wonderful movie.

Release date: 22nd February 2019
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Le Van Kiet
Starring: Veronica Ngo, Cat Vy, Phan Thanh Nhien, Pham Anh Khoa, Tran Thanh Hoa

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pet Sematary

Vampire Owl: This is the cemetery where most the people we know shall go.

Vampire Bat: Most people don’t go to cemeteries. They are taken there.

Vampire Owl: We, the undead can just walk all the way there though.

Vampire Bat: The Stephen King’s novel might have other ideas about the cemetery.

Vampire Owl: Well, there is nothing like being buried in a grave far away from the town. It is so calm and peaceful.

Vampire Bat: It has always been calm and peaceful under the surface, except for some worms.

Vampire Owl: You can listen to those foot steps if you stay awake for long. It is not that peaceful in cemeteries of the city.

Vampire Bat: There is no hope in the cities anymore.

Vampire Owl: Does that mean hope among humans otherwise.

Vampire Bat: There is none. There is no goodness in them even during the time of a virus which has killed a good number of them, and sent them to lockdown.

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

What is the movie about? :: Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) moves to the countryside with his wife Rachel Creed (Amy Seimetz) and his children Ellie Creed (Jete Laurence) and Gage Creed (Lucas Lavoie). The move from the busy city of Boston to the calm and quiet town of Ludlow seemed to be a much needed change for them to settle down and slow things down. Ellie’s cat, Church named after Winston Churchill is the only other person who is with them. They find out that there is a pet sematary as a part of their property, as they have bought a large section of land of which finding all the borders is a tough job. Children taking their dead pets to the cemetery had become a common sight there, seemingly having a ritual significance. Despite being asked not to venture through the woods and the deserted areas, a curious Ellie makes her way through the cemetry and meets Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), an old widower.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Ellie becomes friendly with Jud, and the family also invites him for food. One day, a student who struck by an automobile, Victor Pascow (Obssa Ahmed) is taken to the hospital, and Louis try to save him only in vain. After the incident, he has visions of the same person trying to warn him about certain danger which is to happen if he decides to go beyond the limits. One day, Church is killed by a truck, and Jud takes Louis past the pet cemetery to an ancient burial ground and asks him to bury the cat there, putting a stone over it. The next day, Church returns home alive. But it can be seen that he is different -the cat had become very aggressive and violent, brutally attacking a bird, and eating it alive, as well as attacking the kids. Jud tells Louis that it might be a spirit that came back from the dead, even though he had expected the cat to return in the same manner.

The defence of Pet Sematary :: There is no questioning the ability of this particular movie to use the terrifying atmosphere to its advantage, as the common “cabin the woods” setting serves as the perfect place, with one cemetery built around an ancient burial ground creates too perfect a world for a horror movie here. The feeling of mystery is always there, and we keep expecting something terrifying to be revealed at different steps. There is also that scary past and legend that goes a long way back beyond colonization to go with it, and there is some creepy music to add here. The movie also has a certain amount of blood and gore even though not too much, and a violent kid is always scarier than the rest, especially when returning from the dead – demon kids never stop being impactful with or without the presence of the demon spirit. You will also love the choice of cat being made here, and the speeding trucks also add to the effect.

The claws of flaw :: This version of Pet Sematary does have some differences with the Stephen King novel, and such a deviation might not be liked by everyone. After all, King is the god-figure for so many readers of horror, especially those who started reading much earlier. Changes from the 1989 film version can also be seen here. The movie also doesn’t explore all the spookiness that can be associated with the cemetery, especially with an area which has an even longer history to go with it. In these types of movies, elements of nature can play a better role, but this one decides not to touch the same much. There is a lot of scope for horror in each moment and each part of this movie’s visual and audible part, and those elements are not exploited enough. The movie is also slow paced, and it does take its own time to keep the horror moving.

Performers of the soul :: Jason Clarke is there as the protagonist, a name which we have known throughout popular movies including Terminator Genisys and Everest among many other flicks. He plays the loving father very well, and faces the troubles making some hard decisions nicely. Amy Seimetz was there in Alien Covenant, in one of those roles. She is really good here, as the character works on the memories, and there is the past that catches up to her. Jete Laurence as Ellie Creed is fantastic as the cute little kid as well as the undead child looking forward to violence. John Lithgow plays the good old guy in the neighborhood who knows that evil is eternally present, but can do nothing about it. Along with these, the masked kids having a procession to the pet sematary and the cat do seem to add to the performances just in some short period of time.

How it finishes :: Pet Sematary moves on like any other Stephen King book inspired movie with ease, and with the written material at the base, there is no difficulty here. With the mis-spelled cemetery in the name, the novel takes the idea to the visual level too, and it becomes another version of the much appreciated novel that needs a watch. In the world of The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, Insidious, Child’s Play and other popular movies becoming part of a series of flicks in a franchise, there is always scope for the old style horror, as much as the new generation horror like It Follows, Lights Out and Don’t Breathe. After all, good horror is the need of the time, especially with one virus spreading all over the world, and bringing the terror without adding anything that is out of this world. Everyone stay safe, stay at home, and watch more movies.

Release date: 5th April 2019
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jete Laurence, Sonia Maria Chirila, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine, Suzy Stingl, Maria Herrera, Lucas Lavoie

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Evidey

What is the movie about? :: Symphony Zachariah (Manoj K Jayan) is a busy, but not so rich musician who keeps traveling all the time, not caring much for his wife and children. Jessy Zachariah (Asha Sharath) is left to care for the family which consists of her father-in-law, Kuttichan (Prem Prakash) and two children. When one day, Zachariah goes missing, Jessy is determined to find out what happened to him. Police Inspector Simon Tharakan (Baiju Santhosh) is the one in charge of the case, and it seems that the case is solved when a letter from Zachariah reaches them. But there is something strange about the letter – Jessy doesn’t believe that it was written by Zachariah. A man named Kabir (Kunchan) who comes to see them makes things even more complicated. Jessy even begins to doubt that Zachariah has another wife and kids.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Their son Leen (Shebin Benson), a college student is in love with Shahana (Anaswara Rajan), a girl whose life he saved when she was drowning, an incident which fetched him a bravery award. But it seems that he is no longer the person that he used to be. Studying at a college far away from home, he seems to be having more opportunities to go divergent from the studies rather than be the student who used to be the face of the college earlier. He doesn’t come home much, and has been a difficult person to find even for his family. This, along with the missing husband is breaking the family apart, but Jessy is determined to find Zachariah. For that, she would have to take more than one journey, through Mangalore and Goa, as he was supposed to perform at one of the events there.

The defence of Evidey :: The movie belongs to the genre of a family thriller rather than anything else, and the approach also seems to suggest a journey through such a path. The short length makes sure that there is no dull moment in the movie, and there is no drag, even when it seems to be trying to be preachy. The issues that are shown in the movie are genuine, with messages against drug abuse, and the parents’ failure to guide children along with the inability to become good role models. This is the time when students need to be told about the terrible effects of drugs and alcohol more, and with parents having no time to take care of their children, along with everything negative influencing them better, the movie has becoming very relevant. There has been too much of such things in the news, and this is a movie which can be shown in schools and colleges.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s songs are all very much interesting, and such a thing does no good to a family thriller – a good family song or even a song on friendship and love if done well enough can lift a movie of the genre and provide it with a boost, covering its faults up to an extent. Evidey doesn’t have that, and it also doesn’t seem to try too hard with its thriller side which was to serve as its stronger point. The investigative side could have also been done in a more interesting way, and a better backstory was needed with the family members – it would have worked well with a good song, and that much time could have been enough to have the characters settled, especially the two pairs. Even the sequences at Goa could have taken a boost, with some more wandering around the major areas of the state which is not short of providing some good visuals at any point.

The performers of the soul :: The movie remains mostly centered on Asha Sharath, who once again plays the mother of a son gone the wrong way, like in Drishyam. It is once again the duty to save him, but the task remains difficult as it is too late – the tormented mother continues to be on the spotlight. Prem Prakash, at the same time, brings some very emotional and controlled moments to remember, as he has done before on many occasions. Manoj K Jayan is not there for much time, as he is the missing character who can only be there with some small flashbacks. One would feel the need for more of such flashbacks to get a better idea of the character. Baiju plays the police officer who is working on the case, and he makes one believable cop. Kunchan has shorter presence too, and Shivaji Guruvayoor as well as Sunil Sukhada got even lesser time on the big screen.

Further performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu makes his appearance in the later stages of the movie, and has some of the best dialogues in the whole film. He becomes an integral part of the movie in the second half, and continues to assert his presence until the end. Even though some part of it seems forced, the character sticks on well. Shebin Benson shows some skills in this role, and the emotional sequences are handled very well. We see how the changes occur with the character, and how the same has been portrayed in a believable manner. Anaswara Rajan of Udaharanam Sujatha fame does a wonderful job here, as her character is a well-written and well-performed one without pretensions. From the early happy mood to those emotional sequences, she shows a controlled, realistic version, and tranquility when needed is a skill that we rarely see on the younger stars these days.

How it finishes :: Evidey easily takes its message against drug abuse to the next level, even though it does take some time to be there. With clubs like SADA (Students Against Drug Abuse) being formed in colleges to provide awareness regarding the same, we are slowly, but steadily realizing the fact that the drug menace can’t be left unchecked. Evidey will surely help to bring the awareness, as did Kerala Excise Department with the Vimukthi Short Film Competition and its winning entry “Midhya” by Mar Baselios Institute of Technology and Science, Kothamangalam. After so many short-films tried to make the point in that certain competition, and a number of them winning runner-up and consolation prizes, we now have a full-length movie which doesn’t glorify the evil at any point, and scores with an emotional climax and message against it.

Release date: 4th July 2019
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: KK Rajeev
Starring: Shebin Benson, Asha Sharath, Anaswara Rajan, Prem Prakash, Manoj K Jayan, Baiju Santhosh, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kunchan, Sunil Sukhada

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Hindi Medium

What is the movie about? :: Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) runs a highly successful business in Delhi, selling bridal wears, and he often likes to call himself a business tycoon. He had married his love from childhood Meeta Batra (Saba Qamar) when she had come to his small tailoring shop. Although he is rich and influential, knowing all politicians and businessmen of the area, he is a simple man, finding happiness in those simple things in life. His lack of education and the absence of knowledge in English are something which makes his wife disappointed, and she wishes to be part of the high class rather than live where they have always lived. Worried about the future of their only daughter Pia Batra (Dishita Sehgal), she wishes to have her admitted into one of the top schools in Delhi, including Prakriti School where the students are taught everything through dance and music, Suraj Valley School which nothing less than a five star hotel and Cross Road School which has a tie-up with Eton.

So, what happens next in this movie? :: But the biggest of them all is the Delhi Grammar School which has been at the top position in the school rankings for a long time. The famous politicians and business tycoons have all studied there, and everyone is sure that under the guidance of the visionary principal (Amrita Singh) who used to be a student there, the school can go only up from its position. But the school only gives admission forms to those who live nearby, within three kilometres radius. She forces him to make sure that they move out of Chandni Chowk to Vasant Vihar as the first part of trying to get admission. She is adamant that Pia will not study in a Hindi medium government school like they did, and she will speak English like no other. At their new place, they have new neighbours, but struggle to make friends with people like Aarti (Neha Dhupia) who find the new people to be of low class, not fit to be part of their high level society.

And what is to follow in this adventure for school admissions? :: To prepare their daughter as well as themselves from the upcoming interviews in the top schools, the meet up and take the advice of a consultant (Tillotama Shome) who has been training rich people and their children for a big price. But despite all these training, they are not that great at the interview, and the kid doesn’t get admission. There is the feeling that uneducated parents’ children will find it difficult to get an admission. This leads to him trying to get a seat in a top school in many other ways, including trying to bribe the principal and asking many politicians for help. But none of those ideas work, and they still keep trying, only to find that one of their employees’ child got admission in Prakriti School under Right to Education quota reserved for the people with lower income. There they find a way to get the much needed seat – make some changes in the necessary documents to find their chance. Can they succeed here in one way or the other?

The defence of Hindi Medium :: The movie’s comparison should be to Ramdhanu which is known to deal with a similar theme, and Salt Mango Tree which has remade the same movie. In comparison to Salt Mango Tree which is close to an exact adaptation, there are more differences than similarities here. Hindi Medium actually rises above the other, with a smarter adaptation of the idea. It has a girl child instead of the boy child, and has a rich family rather than the middle class one. There is also a better ending, and there is no foreigner coming to India and adapting the customs – it is a ridiculous idea in comparison to the overall theme, just like it was in Bangalore Days, for them adapting the Indian culture as the right way would only make Indians wishing to adapt theirs righteous. Hindi Medium rises above such foolishness along with the lame jokes there, and also shows the consultant in the right colour. With this one, Bollywood shows the skill and rises above the rest, and the medium is right here; feel-good it is.

The claws of flaw :: One might feel that Hindi Medium takes the simple things a little bit further than one would have thought. Some moments are surely overdone, or rather stretched further than needed. The jokes are also less in comparison even though the quality is certainly there. We can also see the glorification of poverty, even though it is a fact that being more and more rich only gets things to be worse – people getting rich just goes away from the common man’s world as well as the values which have been there for so long. There is also the focus on Hindi medium itself right from the title, when having the government school itself was enough. It would feel strange that all these are coming at a time when the government has been trying to impose Hindi in one way or the other, all over the states which have come up against the same. In an attempt to get away from English, one has to wonder if the need will soon be to escape from Hindi itself with a suicide squad.

Performers of the soul :: The one person who stands out in this movie in comparison with Salt Mango Tree is Irrfan Khan who shows a lot of balance in the way the comic side as well as the serious moments are carried on his his shoulders in the right manner. Saba Qamar also blends in, and does a wonderful job as the mother who wishes for more with the education of her child – Angels‘ own Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli’s work was more natural and emotional in Salt Mango Tree though. Deepak Dobriyal is too good in his role, and Swati Das is fine support to him. Tillotama Shome as the consultant might be the best among the smaller roles here – she is really good. Neha Dhupia is left with not much to do, with her role resembling a cameo. When you look at the cast of Salt Mango Tree, you will notice that in totality, there is more of known talent there, working towards making things better.

How it finishes :: My first thought about Hindi Medium was that it was going to be exactly Salt Mango Tree which seems to be more like the carbon copy of the 2014 Bengali family drama, Ramdhanu. But that certainly wasn’t the case, with the movie having its own ideas, and it is also better than the movie which came before that, and it does the same by quite a distance. The movies like Hindi Medium are required during these times when education has become a business – I would prefer to teach students values first, and English and Hindi later, but that wouldn’t really be possible in this world, I guess. There will also be people who will wish to steal the opportunity of others, and we will also see those people who think that speaking good English everything – but I wouldn’t consider that to be great. With communication, just understanding the point is necessary, and Hindi Medium surely has more valid points than your regular Bollywood movie. It also seems free from the terrible fans.

Release date: 19th May 2017
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Saket Chaudhary
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, Sanjana Sanghi, Tillotama Shome, Deepak Dobriyal, Delzad Hiwale, Sumit Gulati, Swati Das, Dishita Sehgal, Angshuman Nandi, Jaspal Sharma, Vijay Kumar Dogra, Rohit Tannan, Amrita Singh, Neha Dhupia, Sushil Parwana, Rajesh Sharma, Sanjay Suri, Mallika Dua, Tanishkaa Sanghvi

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