Antlers

Vampire Owl: I haven’t seen a more interesting poster in a very long time.

Vampire Bat: Horror does need such posters to show divergence in fear.

Vampire Owl: Fear should always be the same, right?

Vampire Bat: Unless you are a vampire, or maybe zombie.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about a different smell of fear.

Vampire Bat: You should be aware of the fear potions of the witches.

Vampire Owl: Those potions never really work.

Vampire Bat: I know that you trust the pseudo-scientific elixirs of Mr Frankenstein better.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has opened portals with elixirs.

Vampire Bat: Those were ancient portals found hidden in the caves beneath the castle!

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

What is the movie about? :: In the beginning, there is a warning that Mother Earth has been pillaged, with her life’s blood taken away, and this terrible act has awakened a spirit which needs to be feared – it would seek the lost, frail and the depraved, and asks the viewers to hope and pray that it won’t take one among them. The scene cuts to Cispus Falls, a small town in Oregon which feels dark with an eerie feeling. There, in an inactive mine, Frank Weaver (Scott Haze) runs a meth lab within an inactive mine which used to serve the town’s economy a long time ago. Frank and his co-worker hears some strange noises from within the mine, and goes on to check the same. As they doubt that it is an animal and tries to escape, find themselves attacked by an unseen creature. Frank’s son Aiden Weaver (Sawyer Jones) waits for him outside the mine, failing to understand what has happened inside. His elder brother as Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T Thomas) is considered to be strange by his classmates and teachers, but Julia Meadows (Keri Russell) who teaches about myths and fables is determined to help him.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Julia remembers the abuse she suffered as a child in the hands of her alcoholic father who was also mentally ill – she feels that he is also suffering from something similar. Paul Meadows (Jesse Plemons), her brother is the local sheriff – she had abandoned him a long time ago, but has now returned home from California following the death of their father. She feels that she shouldn’t have left the place, and tries to help another person as she can, this time, Lucas. She tries to bond with him, but there is no success at all – she tries to visit his house, but leaves after hearing some strange noises from inside. Lucas seems to have some some mystery locked within his house, and also takes dead animals and birds to his home. He stays awake at night and makes strange drawings. Julia feels that she really needs to get to the bottom of this, and also informs her brother, who reaffirms that Frank was considered fit to be the guardian of the two children after the mother’s death – now, what would she do?

The defence of Antlers :: It can be seen that Antlers does take the deviation from the usual horror, and this divergence is taken seriously throughout its narrative – it lets the surroundings contribute to the same really well. The environment and the setting serve effectively for the movie too. The small town with its dark and wet weather really suits the situation presented around here, and there is enough of the woods to keep one going in the mood of terror. The idea of the “diabolic wickedness that devours humans”, the spirit that takes many forms, makes a powerful myth around here. There is also a connection made to the destruction of nature which the humans managed to come up with. One wouldn’t be able to blame the monsters considering how evil the humans happen to be at every point. We also have the moments of scares, and that gets stronger with the understanding that there is a seemingly unstoppable force of nature at work. Add the performance, especially from children, and things only get much darker and scarier in nature.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Antlers had the premise to be something greater, but doesn’t use the same to the best of advantage. We do see the moments which we feel could have been better. When you have such a near-unstoppable monster at the centre, there are many things that can be done – it could have surely been designed better too. The emotional side doesn’t seem to work that much, even though we are waiting for those elements to be effective too. The myth could have also been given a boost with certain elements from the past, and a history to be remembered. One can generate enough fear out of that too. The scope for sequel at the end seems to be forced, as if there was a certain need rather than anything else. One can feel the need to remind the viewer of a myth that goes missing, but that requires more of a better origins story with roots in a mysterious past – let the horror run through there too.

The performers of the soul :: Keri Russell has been among my favourite actresses from a long time ago – she carries a certain amount of charm with her roles, even though horror hasn’t been the genre we would remember her the most for. She would make it to the list of performers who don’t seem to age much as years pass. She blends in really well as this protagonist who has her own problems from childhood itself. Jesse Plemons supports her really well as the brother figure and the policeman. Jeremy T Thomas gets his moments as the struggling child who is forced to make too many decisions at such a young age. Scott Haze gets into the terrifying moments around here well. Sawyer Jones plays the other child of significance in a role which brings a fair challenge to him. Amy Madigan ends up having a smaller role to work with than what was expected. Rory Cochrane’s work is another thing of support here. The monster when shown, works as a performer by itself.

How it finishes :: Antlers keeps on moving the world of horror forward in a different path for a change, and the world of fear continues to make its points in one way or the other. One does feel that the Malayalam movie Odiyan could have learned a few things from this one with the creature attacks and the atmosphere to make it darker – if you see the looks, there seems to a visual connection. The earlier divergent horror movies like Malignant, Lights Out, It Follows and Don’t Breathe had scored better, but this one tries to make it count. Maybe, something like the creature in this movie is the need of environment itself to take care of the humans who are destroying nature as we have known it. Well, Corona virus did try, but they were not successful in getting rid of humanity and its use of science to destroy environment. It does make us feel that there can be the moment when nature can get it back running – The Blackout surely made us think about human extinction. Until something like that happens, let us enjoy this horror out of nature.

Release date: 29th October 2021 (Theatre); 15th December 2021 (Hotstar)
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Scott Cooper
Starring: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan

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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.

Baba Yaga

Vampire Owl: So, we are having a new monster list.

Vampire Bat: I don’t feel that any more creatures from legends need to be added to the castle’s list.

Vampire Owl: So, you think that this monster won’t make its way into the castle?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Doctor Frankenstein has enough monsters locked in there in his lab for experiments and there is no room for any more.

Vampire Owl: Well, they don’t seem to have a castle of their own.

Vampire Bat: These are creatures of the forest. They don’t need castles.

Vampire Owl: Everyone can use a castle, or rather two of them.

Vampire Bat: What can a monster do with two castles?

Vampire Owl: Well, you can always rent one of the two.

Vampire Bat: Do not give such ideas to Uncle Dracula.

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

What is the movie about? :: Egor (Oleg Chugunov) has moved to their new home with his father Alexey (Aleksey Rozin) and stepmother Yuliya (Maryana Spivak), as well as the newly born stepsister. It is quite a strange place, with a highly advanced township with modern buildings very close to a very thick forest, separated with the help of walls. This new apartment in the outskirts don’t really have people mingling much with each other, as they keep away, not really thinking about visiting the neighbours. Egor also finds it difficult to make friends in the strange new place, except for Dania a.k.a. Dasha (Glafira Golubeva) who is also an outcast. But their relationship also goes a strange path due to the influence of a sinister force, and their parents also never cease to be hostile to them, most of the time, for no reason at all. Things are just not normal about the new township and the forests surrounding the same.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Soon, the newly moved family has a new nanny, Tatyana (Svetlana Ustinova), whom Egor doesn’t trust at all, and within no time, the baby goes missing. But it turns out that Alexey and Yuliya don’t remember ever having a child. The baby also disappears from the photos, which makes it extremely difficult to make them believe about the existence of their child. In the forest, the kid meets a man who is supposed to have lost his daughter, but somehow remember about his loss. They understand that it is a Slavic demon who lives at the border between the living and the dead, often known by the name, Baba Yaga. They feel that the real presence of the demon is somewhere near an abandoned power station. But finding the lost babies won’t be that easy, as there is more than what the legends have told them from the internet. They do find strange things in the forest, and having another boy, as Anton (Artyom Zhigulin) with them doesn’t help at all. Back home, things have managed to be worse.

And what more happens here as things go out of control for humanity? :: The demon which has taken the shape of different people has control over people in their world, and they won’t find peace back there either. They have many visions, thanks to the demon’s influence, and now their survival should concern them more than that of the babies. As they wander around the place, they soon realize that may be they are not really at home, and is stuck within a world of chaos. Alexey has already been made to make sure that his son is dead as soon as he arrive. Soon, they will have to fight their own minds to get out of what seems to be a prison created by the demon. But there are other creatures which they have to deal with. Now the question remains if they are matured enough to lead an assault into the lair of this demon, or the witch as some people call her. The fate all the babies of the future depends on their success.

The defence of Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest :: The best part of the film is the visual beauty itself, as we get to see the modernity on one side, well maintained, and on the other side, we have the natural beauty of the forests, and the use of lighting and darkness is very effective in the movie. There is a lot of divergence in how the lights are used to bring a certain mood to the setting. The use of the legend works well, and leaves scope for a possible sequel in the future, which can bring a more interesting work. There seems to be some nice similarities with Stephen King’s It too, but surely has that divergent side. The Slavic legends do have something special about them. We have already heard about Russian movies bringing these tales out there, and may be it is the Slavic vampire that we are all waiting for – after all, we do read a lot about vampires of the past before they became rather too fashionable.

The claws of flaw :: The movie should have used its ideas better, because there was so much that could have achieved here. Well, not everyone can establish a setting like this, and begin to work on the same so early. It could have left some of those confusing moments behind, and kept things straight, staying close to what should be strength here too – the fear generation. When the film seems that it is going to achieve something, it just comes down, and when it gets a lot interesting, it just losses focus – it is certainly a movie of ups and downs, and also without enough background to the tale which it is dealing with. The heroic deeds of the kids are also half baked in nature. The movie is surely not performance oriented, and the cast just has to play along with the horror here. It could have surely been more captivating, but is not that bad as some of the ratings have been worked out in different websites.

How it finishes :: Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest could have been something bigger and smarter in scope, even though it is not without its entertainment. The atmosphere makes the whole thing more interesting, and it does seem like a variant among similar flicks. It is always good to take ideas some different myths and legends, and this is something which we are surely not familiar with. Well, not everything can be that global as the Corona virus epidemic. The theatre itself has been a place of horror during the times of the virus though, as almost everyone wanted to not go into the theatres and watch the movie, instead choosing those OTT platforms. Well, let us watch all those movies as we can, and hope for a later surge in the theatres. Until then, we have the lesser known movies like this one that can make a different kind of impact in comparison with other horror films.

Release date: 27th February 2020
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Svyatoslav Podgaevsky
Starring: Oleg Chugunov, Glafira Golubeva, Artyom Zhigulin, Svetlana Ustinova, Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Ilya Ludin, Olga Makeeva, Evgeniya Evstigneeva, Marta Timofeeva, Igor Khripunov

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Queen of Spades

Vampire Owl: The Russian movies do come back to us like never before.

Vampire Bat: Well, it took some time for me after watching Battleship Potemkin.

Vampire Owl: That was part of your syllabus, and it was a study rather than anything else.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but it was also one of those old silent-era movies which I liked.

Vampire Owl: We still have Abigail and The Iron Mask among the new ones.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I witness how things have changed so much now.

Vampire Owl: Well, the vampires do not change even as the world does.

Vampire Bat: We are not the products of the world well-known, but that of another world beyond human comprehension.

Vampire Owl: At least, this one is a horror movie, and so different from all the Russian movies which we have watched so far.

Vampire Bat: Well, I do have my willing suspension of disbelief ready and working well.

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

What is the movie about? :: Olya (Angelina Strechina) and Artyom (Daniil Muravyev-Izotov) while traveling with their mother Tatiana (Violetta Davydovskaya) has an accident, as Tatiana losses her focus on the road because of the two children fighting on the backseat of the car, leading to the car crashing into a river off the bridge. Even though the river had recorded very low temperature during the time, Olya and Artyom do survive the crash, but the former doesn’t like the boy who is her step-brother, because she detests his father, her step-father too. Igor (Valeriy Pankov) takes the kids to a boarding school which had recently opened at a building which had been an abandoned mansion for a long time, dating back to nineteenth century and beyond. He is a teacher there, and also in charge of the welfare of the two children according to the advice of Tatiana’s second husband. The mansion is rather huge and isolated from the rest of the world, and it also has certain areas where the students are strictly prohibited from visiting.

So, what happens with the events here? :: There, Olya rejects the offer to share a room with her brother and chooses to do so with Alisa (Anastasia Talyzina), the supposed-to-be hottest girl in the school and Sonya (Alyona Shvidenkova), the girl who kept eating something or the other all the time. They do get along well, but Artyom doesn’t, and one day, he ventures out at night to the forbidden area, following a figure which seemed like his mother. As Olya, Alisa, Sonya and two of the boys also follow him, as they are lead to a closed door. As soon as they open it, Artyom runs in there, followed by the others, to find a strange chamber which had items from two centuries ago and also elements of some pseudo-science. They remember the ancient legends about Countess Obolenskaya a.k.a. the Queen of Spades (Claudia Boczar) who would grant them a wish, and then she would kill her. They all decide to make a wish, as they didn’t believe the legend.

And what is to follow further in this tale about the Queen of Spades? :: But things are not the same once they made the wish. One of the boys who accompanied them on the day, Kirill (Vladislav Konoplyov) finds his wish granted, much to his shock. His father’s girlfriend is brutally murdered, and after committing the murder, father commits suicide. He had wished for her to die a painful death, and is terrified. Sonya would be the next one to face the terror. But at the same time, Artyom manages to see his mother, and is addicted to the figure he sees in all reflections, whether it is on water or on the mirror. He soon gets a weird doll which the dead countess had. When the students looked in the internet at the original history behind the countess, they realize that she was someone who murdered nineteen children, orphans whose souls also becoming part of the house – she was coming up with some strange occult practices including the sacrifices of the children, and was murdered by the peasants blaming her as a witch. Now, will she come for them all?

The defence of Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass :: The atmosphere used by the movie is splendid, and the second only, may be to Crimson Peak, the grand Gothic spectacle from Guillermo del Toro – this one even has a stronger legend in the background too, with a Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory model in the background. We also have a mirror world in there, and we have a creepy one out there, which is very effective in providing another perfect atmosphere, even though there is the certainty of inspiration from other movies which released earlier in different forms while dealing with a similar idea or two. Angelina Strechina is a perfect addition to this horror movie, seemingly establishing her as a possible scream queen in the future. She has the skills to be a part of many more horror movies, and with a better English dubbing, she can do even better. The ending of the movie leaves scope for sequels to come later.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass doesn’t use its wonderful atmosphere to its best advantage. The movie could have done even more with such a setting, as there was scope for more terror using the same. If you see whatever is happening around, and the power of the legend, you can hope for more. The kid is also pretty much irritating, and some of it might have to do with the English dubbing – there are moments of scare with which he is involved, but it never reaches the level of The Prodigy ot Orphan, at least as far as spooky children are involved. There are also similarities to movies like Mirrors and The Woman in Black which can come to the mind at times. There could have also been better support from the rest of the cast, and we can also see that the story isn’t told in a way by which it can rise above the creepiness within the movie, and it could have also added some more horrors which are not atmospheric.

How it finishes :: Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass is one of those Russian movies which you can watch to be taken into that atmosphere or mystery and horror which is there right from the moment when the students set their foot in the residential school set in an area far away from the towns and cities. Its effect might be reduced for people these days only by that understanding that being isolated is the best thing that can happen during the time of Corona Virus. Almost all the horror movies have that kind of a feeling now, with people wishing that they could be with the ghosts rather than with a virus. These days, the horror movies have been weakened beyond all means. It has been even reflected in the response to the usual horror movies like The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun and others, which could have had better reception and appreciation if release a long time ago. Queen of Spades: Through the Looking Glass also gives that feeling.

Release date: 13th August 2019
Running time: 83 minutes
Directed by: Aleksandr Domogarov Jr
Starring: Angelina Strechina, Daniil Muravyev-Izotov, Claudia Boczar, Valeriy Pankov, Vladislav Konoplyov, Vladimir Kanuhin, Anastasia Talyzina, Alyona Shvidenkova, Darya Belousova, Vladimir Koshevoy, Dmitriy Kulichkov, Tatyana Kuznetsova, Violetta Davydovskaya, Igor Yashanin, Yan Alabushev

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Invisible Actor

Vampire Owl: An invisible actor? Did the actor become invisible after a case was registered against him?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that it is not what they meant. There could be many meanings for the same.

Vampire Owl: Then, has the invisibility elixir been stolen from Doctor Frankenstein? This calls for code bloody red alert on level twenty eight!

Vampire Bat: When did he invent that? It is not even on the research list.

Vampire Owl: Well, I am sure that he would have invented that. He is just not telling us. People invent such things all the time in those science fiction books.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr. Frankenstein has any role to play in this short-film.

Vampire Owl: I am writing an article on the evil side of invisibility anyway.

Vampire Bat: Some people are just invisible even without the elixir.

Vampire Owl: Just like people being alive and immortal without the Elixir of Life.

Vampire Bat: It is another myth. What we have here is real.

[Gets some banana chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The crew of a movie has gathered in an old style Kerala house to shoot for the biopic of a renowned Kathakali artist known as Govindan Master (Kalasala Babu). This particular person, whose name is only taken with so much respect, had such an undying love for the art form that he used to bunk his classes to see and learn it at the academy from a distance. It is said that his father, upon realizing his passion, and his lack of interest in regular studies, let him study Kathakali from an early age, and the art form had become his life, until his last breath. This Kathakali Master had given up his whole life for the same, not asking for anything in return. His performances had inspired many to follow his path, and had elevated Kerala’s own colourful contribution to the story play genre of art to another level. His Kathakali performances had made him a legend, with no parallels.

So, what happens next with this tale of making a biopic? :: It turns out that the superstar (Saiju Kurup) who is supposed to play the character is nowhere to be seen. The whole crew has been waiting for him for quite a long time, but there is no sign of him, and he doesn’t even attend the phone – everyone else is there, and they are worried when they will be able to begin the whole thing, and sends people searching for him at the hotel where he is staying and in the surrounding areas of the town. The breakfast time is over, the lunch is done, and finally the superstar arrives with that dialogue about him being a really punctual person. He listens to the story without much interest, while clicking on his mobile phone’s screen. He looks at the photo of the Kathakali artist as if it doesn’t matter – but little does he know that the character he is playing, is watching him.

Soul exploration 1: Of actors and superstars :: One can divide the movie world into two – one which has the actors, and the other which has the superstars. In our world, both often come together, but we often see some actors who deserve better than the superstars, but it is the superstar movie which go on to become the big hit each and every time. There are those one hundred crore movies in Bollywood, which have almost nothing in them other than its superstars – take a look at those top ten movies, and almost all of them have depended on their superstar rather than the actor. I would think otherwise – if Nawazuddin Siddiqui acts in a movie, I would watch that movie for sure, maybe even twice; whether it is Raman Raghav 2.0 or Te3n from last year. I have never really been interested in these superstars – the day they become more superstars and less actor, is the day they sacrifice their best part.

Soul exploration 2: Within and outside a character :: It is a usual thing to change the character to match that of the superstar – there are so many movies which make us feel the same, and naming a few of them would only bring the fan chaos on us. The superstars will say that they practiced cricket to play a cricketer, lived with gangsters to play a mafia don, slept at a cemetery for a horror movie, had classes at a music academy to play a musician and so on, but we know how fake that could be, just like they come on television and tell everyone that this is his or her best performance ever. But to become a character, the so called superstar needs to know the mind, thinking in the way the character think, and acting the way he would. Otherwise, it is the character that would become the superstar and not the other way around. Will some of our superheroes who need to know this realize the same one day?

Soul exploration 3: An eternity within a performance :: There should always be more in a flick with a performance than just being part of a big hundred crore movie. We have the need to see each character on the screen as a different person – it is the same which has been missing in some of those movies which degrade themselves into what is often termed as mass masala. There is the need to rise above the same, as what is often known to cater to this particular genre is nothing other than pure absurdity. It is the terrible and unfair strength of these mindless mass movies which have been devouring the actor and bringing the superstar out on too many occasions. Then there are those fan clubs which are only interested in turning the cinema halls which is for entertainment and thoughts, into something resembling nuisance. It has to be countered with not a mass performance, but with the beauty of an rternity within a work.

How it finishes :: The movie has two actors who have been rather underused by the industry if you look at their movies. Kalasala Babu amazes us in his presence for the short period of time, while we have Saiju Kurup who had some nice and funny roles in Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara doing a wonderful job as the superstar. They make the final few moments of this short-film rise to a higher level, and we have something which is worth more than a usual short movie. I have watched a good number of short-films in the last few days, with choosing to review only less than half of them which seem to be worthy, and among them, this one should have a top place. Invisible Actor wishes for the actor to become invisible and the character to take over when the shooting begins – it should be how we should differentiate actors from superstars; movies need actors, and they could let everyone keep the superstar side out, letting the acting flow, no matter how popular the actor is.

 

Release date: 6th July 2017
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Avinash Chandran
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Kalasala Babu, Jayasankar, Akhil Lekshman, Arun, Naresh

Watch Invisible Actor here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Monkey King II

Vampire Owl: I have this name wandering in my mind somewhere.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that you have known many kings and monkeys during your life-time.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the most recent acquaintance being the Lich Queen with her undead minions.

Vampire Bat: What? You met the Lich Queen? It is forbidden for a vampire to meet an undead queen sorceress.

Vampire Owl: She is not that undead, you know, and she is a good host.

Vampire Bat: Whatever. That doesn’t explain how you met the Monkey King though.

Vampire Owl: Well, I was reading this classic, and the pages came alive.

Vampire Bat: And they attacked you?

Vampire Owl: No, then I realized that I was tearing the pages apart. Then I took some glue and fixed it back to its place.

Vampire Bat: The imperial librarian won’t be that happy this time. You should get a few zombie minions to cover it up.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A young Buddhist monk, Tang Sanzang (Feng Shaofeng) is on the journey to the West, to the Thunder Monastery in India to collect some of the valuable scriptures of Buddha. But the soldiers who were meant to assist and protect him during his journey leaves him when a white tiger attacks them. Trying to protect the horse, he ends up being under attack from the tiger, only to get into a cave and save himself. As he is followed by the tiger, he sees Sun Wukong a.k.a. The Monkey King (Aaron Kwok) who was imprisoned under the Five Fingers Mountain as part of his five hundred years of atonement for the trouble which he had caused in heaven. The awakened and released monkey soon deals with the tiger, but that only begins in new life, as the Goddess Guan Yin (Kelly Chen) has instructed him to protect the monk throughout his journey.

So, what happens next? :: Wukong is not someone who likes taking orders from anyone, but he is bound to stay close to the instructions made by the goddess, as he is wearing a magical headband which can’t be removed, and will cause him pain if he acts like a bad monkey. He finds his life connected to the monk’s, and decides to finish this job as soon as possible, and get back to his usual, mischievous life. On the way, Wukong defeats two other immortals looking like monsters – Zhu Bajie (Xiaoshenyang) and Sha Wujing (Him Law) who joins them in the journey as atonement for their sins, as the monk gets protected from three sides. Both of the new travelers consider Wukong as their big brother, and approves of his superiority in skills. They have some interesting moments during their travel, and reaches Yun Hai Xi Kingdom, which is ruled by a king (Fei Xiang) and his people living in fear.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: The kingdom is terrorized by the White Bone Demon (Gong Li), a powerful demoness who is known to take away children from everywhere, and she is supposed to devour them to keep herself in this world. As the demoness learns about the arrival of the young monk, she decides to eat him, and thus get more powerful, without no reincarnation, being an eternally unstoppable demon who could challenge even heaven and hell. She, along with her three demoness minions (Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi and Miya Muqi) get the four to their house in the middle of the forest, where they offer all of them a place to rest. She tells them the story of her past as a young woman, which had Sanzang in tears. The two monsters fall into the seductive trap of the demonesses posing as beautiful girls, and Wukong seems to have some problem with his eyes – so, will the demoness and her minions be successful in using the young monk to expand their evil? Or will the Monkey King be able to save him?

The defence of The Monkey King 2 :: This movie is visually excellent with its creatures, surroundings and magic having our attention, and has those action sequences which will immediately ask for your attention. There are also the messages about forgiveness, and the reflection of the fact that humans are so capable of being more evil than the demons every time. There is also some humour present here, and the comic relief is very much useful in this movie. It actually combines nicely with the adventure as well as the spiritual side, making this package whole. Everything is so simple in this movie, and this simplicity in fantasy is something that we can cherish, and the same makes sure that this movie is for everyone – kids are certainly going to love this one as much as any animated movie. Even though there are not that many reviews of this movie in English, the ratings received, including those in Rotten Tomatoes make nice example of how well this has worked.

The claws of flaw :: Maybe, a more serious version of the classic might have been expected by many, and also this one happens to be a sequel rather than the original story, which could have also kept some people from watching this particular flick. There is also more needed of action from everyone other than Monkey King whose action scenes never cease being delightful – the fans from everywhere will always look for more from him, as I had wondered more about this particular character than anyone else. Also, despite having a very strong female villain there with minions, her manipulation or the fighting skills get quite less attention than we would have expected to witness. Looking silly at times is not something that one would expect from this movie, as there is enough depth all the time, as long as you have a classic in your hands, and got hope of everyone who has read or has read about the work expecting a lot. Also, despite the movie being a visual treat, there are moments when the CGI looks too much and strange.

How it finishes :: Those who have read the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, are sure to love this movie adaptation of the tale – there are so many version of the same, and many translations. This tale is actually something that needs to be read by everyone, and this movie will help in attaining that for sure. As more people get to read Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature, adding the other three, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber and Water Margin to their list of books to read, we can safely say that this visual extravaganza of an action movie is successful in doing the right thing for literature. Even if you haven’t watched this movie’s predecessor, or never known about the novel, it is still okay to watch this movie – this one is a rather stand-alone work, and things really can’t get any simpler than this as far as fantasy movies are concerned. Then, the messages are also straight-forward with nothing there to bring a message out of a message. Also note that the actor who played the antagonist in the previous movie plays the protagonist here.

PS: For more on the movie of the week here, read on – Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Release date: 6th February 2016
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Cheang Pou-soi
Starring: Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, Feng Shaofeng, Xiaoshenyang, Him Law, Fei Xiang, Kelly Chen, Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi, Miya Muqi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.