Athiran

What is the movie about? :: The year is 1967, and a worried Lakshmi (Shanthi Krishna) finds their family murdered while Nithya (Sai Pallavi) is seen playing with a thread. The situation seems to points to her as dangerously abnormal and a murderer. Five years later in 1972, Dr. MK Nair (Fahadh Faasil), a psychiatrist from Trivandrum Medical College is sent to check out the activities in a mental asylum situated far away from civilization, between the trees in the wilderness. This grand mansion which was built by the British has limited access to other places. Dr Benjamin Diaz (Atul Kulkarni) who served in the 1972 India-China War and a master hypnotist is the resident doctor as well as the owner of the asylum. He is very strict in his methods and doesn’t like anyone from outside making a visit. Renuka (Lena) is in control of things there, and Avarachan (Nandhu) provides further help from outside.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: There are strange incidents happening in the asylum. The inmates include Anna Maria (Leona Lishoy), a religious person, P Subrahmanya Iyer (Vijay Menon), an English professor, Vadakkedath Kamala Lakshmi (Surabhi Lakshmi), a person of too much concern for everyone around her, Jeevan Thomas (Sudev Nair), and a happy and strange romantic person. But it turns out that there is one more patient, and she is hidden and locked away in a cell, considered to be extremely dangerous and uncontrollable – the person is none other than Nithya who lives a restrained life, hostile to those who very rarely come to visit her. The newly arrived doctor realizes that there is something strange about her as well as the working of the hospital – he even has some dream visions and hallucinations when he is there, but some of them might be close to reality.

The defence of Athiran :: We have had a good number of psychological thriller, but after the 1990s, not many movies could rise above a certain level, and Athiran comes as a breath of fresh air – we always needed our own Shutter Island, and this one becomes the same, but with its own different twists. A Cure for Wellness is another movie we are reminded of. There is a similar beautiful setting here just like that island in Shutter Island and the mountain ranges in A Cure for Wellness, as the camera nicely brings all of the same to perfection. There is a Gothic building out there, and has a similar setting as one would have seen in movies like Crimson Peak, even though in the absence of the ghostly presence, is not used to the maximum – we had already seen 9 using a similar setting. The songs and the picturization also prove to be really attractive, and the suspense is maintained until the end as we remain thrilled.

The claws of flaw :: The similarities to A Cure for Wellness and Shutter Island can’t be ignored. There is another movie called The Ward which deals with a similar situation. All these are set in places dealing with “wellness” of the patients, and has similar moments of horror related to treatment procedure, along with secrets there that should be revealed. There is clear influence in bringing a certain Hollywood style, also resembling the Victorian Gothic Model, but the success of the movie is that it has done the same really well, and local elements have been mixed with some skill behind the same. We still have the feeling that something missing in there, and the other patients’ characters could have been better developed. With a setting like this, there was hope for bringing some intensely terrifying moments, but it is not there. Nights in a mental asylum far away from civilization can always bring more, and so can a mentally unstable murderer of family members.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is one actor who has come up with minimum guarantee in the last few months, and we look at his previous movie to make sure about that. His last three ventures in Malayalam movie industry were Kumbalangi Nights, Njan Prakashan and Varathan, all three gaining both critical and commercial success. These movies also had less hype in comparison to the others, and Athiran actually came up with no real boost in marketing – I came to know about this movie very late, and even then I didn’t know that this was a Malayalam movie; the film survived with people’s opinions. It is to be noted that there is a certain change that comes across the character he plays in each of the four movies including this one. One can also note that Fahadh has done a fantastic job here as the main character in a psychological thriller – playing a character in a mental asylum wouldn’t come easy, whether the role is of a mental patient or not.

Further performers of the soul :: Sai Pallavi has returned to Malayalam movie industry once again, and it called for a change, a welcome one, as there is no dance performance around here. She is the kind of actress who can do this role so well, as she showed such signs in Kali itself, even though it was not needed then. Well, here she excels in portraying the character with autism and more. This one is her best performance in the industry so far, clearly better than Premam, and surely better than that which didn’t really matter in the miserable Kali. Atul Kulkarni who has come up with some memorable performances in Malayalam movies before, brings a strong antagonist. Leona Lishoy, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon and Sudev Nair who have their moments as the patients never really get going though, with no real mention about their tales of the past. Lena and Nandhu gets limited in their roles, Shanthi Krishna is there for a few minutes. Renji Panicker is impressive when he is there.

How it finishes :: Athiran is one movie which has been running for so long despite releasing without making much of a noise. One month later, it can be seen that the movie is still going strong, despite Avengers: Endgame taking the most number of viewers, creating the collection record like never before, overtaking Titanic and closing in on Avatar, the effect being seen here too. Athiran, one month later, is challenging the bigger movies like the crowd puller Oru Yamandan Prema Katha and the critics favourite Uyare. It is nice to see a psychological thriller doing such a job, as it has been the genre, with a fee exceptions not bringing the major part of audience to the theatres, especially the family audience. But things have changed now, and Athiran has stood tall when the opportunity came, and it does so in Hollywood style, in a grand environment.

Release date: 12th April 2019
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Vivek
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Sai Pallavi, Lena, Sudev Nair, Leon Lishoy, Prakash Raj, Renji Panicker, Atul Kulkarni, Shanthi Krishna, Nandhu, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cult of Chucky

Vampire Owl: There was this question for VPSC.

Vampire Bat: You mean Vampire Public Service Commission? You are writing exams out there?

Vampire Owl: Yes, my exam centre was on the Old Vampire Isles, and there was this particular question which caught my attention.

Vampire Bat: You travel a little too much to write a silly examination.

Vampire Owl: It is not my point. The real point is related to that question.

Vampire Bat: I know how strange the question of VPSC are. They rarely make sense, and they never really wanted anyone deserving to get a good score.

Vampire Owl: They asked about the greatest doll of all-time. the options were Annabelle, Chucky, Barbie and Shrek.

Vampire Bat: So, you only had to choose from two.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and I ticked on the last option, Shrek.

Vampire Bat: You and VPSC should make best friends, in that case.

[Gets three cups of ginger tea with Hide and Seek biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Years after the events of Curse of Chucky, a lot of things remain the same, including the existence of Chucky (Brad Dourif). Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) who had shot him in the previous movie, has his head kept at his house, and keeps punishing it for the crimes which were committed. At the same time, Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) has been spending her in life in a mental institution, most of the time restrained and sedated for the murders of her family. After being watched at all times through cameras, and going through never-ending therapy, she murdered everyone in her family, and that the doll was just a creation of her mind as a result of her seeing things. Doctor Foley (Michael Therriault), who is sexually attracted to her, has her transferred to his own medium security facility where he can watch her at all times. There, the nurses Nurse Carlos (Zak Santiago) and Nurse Ashley (Ali Tataryn) are in charge, and are nice to her.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: Nica has an interesting group of people to give her comany, with Malcolm (Adam Hurtig), a confused man with multiple identity disorder who is instantly interested in being with her; Angela (Marina Stephenson Kerr), an older woman who believes that she is dead and nobody can see her; Claire (Grace Lynn Kung), a woman who is known to have burned her own house down; and Madeleine (Elisabeth Rosen) who is believed to have killed her own son by suffocation even as she believes that he is not dead yet. To make things more interesting, Foley adds a Good Guy doll, as if bringing Chucky back between them again – nobody really likes that idea, except for Madeleine who believes that it is her child that has come back to her. Claire is more hostile to Nica than anybody else, believing that she is a mass murderer who killed her own family.

And what is to follow next in this adventure? :: Nica is visited by Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly), who has been the legal guardian of her niece, Alice. Tiffany reveals that Alice has died and leaves her a Good Guy doll, which she claims was a gift from Alice Pierce (Summer H Howell). After informing her that the kid is dead, she says that Alice wanted Nica to have her Good Guy doll, and that night, she tries to commit suicide by slicing her wrists. Chucky, who has woken up at the hospital, finds it out, and stitches her wound back, leaving a message that she won’t die that easily. At the same night, Angela is found dead, and Claire follows, as Chucky makes his impacy felt. Now the question remains about which doll is the one that is possessed, and despite Nica’s best efforts, nobody believes that there is a serial killer doll killing people – the doctor himself is not interested in her words, as his attention is only towards her body. Now, the question remains about who all will survive the Chucky attack.

The defence of Cult of Chucky :: If you like this never-ending franchise with Chucky, the charming serial killer doll at the centre of it, there is no reason why you need to miss this movie, as there is that murderer doll spirit being carried on to this one too. You have fun, and you have those scary moments, most of them with the elements of blood and gore though – well, Chucky is not Annabelle, and as most of you already know, his motives are significantly different. Well, in a seventh movie of a franchise, you have so many characters returning, and if you are a fan of the series, you are up for the treat again. The one you need to watch out for is indeed Fiona Dourif, who plays the helpless one with a lot of strength from within, and the supporting cast is also very good. The setting is also nice, as the mental hospital brings the appropriate environment to make sure that Chucky shines even after so many years. Well, you need to come back because Chucky needs you.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have surely been better, with a lot of scary moments – this one, with its one and half hours of length, doesn’t add that many of them, which could make the whole thing bigger. The previous movie, Curse of Chucky was surely ahead in that case, and was surely the better movie in comparison. Chucky needs to scare more characters, and here, right after people know that he is alive, they are just killed within minutes – give the poor doll some more time, will you? At least in the next movie? Why would someone need more than one Chucky? Why would one of them be in distress for so long? Why couldn’t the doll get more serious at least with a few things? We need the character to be better, and we need the doll to be creepier. This is not that age of old horror any more – ask many movies including last year’s Don’t Breathe, Lights Out and The Autopsy of Jane Doe for some ideas about innovation, or this one’s own predecessor about being better.

How it finishes :: We have one of the most popular horror dolls of all-time returning to action here, and due to the same reason, we just can’t stop the need to watch this particular flick, as we have felt the urge for so long, and it can only get stronger with time. Child’s Play has been an integral part of our horror lives, just like The Evil Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wishmaster, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and Friday the 13th, all of them, never really leaving our childhood, and all of these movies beginning before I was born. Along with accepting the fact that this one is not going to please everybody, you will accept that this is still good, and Chucky franchise is one of those things of horror which you need; if not now, at some other point. Remember this when you come across a nice looking dolls next time. Maybe there is more to it too, than what meets the eye.

Release date: 3rd October 2017
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Don Mancini
Starring: Fiona Dourif, Michael Therriault, Adam Hurtig, Elisabeth Rosen, Grace Lynn Kung, Marina Stephenson Kerr, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Zak Santiago, Ali Tataryn, Jennifer Tilly, Summer H Howell, Christine Elise

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.