Cadaver

Vampire Owl: I have got some doubt if they are talking about us.

Vampire Bat: This is surely not about the undead. You can have my assurance.

Vampire Owl: Well, dead people have no rights in the human world. So, we cannot be sure.

Vampire Bat: Such doubts that you have are usually wrong.

Vampire Owl: This is just our second Norwegian film to be watched.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the last one, Lake of Death was a good one, right?

Vampire Owl: There is something sinister about these movies. I can feel it.

Vampire Bat: You can reserve your feelings for later, after watching the film.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but I am a vampire of extreme doubt, you know that.

Vampire Bat: Yet, you remain the leader of a large vampire battalion.

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

What is the movie about? :: One of the big Norwegian cities was hit by a nuclear disaster, and people struggling to survive with devastation all around. There is no hope for future in this post-apocalyptic situation – food is very difficult to find, and there is also no electricity. Dead bodies could be seen in different parts of the city with devastated buildings, and the climate seems to be very rough, as news about nuclear disasters, conflicts and possible world wars are everywhere. Leonora (Gitte Witt) and Jacob (Thomas Gullestad) live in this particular city with their little child, Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman). The child has regular nightmares, as they live alone in what seems to be an abandoned apartment. They understand that they cannot just hang in there with nothing left other than each other. It is then that they find out that there is a theatre play happening nearby, with a free meal. They understand that it is their chance to have some food for the family, and decides to go there at night, even though they do have some initial doubts about the same.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Leonara hopes that these are the signs of things getting better, and her optimism leads them to the thaetre building – she feels that even if the meals are not enough, they could still have some fun, which the child desperately needs. Even though Alice is first refused entry, the hotel director, Mathias (Thorbjorn Harr), personally gets there and allows the child inside. The building seems to the one last thing standing tall in between all the destruction around. They are all happy to see what is like a new world for them, with a lot of food and it is more like a festival. Everyone seems starved, and they all eats as much as they want. There are other people who are also there for the first time. Mathias tells the guests that the play will be performed by using the whole hotel without curtain, seats and intermission. Everything during the night would be part of the show, with spectators given masks to wear, and the actors would be without the masks, as they move around.

And things can get only stranger in this world of chaos :: The performance starts all of a sudden, without a warning. The guests have the option to attend any performance at any part of the huge building with so many rooms and floors. Everyone keeps looking for things that would catch their interest, and there are so many different spaces without masked people. As everyone keeps walking around, soon Leonara and Jacon understand that Alice is not with them anymore. They remember seeing her just before, but now she seems lost. They keep searching for them, while others also seems to have lost people who were with them. Soon, it seems that there are no more spectactors, and all of them seems to have disappeared without trace. The show still seems to continue in the same manner, but without people. There are some strange trapdoors and creepy rooms around, while things only get more sinister as they keep moving on. It seems that we have more than what meets the eye with this particular building and the show – how dangerous is it?

The defence of Cadaver :: There seems to be so many mysteries hidden in this particular world, and after the initial introduction to the world of chaos hit by an apocalyptic world, we have a terrifying post-apocalyptic world outside, and we are then introduced into something even more frightening inside a building, that is two levels of horror unleashed without warning. The world inside is creepier than one can imagine. The structure, with its creepy corridors, rooms, paintings, darkness – this old-style building is something which will stay in our minds for a very long time. The terror that the movie brings feels much realistic than it is supposed to be, because it is more or less a reflection of humanity and the inherent evil that has led it for a long time throughout history. People have always been evil, as William Golding had shown in Lord of the Flies, a long time ago – it is the same reflection that we see here. As we look at where humanity has reached as of now, what happens in this film is only a little distant probability, for modernity has taken a part of everyone’s soul, as people go for riches above everything else.

Positives and negatives :: The film could have made itself a bigger blood and gore fest with terrifying secrets being brought to light on after the other, but it gains some remarkable ground in its current form. There were more opportunities in between, with all those strange acts being possible with this premise – the film could have used it for the better. The conclusion is pretty good, there are some moments in between that seems to stretch the movie rather than doing anything else. There is also a little bit of predictability, but we can go past that quick enough. Yet, when you are transported into this particular world, you are more or less in a mystery which seems to get thicker and thicker as time passes. When you have a horror thriller set inside a strange building which is part of a post-apocalyptic world, what can be there other than consistent scope of danger? Well, that much has been achieved really well with this particular movie which thrives on its atmosphere again and again. The idea of survival of the fittest, when applied here works remarkably well. The performances are pretty good, but that is not the focus here.

How it finishes :: This Norwegian film seems to rise above the usual horror flicks, as it rises above the genre which has depleted some of its strengths due to modernity and the lack of belief in traditions. The way in which Cadaver uses its scares should come as inspiration to Hollywood too, as one cannot always depend on The Conjuring, Insidious, Annabelle, Lights Out and Don’t Breathe among others to do the thing, and even come up with more and more sequels, for originality matters. Cadaver is innovative enough to create something special out of an already terrifying premise, and the ability to display some extra skills to keep the audience engaged makes sure that this is one of the most effective horror flicks of these times. The atmosphere, setting, situations – all seems to come together so well. If you haven’t watched this one, you are missing the opportunity to watch a well-made horror movie making unexpected impact. This is indeed a film to stay with you even after the whole thing ends – as effective as you can expect from such a world of mystery.

Release date: 22nd October 2020
Running time: 86 minutes
Directed by: Jarand Herdal
Starring: Gitte Witt, Thomas Gullestad, Thorbjorn Harr, Tuva Olivia, Kingsford Siayor, Maria Grazia Di Meo, Jonatan Rodriguez, Trine Wiggen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cross the Line

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Spain has become my dream country again?

Vampire Bat: I thought that you were going to Romania.

Vampire Owl: All vampires are supposed to have some interest in Romania.

Vampire Bat: Does that lead to an interest in Spanish movies?

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why it shouldn’t.

Vampire Bat: Well, we already have some interesting Spanish favourites.

Vampire Owl: This seems to be the more critically appreciated type.

Vampire Bat: That doesn’t guarantee that this could be your type of a movie.

Vampire Owl: There is no my type of movie unless I make one.

Vampire Bat: Well, vampires don’t make movies, but do watch them.

[Gets a pineapple cake and three glasses of orange shake].

What is the movie about? :: Daniel (Mario Casas) is a shy and good-mannered man who is working at a travel agency in Barcelona. He is very much interested in his job, and loves his family consisting of his father and sister. After their father dies, Dani’s sister Laura (Elisabeth Larena) arranges a trip around the world for him from his own company, as he was the one who was taking care of their father, and might be missing the presence of their bed-ridden father. He is not really fond of the trip though, and he is not interested in changing his lifestyle either. He hopes that he can cancel the trip because there is a two week window, and therefore he just accepts the idea. It is then that he comes across a girl at a restaurant and cafe where he often spends time over a burger, and meeting this girl, Milagros (Milena Smit) changes how things would go about in his life from then. She borrows a small amount from him, and is not happy because she really wants to give it back to him.

So, what happens with the events here as some twist is coming up? :: She keeps asking him to come with her for the money despite him not wishing for it to be returned. They take a walk through the street to the place where she works. Finally, as she is a tattoo artist, decides to give him a tattoo instead. He is reluctant again, but finally decides to go for one due to her consistent persuasion. He becomes interested in her, and therefore, he continues to follow her when she asks for his company. But as he goes to her apartment, her interest in him stays only for a few minutes. Soon, things take a twist, and things are not as what he had thought they were. He would commit a murder due to the circumstances, and soon people would be after him, and it won’t be about just police looking for the murderer. These are not the circumstances which he thought he would have to go through at any point of his straightforward life, but he would have to work through it. Now his life has changed, but unlike what his sister thought, it is not for the best.

The defence of Cross the Line :: The film has managed thing nicely with less resources, and it something which we can appreciate. We can also see the beautiful colours on the screen as well as the spaces which also have that beauty about it. There is some nice music being used here, and the sound effects are really good. The film also serves as a morality tale in disguise, as it talks about what can happen when one crosses the line, hence the title being justified here. There is the side effects of what can happen when one immediately begins to trust someone, especially someone beautiful – you should always have limitations in a world like this, where things are not the same as what seem from outside. The situation of such a person is shown perfectly, without the addition of melodrama or extraordinary elements, and a change coming upon him is also visible. All these happen very quickly, and lasting only about three hours, there is no time being wasted here. It is a continuous busy ride from the beginning, even though the elements of thriller come up later only, and we stay close to the protagonist.

Positives and negatives :: Cross the Line, originally known as No Mataras, is no usual thriller, as it goes on from a drama to thriller half way, more or less like Drishyam and its remakes which changed the mood at the centre stage. So, there is that certain diversion, and some people might have wanted the mood in the beginning to continue, and others might have wanted a full thriller, but this one depends on that twist of events to make things happen. It also has no character development of others as it is completely focusing on the protagonist all the time, giving no importance to others except for in moments. It also ends too soon, and the ending could have had a certain amount of extraordinary, as this film is not something which is not scared of taking the risks. Along with that, Barcelona is among the top ten cities which I want to visit in my life, and in Western Europe, it is the first place which I wish to travel to, and I would hope that the same could be achieved some day, but after COVID-19 pandemic, you never know where you will end up.

Performers of the soul :: The performance from Mario Casas won him the Best Actor Award at the Goya Awards, Spain’s prestigious national annual film awards, and it is no surprise when we watch the film. The performance is realistic, and as far as performances from actors in foreign films are concerned, I would consider his work to be among the best, and something which should have all that appreciation. I had also loved his performance in Adios which released earlier. Along with the same, Milena Smit was also nominated for Best New Actress Award, coming very close to winning that one – when we look at her work here, even though not lasting throughout the film, is really good. She excels with her emotions, and I would love to see more of her in other movies, maybe in Hollywood too. The situations without money and clothes would seem to make her vulnerable, but it can be seen that her character dictates things even when it doesn’t seem so – a character at the strongest when dumped in a relationship, or when fully naked. Fernando Valdivielso was also nominated for Best New Actor there, and he had some good short time in the film too. Elisabeth Larena is a strong name in the film too, and in a film which is dominated by the main actor, she has her moments.

How it finishes :: The movie focuses on one character, and it has two others who are there for enough time to call them as providing support, and with these itself, the film manages to do very well. Serving as a message to what could happen if you cross the line, and also showing how much it can change a person, the film does the same very effectively. The thrilling moments of the film are supported really well by the music that runs in the background. The tension-filled atmosphere being nicely built, this is the kind of film that stays with you for the experience. With seemingly lesser budget and minimal characters, what the film has managed needs to be appreciated. One can be sure that there are many things that can be learnt from this particular film, and this one with its ending seems to taunt us to ask for a possible sequel too. Well, with films like these, it is only fair to hope for more, as it was short and we would have wished for it to go on for more.

Release date: 16th October 2020
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: David Victori
Starring: Mario Casas, Milena Smit, Elisabeth Larena, Javier Mula, Fernando Valdivielso, Aysha Daraaui, Javier Mula

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Spanish film review here.

<— Click here to go to the first big budget Spanish film review here.

<— Click here to go to the most popular Spanish in this part of the world reviewed.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chehre

Vampire Owl: How many faces do we see here?

Vampire Bat: The faces of humans do not matter at all.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that it would matter to us more at some point.

Vampire Bat: The human identity is no longer significant in a world of chaos.

Vampire Owl: Well, at least we can know the lying faces early.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is the only thing that humans do throughout their lives.

Vampire Owl: I did trust too many humans, and that has made a mess. They are the true villains of all realms.

Vampire Bat: Humans are all about lying, cheating and stealing. Being the villains of the universe comes naturally to them.

Vampire Owl: Well, I would say that demons are better.

Vampire Bat: Let the zombies for eat their brains then.

[Gets an orange cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sameer Mehra (Emraan Hashmi) is forced to travel through some strong winter in the mountains. He wishes to go to Delhi, but is forced to stop in the middle of nowhere, as the climate only gets worse, and his car is stuck, with trees right in the front. He searches for a hotel or a guest house to wait until the tree is removed by the authorities. He then comes across Paramjeet Singh Bhullar (Annu Kapoor) who asks him to join come to a friend’s place until things get any better, even though there are not signs of something like that happening. He is taken to the house of Jagdish Acharya (Dhritiman Chatterjee), and he also meets Hariya Jatav (Raghubir Yadav) there. Anna (Rhea Chakraborty) is already present there, helping everyone in the building, who are pretty much old. The mobile phones have no network connection out there, and the landlines also do not work, much to the dismay of Sameer who wishes to connect to his wife.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The group of old men is also joined by Lateef Zaidi (Amitabh Bachchan), who reaches there despite the snowfall getting much worse. Sameer is surprised to see everything that happens around this house in the middle of nowhere, which is nothing less than a grand mansion of some older time period. They tell Sameer that they meet there and play a strange game in which these retired professionals of law conduct mock trials. They take some very old well known case and go on with the same. In the beginning, they talk about the case of Phoolan Devi, but later chooses Sameer as the accused. Sameer says that he hasn’t committed any crime, and is ready to face anything that is put in front of him. He is confident that he will win the game, and none of these people are good enough to pose any challenge to him. But there is more than what meets the eye to these people in the mansion.

The defence of Chehre :: What works really well for Chehre is its setting in the middle of nowhere, with snow all around, and the building is also a thing of visual splendour which we cannot avoid. Everything is perfectly suited for what is to happen next in the film. It also seems to come up with a message, even though it seems to be confused about where that is leading. But it never leaves the messages behind, that is for sure. The film does stand for the right judgment and the need for justice to be served, even though it seems almost impossible to be done when law has its loopholes. The cast is also nicely selected here, and we see the signs of the same at different moments. It does need some courage and skill to create something like this which go highly unconventional, and one cannot deny the fact that there is some good research done in the background – the risk does have its own effectiveness to go with it.

The claws of flaw :: The initial introductory dialogue by Amitabh Bachchan during the beginning itself is one of the least interesting starts to a film, and it keeps us wishing to fast forward throughout those dialogues. There are many other dialogues which were not necessary, and often goes out of the equation, seemingly just for the sake of bringing them. Too much speech here adds to the struggle, which also lengthens the film too much. When you keep talking too much without coming up with any action, people can only be confused. Preaching doesn’t always get you were you want. It also struggles to use most of its elements in the best possible manner, even though there were indeed the available opportunities. This could have been something like Pink, or something stranger than we could ever imagine, but the same is not done here. There was even scope for bringing something supernatural into the scene.

Performers of the soul :: Amitabh Bachchan controls things around here, and he makes things clear from the beginning itself. We have seen him doing this a lot, in different movies belonging to various decades. The rest of the support including Annu Kapoor, Dhritiman Chatterjee and Raghubir Yadav are very much suitable for how the game moves on. They are all different when we look at them, and have some interesting perspectives. Emraan Hashmi is also pretty much suitable for this kind of role. Siddhanth Kapoor plays a mute role, a notable one indeed. Rhea Chakraborty shows some promise, but the role is not carried on that much, even though the world could have had more for her. Krystle D’Souza makes a bigger impact, as she blends in very well to the character. There is a certain amount of mystery about her character, and even with some predictability, leaves one with more than what originally meets the eye.

How it finishes :: Chehre is a mystery thriller which can surely boast about its moments, and even though known as an uncredited adaptation of a German novel named A Dangerous Game by Friedrich Durrenmatt, makes its point well within its adapted environment. During the days of COVID-19, containment, quarantine and lockdown, we all love to watch movies set in remote worlds. It is a fine decision to release this movie on Amazon Prime Video, some days after its release in the theatres, as we are yet to see the theatres being opened here. We do know that the movie could have been much better, but for now, we adjust with what we have, and enjoy it in moments. After all, the world as we know it also has had its own limitations in the last one and half years. Nothing is the same any more, and we enjoy what we have here, with less than three months to go to end another year of virus and all kinds of terror to behold.

Release date: 30th September 2021 (Amazon), 21st August 2021 (Theatre)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Rumi Jaffery
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Emraan Hashmi, Krystle D’Souza, Rhea Chakraborty, Annu Kapoor, Raghubir Yadav, Alexx O’Nell, Sameer Soni, Dhritiman Chatterjee

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<— Click here to go to the previous Hindi film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bhramam

What is the movie about? :: Ray Mathews (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a blind musician who hopes that he will be known among the great pianists of the world. It is when he crosses the road and gets hit by Anna’s (Raashi Khanna) scooter, that there is the beginning of a romantic relationship between the two – then, it is revealed to the audience that he is not really blind, but is only acting as if he cannot see. Uday Kumar (Shankar Panicker) who was one of the big superstars of an earlier time asks him to sing at his home for his wedding anniversary with his wife Simi (Mamta Mohandas). But when Ray reaches there, he finds out that Uday is lying there dead, and Dinesh (Unni Mukundan) is also there with Simi. He sees that the two are trying to get rid of the body and the clues, as they feel that he won’t know as he is blind. Soon, Uday’s body is found in the container terminal road, and a story is created about how he was murdered by his driver.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As Dinesh is the police officer investigating the case, Ray is not able to tell anything to the police, but his arrival at the police station creates suspicions for both Dinesh and Simi. Dinesh’s wife Swapna (Ananya Nair) feels that her husband can find the murderer with ease. Dinesh has further doubts about Ray’s eye sight after searching his place, but as him being a witness only helps them, they decide not to do anything. But it is then that Ray witness another murder that Simi commits, and she decides to visit him at his place. Then, she would realize that he is not really blind, and due to the same, she has to take better precautions. At the same time, Anna is worried that Ray hasn’t shown up for a long time. A worried Dinesh wants Ray dead, and a boy in the neighborhood has proof that Ray is not really blind. All these lead to a sequence of events which means that life won’t be the same again for the people involved.

The defence of Bhramam :: Bhramam, even though not an original story, is executed really well. The strength of the cast is one advantage that this film can be proud about. The recreation of the tale in this particular setting is very good – the choice of Cochin and its surroundings, especially Fort Cochin makes it a better visual treat than one would expect. There have been similar visual splendour before, but not in a way that it suits the whole thing so well. From reading about the original film, there seems to be some differences here, but nothing that someone who hasn’t watched the Hindi version can confirm. As it stands, the film does rise above the expectations which the trailer had created, especially with the black humour and the twists that it provides. There is always something different that we can expect with Bhramam, as it moves forward, as it never hesitates to move away from the usual and the predictable.

The claws of flaw :: There can be comparisons between Bhramam and the original version which was in Hindi, and we know that original can often have the advantage, but as I have not watch that one, it won’t be my job to do. There are surely some moments in this film which could have been better, and the beginning moments could have had an extension, as they were indeed cute. Some more changes could have also been added to make this not that exact an adaptation. It could have managed to get more out of the last moments too, as scope was always there. The social commentary could have also been stronger, even though the presence is felt on some occasions. Some occasions could have also had better clarity, and a few scenes could also take better strength. As a film on a musician and a pianist, this could have also had more songs to add to the quality.

Performers of the soul :: After Cold Case and Kuruthi, Prithviraj Sukumaran has another release on Amazon Prime Video, the only OTT platform, where he had fresh releases. In comparison with the other roles in these movies, this does take a fine deviation for him, and this is further away from what one would expect from the trailer. The black comedy factor does work well for him. Unni Mukundan has had a certain amount of break time after the release of Mamangam much earlier. In the role of a police officer, he makes a fine comeback, even though this role doesn’t demand that much. Shankar Panicker has a small role, as he plays a superstar of the past himself with ease. At the same time, Jagadish comes up with a role which we don’t usually see him doing, and supporting him are Sminu Sijo and Aneesh Gopal, who have some fine contributions to provide here – the three are basically the unexpected turning point providers in the film.

Further performers of the soul :: Mamta Mohandas had her voice in Sunny, after having her full works in Forensic, Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel, 9 and the quick appearance of Johny Johny Yes Appa. She is back here, playing the main role, and she has done the same in a believable manner, leaving not much to the doubts. It is always good to have her back, and it doesn’t matter how many times we miss her due to her health related reasons. Raashi Khanna has her second Malayalam film here after Villain. This is a more notable role as we look at it, and she holds on to the cuteness factor from the beginning stages, even though she has to make way for Mamta later, only to have something to add in the final stages of the film. Shine Tom Chacko also makes an appearance in a cameo, but it is a role which defines many things in the film. Nandhana Varma plays the role of the daughter of the superstar, and that also is a notable one. Valsala Menon plays a neighbour of importance too.

How it finishes :: Bhramam is the remake of the much appreciated Hindi movie, Andhadhun – basically one of the many remakes as the same film is remade in different languages. Those who have watched that critically acclaimed movie, can know the quality of this version better for sure. When we consider this film as a stand-alone work, it is also a very well done work. After all, keeping up the quality is often difficult with remakes, unless there is something like a Drishyam which can come in many languages, and can even come up with the right sequel. For now, we can be sure that Bhramam which is taken out of Andhadhun works really well in this form too, and if there was ever any doubt about that, the same was not needed. We cannot blame ourselves about the same though, as doubting is in our blood, and trusting people to make things better is never really that easy.

Release date: 7th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 152 minutes
Directed by: Ravi K Chandran
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Raashi Khanna, Unni Mukundan, Mamta Mohandas, Shankar Panicker, Ananya Nair, Sminu Sijo, Sudheer Karamana, Aneesh Gopal, Valsala Menon, Nandhana Varma, Jagadish, Rajesh Raj, Master Avyukth Menon, Shine Tom Chacko (cameo)

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Vampire Owl: Can someone wish that the undead be dead?

Vampire Bat: Well, that would be something the werewolves would do.

Vampire Owl: Do they still try to make sure about it?

Vampire Bat: They haven’t been that dumb for some time.

Vampire Owl: You mean that werewolves are no longer dumb.

Vampire Bat: Let them make a claim related to that.

Vampire Owl: Well, zombies did make such a claim, and they are surely dumb.

Vampire Bat: Zombies never get to eat enough brains. You can’t blame them.

Vampire Owl: Werewolves don’t get enough of full moon either.

Vampire Bat: Let us not blame them for wishing us dead, at least for now.

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

What is the movie about? :: Hannah Faber (Angelina Jolie) who used to be smokejumper is struggling with her past after facing a forest fire and failing to prevent the deaths of three young campers and another smokejumper. She ends up being posted at a fire lookout tower in pretty much a remote location. At the same time, Owen Casserly (Jake Weber), who works as a forensic accountant, watches the news about the death of his boss and family in what seems to be a gas explosion, and panics, ending up leaving his city with his son, Connor (Finn Little) who is confused about is happening. The house was originally destroyed by assassins Jack (Aidan Gillen) and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) who were sent by highly influential people who wants to destroy the evidence of what Owen knew and had informed his boss. As they come to know that Owen had left his home with his son, they start another hunt with the clues which they were able to find at his house.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Owen hoped to find refuge with the one man whom he hopes that he can trust, his brother-in-law, Ethan Sawyer (Jon Bernthal), a Deputy Sheriff, who used to be Hannah’s ex-boyfriend. As they are attacked by the assassins, they are forced to drive down the cliff, leading to the death of Owen. Now, only Connor has the much valued evidence against the gangster Arthur Phillip (Tyler Perry). Connor who keeps on running ends up meeting Hannah, who he doesn’t really trust in the beginning, but decides to go with her anyway, as he runs out of options. It turns out that her tower was just hit by a lightning, and they no longer have any option for communication. At the same time, the assassins get another warning from their boss, and as they need to finish what they started as soon as possible, they set fire in the forest as a distraction and goes on looking for the boy at all possible locations, with time running out.

The defence of Those Who Wish Me Dead :: There is always chance for having more and more thrillers which are lesser known, but has enough strength inside to make an impact, thus keeping us interested. This film tries to be one of them, and succeeds up to an extent. This is also a film which we never knew that it had released, but thanks to Amazon Prime Video, we know. The film has engaging moments, as there is the boy being hunted, and we also have a protagonist with a troubled past who is trying to save him as well as others who also comes in. The setting used here is really good, as we have a huge forest area, a small town, and fire that burns them all. The situation has been nicely managed around here, as far as the environment is concerned. It also manages to have an emotional side to go with things. It could have also suited a slasher horror film well too – we have watched films like Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight and Hoax a few months ago.

The claws of flaw :: Those Who Wish Me Dead doesn’t make full use of what it has in the hands. It also stays rather slow during most of its time, and it doesn’t seem to be in a hurry at any moment. It also misses the opportunity to bring some horror in between, and with a quicker pace, it could have achieved much more, after all, we have people who are supposed to be expert assassins fighting some local people. The slasher elements could have also made some impact around here. The intensity could have been much higher as we see how things are progressing around here. Angelina Jolie still has what it takes, but we do feel that she wants to let it go, and Nicholas Hoult, if used as the sole assassin, could have scored much more here. We do miss those days when these two people could have done things which nobody else could do, and that reminds us that we are also getting older – how has the world changed in more than one way, right? Well, all these do make the film feel much longer, even as it is not that long.

Performers of the soul :: Angelina Jolie is the name which makes you watch films during these days too. If there was no COVID-19 pandemic, and if this had released in the theatres here, just her name would have brought the audience to the multiplexes, that much has been her star value around here. She continues to come up with the fine performances, even though there is that tired look which seems to be that much associated with her as much as the character with which it connects really well. Nicholas Hoult who is the next best known name with films including X-Men franchise, Jack the Giant Slayer, Warm Bodies and Mad Max: Fury Road to his name, surprisingly doesn’t get a boost to his role, and is limited to the usual assassin that we see – well, that much is done pretty well. Aidan Gillen plays the other assassin well enough too. Medina Senghore as Allison is the strongest character around here, and Jon Bernthal as Ethan has his moments here too. Finn Little has some good moments as the child actor.

How it finishes :: Those Who Wish Me Dead adds to the list of the usual thrillers with some fine setting to go with it. It had the scope to be more, but that chance is not taken. It would have made more impact if the theatres were open around here, even though one can’t be sure if it is to get a chance for a release here with so many Malayalam films getting ready for release as soon as the COVID-19 numbers get lower. We do have to appreciate the fact that they are indeed releasing these movies on Amazon Prime Video which most of us have better access, as there is almost nobody who doesn’t order from Amazon these days and most of the people do have the Prime account. After all, these are the days when we are hoping for better times, and some good movies can help us to keep life going better. There is nothing like a tale of survival against all odds that can keep us going during these days. So, until things get better, we still have these around.

Release date: 14th May 2021 (USA), 17th September 2021 (Amazon)
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Finn Little, Aidan Gillen, Jake Weber, Medina Senghore, Jon Bernthal

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Intuition

Vampire Owl: I remember having an intuition myself.

Vampire Bat: Vampires don’t have intuitions, for we have the vampire sense.

Vampire Owl: I thought that it was called the vampire instinct.

Vampire Bat: It was changed after the film, Basic Instinct released.

Vampire Owl: I didn’t find anything wrong about that movie.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but vampires used to be very prude at that time.

Vampire Owl: It was because of Doctor Frankenstein. He had his strange habits.

Vampire Bat: Well, he is creating a COVID-19 vaccine with zero side effects.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that there can be a vaccine which works with vampires.

Vampire Bat: A vaccine among the undead has its own possibilities. We are forever, and there won’t be the need for a second dose.

[Gets a red velvet cake and three glasses of pineapple shake].

What is the movie about? :: Francisco Juanez (Joaquin Furriel) had solved a case involving a serial killer who murdered young girls just recently. The murderer had killed himself before being caught. Due to an injury caused to a police officer on duty, a new recruit, Manuela Pelari (Luisana Lopilato) is assigned to investigate the murder of a woman who was assaulted with a sharp weapon. She is considered to be a VIP case, and the police are not able to find the weapon, as Francisco joins the team. The dead woman is Gloriana Marquez (Delfina Chaves), the daughter of a business magnate with many media connections, political contacts and the support of many big businessmen, and the police needs to be very careful about this case, or things could go out of control for the department whose reputation is at stake. Their first suspect is her boyfriend who has been in a relationship with her for two years, and was also the first person to find her body. Then her best friend is also added to that list.

So, what happens with the events here? :: At the same time, the head of the police department asks Manuela to keep an eye on Francisco who hasn’t been himself since his wife died, and it seems that the man who murdered her was killed earlier, and they suspect Francisco on that particular case. Manuela doesn’t believe that he might have committed the murder, but decides to investigate anyway. At the same time, the investigation on Gloriana’s death seems to go in a complex path. More information is added to Gloriana’s life is revealed by talking to her close contacts. Manuela tries to find where Francisco happened to be, at the time when the man’s murder had taken place. At the same time, the dead man’s family hopes to have vengeance, as they are sure that it was Francisco who murdered him. They are just waiting to pounce on the police officer as soon as there is clarity on who was really responsible for the death. El Zorro (Abel Ayala), his brother is ready for blood. Minerva del Valle (Maite Lanata) confesses to the murder of Gloriana, but Francisco is not convinced, or is he?

The defence of Intuition :: This one works as an interesting investigative thriller, without any doubt at all. Everything here seems to be perfectly arranged, and there is fine quality about how things go forward. There is no exaggeration being added here, and even if this is about a strange investigation, there is so much that we feel is close to reality around here. With two murders being investigated at the same time, and with the police officer also being a suspect, this one has more to guess than what originally meets the eye. The main character also serves as a mystery all by himself. The visuals are really good, and we see the beauty of the Argentine city with some good shots, just as it shows the area outside the urban area. The background score is also very much suitable and keeps us interested. There is also more about the murders than what meets the eye, and twists are there while suspense is maintained throughout the film, making one wonder who is one which side, and how all these would be coming together. It keeps you interested in what is happening, even when things get slow.

The claws of flaw :: There are moments when it seem a little confusing, and there are more dialogues than it was needed. There was no need to complicate things beyond the need for the case itself. The pace keeps getting higher and lower, even though the pace is mostly slow. The beginning stages are also badly used, and it doesn’t have much to do with the later case, and if they couldn’t use that to their advantage, it could have been removed – a serial killer would have suited this film really well too. This kind of initial cases not that useful for plot has been seen in different movies all around the world, for example, the Malayalam film, Abrahaminte Santhathikal. All these distractions occur when the better thrillers like Memories, Forensic and Anjaam Pathira focuses on what is to follow rather than providing an introduction which seems to be of grand focus, but doesn’t come into the picture after that except for some mentions. In the end, one feels that there is some missing out on the thrilling elements which should have been there in the film.

Performances of the soul :: The performances here and very good, and that includes so many of them who are involved. Joaquin Furriel whom we know for his film, The Son, leads the way as a police officer with a mystery surrounding him, and at the same time, also makes a perfect and determined cop. There are some nice dialogues to add to the same too. Luisana Lopilato matches the same in skills, and she remains solid as the rookie police officer too. She could have been parts of similar Hollywood films at some point of time, because she has that kind of a performance delivered throughout the film. Their moments together are really good, with some moments as well as dialogues to remember. Maite Lanata plays another character who is connected to the crime, and she plays well into the mystery of the whole thing. Her interrogations have more than what seems when we look forward to find more than what meets the eye. Rafael Ferro plays the cop with his own secrets very well. Abel Ayala’s character has short stay, and so does Delfina Chaves, whose death sets things in motion here.

How it finishes :: Intuition makes it to list of interesting Spanish films to watch, especially those thrillers that we would like to watch carefully. These are the kind of thrillers which have something special about them for everyone if we look at them closer. Even with its slower pace, and some complications, it manages to be another thriller with more than one mystery to be solved. As the first Argentine original Netflix film, it does have the quality to go to the international audience. Based on the novel called La Virgen en tus Ojos in Spanish and translated as The Virgin in your Eyes, written by Florencia Etcheves, it also works as a prequel to the 2018 thriller Perdida a.k.a. Missing. As the original novel is in Spanish, the idea about the book that we can have here is minimum, but without that, we can surely enjoy the movie, and can see how it has managed to work here. When we think about Argentina, the first thing that comes to our mind is surely the Argentinian football team with Lionel Messi, and Maradona from the past, and maybe the fans should also have a look into the Spanish films from Argentina and enjoy them.

Release date: 28th May 2020
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Alejandro Montiel
Starring: Luisana Lopilato, Joaquin Furriel, Rafael Ferro, Delfina Chaves, Maite Lanata, Marita Ballesteros, Juan Manuel Guilera, Sebastian Mogordo, Abel Ayala

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Spanish film review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first big budget Spanish film review here.

<— Click here to go to the most popular Spanish in this part of the world reviewed.

<— Click here to go to Chilean Spanish film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cold Case

What is the movie about? :: ACP Sathyajith (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is in charge of an investigation of a case which has turned cold. As a skull is discovered in the backwaters near Trivandrum, from within a cover, and it becomes an internet sensation, the requirement is to discover its origins as soon as possible. But Sathyajith has to start with no clue on where to begin the investigation, but with the help of CI Ziyad (Anil Nedumangad) and the new recruit Neela (Pooja Mohanraj), he has to make a move quickly. At the same time, Medha (Aditi Balan) is a recently divorced mother of a little girl, and finds a new home somewhere around Trivandrum. She is an investigative journalist who is interested in paranormal happenings, only to find something strange in the new house which she had rented. There is something cold about her new home, and the AC, refrigerator, television, laptop, lights – everything electric seems to have something to do with it. To add to it, her daughter also has a strange doll given by her sister who committed suicide.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Medha finds out a name from a blind occult researcher, Zara Zacchai (Suchitra Pillai), and the presence had a name, Eva Maria (Athmiya Rajan), who has a troubled history. She tries to find out the secret behind the disappearance of the woman with that particular name, while Sathyajith also comes across a similar name, from a dental transplant which remained on the skull. Now the question remains where Eva Maria has disappeared, and whether the skull points to somebody else. Medha’s advocate who filed the divorce, Haritha Manakkal (Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli) points her to Eva’s previous husband who is now married to a wealthy lady, and Sathyajith also digs up her past, from her family which included her stepmother and children. But Eva Maria hadn’t disappeared for everyone, and some people feel that she had taken a spiritual path. There is more than what meets the eye about Eva, but with ghosts and murderers around, can truth somehow make it outside?

The defence of Cold Case :: Here, Cold Case comes up as another interesting thriller with a supernatural side, combining both elements quite well. The supernatural side is also nicely used, even though it is not combined well enough in totality. There are some nice moments of horror around here, and there are fine twists to go with it. With some red herrings added here and there, the film makes sure that we don’t get that much of a clue about who is behind all of these happenings. There is always something here to keep the horror going, and the suspense does keeps us guessing – we do come up with many possible villains, but this asks for more than the usual guesses. The use of refrigerator and the cold works pretty well, but the hair doesn’t. Above everything, the cast is also good, and with fine support, things work better. This one can have its sequel for sure, as there is that opening which is left to be explored in the end.

The claws of flaw :: Cold Case, while trying to do it differently, focuses on too many things, and due to the same reason, has some diversion, which was not needed. The problem with having such diversions is that the most important thing, the police investigation is not always on the lead. The other side following the supernatural lead often seems to be not necessary, as we keep having moments from both sides. An expansion of the supernatural, and making it connect directly with the police investigation would have improved the work further. The idea about another death is also kept in the balance, to be explored in a sequel if there is any. The film certainly had so many opportunities, and it should have taken it, maybe even at the expense of extending the film by half an hour or so. If this had released when most of the Indian states were in lock-down, it would have managed many more audience too, but this is surely going to gain its fans, anyway.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran in a thriller has always been joy to watch, and there is no better example for the same than Memories, one of the best investigation thrillers of all-time as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned. Kunchacko Boban’s triple thrillers of Anjaam Pathira, Nayattu and Nizhal seemed to suggest that a deviation was coming in the genre, and the usual police officer solving a case was gone, a case reiterated by Tovino Thomas in Forensic – none of these films had the police officers solving the problem. Prithviraj as the protagonist, the police officer goes after the case here in a more systematic manner as we see it. He is certainly the hero here, even though the tale does provide a side for the lady protagonist too. He is indeed the one who solves the problem here, and any ghostly help which comes from outside was not that much needed. We see that Prithviraj comfortably go through the role here, and has no direct contact with the paranormal side to ask for help.

Further performers of the soul :: Aditi Balan makes her Malayalam debut in style too. She does have her moments, but her character doesn’t have that much strength to add to this investigation, which is in control of the police. Almost all the supernatural elements are related to her, and she excels in her first Malayalam film, far above her character, as we also see the focus shifting to her effectively. This is also one of the final films of the talented Anil Nedumangad, who died by drowning in a dam reservior a few months ago. He once again proves to be of fine support yet again. Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli who was last seen in Malayalam cinema in the movies Angels and Salt Mango Tree can be seen in a certain kind of a return here too, and she has done a neat work here. Alencier Ley Lopez has much more to contribute here than what earlier met the eye. Athmeeya Rajan of the Joseph fame is once again here as the lady everyone is searching for, and she has done some fine work, even though we have much less of her on the screen.

How it finishes :: Cold Case is not the usual kind of investigative thriller, as there is the supernatural side going strong from one angle, which might have been less expected from the work. There are lots of interesting moments in this film, and it also leaves a scope for a sequel in the end. It is part of that long list of thrillers which have brought the entertainment to us during the COVID-19 season, and with some horror effects to add to the investigation, this is also one nice flick to watch in the theatre, if there is ever any opening of the same in the upcoming months. We can only thank Amazon Prime Video for bringing us films like these which keeps the entertainment coming to our laptops. When Kilometers and Kilometers released on television, people had the feeling that this was not going to work, but now we have so many films which have released or had a later release in the OTT platform. Cold Case makes it there, and it also scores well, just like the other Malayalam films which came to OTT, with Drishyam 2 in the lead.

Release date: 30th June 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Tanu Balak
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Aditi Balan, Anil Nedumangad, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, Nitha Promy, Athmeeya Rajan, Pooja Mohanraj, Suchitra Pillai, Gibin Gopinath, Alencier Ley Lopez, Parvathy T, Baby Aleena, Tessa Simon, Rajesh Hebbar

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aarkkariyam

What is the movie about? :: Ittyavira (Biju Menon) is a retired mathematics teacher who is spending his time alone in a village in the district of Kottayam. At the same time, his daughter Shirley (Parvathy Thiruvothu) and her second husband Roy (Sharafudheen) are living in Andheri, Mumbai, and are planning to come back to Kerala after some time, despite the COVID-19 restrictions being further imposed everywhere. The coming of Corona has kept all of them in their own space, without much contact with outside world, and the spread of Corona virus had also brought some financial crisis to Roy and Shirley. The former’s business was already failing and there is no success in mutual fund either. The two manage to come all the way to Kerala to Shirley’s hometown and meet Ittyvira, who is really happy to see them. But they are also not able to meet their daughter, as the borders are closed. They apply for permission, but soon, a nation-wide lock-down is imposed, and they are all stuck there in their home in the village.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The lock-down changes their lives by a long way, and the restrictions reach their place too. The already interior home now feels even more away from civilization. This is the time when people were only beginning to understand the COVID-19 situation, and everyone was expecting all these problems to be solved as the virus would eradicated in the end of lock-down. One of the consignments of Roy is now stuck with the customs, and without that, there is nothing much that can be done. Now, the only way to get some quick money so that they can pay back Vyshak (Saiju Kurup) is by selling the ancestral lands, and it is Ittyvira who provides them that idea. But there are some complications related to the same, as there seems to be some secrets from the past which need to be taken care of. Roy begins to feel uncomfortable about the same, but there is nothing that he can do, other than worry about the same.

The defence of Aarkkariyam :: Aarkkariyam would seem to be a usual film in a village setting, but it is surely more than that – we get the idea only later though. Every moment in this movie nicely contributes to keep it going, and it is not that long either with each second in there used in an interesting manner. It does have that fine punch at the interval, something that makes the film take another route from the second half. The title itself is a worthy one here, as we keep wondering who all knows about a number of things including a sinister event and a person who was involved in the same. The performance of the three main characters elevates the film further, and the supporting cast is also interesting. The surroundings are nicely created, and the feeling of Pala-Kanjirappilly area is given with the rural touch everywhere, from the people to the environment. The film also focuses on the different opinions that different people would have about one person, and how polarized the same happens to be – how one can pretend to be good among the common people.

The claws of flaw :: Aarkkariyam is not the kind of movie which you would expect, as it has a certain deviation in store there. It is also slow at times, and there are lots of moments when nothing happens, even though they do contribute to the mood. There is also the presence of some usual cliché stuff here, but the same will go on and pass. Even if it feels like family drama, it doesn’t suit into that genre completely, and one would have doubt about the kind of audience it is actually looking for – even though we can keep it for the common audience in general. A little bit more of the moments in Mumbai and their return to hometown as well as a few twists in between would have helped more, even if it would deviate further away from the genre. It was an opportunity for something more, and there was the chance to be a classic, but the film manages to keep it going straight and without adding any special ingredient into it – maybe because there was the feeling that it was not needed, like Kungfu Panda would agree.

The performers of the soul :: This movie, as expected has Biju Menon with a performance to remember, and that too with a different kind of work. He has embraced this role like Vijayaraghavan did, as he moved from the usual kind of hero to the senior roles. Much elder to Biju Menon, he would be the one we would expect in a role like this, something which he has done in earlier films, but not as the protagonist like we see here. We know that other older superstars are still playing the characters of lower age group, but Biju Menon has had the courage to take it to the next level. If we remember his last few films, we will see that this difference in looks has come unexpected, and by a long way. Even as everything is kept simple about the character, there is always something to remember with this act. There are also those simple dialogues will stay, and sometimes come back – it is one realistic performance to remember as we look at it.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is indeed about Biju Menon, but others do play their part too. Parvathy Thiruvothu once again has a role to remember, as she blends in here nicely, just like she has done so many times with ease not limited to her most appreciated performances in Uyare, Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. She does get pushed to the background though, as the film progresses. It is also nice to see Sharafudheen in a serious role this time. We have been so much used to see him in those comic roles, except for that villainy in Varathan and the psychotic side in Anjaam Pathira, but those were kind of exaggerated when we have a look back – this is really a fine change here from the early comic side in Premam and the same later in Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela. The two match with their performances, and the cast has worked really well. Saiju Kurup plays the supporting role in the usual kind of way, but could have been part of more of the action too. Shoba Mohan is the only person here who gives the feeling that we have seen the person before.

How it finishes :: The first movie directed by cinematographer Sanu John Varghese is not something that we can leave behind. This is the kind of movie which I would have surely watched in the theatre early enough, if there was no COVID-19. It was a good decision to release this one on Amazon Prime Video along with Neestream, Roots Video and Cave OTT platforms because most of us were always going to watch it on Prime Video only – it is still difficult to find the movie there because of the spelling required to be exactly as it is when searching, and surprisingly it is also not on the list of the new film releases on Amazon. But we do get to it anyway, and during this time of lock-down and triple lock-down in Kerala, this is the kind of movie that reminds us of last year’s lock-down exactly as it is, and it is more or less a realistic experience that we go through – the kind which we had seen in Joji, and also in Nayattu even though this one keeps the thriller side at a distance.

Release date: 1st April 2021 (Theatre), 19th May 2021 (Amazon Prime Video, Neestream, Roots Video, Cave)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Sanu John Varghese
Starring: Biju Menon, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Sharafudheen, Arya Salim, Ganga G Nair, Saiju Kurup, Thejaswi Praveen, Shoba Mohan, Jacob George, Pramod Veliyanad

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

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

<— Click here to go to the previous superstar film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Joji

What is the movie about? :: Joji Panachel (Fahadh Faasil) is the youngest son of Panachel family, an engineering drop-out who has now failed in his latest attempt in the tourism field due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Living somewhere in the isolated part of the highlands, where his father Kuttappan PK (Sunny PN) owns many acres of land around their house, Joji condemns the fact that everyone considers him as a failure. Kuttappan’s other two sons Jomon Panachel (Baburaj) and Jaison Panachel (Joji Mundakayam) fear him as much as Joji does, and the terrifying head of the family is ruthless in his attitude towards his family members. He keeps all the money to himself, and the sons are ever dependent on him. Jaison and his wife Bincy Jaison (Unnimaya Prasad) are highly obedient towards him, while Jomon also has his son Popy Panachel (Alister Alex) living with him after just recently completing the procedures of his divorce.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is a world where Kuttappan maintains full control, and Jomon is a son who seems to be becoming just like his father. Joji is upset about nothing positive happening in his life, while Popy is a hopeless young boy himself. Bincy also has no hope for future, while her husband the son in the middle, Jaison has no courage to do anything that could change the sequence of events for everyone in the family. But when Kuttappan has a stroke while once again trying to show his strength in front of everyone else, the regular sequence of events is disturbed. The doctors and most family members feel that there is no comeback for him, and even the local priest Fr Kevin (Basil Joseph) believes that now only prayers can save him. But to everyone’s surprise, the 74 year old man survives death and comes back to them in a wheelchair. The fear factor is back, but now there is a chance for everyone to have a deviation here.

The defence of Joji :: Joji thrives on the realistic feeling that it generates with the thrills, something which Dileesh Pothan carries over from Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, with setting coming back to the highlands yet again. The time, from a Google search, the location seems to be more Kottayam than Idukki, and the atmosphere here is nicely set – could even serve as a lesson for anyone who makes a film based on the Koodathayi cyanide murders. This kind of a world is something that could take Malayalam cinema further, especially considering the fact that this flick is no longer limited to the local theatres, but gracing many nations of the world. The build-up is really nice, even though a little bit slow, and it has us expecting a lot to follow, considering the fact that a good number of main characters have certain secret motives. The film does make us remain suspicious at all times, even though some of those doubts are really without any reason. The camera work is excellent, and you also get to see some spectacular shots.

The claws of flaw :: The ending here is not that effective, and there we can see a big opportunity gone missing in a movie which was going to be far more efficient in divergence. One would expect one master twist in the end, but the final moments were just predictable and without the strength that such a movie needed to have. Seeing a top quality psychopath running out of ideas, and nobody stepping into take his place creates a struggle in the end. Even though there is the talk of this being an adaptation from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, one would find that to be an unnecessary addition to the details about the movie, because the protagonist whom we see here is none like that particular character. I wouldn’t connect that Elizabethan age drama to this one because it feels like not doing justice to both – this one works separately, and could have achieved more with this premise. Also, the female character representation is too low here.

The performers of the soul :: Just like the earlier Dileesh Pothan movies which had Fahadh Faasil as the main character, this one also depends on him to bring the magic, which he does with a certain amount of ease, as he has done before in multiple occasions as part of many different movies. We can also find traces of what was seen in Kumbalangi Nights with his psychotic character that brought the twist in the end. That was a movie which should have been sent for the Oscars, and Fahadh has another performance here that follows the much appreciated self-proclaimed hero of Kumbalangi. Unnimaya Prasad is also here doing a really interesting character, someone who seems to have hidden dark shades, even though the same is not explored further. An opportunity to bring the Macbeth element with a guilt-filled Lady Macbeth is not taken here, against expectations. We had seen her most memorable role in Anjaam Paathira, and this is the next most memorable thing.

Further performers of the soul :: Baburaj’s performance in this movie serves as a big boost too, as he excels in the serious as well as the funny moments. In the end, we feel the character as a person who holds on to his own values, and the same differentiates him from others, even though he is still an alcoholic with not control over his tongue – a character nicely executed. Shammi Thilakan’s character also catches our attention, and it is also as realistic a character as we can get. Sunny PN who plays the controlling father character will also have our attention from the beginning itself. Basil Joseph’s role of the priest is a welcome addition too, even though it doesn’t directly affect the storyline. It is to be noted that the director of movies like Kunjiramayanam and Godha has played a good number of interesting roles until now. The lesser characters are also nicely added to the film, as we see them contributing really well in what seems to be nice roles for them.

How it finishes :: During the continuing time of COVID-19 pandemic, this movie has released in Amazon Prime Video, and that has been a nice idea indeed, at least for most of us who haven’t really started visiting theatres again as the cases of infections are still going up. This one is another winner for Dileesh Pothan as a director, as he scored three out of three with simple, realistic movies. I would place this movie between Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, better than the latter, but not that much of an interesting thing as the former. It seems that a pandemic like this version of mutating Corona virus has given us more thriller movies than those films with hope which were filling up the theatres before we went into that lock-down, an example being seen in Kilometers and Kilometers starring Tovino Thomas which served as a light-hearted feel-good film. We are surrounded by horror and suspense, and it is a fine change.

Release date: 7th April 2021
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Unnimaya Prasad, Baburaj, Basil Joseph, Shammi Thilakan, Joji Mundakayam, Sunny PN, Alister Alex, Renjith Rajan, Dhaneesh A Balan, Renjith Gopali

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous full OTT release.

<— Click here to go to the previous full TV release.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lake of Death

Vampire Owl: I thought that it was originally the river of death.

Vampire Bat: The river of death has already gone dry.

Vampire Owl: What about the pond of death behind the castle then?

Vampire Bat: That pond is originally something related to life and not death.

Vampire Owl: Yet, it is named the pond of death.

Vampire Bat: So, you feel that this lake might not be about death?

Vampire Owl: There is surely something strange about this movie.

Vampire Bat: This is a Norwegian movie, and the first one of the kind we are watching.

Vampire Owl: Well, the idea does seem to be pretty good when we have look from a distance.

Vampire Bat: The first movie which we watch is often too good, no matter what the language happens to be.

[Gets an orange cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Lillian (Iben Akerlie) had lived the early parts of her life with her brother Bjorn (Patrick Walshe McBride), who had lost his ability to talk in the later stages of his childhood, after former had left him with nobody to take care of, as they were both orphans, The two only had a cabin in the woods for them to live, and Bjorn had lived there beside the lake for most of his life, which Lillian had left the place for the city. Bjorn had no friends in the isolated place, and used to sit near the lake doing nothing for most of his life. One day, she gets the news that her brother had drowned in the same lake, and that was shocking and depressing for her, as it was her who left him behind, deciding not to spend much time with him. Seeing her depressed state, her friends decide to accompany her to the cabin in the woods beside the lake for the last time she is going there, as she intends to sell it, and get rid of her memories forever, moving on with her life in the city.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The four friends include the beautiful Sonja (Sophia Lie) and three men, Gabriel (Jonathan Harboe), Harald ( Elias Munk) and Bernhard (Jakob Schoyen Andersen), who feels that along with helping Lillian in getting rid of her depression and the memories of the cabin, they can also have some fun in the woods, as they had heard about the beautiful lake and the lovely setting of the cabin. They reach the place and meet Kai (Ulric von der Esch), Lillian’s former lover and friend, a local guy who arranges everything for her. Sonja is quick to turn into the party mood and get into her bikini for the much needed cooling time in the lake, but with people seemingly pulled down under water and the dog going missing, something is wrong, and spoils the holiday mood for all of them. They also find breakfast already there when they wake up, and Lillian has some strange visions, as she begind sleepwalking. The five of them begin to doubt each other as well as another presence which they wonder whether is supernatural in nature.

The defence of Lake of Death :: The movie has a beautiful setting indeed, and the advantage of having such a cabin in the woods setting is that along with that natural beauty which we see at almost every point, we can also find the scope for the creepy effects, for the lake itself has a well-known history of violence happening around it as well as the cabin. There are also some fine scares to go with, and we are left with what is to happen next, even though in the beginning, the horror is not really that direct. The feeling is always there, as horror is present with creepiness wherever you look at it. We do have a few final moments under the lake, and it is beautifully shot, with the protagonist moving underneath like a fish or rather a mermaid, escaping the evil – a site to behold, just like the beauty of nature surely requiring a nymph or a wood elf of its own. There are some other interesting moments of terror which had come earlier – those which we remember include the protagonist sleepwalking through the room, her trying to get away from the bathtub, her awakening beside the lake, as well as the way she looks at other on different occasions.

The claws of flaw :: This is indeed a slow moving movie, and the lack of pace can be seen from the beginning itself. There is some inconsistency in the characters too, except for the two girls who remain the same, and they are well-defined. It does go into the usual traps, with elements which we have seen in other movies, and even those things which didn’t work in those films either. The cliches are indeed there, and most of them work as red herrings, as we move away from what we should focus on, but that too, when it comes in the end, fades away too easily – it could have been longer, especially the moments under the lake which are beautiful, but are over as we begin to get a touch of the same. The movie could have actually been more like The Cabin in the Woods, one of the best horror movies of all-time, which didn’t really get a screen in the malls around here. This Norwegian movie, for some reason, decides not to be that, or even Evil Dead – the scope was really there, as elements of old horror sneaks in so well around here.

Performers of the soul :: The movie’s spirit is entangled into Iben Akerlie who actually becomes a reflection of the atmosphere itself, and she perfectly fits into the role and setting with ease. There is something about her at all times, and we are drawn to the way she looks and acts throughout the movie, like that fairy-tale nymph who reached the world of humans all of a sudden. The way she looks at everything, from the cabin and the woods to people, as well as her simple actions give us a feeling that she is not of this world. She nicely blends into that strange girl whom nobody can easily figure out. Patrick Walshe McBride’s brotherly figure is even more weird, but we don’t really see much of him around here. Then, it is Sophia Lie who has our attention as one of those characters who are better defined than the others. As the only other female character in the movie, she is the one whom we can consider to be the sane one among the other unpredictable ones. The other actors do just the usual in a horror movie as we look at them.

How it finishes :: Lake of Death, the first Norwegian movie which I have watched, has managed to be an interesting horror movie, even though moving on at quite slow pace from the beginning itself. This could have actually worked better as a usual horror movie with this kind of an atmosphere without complicating things too much or lowering the pace rather too much. We could have had the feeling of terror always being there directly rather than bringing them in the form of strange events which don’t seem to be that much dangerous, or through those hallucinations which makes us feel not to be considered serious. Yet, this can begin your movie watching procedure in style as far as Norwegian movies are concerned, because a horror flick with such a setting is always the best option to begin with. You can go through this world of creepiness, beauty and fear, all mingled into one, and then follow up with more Norwegian horror at some other point. After all, horror is the most real thing that you can ever experience in life.

Release date: 1st November 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Nini Bull Robsahm
Starring: Patrick Walshe McBride, Ulric von der Esch, Iben Akerlie, Sophia Lie, Elias Munk, Jonathan Harboe, Jakob Schoyen Andersen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Room

Vampire Owl: Are they talking about that particular room in the north-east?

Vampire Bat: That can’t be the room these humans are talking about.

Vampire Owl: Are you sure? It is a room which we consider to be among the best in the Old Vampire World and the new one.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this is not a room of horror unlike what they think.

Vampire Owl: So, there is no Halloween attraction in the room

Vampire Bat: No, there is none at all.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that there are no evil clowns either.

Vampire Bat: Exactly, as this is a room of another kind.

Vampire Owl: Okay, then I will need to find the horror from inside.

Vampire Bat: After you watch this movie, maybe you can have a different kind of horror.

[Gets a chicken cutlet and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Kate (Olga Kurylenko) and Matt (Kevin Janssens) are a couple who moved to a new place in the countryside, and it was a large secluded manor which they had managed to buy only recently. As Matt is an artist and Kate a translator, they hoped to find a better career at this part of the world, while spending some time together without being bothered by anyone else, as they couldn’t have children despite the doctors saying that both of them are alright. After coming across certain electrical problems, they call an electrician who understands that the wiring in the home is a complicated mess of wires that runs through almost everywhere in the house, and he needs to work out an estimate and plans before starting to look for any possible problems in them. Before leaving, the electrician reminds Matt that the previous owners were murdered by an unknown man in the house, something which the couple never knew until then.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But this is not where the strange things about the house begins and ends, as it is a house which holds a mystery which nobody could explain. Matt finds out that the killer’s is given the random name of John Doe, and is now living in a mental asylum. Thinking about it, and unable to sleep, he sits in a room which they had discovered locked and hidden underneath the wallpaper, and wishes for a bottle of alcohol which he finds in front of him. Scared and confused, he moves away, but begins to ask for more including the historical paintings. Kate is surprised when she wakes up finding many expensive paintings in the newly discovered room, and when she wishes for a lot of money, she ends up finding them in the room. Even though Kate is initially reluctant, they begin a hedonistic life-style, staying all the time in house. But there is more than what meets the eye to the house, and as they cross the limits, there are consequences. Can they overcome the following troubles?

The defence of The Room :: The movie holds around seventy eight percent reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, which is clearly justified with the quality being maintained here. It effectively shows the dangers of getting whatever one wants, and what happens when you don’t understand the consequences of crossing the limits. The same is told in a tale of thrills and twists, with a certain amount of hidden horror being present at all times. Once upon a time, there was the magic lamp, there was the wishmaster, and now we have the room which takes the horror to a psychological level rather than keeping it direct. The result is that you are more disturbed with terror rather than being simply scared. You take this idea into your soul, and the message is strong. The psychological intensity is maintained by the movie very well, after a nice, fun-filled beginning which doesn’t seem to point to the terrible fate which is to come later. Olga Kurylenko with what might be her best performance so far, has you interested at all times.

Positive and negatives :: The Room doesn’t try to twist it too much, even when there was the chance. It could have been made more visually terrifying too, even though the setting is indeed scary in another way. It shows how things become complicated when you take the wrong decision regarding a child – the same you had seen in Brightburn and Pet Sematary which told you a few things about alien and undead children. But as William Golding had shown in Lord of the Flies, there are many more which children are capable of, even while staying within their innocence. Some people might not like the fact that there is no explanation regarding why all these are happening, for viewers might at least except a supernatural explanation related to magic, aliens, spirits or demons – but you have to remember that the idea itself is the explanation, as the same becomes the message. The Room is the movie which you just cannot ignore with its content.

Performers of the soul :: Olga Kurylenko stays at the heart and soul of this movie, like she has been for many other movies. She had a wonderful presence in Johnny English Strikes Again, and even more in Oblivion, with her being secondary focus, but in this case, she is the main member of the cast, the one who qualifies as the primary protagonist. Being the Bond girl in Quantum of Solace and acting in modern action movies like Hitman and Max Payne as well as the rather ancient fighting in Centurion, she has been best in those action movies, but she is not that far behind in drama and horror, as we see her excel in those emotional sequences. Whenever she is there she seems to give the best – Olga is one underrated actress whom we should be seeing in more movies. You can see that she excels in the emotional sequences here. Kevin Janssens as Matt matches up in a good number of sequences here.

How it finishes :: Among all the horror thrillers, The Room is different and special, and this is the feeling that you will have, no matter what kind of genre you prefer, and whatever type of horror you have your mind on. With a concept like this executed so well, you know that things are going to better as time progresses. Olga Kurylenko makes sure that it gets maximum effect. The Room also leaves you about a few things to ponder about, regarding what matters the most in life, and where one has to draw the line. It also has a message about human greed, and how they are not able to stop, when luxuries are poured on them. We also have the idea of inherent evil in man at work here. The Room needed to have its elements at the right place to have this working at the exact level, and we see that the movie has managed to do that just fine. The Room is a film which is lesser known, and it deserves to be watch for making everything count.

Release date: 15th April 2019
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Christian Volckman
Starring: Olga Kurylenko, Kevin Janssens, Carole Weyers, Marianne Bourg, John Flanders, Joshua Wilson, Francis Chapman, Vince Drews, Oscar Lesage, Michael Kahya

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Red Letter Day

Vampire Owl: I have always loved letter with some colour on them.

Vampire Bat: You are talking about those letters which were dipped in blood?

Vampire Owl: We are now getting bloody letters through the usual platform?

Vampire Bat: Yes, the usual letters are no longer used, especially after he had that iron mask.

Vampire Owl: Is this a new method of identification?

Vampire Bat: Yes, for the letters which are meant for the Dracula Castle.

Vampire Owl: I thought that he no longer accepts letters.

Vampire Bat: You don’t know Uncle Dracula well enough.

Vampire Owl: What is there to know now? We have been with him for very long.

Vampire Bat: There is a lot more that we don’t know, and much more to be found out. Uncle Dracula will remain a mystery for longer than we can expect.

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

What is the movie about? :: Melanie Edwards (Dawn Van de Schoot) had a divorce just recently, and has moved into a new neighbourhood with her daughter Madison Edwards (Hailey Foss) and her son Timothy Edwards (Kaeleb Zain Gartner). It seems to be an interesting neighbourhood, even though they don’t make many friends out there. Things go even further weird, as they receive mysterious letters asking them to kill the neighbours mentioned in their letters, or they will be killed. Melanie is surprised that she is asked to murder Alice Huang (Arielle Rombough), a girl living a few houses away, whom she admires a lot, and are of mutual help. Timothy finds out that he has to murder a strange man who doesn’t talk much, but is seen outside regularly while walking his cat. Madison finds it to be the strangest, as she is asked to murder her boyfriend who is supposed to be a lot older than her, and lives a strange lifestyle – her parents always disapproved of him.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Melanie feels that she could make things better by visiting Alice and her husband Lewis Huang (Michael Tan) who becomes suspicious about her due to a knife pointing out of her bag, and it leads to an exchange of words, and later a fight which leads to Melanie stabbing Lewis on the neck while Alice looks helplessly with her toddler. Meanwhile, the man whom Timothy was supposed to kill reach their home, and after looking at it for some time, starts making attempts to break the door and get in. Madison escapes through the window to find her boyfriend, while the man almost kills Timothy, only for Melanie to intervene, and kill him instead. Now, the question remains about what would happen to them with the whole town going berserk. Who will be killed, and who all can manage to survive without killing anyone? A group known as The Unknown takes responsibility for the problem, and police finally decides to take things seriously. But how many people will be dead by then?

The defence of Red Letter Day :: The idea is the one that strikes us the most as far as Red Letter Day is concerned, and the rest only follows. The thoughts about what people would do for survival, and when having the feeling that the family itself is undergoing a terrible crisis, is something that one needs to think about. But what becomes more scary is that this idea of murdering people is not just for survival as everyone in the movie are concerned – some people just seem to do the same for fun, with inherent evil in humans showing the presence. It proves that people are intrinsically bad, and do not trust others – violence is part of nature, as many poets have proven. Some moments are funny, and it makes the slasher feeling light. As this is quite a short movie, the plot which is too simple and doesn’t have much in it could be handled well enough. There are also very less number of characters, and so the complication is not there at all.

The claws of flaw :: There is a little bit too much blood and gore in this movie, which might not have been the right thing to do, when we consider the fact this was not really supposed to be of slasher genre. People might find it difficult to believe that something like this would happen – that people would just kill each other because of some letters, as they won’t accept the inherent evil. It is the same kind of people who keep questioning movies like Forensic without the true understanding of human nature. To be evil, human beings need no reason, because the tendency is always buried in between. The motive of a psycho killer needs to be the motive itself, for otherwise, it will only be a case of revenge, like shown in movies like Anjaam Pathiraa, making him just another killer. There is also a little bit of missing with the performances in this movie, and gory elements seem to be added with no reason at all. The movie could have also established it in a better way.

Performers of the soul :: Dawn Van de Schoot plays an interesting character, as a mother in the main role, and defending the family. Still, she doesn’t get that much to do around here. Hailey Foss who plays the daughter gets even less to do, and Kaeleb Zain Gartner gets limited too. Arielle Rombough did seem to have an interesting character in the beginning, but later gets limited to almost nothing. Michael Tan’s character is rather the strangest of them all. An attempt to create something like The Purge in the neighbourhood certainly needed better characters, and all of them needed more to do better. Within an hour and a quarter of time to get things going, focus on the characters was less, and it leads to most of the cast suffering, with not able to get their characters going. A movie like Red Letter Day which got the premise and the idea well and working, should have taken care of the same in a better way to help its cast to work further.

How it finishes :: Red Letter Day is not really the horror movie that you expect. It is supposed to be horror comedy, but there is a good amount of blood and gore in this violent movie, and that should confuse many people about the genre. But this one surely makes an effective experience, and we also get a glimpse into the psyche of people, as they think about killing people without thinking too much about it. The inherent evil and the survival instinct in people begin to work, and there seems to be a certain amount of need to move away from law and order to embrace chaos, which can be seen here. Fear might be a catalyst, but in this movie, we can say that it is not really the same – there is distrust and a certain amount of desire to kill that makes people do this in this particular flick. You can watch this one hour and fifteen minutes movie to get that feel. With its short run-time, Red Letter Day doesn’t bring wonders, and just has enough to keep you interested in the idea.

Release date: 5th November 2019
Running time: 76 minutes
Directed by: Cameron Macgowan
Starring: Hailey Foss, Dawn Van de Schoot, Arielle Rombough, Kaeleb Zain Gartner, Roger LeBlanc, Tiffany Helm, Michael Tan, Peter Strand Rumpel, Ryan Irving, Greg Spielman, Josh Bertwistle, Marni Reisig, Cameron Gerlitz

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hit-and-Run Squad

Vampire Owl: It is time that we also have our hit-and-run task force here.

Vampire Bat: We, vampires do not use those vehicles running on diesel, petrol or electricity. So why do we need that?

Vampire Owl: We still have a lot of hit-and-run situations.

Vampire Bat: Situations from vampires flying around as bats?

Vampire Owl: Yes, and also those which are gliding from the mountains.

Vampire Bat: Those are not really hit-and-run situations.

Vampire Owl: Someone hit me hard yesterday night and I fell on the ground. I couldn’t even get the vampire insurance. It was such a situation.

Vampire Bat: But, I see that you are okay now, even before twenty four hours passing.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but it was a mid-air collision, and my first one.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that you are going to get used to it.

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

What is the movie about? :: Eun Si-yeon (Gong Hyo-jin) used to be an elite police officer who wanted to keep hunting for criminals with such enthuiasm which was never seen before in the police department. But due to circumstances, she finds herself relegated to a hit-and-run task force, but that wouldn’t stop her from hunting for those who violated the law with the same energy and fury. Seo Min-jae (Ryu Jun-yeol) who is the youngest of the same task force, has to join with her after they solve they go through their first hit-and-run case, which he solves without following an procedures, as he gathers clues and decipher them in his way, much to the surprise of Eun who has always followed the procedure and exact ruls whenever a crime was involved. Even though hesitant at first due to being forced to be a part of something she considered to be a lesser work, she is soon ready to be involved more in the programmes of the department which works efficiently.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But her real purpose still remains the same, as she remains in the hunt for the race track driver and rich businessman who has a lot to hide, and the city police commissioner is also involved with him in this illegal activities. Being a businessman more and the driver less, the hope lies in finding those clues somewhere around the track, but they are being destroyed quick enough – the next chance for the same is on the speeding roads. Seo is also after him for a hit-and-run case, but Eun is after him for more than just that. As Jung Jae-cheol (Jo Jung-suk) goes on with his usual kind of activities under a cover, can Eun Si-yeon or Seo Min-jae find a way to lock him without having a chance to escape? Being someone who can even threaten the police officers with his influence, is he a man whom they can handle even after trying so hard? What would the police commissioner have to say about this as he is also involved?

The defence of Hit-and-Run Squad :: The movie has some action sequences, with car chases being done well, and there is also some fine emotional sequences as far as Hit-and-Run Squad is concerned. It is kept simple, and good for the families without much of the violence which would have been present in such movies on other day – blood and gore takes the backseat in this Korean movie for a change. Hit-and-Run Squad even has a feel-good factor to add to its qualities, and it is not something that we expect with this kind of a movie. When you are sitting during a lock-down, as the world is struggling to fight against a virus, and you look forward to this particular movie because it is a crime thriller with action, and at the same time, it also makes you feel good. The performances are also up to the mark, not really overdoing it, or trying to bring pure evil characters as in other movies of the genre. This one is surely for the family watch – the police movie for everyone.

The claws of flaw :: Hit-and-Run Squad is fixed on doing the usual, and therefore we have the feeling that all these have been seen before, adding to a certain amount of repetition. It doesn’t add much of the twists and turns in between, and even limits the car chases when there was the opportunities to have them throughout the flick. There were more opportunities, but the movie decides to follow the procedure and do nothing more – when we consider this movie, it stays at the safe zone. When staying in that zone, it brings its own limitations to the picture. There is no innovation added here, and we are sure that the movie could have had more inside. There are some interesting characters who could have been further explored, and the emotions could have also had further depth. We also feel that there are so many ways this movie could have scored more, gaining points at regular intervals, and it chooses not to, as it takes things easy.

Performers of the soul :: Gong Hyo-jin as Eun Si-yeon remains the top performer in this movie, and she certainly looks much younger than she is, going through the determined police officer role in a cool and controlled manner, still remaining tough, maintaining protocol, as well as having a high level of values. Ryu Jun-yeol is on support when we look at him, and he works best in the emotional sequences rather than anything else. Jo Jung-suk plays the one who is being chased by the police, and he has no problems in playing that particular role, maintaining the same level throughout the movie. Yum Jung-ah who plays a senior police officer has even a bigger role to play than it seems to be in the beginning, and she plays the character with more than what meets the eye really well. The same can be said about Jeon Hye-jin, the chief of the hit-and-run task force. Lee Sung-min has a fine role, and a good job done, to add to the performances category here.

How it finishes :: Hit-and-Run Squad is like a usual police movie with most of the ingredients working well, and you might have witnessed similar things before, and enjoyed well enough. It is the usual story of the rich and influential keeping on getting away, and the police officers looking out to do their duty and bring these people to justice. It is also a movie done without much of terror or blood and gore added in part like a crime thriller which we usually see whether it is Korean or Japanese movie. As everything is kept simple, and the movie having certain movement towards drama, the movie becomes an emotional action adventure. If you need to watch a Korean family action thriller without having worried about something inappropriate might come up, this is the film that you need, and it is the movie that has no risk out there for you. Choose to watch Hit-and-Run Squad with family, and we can say that rarely with movies of this type.

Release date: 30th January 2019
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Han Jun-hee
Starring: Gong Hyo-jin, Jo Jung-suk, Ryu Jun-yeol, Yum Jung-ah, Jeon Hye-jin, Son Seok-koo, Lee Sung-min, Kim Go-eun, Lee Hak-joo, Ryu Kyung-soo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bodies at Rest

Vampire Owl: Can the bodies be ever at rest as long as the undead are there?

Vampire Bat: We have never been at rest, as far as I know.

Vampire Owl: The castle is witness and proof to that particular statement.

Vampire Bat: I guess that they didn’t have a vampire or zombie to turn them.

Vampire Owl: Even a sorcerer or a witch could do that. Necromancers were actually available for consultation.

Vampire Bat: Even Dr. Frankenstein was available for the bodies.

Vampire Owl: Well, I wouldn’t recommend Mr. Frankenstein to do that again.

Vampire Bat: He is known for that one event involving the creation of life.

Vampire Owl: Yes, he is notorious for the same, and it is not a good sign.

Vampire Bat: Still, he is the one I look forward to, for creating dumb creatures with no teeth, those which walk like zombies.

[Gets a strawberry cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: A much respected pathologist Chen Jia Hao (Nick Cheung) and his assistant Lynn Qiao (Yang Zi) continue to work late at a public morgue on the evening of Christmas, as people begins to celebrate. Even though it is the time to rejoice, there is not much of a crowd outside due to the thunderstorms occuring outside, and people being advised to stay at home at least for the night, or until a notice comes from the authorities. It is then that three armed criminals come into the morgue, demanding that the doctor and his assistant give them a bullet from the dead body of a girl was shot dead earlier. They beat up the elder security guard known to everyone as Uncle Jin (Shu-liang Ma), and the doctor seems to have been left with no option, with phone cables being cut, mobile phones taken, and nobody left inside the building, as it is Christmas evening with a terrible weather making everyone leave early.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The three men who goes under the names, Santa (Richie Jen), Elf (Carlos Chan) and Rudolph (Jiayi Feng) manages to get a bullet from the doctor, but it turns out that it was not one from their gun. The doctor had managed to trick them into believing that he had taken the bullet out of the girl’s dead body, but he hadn’t. After the criminals leave, he takes the body from her back, and manages to break out of the room where they were locked in, only to be chased by the returning criminals again, as he tries to sneak out of there with his assistant and the injured security guard. But the criminals are quick, and they want to get that bullet to remove any proof, because this case has many implications. Can there be hope for the trio to escape and give the bullet to the police, before the criminals catch up to them? Are there other secrets which are to be revealed as time passes? Will this really be a Christmas night with joy, or is there unlimited terror awaiting them all?

The defence of Bodies at Rest :: The movie does have an interesting premise, with three people being caught in a morgue with three masked killers ready to shoot at them, unless the decide the give away the evidence of a murder – it is the kind of thing that keeps us interesting from the beginning itself. As the movie begins, there is a fine shot of the Chinese city that displays the beauty of modernity at night with the lights, and also showing the severity of nature with thunderstorms coming in strong and seemingly without an end – it is more or less an early reflection of what is to follow, as the thriller unfolds. The action scenes in the movie are all believable, as they fight normally, and both the doctor and his assistant while trying to resist, get themselves on the receiving end of the punches and kicks. There are some twists to be revealed in between, and you are in full support of the two protagonists to make it out, while the three classical Aristotelian unities of place, time and action are maintained, with everything happening in the morgue at a night, focusing on one bullet and dead body, having only minor exception.

The claws of flaw :: Bodies at Rest could have done more, and there is absolutely no doubt about it here – there are enough dead bodies in the morgue to assure that, and there is enough going on inside and outside which could have further contributed to increasing the level of this movie. A morgue is always a place of eerie and fear, and with some dead bodies, the same could have been achieved – even the corpse of the girl doesn’t serve as a reason for adding some terror in here. It would have had many places to hide, and even the morgue could have had secrets to be unveiled. The two protagonists, especially the girl could have found more spaces to escape through, as she is quite small. A better connection between the doctor and the main antagonist could have also been nice. The villains often end up being funny, and that is not too good considering the fact that they are wearing the masks, holding the guns, and are ready to murder anyone to take the bullet out of the dead girl’s body.

Peformers of the soul :: Nick Cheung plays the main character here, the one who qualifies as the protagonist from the first scene itself. He is very good, as we see the doctor handling things so well, and he goes through the character nicely. The man who is ready to take a hit to save the forensic evidence has you supporting him throughout the movie. There is also a flashback about him which is discussed here, and it becomes linked to the criminals who have something more to hide than the case of one bullet inside a young girl. Yang Zi is a lovely addition to this movie, and one has to say that she provides some surprises that we love. It has to be said that she fights incredibly well, as she runs away from the criminals, and she brings kind of an escape attack every time here. The three criminals are played very well, and Richie Jen stands out among them as the leader and the focused one. Carlos Chan and Jiayi Feng supports well enough to keep the team going. Shu-liang Ma who plays the security guard gets less to do, but does it okay.

How it finishes :: Bodies at Rest tries to compete with other thrillers which seem to make something out of an idea which feels great from the beginning itself, and the action is well restricted to a single place during one night with all the focus there. It does succeed in doing that up to an extent, but one is not supposed to expect something like The Autopsy of Jane Doe, for this is not that kind of near-perfect thriller. We do have an urge to watch these kinds of movies, with people locked in a morgue full of dead bodies and criminals hunting them, all being something that catches our attention and interest easily. Even though the reviews haven’t been that kind to this one, this Chinese movie is something that will keep you interested throughout the movie, and even before the attack on the morgue – it has that kind of a perfect setting to begin things. Bodies at Rest is only the fourth full-length Chinese movie I watched, and it was surely worth the one and half hours of run-time.

Release date: 16th August 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Starring: Nick Cheung, Richie Jen, Yang Zi, Carlos Chan, Jiayi Feng, Shu-liang Ma

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Legacy of the Bones

Vampire Owl: We, the vampires hadn’t known that the bones had legacy.

Vampire Bat: Well, for us, only the blood has legacy, for it binds us as well as curses us.

Vampire Owl: For the zombies, it is the brain that holds the legacy and it awakens them.

Vampire Bat: Maybe, for the werewolves and the witches, they do have something.

Vampire Owl: What can be the significance of bones without flesh?

Vampire Bat: Bones can be symbolic, and it can also be a serial killer thing.

Vampire Owl: In a world of chaos, a skull and two bones never losses its significance.

Vampire Bat: Yes, when there is danger all around, and we ignore it.

Vampire Owl: So, a Spanish movie is the need for the time.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we have been wandering through multiple languages these days, as far as movies are concerned.

[Gets a black-forest cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie starts with a few moments in the past with witch hunts and inquisitors around. Then, in the present time period, nine-months pregnant Police Inspector Amaia Salazar (Marta Etura) is at the city court of Pamplona in Spain, waiting for the trial of a murderer and rapist. But the convict commits suicide in the washroom, after writing down a word, “Tarttalo”. She soon gives birth to her child, much to the happiness of James Westford (Benn Northover), Amaia’s husband, who is an artist. Coming back to the service after a few months of maternity leave, she finds herself caught in multiple cases, all seemingly linked to one another. There is a church being desecrated, the priests want the senior police officers to be involved, as there were bones of a baby’s amputated arms discovered. A man who is in prison for killing his wife had sent Amaia a note revealing where is his wife’s corpse was hidden, with the same message which she had seen months ago – “Tarttalo”.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As she finds multiple deaths and the desecration of the church related in more than one way, the case gets complicated for Amaia. Not really much of a believer herself, she finds herself dragged to the church’s past related to the witch-hunts and inquisitions. It even goes further behind time, to the pagan beliefs and rites, and she also discovers that Tarttalo is the name of a giant who eaten Christians, coming from ancient legends which were prevailing at that time. To add to it, Amaia’s mother Rosario (Susi Sanchez)had been admitted in a mental hospital for a long time after she tried kill her as a child, and she found out that the mother has killed a male nurse at the hospital and there was the writing with blood, once again saying “Tarttalo” under her bed. She finds out that this mystery is related to her and her family more than anyone else, and in case of a failure to solve this case will have all of her loved ones in trouble. Can he solve the mystery before death arrives again?

The defence of The Legacy of the Bones :: The visuals are really good here, as they give that special mood to the movie, something which fits the genre, and what is progressing on the screen with a mystery, and hidden supernatural elements. The feeling of what is to come is established in the beginning itself, and the audience is taken to that world of mystery and complexity. The world is definitely something which looks really good, and the mystery is maintained throughout. The element of fear is present, even though the movie doesn’t really rely on scares. The need for a better sequel is surely felt, and as this itself is a second movie, can have that at some point. This is one of the very few Spanish movies which I have watched, and there is none that hasn’t left me satisfied – this one also adds to that list of flicks which have been doing a fine job with mystery and thrills. The legacy will stay on in our mind with moments.

The claws of flaw :: The Legacy of the Bones goes into action quite slowly, and it doesn’t really pick up its pace even when there was the scope for such a thing to be done. Supposed to be based on the second book of a trilogy written by Dolores Redondo, and as a sequel to a Spanish movie known as The Invisible Guardian which was based on the first book, this movie’s events might not be that clear to those who are following the series for the first time, and also to those who are not aware of the Spanish inquisitions and the witch hunts from the medieval age and later. There is a little bit too much going on in this movie, and it losses focus in the sequence of events at times, maybe trying to raise its level to a higher level which is not achievable that easily. Often, some moments seem to stretch the movie rather than do anything else. There could have been more action here, especially when there is something supernatural lurking behind.

Peformers of the soul :: Also known as Legado en los huesos, The Legacy of the Bones has managed to have a pretty good cast on the scene. Marta Etura seems to continue her work from The Invisible Guardian a.k.a. El guardian invisible, the 2017 which started this all. She will also be there in third film in the franchise, Offering to the Storm, originally supposed to release on March 27, 2020, but due to this ongoing coronavirus pandemic, is expected to be released on June 12, 2020. Her work in this movie makes one feel that she would have done even better in the first movie, and watching that film would have let us understand the character better too. Benn Northover plays her American artist husband, and he makes sure that we get to hear some English in between. There are some good supporting performances being done here with the different characers – there are many of them, and it is up to us not to lose track here, for there had to a good number of priests and detectives among the many others.

How it finishes :: The Legacy of the Bones is not your usual kind of thriller, as it is also part drama centered around family and kids. The need to watch the earlier movie, The Invisible Guardian will also be felt during times. Better explanations, and a clear beginning would have kept this movie at a higher level, at least for the audience from outside Spain, and also Western Europe. But with an exotic location which seems the best to have a mystery set, and with some beauty on the screen with the colours as well as architecture, this is the movie which will keep you looking for answers in a thriller which has big secrets to be unveiled. It doesn’t focus on the crime investigation that much as I had said earlier, and you have to understand the mixing of genres which is happening here. Even without trying too hard, you will find this movie as an interesting journey though. Enjoy the legacy, and I am sure that the book would have been an even more interesting thing.

Release date: 5th December 2019
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Fernando Gonzalez Molina
Starring: Marta Etura, Patricia Lopez Arnaiz, Alicia Sanchez, Nene, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Francesc Orella, Imanol Arias, Benn Northover, Itziar Aizpuru, Ana Wagener, Angel Alkain, Eduardo Rosa, Susi Sanchez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.