Jungle Cruise

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time we went for a cruise in the river?

Vampire Bat: Are you talking about the journey through the River of Blood?

Vampire Owl: No, that was only a temporary river caused by the war with the werewolves.

Vampire Bat: The river still stands strong with the result of the new battles.

Vampire Owl: The blood in there is not enough even for Uncle Dracula on an eventful night.

Vampire Bat: Still, it is a river with blood.

Vampire Owl: There are other rivers which hold interesting red liquids.

Vampire Bat: You do think about a water world much different.

Vampire Owl: Yes, you have to respect the tradition of the water world.

Vampire Bat: We respect just the tradition of the blood around here.

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

What is the movie about? :: In the sixteenth century, a group of Spanish conquistadors had searched the interior jungles of South America for something known as the tears of the moon, which came from a lesser known tree. It was a very long search which went on for so many years that people actually got too tired about it. The flowers of this tree is supposed to cure a good number of illnesses and heal injuries, while even believed to be lifting curses according to the locals. After many people die in search of the special tree’s flowers, the tribal people help a few of them with the unexpected medicine brought out of the flower. When the conquistadors force them to reveal the location of the tree and then burns the village, the chief of the tribe curses them before dying, and all of them are forced to live there forever – near the Amazon river, and under the power of the jungle which watches them at all times. This might not be the best known of the legends surrounding Latin America, but in 1916, seems to be the one which has the attention of a little too many people.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Dr Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and MacGregor Houghton (Jack Whitehall) are searching for the same thing more than anyone else. MacGregor presents his sister Lily’s paper at the Royal Society in London, which the audience feels is rather dumb. But at the same time, Lily is searching for an artifact which might be the key to finding the tree. She hopes that the flowers of the tree can actually save millions of people all around the world. She finds the artifact within the society house, while MacGregor had created the diversion. She also manages to escape the area, but not without gaining a lot of attention. While the scientists continue to consider it as a ridiculous myth, Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) of Prussia is very much determined to find the tree for the Germans. He has also done a lot of research related to it, and spent a lot of money. As the youngest son of the emperor, he is determined to get what he wants, at any costs, and even has a lot of troops, ships and even a submarine ready for him.

And what is to be added to the adventures around here? :: The scene shifts to Brazil – Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) is someone who has been offering cheap jungle cruises to people, and he has also added some fake theatrical danger events to make things look more alive and interesting. When Lily asks, Frank is hesitant at first, but agrees later, as he is desperately in need of money and had also looked for the flowers by himself a long time ago, before getting stuck there. After getting back his boat’s engine from the man who had lent him money, the three start the journey together, after evading the German submarines which come at them. But it is only the first problem that they have, as more troubles await them. There are the tribal people that await in the jungles as well as the dangerous animals. Along with the same, there are also those Spanish conquistadors who are caught in the forests to live forever in a terrible state. The Germans would also make a grand return. Are these people ready to face all the troubles that await in the path?

The defence of Jungle Cruise :: This movie once again brings a world which is full of adventure, and we also have the environment to be really good and suitable for the situations shown here. There is one world belonging to the jungle and river, as well as another one which goes further as we get close to the tree that serves as the destination. This world is that kind of place which we would really wish to visit for the natural beauty – the green world which is provided here only gets better as the movie progresses further. The journey is more or less taking us there to travel through the river and the mysteries that lies close to it, related to a curse. There is also some fine humour to add to it, and we don’t feel that we ever come short of the same. There is no better guarantee for entertainment than this movie, and it is basically a safe path for fun, suitable for all ages, and a perfect one for watching with family. We also have that memories of playing Tomb Raider and other related games with artifacts in the forests coming back to us.

Positives and negatives :: Whether it is Jumanji, Hobbs & Shaw or the rest of the Fast and the Furious series, The Rock a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson is the one actor whom we look forward to bring all the entertainment. The action and the humour sticks perfectly to him this time too, as the adventure only gets sharper for his character. He remains the muscle of the film, as he has been with so many other movies too. Whether in Edge of Tomorrow or A Quiet Place, Emily Blunt has the skill for some serious adventure, even though this one surely adds a certain funny side to it. She becomes the Tomb Raider of this particular movie, and a character like this never losses the charm. Edgar Ramirez also comes in nicely as one antagonist of the past. Jack Whitehall is more or less about the funny side. This is the kind of movie which one would love to watch in 3D, as there are so many elements which qualifies in making things better with visuals. Yet, the movie could have gone for a smarter progress with its myth, and it could have had more dangers being shown as part of the world. Some of the dialogues also seem to have come unnecessarily.

How it finishes :: Jungle Cruise stays close to its strengths and makes this one a very entertaining ride. The movie does know where it can stand without troubles. It doesn’t really try to move away from the safe zone in working with the content. It stays simple, and with the same, would attract all the audience with ease. This one is also the classic family friendly journey to which Dwayne Johnson is not a stranger – Journey to the Mysterious Island had provided something similar quite some time ago, as we remember such mysteries and legends getting the due. Well, you can always trust the Rock with that. The transportation to this particular world is done in a way that no kind of audience is left behind. It is the kind of world which can surely have an attraction in a theme park with its name. As we have not travelled that much in the last few years in the name of Corona virus and its restrictions, we are all going to have this virtual one.

Release date: 30th July 2021
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramirez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sweet Girl

Vampire Owl: I remember having met a sweet witch.

Vampire Bat: I do not remember any witch being sweet at all.

Vampire Owl: He had some of the sweetest magic potions.

Vampire Bat: You shouldn’t buy potions without approval of Vampire Senate.

Vampire Owl: I have paid all the taxes along with the price.

Vampire Bat: You will still have to pay the import duty.

Vampire Owl: But we belong to the same realm.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but not the same territory.

Vampire Owl: Now, we are having taxes like humans?

Vampire Bat: It is still very much less in comparison to some of the nations in the world of evil humans.

[Gets a raspberry cake and three cups of orange tea].

What is the movie about? :: Ray Cooper (Jason Momoa) jumps off the top of a building while being chased by the police, and it is followed by a flashback. His wife Amanda Cooper (Adria Arjona) gets really ill with a rare form of cancer. The survival expert, Ray hopes that he can do all that is possible to save her. But it is soon revealed that the life-saving drug called Infirmam was taken off the market due to Bio Prime CEO Simon Keeley (Justin Bartha) paying the manufacturers to delay the production. This also means that there was going to be an indefinite delay, and Amanda doesn’t have that much time. He watches congress woman Diana Morgan (Amy Brenneman) going through a live devate with Simon, and there he seems to be talking about much their company is dedicated to saving lives at less cost, and on how much they have sacrificed in the form of money and time. He makes a call to the live debate, and as Simon doesn’t seem to care that much about bringing the drug back to the market, Ray threatens to kill him if his wife dies because of this negligence.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon enough, Amanda dies, and Ray is left with his daughter Rachel Cooper (Isabela Merced) to go on with the pain and grief. A few months later, Ray gets a call from a journalist Martin Bennett (Nelson Franklin) who claims that he possesses evidence related to the unethical practices and criminal activities on the side of Bio Prime. They meet on a moving train, but a hitman Amo Santos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) attacks them, killing the journalist and stabbing Ray. Rachel who had followed them also gets knocked out in the process. Even though further investigations reveal nothing about what had happened with Bio Prime or in the train, and with no information about the hitman who attacked them, Ray still continues to track Simon and his company. He manages to sneak into a charity programme and interrogate Simon, only to be attached by the bodyguards whom he manages to kill along with his gaurds. The only other responsible name that he gets is that of the chairman of the same company, Vinod Shah (Raza Jaffrey). FBI Agent Sarah Meeker (Lex Scott Davis) is in charge of the case.

And how far can this go as we keep moving forward? :: Ray and Rachel go on a long ride through less taken roads, trying to get away before the police officers or the assassins get to them. Rachel tries calling Sarah, hoping that she will look into Bio Prime before her father comes up with something terrible again. Sarah is able to get the trust of Rachel like a mother figure. Meanwhile, they are attacked by mercenaries who seems to have found them much to their surprise. Ray fights them and after a small fight, ends up killing them too. At the same time, the same hitman who had attacked them on the train is after them too. Their only option here seems to be to find Vinod and hope that it ends with them. But Santos has other ideas about it, and Vinod knowing anything more than what Simon knew seems not possible at all. How far does all these secrets go? Who might be the last link behind all of these? Will the father and daughter duo survive against what they seem to be completely incapable of handling? Is there a thing like hope for them?

The defence of Sweet Girl :: Jason Momoa is here doing what he does the best, without the superpowers of Aquaman and outside the team of Justice League. Isabela Merced has a point as the daughter figure. She plays a character who is more matured than anyone else of her age, and has her own ideology. This is also one strong character that she can happy that she played. The twist also works like a dream for her, and she rises above everyone else with ease here. She does remind one of Chloe Grace Moretz, like someone who could rise above the senior stars when provided with an opportunity. Then there is Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as the hitman and Amy Brenneman as the congress woman who are all doing what they do the best. The action sequences are all good, and both the father and daughter do their job well. The twist basically comes a shock, even though there were some red herrings here and there – that should work for most people. The movie, just like it begins well, ends without overdoing it, but being mostly satisfactory.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have been quicker here, as there is a lot action to be done. The twist in question here doesn’t seem to be that effective for everyone, as the willing suspension of disbelief might have its problems with how the action sequences have been going on here. It does take a little too much time to get to the twist, which should have been revealed earlier for the audience to adjust to the whole new situation it had created. The loopholes are surely there, especially in the second half of the movie. The movie does seem to be confused about how to respect the genre, and the world it had built earlier. The feeling of half-bakedness does bring some trouble. There was the chance to come up with better dialogues and better emotional moments too – the emotions are there, but with the twist, some emotions feel as if they didn’t exist at all. With that particular twist, it also feels that some of the length of this movie was for no reason, as a number of things didn’t happen as it was shown.

How it finishes :: Sweet Girl is more of less the movie that can go in the path of Hitman, Transporter, John Wick, Mechanic, Accountant, Equalizer, Kate and others while having its main lead going through the impossible to reach the other end. It would require a sequel for that, as it had that twist which changed things a little too much. There will be opinions against this one for sure, as the twist would take away something which the fans would have wanted in the climax, but the film did require something divergent to set a path different from the usual movies dealing with this kind of thing – you can’t just complain for taking the risk and bringing more to ponder about. With lots of action around, a few things can be forgotten, and others can be appreciated – what is to loved and hated might still be different for different types of people. I would be asking people to watch this one without looking at the spoilers and come with your opinion. We are never really less in need of action thriller with a huge mission in hand, right?

Release date: 20th August 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Brian Andrew Mendoza
Starring: Jason Momoa, Isabela Merced, Adria Arjona, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Amy Brenneman, Raza Jaffrey, Justin Bartha, Lex Scott Davis, Michael Raymond-James

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Heaven

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

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

Vampire Owl: You mean beyond heaven and hell?

Vampire Bat: Somewhere in between, to be exact.

Vampire Owl: Are you talking about the purgatory?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Infinite

Vampire Owl: I have often walked towards infinity.

Vampire Bat: You are not supposed to touch the infinity portal.

Vampire Owl: I never really touched it. I just go near it.

Vampire Bat: Your presence near the infinity portal can be chaotic.

Vampire Owl: I assure you that I have a positive relationship with it.

Vampire Bat: The portals can get into your brain very easily.

Vampire Owl: You mean like the zombies do.

Vampire Bat: I am talking about manipulation of mind.

Vampire Owl: You mean, like the device Doctor Frankenstein invented.

Vampire Bat: Mr Frankenstein invents too many fake things.

[Gets a ghee cake and three cups of Peermade tea].

What is the movie about? :: It is revealed that there are people who are gifted with a perfect memory of all of their past lives, called the Infinites. Among them, there are two groups which try to gain supreme power, one being the Believers, dedicated to using their knowledge for the protection and growth of humanity. The other groups, Nihilists, find this power as a curse – they have the power to end all life on Earth, and only the Believers stand in their way. In the year 1985, a man in chased by a huge group of people including the police, right on the highway. He drives off a bridge and falls to escape from them, while his associates are killed by a strange man with a powerful explosive weapon. In the present, many years after the incidents, it is shown that a man named Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg) has schizophrenia, and he feels that his dreams are his memories. As he has a history of violence, he struggles to get a job, and is one step away from paying the bills. This just don’t seem to work for him as he sees things and takes anti-psychotic drugs.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: For some reason, he is able to do things that he has no idea about. He was never trained to be a bladesmith, but manages to create too strong a sword. He tries to sell it to the local gangsters, but as their leader try to cut a girl’s hand off, he intervenes only start a fight. He end up being arrested by the police. In the police station, he meets Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor) a man who keeps calling him by another name, and talks about his past in this life and others. He also threatens to kill him if he doesn’t bring his memories back. As Bathrust has almost made him memorize some of the things, Nora Brightman (Sophie Cookson) arrives in a bullet proof car and saves him, as the two manage to outsmart Bathurst. After escaping, he feels that he is having another psychotic episode and will soon wake up in a hospital. Nora tells him that his visions are realities from other lives. He says that whatever he is doing now are possible due to the special skills that he used to have in another life.

And what more is to follow in this world of different lives in chaos :: Nora tells him that there are about five hundred of them with the ability to remember their past lives – the skills from their earlier lives also stay with them. She tells him that she is one of the Believers who understand that their gift is a responsibility unlike the Nihilists who see the curse in it. The Believers have to act fast enough to make sure that the Nihilists won’t cause the end of all life on Earth. Both groups believe that Evan is the reincarnation of Heinrich Treadway from that event in the past where he drives off the highway to his fall. He is taken to the location known as the Hub, which is located quite far away that they have to use an airplane. He meets many other members of the group, who hopes that he is really the person they are looking for. There, he understands that Bathurst was once a part of their group, and that they were friends – then he had lost his faith and turned to another side. Bathurst wishes for the world to end so that there would be no more reincarnation – there should be no life on this world to reincarnate into. Can he and his people be stopped?

The defence of Infinite :: This movie does have sci-fi elements strong. There is also the presence of enough action around here. The world is well-created, and the secret area is a beautiful space with a lot of detail about it. There are multiple action sequences that will be remembered, starting from the protagonist’s escape from the prison and the last one feels the most significant among them. The special effects are nicely used to support this, and there is some fine computer generated imagery that powers them all. It does have Mark Wahlberg, who has been the one actor whom we have preferred in the action movies, and he blends in here quite well too. It is good to see Sophie Cookson in a full action thriller having all the seriousness, instead of going through the Kingsman nonsense of the lowest level. She becomes a lovely action star in this one. Chiwetel Ejiofor makes a strong villain, except for a little struggle in the end. Wallis Day and Kae Alexander are two other notable performers in there with some extra action.

Positives and negatives :: The thoughts about memories and reincarnations makes one feel like going back to a few Bollywood movies of the 1990s – there is no value to them now, except for bringing up the nostalgia again and again, as they were rather too emotional, a lot more than needed. The movie could have used the preface even better, with much more of the grandeur here. There is so much of potential around here, that much to actually go on to become a cult classic with reincarnations, but it doesn’t seem to try that much. Taking the risks doesn’t seem to be this movie’s method of going forward, as it does feed the usual at times. The movie’s success is a lot in its mystery which is always there, and there is also the fact that they have successfully created a world which fits in the willing suspension of disbelief for most of the time. I find it rather surprising that the critics didn’t find the movie to be that good – it is certain that if it had released here before the corona virus pandemic, it would have brought in a lot of money.

How it finishes :: Infinite is as much an interesting work of science fiction as many others which bring something innovative at all times, whether it is The Matrix, Jupiter Ascending, Reminiscence, Free Guy or anything else which remains similar and different at the same time. It is a smooth journey which remains engaging at all times. Well, it is not easy to bring a science fiction concept out of nowhere and make it work with efficiency. The same seems to have been achieved here with the help of a new world, something which is so well-created and managed. As a movie talking about reincarnations, it does leave a message that despite the fact that we do fall, there is a chance to try again – it is pretty much a positive message, but one does wonder if depending on one to reincarnate will be the best option in that case. Well, the movie is indeed an entertaining one, and it does leave us hope that we all will get out second chances – in a world like this, mistakes might be the only thing that comes right, and instead of reincarnation after death, what we might need is a resurrection, just not in the form of a mindless zombie.

Release date: 10th June 2021
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Sophie Cookson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Toby Jones, Dylan O’Brien, Wallis Day, Tom Hughes, Raffiella Chapman, Kae Alexander, Liz Carr

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Luther

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: The last one we watched was Forensic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Black Island

Vampire Owl: Are we talking about the island near the Northern Witches territory?

Vampire Bat: That one is called the Dark Island of Magic.

Vampire Owl: Well, that depends on the translation.

Vampire Bat: Let the vampire elders deal with the translation of ancient languages.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein is good with languages.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr Frankenstein was talking about computer languages.

Vampire Owl: He has worked with the Northern Witches in relation to creating new magic potions through scientific experiments.

Vampire Bat: This is why I told you that he is a pseudo-scientist of no real value.

Vampire Owl: You should say the same thing when he wins the Vampire Nobel Prize,  and gets elected to the Vampire Science Academy.

Vampire Bat: There is no Vampire Nobel Prize for pure nonsense.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jonas Hansen (Philip Froissant) is an orphan who lives under the sponsorship of the last member of his family. He recently lost his grandmother to the attack of a dog on a beach, while his parents had died in a car crash caused by another driver, both incidents seemingly having something strange about it. Nina Cohrs (Mercedes Muller) who lives in the island is instantly attracted to Jonas, and they become good friends. Most of the girls of the island do have some attraction towards him. It is that kind of a place where there is not that much of a modernity – beautiful scenery seems to make the best out of tourism, but even then, not many tourists visit the area. The place doesn’t have a lot of things happening around there either, and it remains a place of serenity throughout the year. Helena Jung (Alice Dwyer) takes over the German classes in an island which is located far away from the mainland in Europe. She is the replacement for a teacher who just had an accident, and would take a lot of time to make a return.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The new teacher feels like someone whom everyone would like, and she remains friendly with almost every student. She asks the students to call her by her first name when they are not at the educational institution, or when nobody else is listening. She also shows great interest in making the students write poetry and improve their creative writing skills, and with the friendly attitude, becomes a favourite of almost all the students. Soon, Helena seems to get really close to Jonas, or rather too close for a teacher and student, while Nina maintains a certain amount of dislike for her. Nina’s suspicions are at place, but the relationship between the teacher and the student only becomes more intimate. There are too many secrets related to the new teacher, and any attempt to venture any deeper into it will put Nina in peril. But can she stay away from this mystery as she cares too much about Jonas? Will Jonas really understand what is going on here? What is the motive of Helena, and why would she choose to be in a remote island instead of the city from where she arrived?

The defence of Black Island :: The movie does work as a mystery thriller a few minutes into action itself. There is the eerie feeling that spreads through the movie especially due to the setting on an island which reminds one of that strange world surrounded by water shown in Sacrifice. The twists await us, and the movement forward, even though slow, is rather smooth. It also makes sure that there is no falling into that usual pit of nonsense with the relationship at the centre. The visuals are really good, as we are introduced into a world with natural beauty within, and surrounded by beaches and crystal clear ocean water, reminding us to go for a journey soon enough. Well, after that COVID-19 scenario, travel hasn’t really opened up for most of us, and it is nice to see this world of beauty at least on the screen. The atmosphere does suit the thirst for revenge, and we know that this kind of a world can have even a serial killer on the loose with maximum effect. There will be the moments to cherish right in between.

The claws of flaw :: This is not the kind of idea that one would need to appreciate for theme – elder teachers falling in love with too young a student is not something that should be encouraged, even with seemingly decent movies like Premam which would use pretensions to play with the minds of the unsuspecting people – as part of a plan of vengeance, that wouldn’t look that bad in this case; there is enough of a past around here. Still, the relationship should have looked more convincing, and the things around here looks rather too easy. These are the kind of things which are to be dealt with more intensity. The movie also kills off one of the most interesting characters in there rather too early. The investigation into all of these should have also been stronger, and people in this movie are not as smart as they should have been. The moments which are of importance here should have also been edited better, showing them as the parts which shouldn’t be missed. The movie could have also picked up pace too.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is mostly an Alice Dwyer work, with her as the centre of attraction. There are still moments when one would feel that she could have been completely into this case of revenge, but at times, she seems be not in focus at more than one thing. It could be more because of her character not being written with that vision that a revenge-seeker should have. A stronger character would have been better for our eyes and the rest of the senses. Yet, she maintains that mystery about her well, especially during the first half of the flick. Mercedes Muller plays a strong role, and she is lovely in her infatuation towards her long-time friend. She seems to be the one intelligent and determined person like nobody else in the movie, and she surely required a screen presence throughout the movie. Philip Froissant plays a usual character who surprisingly has too less to do other than listening to his teacher who became the lover and the friends around him – he is reduced into a person of not that much of importance. The other performers are of not that importance in this small world.

How it finishes :: I have come across some of the interesting German movies in the last few years, and they seem to keep a certain level with the thrillers. Whether it was Blood Red Sky, Freaks or Breakdown Forest, there is some attempt at thinking differently instead of going with the usual things. Well, horror movies and thrillers are the only things which seem to keep me going in this world of chaos and hopelessness. There has been the down-feeling which came with the Corona virus which doesn’t seem to leave, and it feels worse as we are going back to the society. Still, when we see the hatred that is seen in movies like these, we feel that this is real, a reflection of the society that we know, the one full of liars and cheaters. We have to accept horror as a normal part of life, more real than romance and drama which are considered too real. With some more focus, this movie could have done better, and as of now, it goes on as a thriller which also a work of drama and mystery that takes over on many occasions. The movie works better than what some of the reviews had talked about.

Release date: 18th August 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Miguel Alexandre
Starring: Jolene Andersen, Alice Dwyer, Susan Angelo, Hanns Zischler, Mercedes Muller, Jonas Hansen

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

<<< Click here to go to the first German film reviewed here.

<<< Click here to go to the first full-length German film reviewed here.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Don’t Kill Me

Vampire Owl: At some point, a werewolf asked me not to kill him.

Vampire Bat: So, you have started fighting werewolves on your own.

Vampire Owl: No, it was an arena battle during the last carnival.

Vampire Bat: Why would you kill a werewolf on an arena?

Vampire Owl: It was part of a great, memorable drama.

Vampire Bat: I knew it. You wouldn’t even slay a zombie juggernaut.

Vampire Owl: Why would I? Let them eat the brains of evil humans.

Vampire Bat: All zombies are not interested in human brains. Some of them just sleep in their graves at all times.

Vampire Owl: They are not undead – they are just the dead.

Vampire Bat: Well, zombies do have the right to make their choices too. Some of them even fall in love.

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

What is the movie about? :: Mirta (Alica Pagani) is madly in love with her boyfriend and drug addict Robin (Rocco Fasano) who is detested by her parents. One day, she decides to have drugs with him, and an overdose leads to the death of both of them. But soon enough, she finds herself waking up in the tomb. She escapes from her tomb in the mausoleum where she was laid to rest and starts walking towards her home. But she understands that she is dead, and leaves the house soon enough. The police informs her parents that someone has stolen her parents. She knows that her body has started decaying, and there are also people hunting her. A strange person also visits her home, and says that they are going to protect the living from the dead – he adds that the parents are going to see their child very soon, but she won’t be the person whom they knew earlier. Soon, she ends up committing her first murder, and after eating the man, feels much better.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: But soon enough, she will understand that there is something more going on out there. There is a sect that has been hunting her kind from 1600s – destroying those who come back to life instead of staying dead, known to the secret organizations as the overdead. The group seems to be heavily organized, with lots of money, weapons and other resources. Mirta does find some help, but she wishes to go back and find Robin, hoping that he will also wake up at some point, as they died in almost the same way. But she is captured by the group, and is put in chains. It is then that she realizes that Robin has also come back to life. But that would also leave her with more revelations about what has happened with her life. It will also mean that she will have to make her own decisions against her heart. Where will that lead her in the end? Is there a war coming between the humans and the overdead? Will she choose one of those sides?

The defence of Don’t Kill Me a.k.a. Non Mi Uccidere :: This is a movie which comes up with some fine surprises, and even shocks in relation to its zombie world. It doesn’t hesitate to try something different, and take a few risks with its progression and scenes. The ability to stay unique in a world of repetitions is to appreciated. There are a few bloody moments in the final scene of the movie, and that result of an undead fighting the hunters has some quality setting which is going to stay for long. The moments of the protagonists meeting after dead are strangely interesting too, and there was that twist that worked out there. The bath scene seemed to point to some of the tales of the witches from the past, and maybe this will also come up with more links if there is a sequel. The visuals are really good here, not just with the scenery, but also with people and objects. The environment has worked in favour of the movie too. The message here seems to be about being careful about whom you are obsessed with, and that it is not about looks in a relationship. The movie also encourages one to take the path required instead of going with the flow.

Positives and negatives :: Don’t Kill Me does more than what was expected from it, and we are only to witness the same. It doesn’t overuse any of the special effects, and keep them to the minimum, but in an effective way. The idea here seems to be about using lower budget to achieve more. It does leave a few things to the imagination, without trying to explain them all. It could have also linked its sequences better, instead of seemingly straying from the path to come up with one scene or the other. Despite the zombie existence, you would still imagine Alice Pagani in a vampire movie, because the looks seem to work well with such an option – the Gothic world seems to suit her well. I would like to see her as part of an Underworld movie at some point of time. She is also suitable for the mood of Byzantium and Interview with the Vampire. The ability to move away from silly romance and keeping it natural also helps here – this movie could have easily been Twilight, but thankfully it is not. This one is a serious adventure at hand. The blood and gore is present, and still continues to be in control.

The performers of the soul :: The movie has its soul fixed on Alice Pagani, an actress who has made the transformation into the undead very smooth and believable – you don’t become the undead that easily and make it feel natural. She has this one in control throughout its run, as the confused youngster in love who doesn’t know much about what she has been forced to go through. Even in a decayed zombie form, she remains beautiful, and displaying the human confusion seemingly in an attempt to retain her humanity. She is there in every key moment of this movie, as if she is this movie, and it is all about her. Despite the thriving human beauty, she will make a fine undead, maybe even a vampire – Hollywood should have her. Rocco Fasano, for most of the movie, is the Robert Pattinson of this movie, the much liked Edward Cullen who is without his Twilight – has the looks of the undead working for him. They have some interesting scenes together, but there are not that much either – the romance doesn’t get overdone, and that is a nice way to keep away from the commonly expected undead infatuation.

How it finishes :: There are the usual romantic zombie movies like Warm Bodies which try to go the Twilight way, and then there is this one, which tries to be as divergent as possible. It knows that it has to be innovative in the zombie horror genre, as the idea has been repeated too many times. This is the realization which makes the whole thing better. One can only feel that Andrea De Sica is a visionary director who has brought another zombie origins story which can have a prequel or a sequel according to the need, as this one doesn’t end here at all. Italian movies have had some quality works in the last few months, like Security and A Classic Horror Story, both of them coming up with their own divergence in the process. When we look at these movies, despite the genres to which they belong, there is no exaggeration at all. Well, you know how wrong you can go with the zombies, and how much nonsense can be added in the name of the undead – here, we get them in our world, without those unnecessary ornaments or overdose of romance. The low ratings seem to be from those who expected a Twilight, but the beauty of this movie is that it is not here.

Release date: 21st April 2021 (Italy); 21st February 2022 (Netflix)
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Andrea De Sica
Starring: Alice Pagani, Rocco Fasano, Silvia Calderoni, Fabrizio Ferracane, Anita Caprioli, Sergio Albelli, Giacomo Ferrara, Esther Elisha, Kateryna Aresi, Francesca Alice Antonini, Federico Ielapi, Marco Boriero, Marco Matteo Donat-Cattin, Marco Pancrazi

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

<<< Click here to go to the first Italian film review here.

<<< Click here to go to the last Italian film review here.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Photocopier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

12th Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Soul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Seance

Vampire Owl: So, more youngsters are trying to make contact with the dead.

Vampire Bat: Yes, you needn’t be bothered as this is not about the undead.

Vampire Owl: Nobody can contact us through the portal. It has natural resistance.

Vampire Bat: There is absolutely nothing natural about the portal.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has arranged for the natural resistance.

Vampire Bat: If the crazy scientist is involved, it is is surely not natural.

Vampire Owl: You continue to underestimate the doctor.

Vampire Bat: I make no estimate of such a pseudo-scientist.

Vampire Owl: You know that the Frankenstein monster is real.

Vampire Bat: So are his 2897 accidental creations, which are of no use.

[Gets a vancho cake and three glasses of strawberry shake].

What is the movie about? :: At Edelvine Academy for Girls, Alice (Inanna Sarkis), Bethany (Madisen Beaty) and other girls play a prank on their friends by faking the appearance of the Edelvine Ghost, an urban legend about a student who killed herself – soon, one of their friends, Kerrie (Megan Best), is found dead in the academy hostel, having fallen from her window. A new student Camille (Suki Waterhouse) who has been on the waiting list for the academy admission for a long time, gets the seat which has been left vacant by the death of Kerrie. The headmistress, Mrs Landry (Marina Stephenson Kerr) considers the death as an unfortunate accident, and is happy to have her there. Camille does feel that there is something wrong with the room. She becomes friends with Helina (Ella-Rae Smith), but gets in a fight with Alice and Bethany’s gang including Yvonne (Stephanie Sy), Rosalind (Djouliet Amara) and Lenora (Jade Michael), and gets beaten up by Alice with the help of her friends. The headmistress sends them to detention in the library until a certain amount of archiving is complete.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The girls, despite their differences, decide to work together for the time being to finish the job as soon as possible and get out of there. It is during the detention that Alice convinces the group including Carmille and Helina to join her in a seance meant to contact Kerrie’s spirit and what actually happened. The two get the feeling that this is only a prank, but everyone finds things go out of control as they really seems to make contact with a spirit which tells them that they are going to be murdered by someone only mentioned as “her”. They are not sure if the spirit belongs to Kerrie or the original spirt which is part of the urban legend. Later in the night, Lenora moves away from the others to a lonely area to text a possible future boyfriend, but ends up seeing a masked figure. Soon, she is attacked and killed by the same strange figure. Mrs Landry feels that Lenora had run away as her personal items are missing along with her. Camille feels that her room might still be haunted by Kerrie, and there are enough dark spaces in the building for them to be scared.

And what more is with the girls and the ghosts around here in a world of chaos? :: The police and the parents feels that Lenora might have run away with the man with whom she became acquainted online. With the help of the man in charge of the rooms, Trevor (Seamus Patterson) who also happens to be the son of the headmistress, they get into Lenora’s room and find a strange cross made out of blood on the bed. They identify the symbol as part of the pendant worn by the girl who had killed herself and became Edelvine Ghost. Soon enough, Rosalind would be next person to be murdered by the unknown figure. Her death is considered to be an accident, but has the girls very much worried about what might happen next. Another one of the girls also notice a masked figure in the room, but the headmistress still dismisses it as a strange dream. The girls feel that time is running out for them, and if a solution is not found out soon enough, they are all going to disappear or die soon enough. Yet, it doesn’t make much of sense.

The defence of Seance :: The effects that this movie seems to use for horror seems to be of great quality. There is a fine atmosphere for the horror to grow at all times. The sound effects also nicely contribute to the same. The music is also very nice, and contributes well to the overall atmosphere of the movie – we do feel that it makes us feel more engaged with the whole thing. You think that this is going in one direction, and then there is another dimension to the whole thing – we notice the music changing accordingly, and there are always some fine settings to contribute to the horror. The presence of something sinister is also there, and with the fine use of darkness, the movie assures one of the same. The makers surely know how to get the best ingredients, and arrange them. There are some dialogues which seem to be coming randomly, but they are all of some significance. There are so many directions which this movie could choose, and we can see that it doesn’t try to go for the usual, which has served right – as Robert Frost would say about the road not that much taken making the difference.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has one nice twist to the killings which is pretty much an interesting surprise as the clues wouldn’t lead to the killings that easily. There are many red herrings present in here, as a ghost isn’t everything that we need to suspect around here. They mystery is strong, and there are enough suspects around here for one to await more deaths to happen. It is strange that there are many negative reviews to keep this one down, as we come to know that there is more to this than what can be seen after the first few minutes itself. You have the feeling that this could be Ouija and its sequels or I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequels – this one has the killer and the ghostly presence, which means that your guess can most probably just go wrong. It could have still made the murders look better – even the shower murder scene goes wasted in here. Yet, the girls are too good, especially Suki Waterhouse, Inanna Sarkis and Madisen Beaty who blends in nicely with a possibility to become bigger scream queens of future, Suki also having some fine action sequences – reminds one of The Hunt fights.

How it finishes :: Seance is one find surprise horror movie that seems to have made an impact out of nowhere. We often have the tendency to underestimate movies like these, but some horror films have the skills to lift themselves up despite what you think, especially with so many negative reviews around. There is more than what meets the eye here, and there is the mixture of more than one genre as things come together. Well, horror is rarely one thing – even in real life, there is more than one kind of terror – we had different ones here, from nipah virus to corona virus, excess rainfall leading to floods, rising prices of fuel and the possibility of descending into chaos from what seemed to be good order. The reality of horror which prevails in this thankless world where evil people get the best results can be often more terrifying for people. Otherwise, we will always have movies like this one. Amazon Prime Video has the right horror movie this time, rising very high above last year’s Madres, The Manor and Black as Night.

Release date: 21st May 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Simon Barrett
Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith Inanna Sarkis, Marina Stephenson-Kerr, Seamus Patterson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Long Halloween I

Vampire Owl: This reminds me of more than one Halloween.

Vampire Bat: You just cannot have enough of that festival.

Vampire Owl: It is not a festival, but life itself.

Vampire Bat: We are not even alive.

Vampire Owl: During Halloween, all the undead comes alive.

Vampire Bat: We come alive during the Night of the Dead.

Vampire Owl: I am not talking about that type of being alive.

Vampire Bat: So, you are talking about the life that Mr Frankenstein has.

Vampire Owl: You do not need to drag Doctor Frankenstein into this.

Vampire Bat: He doesn’t need to be dragged as he comes uninvited every time.

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

What is the movie about? :: When the nephew of a mob boss in Gotham City, Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver), is murdered by an unknown figure who leaves a Halloween lantern at the crime scene, Commissioner Gordon (Billy Burke) seeks the help of both Batman a.k.a. Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) and Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) for help with the investigation. Catwoman a.k.a. Selina Kyle (Naya Rivera) calls the Wayne Manor on Halloween, while the night only seems to get stranger, and Batman feels that the city has fallen without any hope for a return to its former glory. Harvey also feels that the place has turned into something like a ghost town, as it seems worse on the Halloween night. He feels that it was the uncle who arranged the murder because the dead man was going to help the police department, even though nobody was supposed to know about it. Falcone crime family was going to be taken down, and Harvey feels that their best chance has been missed due to the murder.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Carmine feels that it was Harvey who killed his nephew, and thinks that there could be a right moment for them to strike. As there are other gangs after them, he also decides to move his assets to a more secure facility. Catwoman leads Batman to the cash stockpile owned by Carmine. After doing a coin flip, Harvey decides to burn the money, as it would take them a lot of time to move this much of cash. Carmine who understands the role of Harvey behind all of these, hires Mickey Chen (Greg Chun) to kill him and Gilda Dent (Julie Nathanson). They survive the bomb attack on the house, but are hospitalized, with Harvey getting the worst of it. Batman chases down Mickey, and both run into Solomon Grundy Fred Tatasciore) after a fight with Mickey’s friends. Solomon almost kills him, before being pursuaded by Batman to leave him. But without evidence, Mickey is to be left free. There is nothing to link him to the bombing, and Gordon feels that Batman should have done better.

And what more is to happen with the superheroes here? :: Mickey feels that the bombing was ordered as an act of vengeance for the murder of Carmine’s nephew. Carmine also looks down upon his son Alberto Falcone (Jack Quaid) whom he considers to be too weak to handle the family business, or anything of use. Harvey escapes from the hospital and during the same night, Mickey and his friends are killed by someone. Gordon had also left Harvey with a gun to protect himself. The murder had happened on another holiday after Halloween, and as Christmas approaches, another one might take place – Batman and Gordon tries everything that they can, including taking advice from the inmates of Arkham Asylum. Soon, they realize that Joker (Troy Baker) has escaped from the mental institution. Joker does visit Harvey, and threatens him as he is also a suspect in being a killer – he doesn’t want anyone else to be the leading homicidal maniac in the city. But finding the real killer on holidays, there is the need for more than one detective or vigilante.

The defence of Batman: Long Halloween: Part One :: There is a different kind of feeling with the atmosphere of this particular movie, as it is not the usual superhero movie that you see anywhere around. It seems to have kept itself close to the feeling of a comics, but is not far from the quality of an animated series. We all remember having watched some animated series about Batman on television, and those episodes were very much enjoyed by us. We are brought back to that feeling yet again, and the dark atmosphere and the visuals are rightly suitable for this world of Batman’s Gotham City. It is the world in which a vampire would thrive better than a man in a bat’s costume, and with the quality being maintained here, one won’t hesitate to be there. Batman, as the superhero without superpowers, is the man whom we would always be looking for, as more than just the superhero – he is one among us, and it is once again proven here as there so many mistakes that he seems to make, along with mostly capturing the criminals and saving the day. Also, the Catwoman gets her due.

The claws of flaw :: The superhero elements go missing around here, and the investigative thriller comes to the front, with the hero turning into a detective – not something that many fans would prefer over the man they know well. The investigation seems to have gone rather too slow, and unlike the superhero world with investigation, this chooses for a universe of investigation with some superhero elements which are often not visible at all. As it drags at times, and we do feel that some part of it could have been stronger and sharper. It required to have a quick and clear path of investigation. The fights are very less, and there seems to be focus on having more dialogues. Some of these dialogues do make us feel that there is something that has gone missing – maybe we didn’t catch something from a previous movie or the fully myth. Joker is not really given the appreciation that the character has demanded throughout the ages – we would have hoped for the better when we knew that he was there in the movie.

How it finishes :: Batman: Long Halloween: Part One begins a journey which is divided into two. The first part has managed to be interesting enough, and moved through the mood of a murder investigation, having a serial killer at work. With the movie stopping in the middle, one still has to watch the second film to understand how all of these will turn out to be. It is actually nice to have this movie divided into two, as a longer version of this would have turned out to be too much of a killer of time. As this one, as well as the second part are available on Amazon Prime Video, these can actually be watched together if one needs continuity. Some interesting animated movies have been the need for the time, for Frozen, How to Train Your Dragon, Big Hero 6, Inside Out and team have all seem to have disappeared too early, and the only ones we are left with, are those Hotel Transylvania movies and its sequel. Let us have this type of animated movies, for we can celebrate the divergence as long as the work is good.

Release date: 22nd June 2021
Running time: 85 minutes
Directed by: Chris Palmer
Starring: Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Naya Rivera, Billy Burke, Alastair Duncan, Troy Baker, Amy Landecker, David Dastmalchian, Julie Nathanson, Gary LeRoi Gray, Fred Tatasciore, Jim Pirri, Titus Welliver

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Salute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Woman in the Window

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Bat: We are not that kind of vampires.

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

Vampire Bat: Why should vampires be kind?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Two

Vampire Owl: There are two of us here. Therefore, watching the movie is relevant.

Vampire Bat: This movie seems to have something to do with the number, two.

Vampire Owl: I don’t really like that number though. I like “one” – I am the greatest one.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula is the greatest of us all.

Vampire Owl: You just cannot put so much greatness on him anymore.

Vampire Bat: The times haven’t changed. Dracula is still relevant.

Vampire Owl: Vampires are still relevant. Dracula is not.

Vampire Bat: There are no vampires without Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Owl: Maybe in the Dracula Castle. It is not the same case outside.

Vampire Bat: Well, you can just wait and see, after his birthday party which is coming up.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three glasses of oreo shake].

What is the movie about? :: Sara (Marina Gatell) and David (Pablo Derqui) wakes up in the bed somewhere, stitched to each other. They don’t really have any memory how they reached there. The two try to figure out what has happened with them, and where they are. They guess that someone drugged them and brought them here and stitched them up. The people responsible seems to have taken away everything from them, from clothes to wrist watches. They try to make some connection between them, but there is nothing in common between the two. It is also realized that they are being recorded with cameras all around the room. The room seems to be something that gives an aristocratic feeling, making them feel that someone rich and influential is behind their situation. They do find some clues about the same, but someone seems to get into the room at times, and they are not able to find out who. The room seems to be too secure for anyone to go out, with lock being strongly applied from outside.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sara has the feeling that her husband, Mario (Esteban Galilea) has something to do with it. He is supposed to be someone very rich and influential, with doubts that she is having an affair with another man. She feels that there is also something about him that has resulted in David also reaching there. He also has the feeling that maybe he also knows her husband, who is a much older person. There is also a name Rita (Anna Chincho Serrano) that comes across them, as part of a photo which is placed in the room. Yet, they are not able to remember any of such a name as part of their lives. They feel that maybe this will end only in their death, and try to break down the door, which feels very reinforced. The windows also lead nowhere. There are some big revelations to be made, but they wonder if they will stay alive to understand all of those. Soon, their past will come back to them, and the one thing which makes the two connected with the man who is behind all of these.

The defence of Two :: The movie is just one hour and ten minutes long, which makes sure that there is absolutely no drag about it. It doesn’t slow down even though there were many chances in between. There is also the successful maintenance of suspense with twists, as we don’t guess what is coming in the end, even though there are so many things happening in between. The red herrings are delivered effectively, and we make so many guesses about the antagonist who is responsible for what is happening here. It does work as body horror, a subgenre which is difficult to appeal to people – unlike other movies of the same kind, this film actually knows where to keep the borders, and not to be disgusting at any point. The genre is often too much to handle for many people due to the amount of gore and extremities related to body parts, but this one stays at the border related to that. The setting of the room which this movie uses throughout its run also adds on well, and the mysteries to be revealed here are also of interest.

Positives and negatives :: There have been a number of Spanish movies which have tried to be different from the rest – there was The Platform, and here we have this one. This one still seems to have rushed through things too much, as we look at the final moments. It could have taken more time finish it though, as the length here is just seventy minutes and nothing more. The setting which is one place at all times, is nicely managed too. This is also one of those rare films which maintains the Classical Unities of Aristotle. Unity of action is maintained with that one principal action of being stitched together and being together at all times, while unity of place is maintained with where they are trapped, and unity of action is clear as everything happens within twenty four hours. It has been difficult to maintain these in movies, as people look forward to seeing many other things and occurrences as films progress. But in this case, they have made the situation very interesting. Even though this is not the usual horror, the situation of the protagonists is surely a scary one.

Performers of the soul :: With everything dependent on two people, this film focuses on their performances, one can safely say that this works effectively due to the same. We also see that the characters do evolve as the tale progresses. The conversation between the two becomes very important too. Marina Gatell places herself in the situation very well, and comes up with a fine performance. She plays a person who is confused and wants to figure out what is happening quick enough, and even suspects the person who is with her – the character works out really well for her. Pablo Derqui who plays the other person in trouble, takes things slowly, and has better idea of how criminals works – makes the person with him doubtful. The situations which are nicely created for them, is managed well by the two. The whole idea is made better with the performances of these two. The rest of the characters only arrive by the end, or are present only in photos. In the end, we know that in Two, there are only two characters who gets the chance to come up with worthy performances.

How it finishes :: Being stitched to someone else is horror enough, and this Spanish movie use that to its advantage, getting to the list of films in that language which have tried to be different in multiple ways. Thanks to the performance of the leading cast, this one never lags behind, even when there were so many opportunities. It provides us with the opportunity to make so many guesses, and it also has us coming to that twist when least expected. The short journey is very much an engaging watch, and as long as you don’t have a problem with some body horror, this is to work just fine. During the time of Corona virus pandemic, a number of films had people quarantined alone, while this one has two people locked in a room as one. It is indeed an interesting, but strange concept, as you look at it. The creative imagination behind the movie seems to be working well in this particular case. Netflix has once again scored with another fine addition to the grand list of horror and thrills.

Release date: 10th December 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 70 minutes
Directed by: Mar Targarona
Starring: Marina Gatell, Pablo Derqui, Anna Chincho Serrano, Kandido Uranga, Esteban Galilea

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.