Midnight

Vampire Owl: There are not many mediums that vampires can use at midnight.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we can use an Ouija board at midnight instead.

Vampire Owl: That board is a fake medium invented by humans.

Vampire Bat: So, you think that there is no hope with the board.

Vampire Owl: Yes, we need to look forward to finding an undead conductor.

Vampire Bat: You cannot have any of the undead allow something from the other side to pass through it.

Vampire Owl: The undead is greater than any spirit.

Vampire Bat: Getting possessed by a spirit is not a great experience.

Vampire Owl: So, you think that there can be possessions.

Vampire Bat: Well, you know the thing about demonic possessions.

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

What is the movie about? :: Kim Kyung-mi (Jin Ki-joo), is a mute and deaf woman who works as a sign language customer service executive at a sign language call center. Her mother Kyung-mi’s mother (Gil Hae-yeon) is also dumb and deaf. As some of the employees have to go for a dinner with the clients, she chooses to go with her employers and return late at midnight. Jung-eun’s (Kim Hye-yoon) goes out on a date at night, and her brother Jong-tak (Park Hoon) who works as a security guard after serving in the army, is worried because she would arrive late, almost at midnight, especially as a man and woman were found dead during an earlier night. Coming back home late after dinner and visiting her mother, Kim witnesses the sister bleeding after being stabbed by an unknown man and becomes the new target for this particular serial killer Do-sik (Wi Ha-joon) who had been hunting women, and sometimes unsuspecting men some time around midnight. She runs further away from the area when her mother is standing and tries to hide, but the killer is someone who knows the area really well.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The killer needs to find the young woman to make sure that there are no trails that lead to her. At the same time, Jong-tak is in the streets, searching for his sister who has not returned home yet. As Kim reaches her car and enters it, she is shocked to find him inside the vehicle, and after being forced to drive at knifepoint, she jumps out the car, once again chased by the killer, only to connect to the cops, but as she cannot sleep, it does not work at all. When the police finally arrive, it seems that the killer had already manipulated all the evidence, and there are no suitable clues in the CCTV cameras either. The killer had also joined them in making things more confusing for the mother and daughter duo. As the brother also arrives in the police station with the photo of his sister, Kim identifies her as the woman who was abducted, stabbed and kept in the vehicle by the stranger. But the killer is someone who knows when to manipulate and when to kill with all the brutality – does this mean that the killer will go on with the murders and the sister and the witness would also have to die?

The defence of Midnight :: In the beginning, this movie might seem to be just another serial killer movie with its antagonists targeting random people on the streets, but it becomes much more than that, as it uses almost everything at its disposal to the best effect. The night itself has been used to its best advantage, and this is also not the kind of movie when there is a long investigation going on, and the police has to go for clues which they acquire over days, and the result is that there would be more victims. Instead, this movie has so many thrilling moments set in a night, which has the serial killer’s smartness displayed in an interesting manner, but we are not bothered with the flashbacks or the motive that would have been there in other movies – this becomes more of a survival movie where there is the need to make sure that a missing woman survives, and at the same time, the leading lady further struggles to survive. As things unfold with a night that progresses, there is the idea that two of the main characters cannot speak and hear, which drives this movie to bringing things to light in a different manner. There is no shortage of thrills around here, and silence is nicely used with sound effects in a visual treat of terror.

Positives and negatives :: There are moments when one would feel that the movie could have elevated the status a little bit. But the final moments are just too good, as finally the serial killer understands that more than one person can play his game. The movie is a survival thriller for the main protagonist, and Jin Ki-joo, with her performance, has us backing her to survive against all odds. The characters do no get to be that smart as they should be though, as they create opportunities for the killer to come back and get them, multiple times. There are many co-incidences in here too, and those are used a little more than needed. But there is no shortage of the feeling of danger around here, as night seems to be used as a medium for the serial killer terror to spread – it always seems that he is in control, even when he gets beaten up. We did not know about this movie when it released, but we know it now, and we have that serial killer whom we have been waiting. The movie is also a reminder that in a busy world, nobody has time to check on others, and a serial killer could always be hiding among us, undetected until captured.

The performers of the soul :: Jin Ki-joo is leading lady and the protagonist of this movie, and she comes up with a performance to remember as the woman who cannot speak or hear, but has to rise above her limitations as she faces one of smartest and most brutal serial killer who is good at hiding his motives. She has presented the character so well that the audience keep believing that she has no hope, but continues to see that slight ray of hope that she could stay alive despite the odds being very much against her. She seems to be better known for the South Korean television series and the drama, but the way in which she displays the hopelessness and fear to replace it with courage, is something that will catch our eyes – the ending with her character gaining the advantage is too good. Wi Ha-joon makes a fantastic serial killer, and I won’t be surprised if someone would try to copy this character, as the killer works so well. Park Hoon also join in very well. Then there is Gil Hae-yeon who comes up with the mother figure really well. At the same time, Kim Hye-yoon is lovely addition, and becomes the reason for the events of the movie to start moving forward.

How it finishes :: Midnight is a reminder that Korean films still possess the top quality with horror thrillers featuring serial killers. It will be a good idea to watch the movie on Amazon Prime Video before someone from Bollywood copies the film and shows it as a much lesser version with the brother of the victim and the girl who witnesses the crime dancing to songs at a party while the serial killer kills the abducted girl, and we would also have to listen to some very sad songs with the brother grieving for the sister. The quality of this movie will always be higher as it does have all the emotions, but never does it overdo them, or come up with irrelevant subplots or exaggerating the villain. We directly enter this world which is all about that particular night, and the audience is also as much part of the events that happen during midnight, and everyone goes on this journey with the main characters. You are also reminded that you need to go back to these kind of movies, and even though we do have our own serial killers with films like Forensic, Anjaam Pathiraa, Memories and Antakshari, but none so classically determined in the form of a stranger as this one.

Release date: 30th June 2021
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Kwon Oh-seung
Starring: Jin Ki-joo, Wi Ha-joon, Kim Hye-yoon, Gil Hae-yeon, Park Hoon, Kang In-seo, Noh Su-min, Na Eun-saem, Lee Jae-seok, Park Ji-hoon, Song Yoo-hyun, Bae Eun-woo, Kwon Young-min, Jung Wo Chang

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Night Drive

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time when the vampire team was on a night drive?

Vampire Bat: We only have night drives around here. We don’t go for morning drives.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the night drives have been rare too.

Vampire Bat: That is because we don’t drive, but fly.

Vampire Owl: Not all vampires can fly, or even glide.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we bats and owls do.

Vampire Owl: Yet, we can go for a drive in the vampire-mobile.

Vampire Bat: It is a bat-mobile, and it is my private property.

Vampire Owl: You don’t use it as you can fly.

Vampire Bat: It will not be used for night drives, and that is final.

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

What is the movie about? :: Georgy Jacob (Roshan Mathew) works as an Uber driver and hopes to migrate to the Middle Easy for a better future. He is in love with Riya Roy (Anna Ben), a very popular news reporter, and they used to be childhood friends for a very long time. They do keep a certain amount of distance between them, as Riya’s father, Roy Mathew (Renju Panicker) who has retired from the military forces is not fond of Georgy. For Riya’s birthday which is also the Christmas evening, they decide to go on a night drive without her father knowing anything about it. At the same time, Rajan Kurup (Siddique) is caught in a gold smuggling scandal which was discovered by Riya and her channel, a case which has been transferred to NIA. He expects to be arrested by the squad on the very next day, and asks Chacko Cherian (Kalabhavan Shajohn) to find a way to get rid of the gold in his home before NIA comes for the raid. Rajan’s trusted aid Jaleel (Sudheer Karamana) assigns the minister’s personal assistant Balu (Kaliash) to get the gold to a safe house.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Meanwhile, Riya who was driving the car gets into a fight with Circle Inspector Benny Moopen (Indrajith Sukumaran) who was doing routine vehicle checking. Benny lets them go so that he can avoid any of the people there spreading the news about him bothering a lady in the middle of the night, but is clearly angry about the incident. Riya who keeps arguing with Georgy over the earlier incident suddenly spots someone in front of their car, and the vehicle seems to have hit that person, who is revealed to be Balu with a bag full of gold. The two manages to take him to the hospital, which brings Francis (Prasanth Alexander) who owns the car they were driving and Ammini (Sreevidya Mullachery) handles that particular Uber fleet operations to the hospital too. The police officer in charge of the case is Benny, who is only happy to torment Riya and Georgy over the incident. He decides to keep them in the hospital, but the arrival of Chacko at the hospital with other motives complicates things.

The defence of Night Drive :: The movie seems to move forward naturally in the beginning stages, with likable characters and the incidents which can be related by different people from various stage of their lives. The beginning stages go on with the usual, and feels like the natural order of things. It does have some fine twists, and a few red herrings are also there to make sure that one doesn’t guess it the right way. The different characters in the movie are not really what they seem to be, as the visages tend to show differently on diferent occasions. There are moments which keep you at the edge of the seat, as these are characters whom you like. The cast has been chosen well here, as you feel that there would have been tendency to go for a few others, but here we have characters getting equal importance instead of the focus shifting to one person. The visuals of Cochin are really good around here. This is the kind of movie which should have released directly on OTT, as there is a certain possibility of this going popular among the audience outside Kerala if it was first released online.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie had built up so well, the final scenes are not that much up to the mark. There is the plan to bring some mass action in the end, but it doesn’t suit the overall mood of the film – a darker version of the final moments would have done better for this particular movie. Let the outdated superstars do the mass action for their brainless fans, and the new generation of actors should go for class and perfection. These are not the times of such fan nonsense in the theatres, as we have the post-corona virus OTT loving audience as a strong force, and this is the flick which will be watch more on such platforms rather than anywhere else. It had a certain realistic side to the proceedings until the makers decided to go full action in the last few minutes with a specific background story added to the main characters. The first few minutes could have been shortened too, as there seems to be an extension of the less important happenings then. The conclusion could have also been kept at a higher level.

The performers of the soul :: Roshan Mathew has been continuously working hard to come up with some memorable performances, last seen in the Amazon Prime Video release, Kuruthi, a thriller with many messages. Coming out of the first big role in Aanandam and the earlier smaller ones in Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Puthiya Niyamam, he has evolved a lot to reach this higher level. His performance in this movie is realistic for most of the time, and something to be appreciated, until the mass moments come in the end. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen has already let Anna Ben set a bar which is difficult for her to overcome – even with a film like Sara’s having her as the life and soul. Indrajith Sukumaran is solid as the police officer who seems strict as well as menacing, and at the same time, likes to have a strong grip on his investigation. Siddique once again plays the corrupt politician with sinister motives well, and reminds one of Jagathy Sreekumar of Passenger. Kaliash once again has a good supporting role and so is Kalabhavan Shajohn, while it is nice to see Sreevidya Mullachery of Star Magic fame playing a memorable role here – she is indeed a lovely talent, and the fair reason for anyone to watch the popular show in Flowers television channel.

How it finishes :: Night Drive becomes a movie of interest without that much of a hype associated with it. It has some fine moments of interest, and successfully deviates from the tendency to go full nonsense like in that Shane Nigam – Shine Tom Chacko film of misery and shame, the pariah of a movie called Ishq. When two lovers are on a night drive, the situation can be tackled well to make a thriller of quality beyond the usual and the expected, as shown around here. This movie seemed to have Roshan instead of Shane, Indrajith instead of Shine and Anna instead of Ann, with the main characters going for a night ride as part of celebrating the lady love’s birthday, and in the process being stopped by the man claiming to be the police officer – seems so familiar for those who have watched that movie, but this one takes a completely different route, and also involves other characters in a journey of twists which are not about just two, three or four people. Night Drive is successful and delivers nicely when we take a fine look.

Release date: 11th March 2022 (Theatre); 10th April 2022 (Netflix/Manorama Max)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Vysakh
Starring: Roshan Mathew, Anna Ben, Indrajith Sukumaran, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Sreevidya Mullachery, Kailash, Muthumani, Prasanth Alexander, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Siddique

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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.

Night Teeth

Vampire Owl: And finally, we have another vampire movie.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that this is about our kind of vampires.

Vampire Owl: They seem to drink blood really well.

Vampire Bat: Yet, they seem to be like a new group of vampires.

Vampire Owl: There is no new or old groups among true vampires.

Vampire Bat: You were the one leading the protest against the new batch of sparkling teenage romantic vampires.

Vampire Owl: Well, I have now become a more inclusive vampire.

Vampire Bat: You are acting like the Vampire Chameleon.

Vampire Owl: That guy has been dead for years now.

Vampire Bat: Yet, you are trying to replace him.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of tea-coffee mix].

What is the movie about? :: Vampires and humans have co-existed through the years, and the former has fed from the latter only through a mutual agreement, which means that there was no chance of a battle between the two races. The living and the undead has kept on going without any problems coming in between. There was also a truce, and as vampires continued to get better, humans continued to make themselves believe that the creatures of the night didn’t exist. Vampire continued to try and hide their existence, not feeding on the unwilling and never entering the human area without permission. Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr) is a college student who is working part-time as a as a chauffeur, temporarily replacing his brother Jay (Raul Castillo), who was going to apologize and make up with his girlfriend. Jay has also realized that the vampires have broken the pact and entered the human area, also feeding from a lot of them, as well as committing murders. His girlfriend Maria (Ash Santos) is also among the latest ones taken by the vampires as many encounters happen.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Benny, a Spanish speaking immigrant, is the usual local college student who is not aware of all of these, and was going on with his happy and carefree life until then. He was the one who forced to Jay to let him be the driver for a change. As he goes to the rather rich area to pick up the riders, he meets Blaire (Debby Ryan), who seems to be really friendly. The other girl Zoe (Lucy Fry) doesn’t seem to be that friendly, but does seem to be talkative enough, in a strange manner. They even talk about the possibility of this being his last day on Earth. They do arrive at grand location where the party is taking place, and he hears a woman screaming from inside. At the same time, a war between vampires and humans are coming, because a very rich and influential vampire lord Victor (Alfie Allen) is the person who has intentionally broken the truce for no reason. Jay is actually part of a human group which is charged with maintaining the peace between the two races. As Jay and his friends start hunting down the vampires, Victor plans to finish off his fellow lords and gain all the power. So, what role does Benny play among all these around here?

The defence of Night Teeth :: There are some very interesting scenes in this movie which once again brings the vampires to the human world without pretensions. One has the feeling that this could go the Twilight way and make a mess of the whole thing with full teenage vampire romance, but such a thing doesn’t happen at all. The visuals are nothing less than stunning, as we go through this vampire-infested world in the nights with classic style buildings and lights – the blood also runs strong here, adding to the overall creepy beauty of the atmosphere. The pace is always good around here, and the vampire situation that we see here has been nicely arranged. The vampire-human clash in the city is basically like something that we have seen before, but being much better, like a battle between gangs or races nicely set in a better environment with a divergence. There is a continuous flow of a beautifully stylish world that is going on here, with a touch of horror, as blood runs through. Even without that much of backstory being told, the tale goes on really well.

Positives and negatives :: The movie does succumb to the usual tendency of such vampire stories to go through the predictable path, and that which appeal only to a certain amount of audience. Yet, it manages to come back up in the path whenever it seems to be a little lost, with the style and some nice humour that seems to come as a welcome addition. The humour comes in to join the horror and the thrills, and makes them more entertaining. It is a reminder that the funny side can compliment a horror movie really well, and it was what the film, Black as Night had missed while trying to add some dumb humour and some nonsensical history in between. The cast has also been perfectly chosen, even though there might still be some names which one would also like to have around here. There are some fine action scenes in here, that is for sure, and the vampire girls lead in that quite well. The movie also sets a fine ending which has scope for a future sequel. The music is really good, and set things up nicely for the happenings of the world. The movie does have some good fangs at the needed areas.

The performers of the soul :: Jorge Lendeborg Jr plays the protagonist caught between vampires really well – he seems to suit the situation nicely. He has the confusion being dealt with nicely, but even has enough to be a vampire himself. Yet, there is nobody who suits the nice vampire role better than Debby Ryan, who also has her moments of vampire intensity. One another day, she could be part of a horror slasher movie as a scream queen too, with blood seemingly doing well with her. Lucy Fry had played a vampire about seven years ago, and she is doing it again – this time, she is part of a much better movie, and has a lot better role to perform, as she becomes the perfect nocturnal creature in need of blood and enjoys all the violence that she inflicts. She has the kind of look here that one wouldn’t doubt if she is not really a vampire, even from a distance. I would love to have her as a major antagonist in more than one horror movie. Raul Castillo and Alfie Allen are the strong ones belonging to two sides. One would also love The Voyeurs‘ own lovely Sydney Sweeney and the always charming Megan Fox playing two superior vampires, but we could have actually had more of them here, especially the former who makes a very interesting character in a short time.

How it finishes :: We are never short of the need of the vampire movies to entertain us, for vampirism shall never leave the audience, being an idea of quality since Lord Byron’s physician, William John Polidori published the first vampire novel, The Vampyre. After all, vampires are as immortal in literature and cinema as the vampire characters happen to be in fiction, their immortality in their ability to entertain the viewers rarely questioned. This one, with a touch of the modern age, doesn’t fall behind, even though I did have my doubts after watching the trailer. Well, this is one of those movies which manages to do a lot better than what the trailer had brought us – the movie seems to realize that its strengths are best shown as a whole rather than in parts. You are going to remember the humour in this movie as much you remember those moments of action with blood having a say. In the end, you will remember that the vampires are forever, and they will keep coming back in different forms in different movies like the certainty of Corona virus taking different forms and coming back for more of infections.

Release date: 20th October 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Adam Randall
Starring: Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Debby Ryan, Lucy Fry, Raul Castillo, Megan Fox, Alfie Allen, Ash Santos, Marlene Forte, Bryan Batt

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kuruthi

What is the movie about? :: Ibrahim (Roshan Mathew) lives in the pain of having lost his wife (Navya Davy) and daughter (Aiza Hassan) to a devastating landslide which killed twenty four people during the heavy monsoon rains and the resulting floods in Kerala. He hopes that he would be united with his wife and daughter in heaven soon enough, while his community is blaming the United States, Israel and the North of India for their plight while trying to recover from the remains of the earlier destruction. Most of the local people including Ibrahim’s good friend Kareem (Shine Tom Chacko) has moved to an area further away from the devastated area, but two families have remained at the same place, and Sumathi (Srindaa) who lives with her brother Preman (Manikandan R Achari) at the nearest house is only happy to help them whenever required. Is then that on a usual night, the town Sub Inspector Sathyan (Murali Gopy) comes into the house with a young murderer, Vishnu (Sagar Surya) whom he hopes to protect from religious violence, as this murderer himself was part of a similar religious crowd long ago.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But for the same, he has to fight the biggest religious fundamentalist that he has ever known, Laiq (Prithviraj Sukumaran), who had already attacked the police earlier with his violent group of religious fanatics. He is also the son of the man who was earlier killed in the violence, and he seeks revenge in the name of religion, community and family, while Ibrahim finds it difficult to understand the neverending hatred in his eyes. He makes a grand entry with his friends, and knows that his prey is there. He had come back from Paris earlier after getting into trouble there, and now he only knows vengeance. Laiq gets into the house with the help of Kareem, and with another helper, they manage to outsmart the police officer, ending up stabbing him. As Ibrahim sees the violence, and takes the policeman’s gun and forces Laiq and his friends to go outside, the dying policeman makes him swear an oath on his holy book that he will protect the man at any cost. But that wouldn’t be acceptable to those who just went outside.

The defence of Kuruthi :: Thrillers have been the need of the COVID-19 times, and here, one more gets added. With just above two hours of run-time, this movie manages to go through the thrills in the darkness. What is striking about this film is that it deals with the hatred which has always existed in the mind of man, something which has spread in the minds over humanity, leading to the idea of the “other”, thriving through the world. But the characters in the film are not just motivated by the same, and are instead having their own reasons for what they are doing during the one fateful night. Due to the same, there are some unexpected twists along with those which people can guess, and we also have some very strong dialogues going on here. Some of them might be very much memorable too. The performances also fuel the film really well, and it often comes from those characters who are considered to be lesser, but with less number of characters here, they all have roles to play in what happens in an eventful night.

The claws of flaw :: There were many routes for this particular thriller to follow, and the trailer had suggested many. The film follows its own, and not every moment of the same seems to go in the right direction. It does misses many opportunities to create the elements of fear when the protagonist is locked inside the house with other characters, and when it could have done better, it tries to go without taking risks. There is also a scarcity female characters in the movie, and other than Srindaa, there is only a new face, Navya Davy in a flashback along with a child actress. It also seems to be in a hurry to finish things, rather than using the atmosphere in the best possible ways. Being caught in an area like this would have brought the chance for more thrilling and scary circumstances, but while looking at philosophy, the movie seems to forget the same. It could have done that at least with the total run-time being increased by a few minutes. Well, we know where vengeance can lead a movie when there is something more to fuel the same.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran who was last seen in Cold Case, another thriller which released in Amazon Prime Video, is once again strong, and even though menacing from the beginning, he could have shared this more with Shine Tom Chacko. The purpose seems to be more or less as adding the star value rather than getting him more to perform. The evolution of Roshan Mathew from that very small role of Adi Kapyare Kootamani and the student role of Aanandam has been a thing to remember, and the same will be much talked about after this film too. He is the protagonist in the film, and how the film moves on, depends on his actions. He has that pain in his eyes which is reflected in his actions. It is nice to see Shine Tom Chacko getting some nice roles, but as he was last seen in a smaller work in Operation Java, this is also a comparatively smaller screen-time, even though he has a presence throughout the film. Murali Gopy has a role which is quite easy for him, and even though he is there only for a short period of time, he leaves a mark with his actions and dialogue as he has always done.

Further performers of the soul :: It is also good that Srindaa is doing roles like these instead of silly stuff like Aadu and minute as well as useless things like in Sara’s, as her work was becoming more and more of clichés. Here, she is amazingly strong in her character, and she is the only female character in the whole movie’s present. After the grandeur of Kammattipaadam, we have seen very less of Manikandan R Achari when we think how much he has been capable of doing, and he contributes well too. Then, Mamukkoya in a serious role is memorable here with a touch of humour, and we have seen the same effect with so many of actors who were focusing in comic roles in the past – he also gets the best dialogues here. Sagar Surya whom we recognize from his light-hearted comic role in Thatteem Mutteem series in Mazhavil Manorama is also here, doing the serious role, which he does in a fine manner. It is nice to see such names familiar to families coming to the big screen. Naslen K Gafoor whom we remember from Thanneermathan Dinangal also has a strong role here to play, further away from the funny side which he had then, and the same is done effectively here.

How it finishes :: Kuruthi, even though feels like a full thriller, it is surely more than just that. It seems that during COVID-19 times, ideas of making a good thriller has also been worked on, really well. Along with the same, it also takes on a society which is driven by hatred rather than anything else, as people are divided on different lines here. It shows the people who acts differently under strange circumstances, and it also has a little bit of humour in between the bleak times, and that is a nice surprise. Kuruthi is indeed a film that tries to speak about how people have been divided, and it ends without hope for the future – the bleak times of our world, with its uncertainties get reflected here, and the same is done without COVID-19 being the villain. Well, you don’t need a virus to end the world, as you always have humans. If you have seen the Russian film, The Blackout, you will have an idea of what a virus really would be, if an alien was to look at Earth before planning a full-scale invasion of the planet. Well, the only war which you win with hatred, is that which the future generations will lose, and you can see the signs if you look backwards in history. Back to the present, you fight on social media, you battle on those Youtube comments like you are brain-dead. What is the point?

Release date: 11th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Manu Warrier
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Roshan Mathew, Shine Rom Chacko, Murali Gopy, Srindaa, Manikandan R Achari, Mamukkoya, Sagar Surya, Navas Vallikunnu, Naslen K Gafoor, Navya Davy, Aiza Hassan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wretched

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bodies at Rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Odiyan

What is the movie about? :: Manikyan (Mohanlal) is the last among the odiyans, a group known to know sorcery and had shape-shifting abilities. The skill is passed to him by his grandfather after his father and mother were not ready to stand it, and left the village with their daughter, hoping for a better social and economic status elsewhere. Manikyan is one of the most well-known figures in the village of Thankurissi in Palakkad and also beyond the borders in the Tamil-speaking areas near the Western Ghats – some people consider him to be famous, and the others feel that he is a notorious figure. He is known to lurk in the shadows, with darkness as his ally. As it was the time when there was no electricity in the villages, it was easy for him to induce fear into the minds of the victims. He would take different forms, most commonly that of a bull or a buffalo, to torment those who are given as targets by people who pay a fair amount.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Manikyan’s biggest enemy in the village is Ravunni Menon (Prakash Raj) with whom he has had his problems since childhood. Ravunni’s interest and unrequited love for his cousins Prabha (Manju Warrier) and Meenakshi (Sana Althaf) only makes things worse as Manikyan has been working in their family household and taking care of them for generations. Ravunni decides to make things troublesome for his cousins as well as Manikyan, and with the death of Prabha’s husband Prakashan (Narain) and Meenakshi’s husband Ravi (Kailash), he succeeds in putting the blame on Manikyan. With electricity coming to the village, and almost everyone blaming him for the two deaths, Manikyan is forced to leave for Varanasi. As he is wandering around there, something changes, and he feels the need to return. What would that mean for everyone in the small village?

The defence of Odiyan :: The legend of the people from Kerala folklore with shape-shifting abilities deserved a movie, and it is always nice to have such an adaptation which has its roots in our own historical fantasy. The action scenes are nicely done, and the scenes involving the titular character in the darkness will make sure that we are interested in the whole thing. The setting nicely helps the progress of the movie, and all locations provide some nice visuals. Compared to the 150 crore grand movie Pulimurugan with Mohanlal fighting the tiger, Odiyan is surely a better flick which has a nice background as well as setting – there is also no bad jokes, and the acting itself is of a superior level when we compare the two. Odiyan has moments of class, and it is the quality which that highest grossing Malayalam movie missed in more than one way.

The claws of flaw :: The trailer as well as the hype created with the information provided regarding the movie, might be the one thing which works against the movie more than anything else. The expectations had gone so high that greatness was expected without excuses, and that was one thing which caused so many of early negative reviews. There is no denying the fact that this legend could have been used in an even better way, reducing the mass elements, and adding more mystery, sorcery, twists and horror. The movie is also too long, and the first forty-five minutes might be the least interesting part of the flick. A better beginning would have helped to keep the interest going, and the non-linear narrative disrupts the flow. Flashbacks are good, but not when they are used at inappropriate timings. The final fight could have been better edited. The background music might catch our attention, but the songs never really manage to do so.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal, in more than one avatar during two different ages, displays top form as usual. There are not just the action scenes that make an impact, as the emotional side is also strong with him – the strength as well as the helplessness of the main character is shown nicely here. We remember how he could be both in Villain having the same pair in the lead. Maybe, he could have had more with the shape-shifting idea, resembling that of a werewolf, but that much is not there for him to use his full potential. His last movies Drama and Neerali didn’t make that much of an impact, but I would say that they were better than the common opinions; the case here is also not so different, as Odiyan is certainly better than Pulimurugan, and the hard work that Mohanlal has put in to become this character from the folklore is worth the appreciation.

Further performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier’s previous movie Mohanlal was not really something to be appreciated, whether it was about the flick or regarding her own performance. But she is back once again with her work in this movie. The comments which were made about her one dialogue in this movie is rather strange, because it is a perfectly suited one for the moment – it once again shows that a lot of our viewers are struggling with understanding characters. The lack of empathy that our audience shows at times is rather strange and unacceptable. Prakash Raj is a strong villain indeed, but could have had better dubbing. Sana Althaf has a nice role after Basheerinte Premalekhanam, and she also has her moments. Kailash, Sreejaya Nair and Narain are there only for a few minutes, but they do leave us with something to remember. Siddique, Innocent and Nandhu do provide some good support too.

How it finishes :: Odiyan becomes the second high budget and the most awaited movie of the year after Kayamkulam Kochunni which had great success already. Despite negative opinions, Odiyan also had a strong weekend, with the only challenge coming from Hollywood, in the form of Aquaman, which has lesser number of shows. There is the need for movies like Odiyan, because only such flicks can assure that we will have better exploration of the myths and legends of the lands. We also need people who are ready to go through the less traveled path – we know, as Robert Frost has said, that would make all the difference. Your level of enjoyment would be different according to your expectations from cinema, but Odiyan is surely a movie which you can’t ignore, and is definitely a movie which is better than the highest grossing Malayalam movie of all-time, the Mohanlal starrer Pulimurugan.

Release date: 14th December 2018
Running time: minutes
Directed by: VA Shrikumar Menon
Starring: Mohanlal, Manju Warrier, Innocent, Prakash Raj, Siddique, Manoj Joshi, Nandhu, Narain, Kailash, Sana Althaf, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Sreejaya Nair

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Uncle

What is the movie about? :: Shruthi (Karthika Muraleedharan) is a young lady on her way back home, to Kozhikode from Ooty, where she has been studying, on a day which has strikes and protests written all over it. The violent protesters are everywhere in Ooty and Coonoor, destroying public property and attacking private vehicles according to their will. After getting into a fight with her best friend Sam (Ganapathi), she is looking for a way to get home, and gets on the path of Krishnakumar (Mammootty), a rich businessman who is an old friend and former classmate of her father, Vijayan (Joy Mathew). He offers her a lift to Kozhikode as he is also going that way, and as she knows him well enough, she accepts, even though not without some initial hesitation. This begins a journey that would last many hours, and they get along quite well throughout the trip.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Vijayan and his wife Lakshmi (Muthumani) are worried about her safety, especially the former who is not a fan of the character of his good old friend known for being with many women and being under the influence of alcohol for most of the time. But they think that their daughter would be back before it is night, but as darkness falls, it turns out that they have only reached some kilometres away from the checkpost will stay closed until next morning. A small accident with a truck and the frequent stops for taking photos only delay things further. Now, the two have to stay somewhere until next morning, and the concerns of Vijayan rises to a new level. Krishnakumar is known to have divorced his wife, and is suspected to have some relationships which wouldn’t be acceptable to the society – the car is also chased by two young men on a motorbike; is there danger awaiting Shruthi?

The defence of Uncle :: The issues that Uncle deals with are more or less relevant, not just in one area of the country, but everywhere, in varying levels. The cases of moral poicing and having never-ending doubts about a man and woman traveling at night or to deserted places – no questions are lost here. There are the reflections of prejudice, strange judgment, unnecessary fear and more, which are more or less present in almost all of us. The movie also has some good visuals and a fine song which is to stay on for long. It is also a movie of infinite opportunities, a case which Thanos himself would take for his infinity gauntlet – you know this idea, which is difficult to work on, but if done correctly, can give the results better than any other. Maybe, at another point of time, another movie will develop this for another age, in a better and smarter way. We can see the signs of such possibilities here itself at some points.

The claws of flaw :: The focus seems to be lacking in the tale which could have been an efficient thriller, but it never even comes close. There seems to be an attempt to make the audience believe that the girl is in distress, but never does the flick attain success with that. Our protagonist could be an enigma, but never a threat to an innocent girl despite us trying to see it from many perspectives. To bring a message, this one seems to have taken the energy out of everything else, which is rather disappointing – if it was all about coming to those last moments, why stretch the whole thing so much? The movie is so long, but there is not that much of content to stay and keep the viewers engaged. The female protagonist never becomes worthy enough to be of someone whom we could feel for, and the male protagonist never even tries for the same – this is something which drives us away from the characters, and at some point, their fate becomes something of no concern for us, especially when the willing suspension of belief losses the suspension too.

The performers of the soul :: When Mammootty makes a wonderful walk through this movie, you are not surprised – there are elements of his characters in his earlier movies from the golden age of Malayalam Cinema right here, but with the difference that has come through the ages. There is no superhero mode here though, and expect for one final punch which might have been necessary for most of the superstars out there, we see him going through a natural path – the Masterpiece model is dead at least for now, with no slow motion and beating up multiple people who fly around. The dark shades which some of the viewers had expected were missing though, as the breeze is rather light. He is a man with some surprises, as mystery is there regarding his world, but it is never in the dark world, as he keeps himself close to light, without allowing the darkness to creep in.

Further performers of the soul :: Joy Mathew is amazingly good as the father figure, and his worries keep us engaged. We see the emotions of a father very well reflected on his face, as he comes to know more. Muthumani keeps scoring with her dialogues, and the strength continues to be there till the end. Karthika Muralidharan has some cute moments here, and we had seen her doing almost nothing in CIA: Comrade in America – this might be an improvement in parts, but there are moments of overacting which can be considered difficult to bear. It is a saga of ups and downs, and in the same, the level is reluctant to go up after a certain point of time. She can do more, but that much is not there to be seen. She doesn’t look like a minor as mentioned in the movie either. KPAC Lalitha and Kailash story would seem a little strange, but brings some humour, and has the extra content to give the audience something else to focus in between, without the same journey in the car being repeated again and again.

How it finishes :: Uncle is good divergence for sure, but losses some of the territory it gained because of how big it happens to be – it is more or less like the Roman Empire which couldn’t control its territorial gains when the weaknesses were revealed with further expansion of the empire; but there is no questioning the idea behind both of them, and the strength when it was present. But we do have some talented cast members and the premise with a difference, bringing a mirror to the society – it is something that we just can’t avoid, and for the same reason, Uncle deserves a watch. We can always have more of the movies which leaves a message for the audience or reflects the society’s troubles in one way or the other. Uncle is a good sign of better movies to come, and we can hope for greatness in them, or rather the infinity of quality with the industry’s further uprising.

Release date: 27th April 2018
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Girish Damodar
Starring: Mammootty, Joy Mathew, Karthika Muralidharan, Muthumani, Suresh Krishna, KPAC Lalitha, Kailash, Ganapathi, Meghanadhan

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Underworld: Blood Wars

Vampire Owl: This movie has been going on and on, and we, the vampires have spent so much money or trying to attain copies of the same.

Vampire Bat: I have heard that even Werewolf Anger has a copy of the first three movies of the franchise.

Vampire Owl: Why would he have those copies? He is angry at all movies.

Vampire Bat: He is angry at everything, and so this anger is actually a reflection of his less angry side.

Vampire Owl: But it is still Werewolf Anger, the angriest werewolf of all-time.

Vampire Bat: There is some competition regarding the same, from Werewolf Hunger.

Vampire Owl: Well, hunger is a strong emotion, and he is named after that; so I would expect some tough competition.

Vampire Bat: I hope that watching Blood Wars won’t make them more interested in wars.

Vampire Owl: Watching Underworld: Awakening awakened nobody though.

Vampire Bat: Well, all the movies in this franchise will be better tales than Twilight for sure.

[Gets three cups of cardamom tea with Little Hearts biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: The war between the two species goes on, and vampires are in trouble with the advanced werewolves, the stronger and the sharper versions of Lycans going through them, with only two strongholds left for the formerly high class species of undead, the Eastern Coven and the Nordic Coven. Semira (Lara Pulver), a beautiful and ambitious council member of the vampires, sees Selene (Kate Beckinsale) as the only hope for saving their coven as well as preserving their world as it has been for many years. With Lycans only getting stronger under their ruthless and fearsome leader Marius (Tobias Menzies), Semira gets the support of Thomas (Charles Dance), a Vampire Elder who is the father of David (Theo James), whose life was saved by Selene herself. They are successful in getting the support of the council which declares Semira fully responsible for whatever actions Selene comes up with when inside the coven.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: The vampires have been searching for Selene already, seeking justice for the deaths of Viktor (Bill Nighy) and Marcus (Tony Curran), and this becomes her opportunity to return to the coven, forgiven, even though not forgotten as a murderer of her own kind. David pleads her to return to the coven, as she could join her kind and defend everyone against Marius who also wishes to capture Selene for information about her daughter Eve (India Eisley) whose blood could prove vital to the werewolves in attaining ultimate supremacy over vampires. Alexia (Daisy Head) arrives with her team and the order from the coven and takes Selene home just in time before the Lycans arrive at the scene. There they are given a warm welcome, but Varga (Bradley James), the leading Death Dealer of the coven isn’t happy that Selene has returned to train his team of Death Dealers, and with his intimate relationship with Semira, a twist seems to be coming up.

The defence of Underworld: Blood Wars :: There is the usual style of the Underworld franchise that we see here, and it is reflected not just on the visuals and the action sequences, but also in the overall dark mood. Vampires facing werewolves is the kind of idea that never gets old, and will remain interesting as long as you don’t put too much drama in there by the way of Twilight an its evil twin sisters. The tale continues with all those elements that are to satisfy the fans of the franchise. The movie also finishes off smartly, with having an option to end the tale there, as well as to continue it – the scope for a new dawn in this movie will be an entirely different one too. Still, whatever they do it will be eternally impossible to have the pre-determined critics to rate a movie like this any higher; if this was a Bollywood movie with a heavy dose of nonsense, maybe the reviewers here would have rated it a lot high; add a big superstar to it, and you know what happened with dumb movies like Krrish and its sequels.

Claws of flaw :: People are certain to think that there is too less added to this movie as another significant movie in the franchise – for there was the scope for deviation while retaining the basic elements, which is not taken. The journey here is just the easy way, with no special ingredient. I would also consider to be the second least interesting movie of the franchise following the one movie that was the prequel without Kate Beckinsale in it. Even though the critical opinions are without doubt biased and prejudiced as it was with almost every Underworld movie, this is surely a step down from the previous movie, Underworld: Awakening. Without a proper understanding of the background used in this movie, the weaklings will also find it difficult to go through this movie, and some reviewers need to be shown all movies of this franchise, without which they seem to struggle to find out which movie is this particular flick which they watched.

Performers of the soul :: Kate Beckinsale is also at her best as usual, and she becomes Selene and shines through this movie too – she looks almost the same as when the first movie released fourteen years ago, something that the Resident Evil series and Milla Jovovich will have in common. There is not much that separates her, all the action, and the style of this movie. We had also seen the same in the remake of Total Recall as well as Van Helsing. Selene is a character whom we have identified as one of the most recognizable vampires in live-action movies, and with her being played by the same person, and having the same looks throughout the franchise has helped the cause further. Giving her company as the other gorgeous vampire is Lara Pulver, whom we will all remember as the special Irene Adler from the Sherlock television series, with that introduction scene and what followed from A Scandal in Belgravia. Clementine Nicholson is another actress who will be a big asset to the franchise without doubt. We are also glad to see the Divergent franchise‘s own Theo James here again.

How it finishes :: Anna Foerster’s first movie has the fans of the franchise interested for sure, with the vampire-werewolf tale never running out of opportunities make more and more movies. This is also one of those movies which release first in India and then in the United States – something which happens at a few occasions mostly with those superhero movies and not with anything that has a vampire or a werewolf. This tale can surely bring more sequels, prequels and even spin-offs, and with some divine intervention, maybe there will be a movie which will be loved by the critics – but the chance of the same is very little. But it is up-to us to enjoy movies like these, instead of overrating those local superhero movies which has nothing inside them other than some so called superstars who come down to such a terrible level to act in such nonsense – we will have anyone without intellectual poverty will have trouble watching such flicks, but both the common viewers and the reviewers will claim that the movies are of epic level.

Release date: 6th January 2017 (USA); 2nd December 2016 (India)
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Anna Foerster
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Lara Pulver, Theo James, James Faulkner, Daisy Head, Clementine Nicholson, Tobias Menzies, Charles Dance, Oliver Stark, Peter Andersson, Bradley James

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fender Bender

fenderbender-2

Vampire Owl: A movie on a minor collision? How minor is that?

Vampire Bat: It is not really minor, as you consider what happens after the collision. You should read the synopsis of the story somewhere.

Vampire Owl: Yes, that person is a serial killer. It is quite natural.

Vampire Bat: It is not natural! Are you thinking Joy Ride, Wrecker or Duel?

Vampire Owl: No, people drive like serial killers these days.

Vampire Bat: It is a human thing. The whole humanity finds it difficult to drive. It is because they have lost all their magic to science.

Vampire Owl: We could provide them with more magic. Then there will be more necromancers than serial killers. We will be doing them a favour.

Vampire Bat: Necromancers are really not that good for them under the current circumstances either.

Vampire Owl: Then they should really learn how to drive.

Vampire Bat: Well, I hope that they do.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with jackfruit chips].

What is the movie about? :: A girl named Jennifer (Cassidy Freeman) is alone in her house, and after talking on phone about some random incident during the day, gets the message from an unknown number – the person on the other side seems to know what she is doing though. Even though she feels uncomfortable in the beginning, she just dismisses it as one random guess becoming correct. Soon, she is attacked by a masked figure right out of darkness, and while trying to escape through the window, is stabbed to death by the man in the mask. Then there is Hilary (Makenzie Vega), a teenager has just found out that her boyfriend Andy (Harrison Sim) is cheating her with another girl whom he kisses in front of her. Just a few days after getting her driving license and driving her mother’s new car for the first time, it happens that some random car just hits her vehicle on the back.

So, what happens next? :: She provides all of her information to the driver of the car (Bill Sage) who also shares his information – from address and phone number to taking photos, they keep the information, which Hilary uses to contact the insurance company that tells her to wait till they process the data. Her boyfriend apologizes to her, but she goes with what her friends had said, and dumps him. When she returns home, her parents are really angry about her relationship with the recently dumped boyfriend, and it gets worse that she has ruined the new car. They decide to go on their intended trip without her, and despite her repeated requests, they leave her alone in house after declaring her grounded. She notices that the car which had hit her earlier was moving on the road in front her home too. But it does disappear soon enough, and she gets back to doing her things.

So, how do things go from here? :: But strange things begin to happen as she finds her own photo in her mobile which was taken by someone else, and the photos of the car and the driver which she had taken were deleted. She hears a knock at the door, and is relieved to find that it is her friends Erik (Kelsey Montoya) and Rachel (Dre Davis) who have come to check if she is okay. The ex-boyfriend, Andy also comes at the door, and they blame him for the pranks on her phone, but it is certainly not the case, as it turns out to be. A late call from the insurance agency reveals the truth about the owner of the car, and the killer soon begins his game. Can Hilary escape from this madness, or will she become another victim on the long list? How can her friends help, and what role will the ex-boyfriend play with death sneaking around the dark corners?

The defence of Fender Bender :: Even though we know who the killer is and who the next victim is supposed to be, there is no shortage of thrills in this flick. The scary moments come in very well, and we will like this as a slasher movie too, with all the gore. As a home invasion movie, this one gets to a good position in the list too. There is also one other costume, which can nicely establish this villain as another big name like Jason, Freddy, Chrome Skull, Rusty Nail, Michael Myers, Harry Warden or Victor Crowley – if there is a sequel, that could work really well to establish a new franchise; the ending also makes sure that the scope is there to do the same. We can make sure that people will drive more responsibly if one such antagonist is unleashed only on those creepy ones on the road. Among many things, one thing that the leading lady Makenzie Vega proves here though, is that she can be in more of similar movies – a future scream queen in store here for sure.

The claws of flaw :: For some reason, Fender Bender just tries to keep close to what has been tried before, and doesn’t bring anything that new, even when there was a solid chance in store. There could have surely been more intensity with what the movie deals with – there is one serious serial killer right here, and the movie’s inability to make the maximum use of the same is rather confusing. We could have also done without the antagonist making his intentions clear too early – more suspense could have been added there. After it is made clear, the movie delays too much to get into the killing spree, which is really a bad idea. Also, the characters other than the leading lady gets killed too fast, and these characters are also there for a less amount of time for us to get to know them. This story could have gone deeper too, with the antagonist more established, but this should work pretty well for most people with all that is present in the movie.

[Walks into a bakery after the movie].

Vampire Owl: It was not bad as I expected.

Vampire Bat: Your expectations have been flawed for some time.

Vampire Owl: Do you know what kind of people need to be taught a lesson by some fender bender people?

Vampire Bat: Those who drive like maniacs, especially those on those huge motorbikes riding like psychos, right? You were talking about them last day.

Vampire Owl: Yes them too. But more than that, it is about those people who cause traffic jams. A few days ago, I was traveling from Aluva to Perumbavoor, and there is this auditorium on the way at Thottumugham which has very less parking space, and people are parking everywhere on the road. Disgusting, anti-social creatures who have no respect for others. At least, if they can’t arrange enough parking, these people shouldn’t invite this many people for wedding receptions.

Vampire Bat: I faced the same thing near Muvattupuzha on the Arakuzha road which has an auditorium which seems to have not enough parking. These people have everyone parking on the sides of the road – actually both sides on a road which is not a big enough one. Along with the same, they had buses for this particular wedding reception, and it was held in the evening. There was almost no hope to escape from this traffic trouble – it was so long.

Vampire Owl: The same was the case of the wedding reception I am talking about. When will the auditoriums provide enough parking space, or will these idiots have the brain to park responsibly?

Vampire Bat: We should note down those who repeat the offence and send the list to the responsible humans.

Vampire Owl: They all need their fender benders.

Vampire Bat: Yes, they do.

[Gets one sweet porotta, one blackcurrant shake and a glass full of grape juice].

Release date: 23rd May 2016
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Mark Pavia
Starring: Makenzie Vega, Cassidy Freeman, Dre Davis, Kelsey Leos Montoya, Harrison Sim, Bill Sage, Lora Cunningham, Steven Michael Quezada

fenderbender

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Before I Wake

beforeiwake-2

Vampire Owl: Do I get to make a sentence with this title?

Vampire Bat: What are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: I really wanted to make a sentence with these words as those school children do.

Vampire Bat: Why do you want to imitate school children when we are self-taught and vampire-learnt?

Vampire Owl: I just want to try it once like they do.

Vampire Bat: Okay, come up with the sentence.

Vampire Owl: Before I wake, I remember that I need to brush my teeth.

Vampire Bat: This is the most ridiculous sentence that I have heard – you never brush your teeth. And you should remember that before going to sleep, not after falling asleep.

Vampire Owl: I do brush my teeth, but I do that only in secret.

Vampire Bat: Secret? It is not like you are planning to bring the end of the world.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with banana chips].

What is the movie about? :: The married couple of Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) Hobson makes the decision to adopt a child after their young child dies all of a sudden, and as they realize that they can’t be parents biologically anymore. They haven’t really recovered from the loss of their only child, but they decide to go on with the adoption anyway hoping that it will make them forget and provide a child with a better life. The one whom they adopt is the eight year old boy Cody Morgan (Jacob Tremblay), who was adopted many times, but had to return to the foster home for a variety of reasons. After not much of a thought, they decide that this is the child for them. Even though Jessie is a lot more concerned with parenting after the unexpected death of her son, she decides to bring all the love to Cody, and so does Mark.

So, what happens next? :: There are just happy moments with the three around, and they get along really well. Cody seems like a good child, and the the couple leaves nothing behind in loving him. One night, the couple are surprised to see beautiful butterflies of different colours fly across the living room. But when Cody wakes up, things get back to how it used to be, and the butterflies suddenly disappear without leaving any trace. Another night, after talking to Cody about their dead son, they find the child standing in front of them at the main hall, and see him disappear when Cody wakes up. Jessie is fascinated by this, and shows him many videos of his son so that there is a better chance that Cody dreams about him when asleep – she also tries to keep him asleep so that he can dream. But there is more to his dreams that they know – and it will be revealed soon.

What all awaits in the dreams and nightmares? :: Cody talks a lot about The Canker Man (Topher Bousquet) who is always with him. As this person is supposed to arrive when he is asleep, he mostly stays awake reading about butterflies and other nice things. He often talks about this creature having eaten his mother, and keeps making sure that this shadowy creature is not present around him just before going to sleep. With all these powers that Cody’s dreams have, there is only more that the powerful nightmares can do, especially during a bad day at school or at home. It is certain that nobody believes him when he talks about it, and not many people who have seen it remains alive, with the rest of them in the mental asylum. With such dark power waiting to be unleashed, does the couple realize what they are going to face?

The defence of Before I Wake :: Well, this is not the horror-fest that we need, but the beautiful horror that could do even better. There are enough scary moments, and along with the same, the main idea is superb – to have a mind that could create things, but good and bad, through the dreams which become reality; you sleep, but what you have in your dreams and nightmares become the reality for the people who are awake. When you are not in control of these, you don’t wish to sleep at all – nobody can blame you for the same. There is a nicely designed creature here, and the same can be said about the environment as well as the world that is created inside the dreams and nightmares. Mike Flanagan has provided us some of the most interesting horror movies including Ouija: Origin of Evil and Oculus, and Absentia and Hush are two highly rated ones from him too, with Gerald’s Game coming up based on the Stephen King’s novel of same name. You can always expect something special when he is around.

The claws of flaw :: This one could have surely added more frightening moments, and also should have picked up the pace faster in the beginning stages. We do have an idea early enough, but things just move rather slowly during those times. The Canker Man, the monster, should have been in the movie for longer too – so could have been the use of his powers, with sleeping and dreaming being part of the action on screen when least expected. With the scope for imagination to run wild as this is about dreams and nightmares, one is sure to say that this movie could have easily made it into the list of favourites on many lists with more attention. There could have been something similar to the magic which Guillermo del Toro had created with his creatures in more than one movie, but this one’s focus keeps shifting from what was its biggest strength among them all – the nightmare creature, or the Canker Man.

How it finishes :: There is one thing that we can be sure about – it is that Before I Wake is more than just a horror movie; it dares to be different in its treatment of its monster and how things change to reach that end which leaves a smile on our faces. It ends with more of a beautiful feeling than anything else – it is something that horror movies don’t usually have. As Kate Bosworth provides with a performance that makes us feel the dreams and nightmares, happiness and sadness, life and death – all at one place, we are made sure that this is the horror movie which is not just about being terrifying, but also about something more than that. It is the success of this kind of a movie that we see here, which is part a fairy-tale and also a horror movie, being the kind of movie that we wish to watch before we go for sleep and have our daily dose of dreams and nightmares. Here we have those which make Crimson Peak and Mama proud.

Release date: 31st July 2016
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Annabeth Gish, Dash Mihok, Topher Bousquet, Scottie Thompson, Justin Gordon, Kyla Deaver

beforeiwake

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.