Naam Shabana

Vampire Owl: I know this person from Baby.

Vampire Bat: This is a spin-off prequel to that movie, and so it is no surprise that you know her.

Vampire Owl: So, this is both a spin-off and a prequel? That should mean two levels.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one also has Ajay Singh Rajput played by Akshay Kumar, Anjali Singh Rajput played by Madhurima Tuli and Om Prakash Shukla played by Anupam Kher.

Vampire Owl: And joins Shabana Khan played by Taapsee Pannu, I see.

Vampire Bat: There is also our own Prithviraj with an evil side.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see what can be better than that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Ivide had shown his negative shades better than any other.

Vampire Owl: And we remember that older movie with him playing the bad cop getting reformed – Vargam, I guess. I also liked him in his other Bollywood movie, Aurangzeb.

Vampire Bat: Bollywood needs a few more in their movies, just like him. I still have Memories in my head.

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

What is the movie about? :: Shabana Khan (Taapsee Pannu) is a college student who is also practicing Judo to take part in a number of competitions. Her mother, Farida Begum Khan (Natasha Rastogi) is in full support of her, whatever she plans to do. She doesn’t hesitate in beating up people who cause any kind of nuisance, no matter how small it is, or how meaningless the fight is. She has made herself tougher, as she had grown up watching her father beat up her mother mercilessly all the time after coming home drunk and out of his senses. On one of those days when he was attacking her mother, she had hit her father so hard on the back of his head, that he ended up dead – it had left her in the juvenile home, until coming back stronger to help her mother move forward with her life. This flashback about her is rather unknown to her new friends.

So, what happens next? :: Shabana is quite a popular girl in the college, and one of her friends, Jai (Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala) has fallen in love with her. He asks her to accompany him for dinner, and they seem to have fallen in love, but on that night, they come across some eve teasing, to which she decides to respond – the result is Jai getting killed and leaving her scarred for life. His parents blame her for the incident, and despite going to the police station almost every day, she finds no progress at all. Frustrated and without hope, one day while returning from the police station, she gets the calls of an unknown man (Manoj Bajpayee) who gives her an offer she can’t refuse. She will get her revenge against the four men, but he wants something from her in return. So, will she manage to live up to the promise on her end, and will he be able to do the same?

The defence of Naam Shabana :: A lot of reviewers who go around in Bollywood are sure to miss how good Prithviraj Sukumaran has been in this movie, and there is that tendency to figure out how much they can appreciate everyone else. The makers won’t give that much for someone of such calibre, and the reviewers will just focus more on the Bollywood stars – just like I had written earlier in the review of the short-film, Invisible Actor, that there are actors and superstars, and there are those who are good enough to become both and maintain the balance. Along with him and Taapsee, the movie has its thrilling side going. There are also some very nice action sequences, and nothing overdone in that department. There are also some nice dialogues to go with the same – some of them are actually funny, whether intentional or not. It also feels good to get an origin story, which provides more scope for a sequel.

The claws of flaw :: Some scenes in this movies are just strange – with people removing their shirts to fight, vengeance given so much importance by an intelligence wing, the villain willingly giving away his identity when there was other options considering how smart he is, choosing the rookie to do this dangerous mission when there are experienced people around, and so on. It is still good to see that such Bollywood tendencies get to be controlled up to an extent. Shabana also has rather less attention on her character than everything else about her. Some of the moments just get funny when they shouldn’t have been, and we also get so much less of the villain who should have been the highlight of this movie from the darker side. The first half of the movie, with its stretched romance, becomes the rather too long thing here too. They could have done without the songs too.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, Taapsee Pannu does provide some knockout punches here, and she suits the character really well – even when the character is not flawless, she nullifies a few bad sides. It her work in the original movie which has inspired this one, and she gets to play the girl with fire more. Everyone loved her in Pink, and this one no longer has her as a damsel in distress – she gets to make sure that her agency remains a proud one. Still, as her work in Baby was so effective in such a short time, that would be remembered more. Prithviraj Sukumaran who was seen in Malayalam movies which were different kind of thrillers, Oozham, Ezra and Tiyaan, here we have him playing the villain, and I am sure that having more of him would have helped this movie better. Akshay Kumar’s role is small, but quick and effective, while Manoj Bajpayee only gets to talk, without getting any action. Madhurima Tuli and Anupam Kher also cross over here from Baby.

How it finishes :: Naam Shabana is a movie which could have done better with more focus on its antagonist, and a more consistent character development of our protagonist. If you don’t go for this one with the expectations high considering Baby, you are surely not going to be disappointed – it is that one which automatically let the expectations go high, and the makers seem to have thought that this would bring the money. They could have made more money with better focus on Prithviraj, but here, they have taken rather too much time for even Taapsee’s training to begin. Still, Naam Shabana is another thriller that works, and even without the name of Baby attached to it, there is more to the tale. Maybe the stand-alone feeling will give the flick even more strength. You can only watch this one and come up with your own opinion, and the need for another movie in the franchise.

Release date: 31st March 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Shivam Nair
Starring: Taapsee Pannu, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Manoj Bajpayee, Akshay Kumar, Danny Denzongpa, Madhurima Tuli, Anupam Kher, Murali Sharma, Zakir Hussain, Bhuvan Arora, Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala, Natasha Rastogi, Manav Vij, Mohan Kapoor, Elli Avram, Shibani Dandekar, Virendra Saxena, Aparna Upadhyay

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Texas Chainsaw

texaschainsaw ()

I have always valued The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as one of my favourite horror movie franchises, even as not that high a piece of horror if each of them are taken individually. But, I might change the idea if I watch them again, but I don’t really have that much of information stored about the movies in this series any more, as that movie watching adventure happened too long ago, I didn’t complete watching the series nor did I watch any of the movies of the franchise more than once. I did search for the video game of the same name in vain though. One can’t stop oneself from remembering Leatherface though, as he is one of those classic slasher horror characters along with Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, ChromeSkull, Jacob Goodnight, Ben Willis, Ghostface and Rusty Nail, not forgetting that there are others whom I keep myself from mentioning right now. One of the first of the large number of slasher horror movies which came to existence in the 1970s, this movie’s great grandfather still has a strong base right there.

I did miss the 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the 2006 prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. About the rest of the movies of the franchise, I couldn’t be sure, which is why I decided to watch this one. It was time to give Leatherface his due, for he has been kept waiting for long. This movie is a direct sequel to the first of the series, which was the most successful of the series. Not many slasher movies can boast of a critical rating that the original movie had succeeded in collecting, but our movie has a collection of the exact opposite type of reviews, the negative ones, almost interchanging the ratings of rottentomatoes from 91% to 19%, but let not that thing worry us as usual. We know what we are going to watch while going for a slasher horror movie. It is not a blend of intellectually superior greatness and spiritual enlightenment poured into a cup and mixed with everything highly logical and rational to the extreme point. A slasher film shall remain what it is and keep to its genre, and Texas Chainsaw 3D has undoubtedly done that.

As said earlier, we go back to the events of the 1974 movie which started it all. Before the movie starts there are some great visuals from what came to the franchise early, going on at the same time as the credits are rolling; a pretty good start to a franchise which is trying to pick itself up from within the ashes. The whole family of Leatherface is murdered by the locals as the house is burnt down in a quick attack. But a little baby belonging to the family is taken by one of the arsonists after killing her mother, and he raises her as his daughter with his wife who was not able to get pregnant. Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario) has now grown up without any knowledge about her real existence, until she comes to know that her grandmother, Verna Carson (Marilyn Burns), has passed away and left all of her possession to her which leads her to the realization that she was adopted. Heather and her boyfriend Ryan (Tremaine Neverson), along with two other friends, Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez), decides to travel to Newt to find her roots and collect her inheritance. On the way, the group gives a lift to another man Darryl (Shaun Sipos) whom they mildly hit with their car at a petrol pump.

When they arrive at the place, the grandmother’s family lawyer, Farnsworth (Richard Riehle), reaches there and gives her the keys to the family mansion along with a letter from her grandmother. All of them are exicted about the grand property which she owns, and they look around the house, as Heather’s eyes strike a graveyard on one side of the house and says “Thank You” at her grandmother’s grave while others have some fun and decides to stay there during the night as it is an enormous and beautiful place. As the friends leave to get supplies for the nigh, Darryl decides to loot the house and get out there as soon as possible, but comes across Leatherface as he goes greedy and looks for the big price with a big key to the cellar, even as the fact remains that he could have easily gotten away with what he had already collected. The fact that he tried so hard to be killed by Leatherface remains the usual thing of horror movies. But, the most important thing is that he is dead and the killer is now on the loose, to be unleashed on the four friends. But they would know nothing about the same as they say cheers and enjoy the night, believing that the man had looted them and left already.

Kenny is the next one to die, impaled with a hook, and Heather is knocked out and taken to the domain of Leatherface in the cellar where he is seen to work on the corpse with a chainsaw and murders Kenny who was still alive with he same weapon of his choice. When the killer is distracted, she somehow manages to run outside followed by Leatherface. She jumps into an open grave in the graveyard and hides herself in one of the coffins only to be found out by the killer before being distracted by the two remaining live humans out there. But they don’t realize that she is in the coffin and neither do they know what kind of terror they are calling upon themselves, as they are chased by the same man with the chainsaw. Heather comes back with a van, but they fails to go out through the gate as it neither opens nor gets destroyed. Finally, when the gate opens, the killer is still after them, and as Leatherface manages to scratch two tires on a side with his chainsaw, the van gets out of control and goes upside down, and the chase begins there. Does Leatherface have a plan for them or does he have separate ones for his relative and the rest if he knows about it, that is something which is to be answered. And what would the former arsonists think about all of these?

Well, the movie doesn’t come up with anything to hold its base facing the wind from the critics. Among the two things that do have a say, the first one is about Dan Yeager as Leatherface, who was as menacing as the human skin mask wearing, chainsaw holding murderer. Even as it seemed going down the drains in the beginning, he has held his head high, as the serial killer of ages. The other thing is the performance of Alexandra Daddario as Heather Miller, who evolved between her own existence of working at a slaughterhouse to being in a slaughterhouse of humans created by his own cousin, making some strange choices which reiterates her existence not as the victim, but more as the youngest member of a bloodline which has that gory history of ages. Being one of the most gorgeous choices for a horror movie protagonist, she shares her beautiful presence blended with the terror that her one last relative unleashes, and she herself realizes and to an extent, embraces. After watching Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and its sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the first thought would be that she could be nobody other than Annabeth Chase, the daughter of the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena – but time changes and here she is the cousin of Leatherface, the Master of Pain; the Legend of Horror; for she has that kinship with her once again.

Texas Chainsaw is no super movie in any way, and its effects are not far lasting, as it thrives too much on blood and gore. Other than that, it has the legendary villain and Alexandra Daddario’s dynamic character which she perfects, to support its cause. It is to be noted that Alexandra Daddario has come up with great performance in the lead roles for the two of her movies which were released here. Still, both of these characters suffer from the way they have chosen to continue the story from the original. There are moments which make sure that this movie stay on top, but there is no regular flow in its environment which ensures that this would go on to make the world of terror rise and clap. The movie makes an attempt to turn the tide in favour of Leatherface, and his cousin Heather against most of what is left in her world. But its success is only marginal, and both of them remains on the other side, the dark one. But with its graphic violence and the elements of surprise and shocks which are injected at regular intervals, this movie keeps itself on level with what the audience is supposed to expect. It also sets the path for a sequel it is to be seen if such a thing can make it to the theatres.

Release date: 4th January 2013
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: John Luessenhop
Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tania Raymonde, Tremaine Neverson, Thom Barry, Paul Rae, Bill Moseley

texaschainsaw cop

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.