Haunt

Vampire Owl: Can this be more haunted than our own castle?

Vampire Bat: I don’t think so. We, true vampires provide top quality haunting all the time.

Vampire Owl: In this movie, they become part of a Haunted House attraction, only to find that it is real terror inside.

Vampire Bat: So, these humans want to get into a haunted place, but want to be haunted in a safe manner. It is a strange thing.

Vampire Owl: Yes, there should be no safe haunting. If there is such a thing, it is never really the haunting in the right form.

Vampire Bat: It is time that they realize that things just don’t happen as they want it to happen in a world of chaos.

Vampire Owl: Sooner or later, they would want to be murdered without being dead.

Vampire Bat: They are living in a strange and impossible world of their own.

Vampire Owl: They feel that they can make their own world according to the need, but that is a foolish thought.

Vampire Bat: Yes, sooner or later, they should understand that they are not the masters of this world, and they will never get even close to being something like that.

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

What is the movie about? :: Harper (Katie Stevens) is not having a good time with her alcoholic and abusive boyfriend Sam (Samuel Hunt), and her friends so not approve of him for what he has been letting her go through. The two lovers are very close to breaking up, as the Halloween night arrives, and everyone dresses up in their favourite scary costumes. Her best friend Bailey (Lauryn McClain), along with two other friends Angela (Shazi Raja) and Mallory (Schuyler Helford) attend a party. There, they also meet two guys, Nathan (Will Brittain) and Evan (Andrew Caldwell), who together decide to go on a ride. It is then that Harper feels that she is being stalked by a man wearing a mask. The figure keeps staring at her body on multiple occasions, and she decides to keep close to his friends, as they go on the journey, and stops at a special Halloween attraction, a haunted house. They decide to give it a try, as it has a nice, spooky look suitable for the season.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Just outside the attraction, they meet the Clown (Justin Marxen) of the Haunted House, who makes them surrender their mobile phones and sign forms with their name, address and other details before they are allowed to enter the place. The group which enters the place together, is soon separated. On one side, Bailey, Nathan and Angela finds out that the haunting is real the hard way, as Bailey gets cut on her right arm. At the same time Harper, Evan and Mallory have to crawl through a series of tunnels as well as spend time in coffins as part of the game, but end up losing Mallory who disappears. The two teams meet up again only to find Mallory taken out of a bag by a masked figure who impales her through the head, seemingly killing her. It is then that the group realizes that this is a life-threatening situation, and if they can’t find a way out, they might be killed by traps or masked figures. But is there a way out from there?

The defence of Haunt :: The setting is the one thing that gives this movie the big advantage, and Halloween world with a haunted attraction is what the world never gets tired of watching, and has immense possibilities even without trying too hard. The movie does manage to keep the blood and gore checked, keeping the violence from going too far, as this is a slasher movie made to kill most of its characters in brutal ways, with a setting like this. There are some sequences of terror which comes in, and brings the needed feeling for the audience. It works with the usual fears, and uses them effectively on different occasions created here. There is also a likable protagonist being brought here, and due to what she has been going through, we support her all the time. The masks and the people behind them are terrifying enough to watch, and the movie lives up to its haunted environment, also adding something for the scream queen to shine in the end.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie has that haunted house attraction setting, it never really uses it to the full potential, and neither does it manages the best with the youngsters from a party looking for Halloween fun. If you have watched Escape Room, you will know how tricky and scary the rooms can get, even without qualifying as a horror movie in essence – a life-threatening crisis is always the biggest challenge which can be displayed in grand style, no matter what the genre is, and horror has it easy. Haunt does make much of an attempt at divergence and innovation which could have come naturally, as options were always open. The moments before they reach the haunted house are pretty much dull, and that takes some valuable time which could have been used to add more scares into the movie. The movie also adds a certain amount of flashback to its protagonist, which also drags a little bit here and there.

Performers of the soul :: Katie Stevens might be best known for participating in the ninth season of American Idol and also for being part of some of the popular television series, but she is a new figure for the audience here. She was there in the Kathryn Prescott starrer Polaroid in which she had a small role of the girl who was hosting the party, and the second person to be killed in it. The actresses like Samantha Logan and Priscilla Quintana had bigger role than her in that movie. But here, we can see that Katie establishes her very well as one of the best scream queens in her twenties, even though understanding her potential, we know that she could have been given more to do within that haunted house, and the whole thing should have been focused even more on her. Will Brittain plays the male lead pretty well. Lauryn McClain, Schuyler Helford and Shazi Raja manage their roles pretty well. Andrew Caldwell also adds a little, but the masked ones score above them all sharing the glory with Katie.

How it finishes :: It has to be noted that despite having such a fine setting for terror resembling movies like The Collector, Saw and Hostel, this movie is something which has not been watched much by the people from this part of the world, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most people do not know that such a movie exists. Haunt is a movie that deserves some audience, even though it still hasn’t used its elements as much as the horror fans would have wanted it to. When you are locked in a haunted house attraction with psychopath killers wearing masks, you would surely expect more. Otherwise, the move manages to do its job just fine, and the movie maintains the level it had in the beginning, never really altering the mode. You can watch this to add another horror slasher with some traps and killers walking around, and the main characters always in danger, death walking through every corner – you know the ways of evil. After all, each and every movie can’t be Doctor Sleep, Lights Out, It Follows or Don’t Breathe.

Release date: 13th September 2019
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Starring: Katie Stevens, Shazi Raja, Lauryn McClain, Will Brittain, Schuyler Helford, Andrew Caldwell, Chaney Morrow, Justin Marxen, Samuel Hunt, Damian Maffei

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sakhavu

What is the movie about? :: Krishna Kumar (Nivin Pauly) is a leftist student leader who wishes to make it big at every level. For the same, he has been studying different courses in the college – his aim is to get to the top of party’s student wing, and from there, get to a big position in party’s trade union, and then become MLA or MP. For the same, he is ready to do anything, including getting rid of his best friends who are threat to him. It is his friend in the party Mahesh (Althaf Salim) who provides him support in all his plans without asking for anything in return. One day, he gets a call from the party office to go to the hospital and donate blood for a party member who is in critical condition. He isn’t really interested in the same, and tries to act rude so that he could get out of there as fast as possible. There, he meets Aishwarya (Gayathri Suresh), his old friend from school, working as a nurse at the same hospital, who talks to him about the person who is in the ICU.

So, what happens next? :: There he meets more people including the man’s friends, and also his wife Janaki (Aishwarya Rajesh) and his daughter Nidhi (Aparna Gopinath), and the tale of a much loved comrade is revealed. There is a long past that goes to those days when this comrade, named Krishnan (again Nivin Pauly) had come to Peermade to strengthen the left trade union activities at the place. There were many things that followed, including those incidents which made the man a favourite among the masses, and nothing less than trouble for the exploiters. Krishna Kumar listens to the tale and also to that incident that landed Krishnan at the hospital – there is more to things here than what meets the eye, as he hears about what the comrade has been working on in the last few days. So, how does this tale influence Krishna Kumar, and how does life change for the man who was always after high positions and fame in the party?

The defence of Sakhavu :: There is the strength of ideology behind this movie, and it goes towards taking a righteous stand, especially when a political leader is concerned – on what the left ideals really mean, if they are implemented in the right way. The message is strong, and there is the presence of feel-good elements. The flashback scenes look really nice, and you need to watch this one on the big screen for the same. There is the presence of a lot of humour in the first forty five minutes of the movie, and then things get serious – the strength of the whole thing is tested, but the movie then stands the test, and comes back victorious. It is also the final sequence after the credits start rolling that score big at a time when we feel that the movie ended too soon. The movie can be considered as a nice mixture of things, and without showing no overdose of action sequences, the intensity of the sequences are very well delivered.

The claws of flaw :: There is a rather predictable story in this flick – even though the hero from the past has his heroics to be talked about by others, there is nothing new or special in that tale which follows a pattern which so many tales from the past has followed, with a big estate and firm, along with the workers who suffer because the rich and the affluent just don’t care. The movie could have also been shorter, or could have added some special ingredients to justify its length – maybe a return to the present in the end, and some more sequences to follow with the protagonist’s life could have made things even better, rather than stretching the flashback a little too much with the predictable things. The scope was so much more for this movie, and the divergence that it has taken here is not much, as the attempt is there to balance the class and the mass, never to overdo any of them. The movie could have also used its heroines more, especially in the present.

Performers of the soul :: When you look at Nivin Pauly’s last few movies, Jacobinte Swargarajyam, Action Hero Biju and Premam, they were not just very good movies, but also did great at the box-office; now he is back for more. This is also the best movie with him as a solo hero, and also the best performance from him till date. Here he comes in two roles, and among the two, it is the new-age role that suits the best for him – the other role also demands him to play the elder version of the character, which also leaves a mark. There is the new generation social worker portrayed nicely with all the shortcuts of life which are taken, and there is the maturity of the old generation comrade, who has struggled so hard with everything in life for the party as well as the society. It works at both sides for Nivin Pauly, and this is the kind of performance which will mean a big change and the right kind of deviation in his career. Here, it is Althaf who provides him great support with a nice funny side, making things so much alive.

Further performers of the soul :: Along with Nivin Pauly continuing his run as the one actor whose movies keep the standard, there is also a supporting cast which has rather less to do in helping. There are three heroines in this movie, but they get to do rather less in this flick which is highly dependent on Nivin Pauly to perform in two separate roles. Aishwarya Rajesh gets the most to do in the flashback, as the comrade’s wife, and a little bit in the present, and she manages the same fine, even though there seemed to a little bit of urgency about everything; rather more than required. It is good to see her again after Jomonte Suvisheshangal. Gayathri Suresh gets rather too little in this one, even less than what he had to do in Oru Mexican Aparatha and Puthiya Mugham, playing a character that the protagonist knows from school. Then there is Aparna Gopinath who plays the strongest of female leads, and also the most charming one – a good continuation after the magic of Charlie and the message supply in School Bus.

How it finishes :: Sidhartha Siva, the director is known for some of those critically appreciated movies including 101 Chodyangal and Ain, both winning him national awards, along with that inspirational flick which was very much feel-good, Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Sakhavu undoubtedly keeps that high level, and once again, there is no trouble with the quality. Sakhavu is a movie that has almost everything, and it is the movie that you wouldn’t want to miss – it will win this Easter-Vishu season, considering the fact that most people have already watched The Great Father, 1971: Beyond Borders under-performing, and Puthan Panam ended up as one of the worst movies to have released in some time. This should be the season of Sakhavu which succeeds in rising above the expectations; it not just superior to Oru Mexican Aparatha, it is also more responsible, getting to the point in the right way, and leaving the right messages. This is one of the best movies of the year so far. Well, what seems to be a simple family flick, Rakshadhikari Baiju is the next one up at the theatres.

Release date: 15th April 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Sidhartha Siva
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Gayathri Suresh, Sreenivasan, Aishwarya Rajesh, Aparna Gopinath, Althaf Salim, Tony Luke, Musthafa, Sudheesh, Kalabhavan Rahman, Renji Panicker, Prem Kumar, Manianpillai Raju, Aliyar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bewakoofiyaan

bewakoofiyaann

Why the Bewakoofiyaan? :: Now that should be a valid question because this was not among those movies which I was looking forward to watch. If there was any Hollywood movie or a hyped Malayalam movie releasing this weekend, I would have surely skipped this with so much ease. Neither the trailer nor the much talked about bikini scene of Sonam Kapoor actually created any interest in this movie. But if we consider the talks about the Cricket World Cup T20 affecting this movie’s business, it can only be partially true in case of a failure to prove false. I am pretty sure that cricket and movies can’t be considered in the same league. Cricket is just another sport (or the least significant of them, thanks to the match-fixing, overdose of money and the retirement of all players who were role-models as IPL has been successfully crowned as the good WWE’s evil twin brother), and movie is an art (even as there have been a lot of high-grossing movies from Bollywood in 2013 itself which attempts to prove that there is a lot of trash); so in this situation when there are not many other movies releasing to challenge this one, Bewakoofiyaan will have only itself to blame.

What is it about? :: It is the love story of Mayera Sehgal (Sonam Kapoor) and Mohit Chaddha (Ayushmann Khurana) who have been in love for quite a long time. In the beginning itself, we come to know that Mohit was promoted and now has a salary above rupees sixty thousand per month. Mayera earns more, and her father VK Sehgal (Rishi Kapoor) is an IAS officer with lots of influence in the police and the government. He is a strict father who wishes to get his daughter married to a rich man so that she can get whatever she wants. But unfortunately, she is in love with an orphan who earns less than what happens to be her salary, and Sehgal can’t accept him. So he puts his future son-in-law in a probation period as he checks his records and keeps a track of his life so that he can understand if he is any good for his daughter. At the same time, he hopes that he can somehow rejects the guy who seems not good enough for his daughter. The movie is all about how the relationship between the three progresses as the situation worsens.

The defence of Bewakoofiyaan :: There are not many things that the movie can boast about. But it does hold onto its mediocrity with such power it doesn’t end up being boring despite not being on the interesting side for long. There are no particular moments which are exceptional or too bad. The movie is like a straight line and it doesn’t go above that standard which it sets in the beginning. The flaws are there, but they can be forgiven up-to an extent as this movie takes no risk, thus keeping everything under control, no bringing any fatal blow on itself. The songs are just about average. The message of love reigning over money is there, even as it works only partially, and most of the time one is left to wonder about all the relationships in the movie, may be with the exception of one very minute love story between the workers of a coffee shop. But there is still the love, and once again they say that money has no real significance in front of love, and there comes the morality tale’s tail and it wags.

The Claws of flaw :: There are always movies like Besharam which eats and breathes flaws in bulk and thrives on nothing else. But Bewakoofiyaan doesn’t go that way even when the tendency is always there. The plot’s predictability is the first thing that keeps pulling the movie back, as we have seen such stories so many times that such overdose can make Barnabas Collins lose his faith in eternal love and burn copies of Romeo and Juliet. The emotional element is indeed weak, as the so called love separates just in the name of a rock show and shoes. Then everything just comes into place after a sudden transformation from the future father-in-law out of nowhere. This lack of ideas and innovations makes brings to us the makers’ need to inflate the movie further. The funny moments doesn’t work fully and the laughter is limited. In that case, the relief is Rishi Kapoor who handles that side with care, even as we know that there could have been so many more moments created with a story like this. I would say, use that stupidity in the title to create a big advantage!

Performers of the soul :: The first impression that one might get after hearing about the movie might be that it is the movie of Sonam Kapoor, and there is the need to look out for her. We wish that there would be something special coming up, but there is nothing. She ends up being just the third important character in the story in a movie which is all about her getting married to the man she loves, and the one thing she manages is to looks awesome throughout the two hours. Ayushmann Khurrana does well though, in a character which doesn’t seem to being anything new. We can’t say that they haven’t tried to bring the title of the movie into the plot though. But the whole thing is taken over by Rishi Kapoor more than anybody else. He remains funny throughout the movie, even as the character can’t escape from being irritating at times. We have seen better father-in-laws who wish to save their daughters from making the wrong choice, but as far as this one is concerned, it is the actor who makes it more interesting. He only gets better by the time the movie gets closer to the end.

Soul exploration :: There is question of choosing money or love, and our characters seem to choose both of them at one or the other point of time. Still, love is asserted again and again, and somehow the hero and heroine manages to stick together until that one stupid fight which lands out of nowhere. The father-in-law is too much into money until he suddenly transforms. If the message is about how minute a thing money is, that is still a fine message, in a world where Gandhiji works only paper. The movie also touches the dignity of labour and the value of true friendship, and the fact that nothing is forever; they are even doubtful about the couple happily living ever after as they write so in the end. As far as reckless spending is concerned, this doesn’t work that well as the Malayalam movie Diamond Necklace or even as much as London Bridge, as that side is too much eclipsed by the romantic side. But one can’t disagree to the fact that some lessons might have been learned by the protagonists and there is a lot more in store.

How it finishes :: My birthday was this week, just a few days ago and my desire to watch a movie on the day was finally fulfilled with this one. Yes, I am giving a certain amount of birthday bonus to this movie, as there would have been no birthday movie for me if it wasn’t for this one. Yes, there are no better movies which released this weekend. The number of theatre going audience has gone down, but still the fact remains that they have failed to release movies like Prisoners, Oldboy, Ender’s Game, I Frankenstein and Non-stop here; when they don’t release such movies which can bring audience, and instead did come up with movies like After Earth and Mortal Instruments: City of Bones last year, there is no doubt that they don’t know what the viewers want. Then there is 300: Rise of an Empire with the most shows in a multiplex which will be abandoned by families; so this is your week, Bewakoofiyaan – hold on to it, and if you can stick to the screens and the opinions won’t go too bad, you can come out well; after all you are still better than movies like Chennai Express, Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3.

Release date: 14th March 2014
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Nupur Asthana
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Sonam Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor

Bewakoofiyaan copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.