Rurouni Kenshin

Vampire Owl: Isn’t this the second Japanese movie that we are watching?

Vampire Bat: Yes, they were mostly overshadowed by Korean and Chinese films.

Vampire Owl: The name is quite tough here.

Vampire Bat: Your soul will get used to such names.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Japan is my dream country?

Vampire Bat: Japan is everyone’s dream country.

Vampire Owl: Except for the common vampires of our times.

Vampire Bat: Are you talking about the never-ending need to go to Romania?

Vampire Owl: Yes, the holy land dedicated to Uncle Dracula, especially on Halloween.

Vampire Bat: That trend had come down since the Russia invaded its neighbouring country, Ukraine. We, vampires are supposed to stay kilometres away from any terrible war caused by human kind. We are not violent people.

[Gets a porotta roll and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: The year is 1864, and Japan is now open to foreign trade. This means that a few people seek to end the rule of Shoguns and bring back the authority of the empire, with some of the being ambitious and the others filled with ideals. They are forced to face each other, and fighting goes on only to make the situation worse in the island nation which seeks progress with trade and commerce. Himura Kenshin (Takeru Satoh) who is also known as Hitokiri Battosai serves as a political assassin to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate which would eventually lead to the Meji Restoration and the later rise of Imperial Japan, finally leading to their participation in the Second World War and fall with the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The history goes a long way, and this is more like a civil war which will begin the events which will finally lead to a detailed epoch in the Japanese history with no security or value for human life. The young man of concern here, who is a skilled fighter with swords, joins the clan of Choshu, and begins to work with Katsura Kogoro (Issey Takahashi), their leader.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: During one of the fights in which he kills all the men, a member of the opposite gang refuses to die, and despite being impaled by sword multiple times, gives the assassin a cut on his face. This has Himura clearly disturbed instead of being cold with all the killings. Katsura understands that even after so many years of killing hundreds of men, his assassin is still not comfortable with killing people, a process which he keeps repeating. He feels that the young man hasn’t really grown up yet, and remains pure at heart, which means that there is no peace at heart. He is still the best fighter that he has known in years, but that wouldn’t change the heart. When Himura had earlier joined the group in a bid to overthrow the Shoguns, he hadn’t killed anyone, but the promise that he had shown was immense, unlike anyone whom he had seen among their fighters. He would keep on wondering if the man has finally has had enough of the fights and the brutal killings.

And what can bring a change to world which has only gotten worse with the civil wars? :: Katsura feels that there is the need to find a solution, as there is the need to end this continuous war, for which he needs as many hands holding the swords with expertise. Himura is still haunted by the memories of the man who refused to die, citing the reason of love in his life. One night, he goes on to have a drink of his own, and interferes when a lone woman named Yukishiro Tomoe (Kasumi Arimura) is bothered by a group of men who demand that the woman treats them with respect, and consider them as their heroes. After leaving the tavern, he is almost attacked by two drunkards from the tavern who are killed by an assassin with a chain. He manages to kill the assassin, but finds Yukishiro who had come to thank him, drenched in the blood of assassin, and she soon faints as a result of the shock from what she had just witnessed. He takes her back to his hideout, a place for the revolutionaries. The girl who feel thankful, decides to stay, much to his surprise, as he wonders why.

The defence of Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning :: The stylish action sequences begin the film’s progress very soon. The fights with the swords remain memorable, as there seems to be so much of speed and control related to them – it is like you take your eyes away from the screen for less than a second, and still you end up missing something. You are going to find it difficult to follow the pace of the very thin and agile swords which keep moving in all directions, but you enjoy what happens around. The characters remain interesting, and there seems to be something about almost everyone out there. The performers seem to be chosen with care, and the way they come up with the action scenes makes one wonder if they are really that well trained in all of these. Takeru Satoh leads well, Kasumi Arimura does the job with integrity. The movie nicely takes the fictional world and combines it with history. The emotional side also gains strength at times. The visuals are nice, not just with the big towns, but also with the nice little villages and the small homes surrounded by nature.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel to be too violent for at least a few people who are expecting more fights on the scene with blood and gore being hidden, but this is not really that martial arts or superhero movie to go through that route. This is also a little bit too long, considering the fact that the story is very much a predictable one, with not that much of innovation added here by looking at the possibilities in history. When action becomes the first and the one great choice, the plot suffers – it is quite a natural thing as we have seen in other movies – you just can’t satisfy everyone, and then the makers would prefer to go with what the crowd would like to see here. It seems to be very much hesitant to take the risk in different areas, when the challenges were present. The romance, even though present there, feels somewhat forced, even though the performers make it work without any trouble – after all, a love affair changing people all of a sudden is a stereotype which has been used for too long that we don’t really care about that anymore; then the ending which we can feel good enough to make a guess.

How it finishes :: This is not the franchise that we are familiar with, even though people of Japan should be very much familiar with the same. It is also based upon the manga series of the same name, which means more Japanese familiarity for sure – films inspired by comics have its own space like the video-game based works of our times. The movie takes the old style sword-fighting action to the next level, within its own charming setting – there will be no shortage of such action here. This is supposed to the fifth and final installment of this particular franchise about a nineteenth century assassin. But as it is also a prequel, it serves as a stand-alone movie which can be watched first, in the middle or last, and there is the placing in history which makes things easier to understand. Historical setting serve well when used with clarity and skill. We do feel that this a usual tragic tale about friendship and love in a world of war and chaos, but as we have the same arranged really well with the setting, the idea works effectively.

Release date: 4th June 2021 (Japan); 30th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Keishi Otomo
Starring: Takeru Satoh, Kasumi Arimura, Issey Takahashi, Nijiro Murakami, Masanobu Ando, Kazuki Kitamura Yosuke Eguchi

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Security

What is the movie about? :: Roberto Santini (Marco D’Amore) is at the head of a security surveillance company, which takes care of the safety of some of the wealthiest people in the area. As the whole area is more or less like a beach resort, there are lots of tourists around, and due to its proximity to sea, there is also the possibility of having some ilegal immigrants running around, which makes the installment of security cameras rather necessary. His daughter, Angela Raffaelli Santini (Ludovica Martino) doesn’t listen to her parents. His wife Claudia Raffaelli Santini (Maya Sansa) is running for the post of mayor, and vows to make the place a safer area. But on an eventful night, a local girl, Maria Spezi (Beatrice Granno) is found with a bloody face on one of the cameras. She also seems to faint soon. The girl lands in the hospital with a dislocated shoulder, while Roberto’s marriage is not going great – their daughter, Angela is in a relationship with her much older creative writing professor, Steffano Thomassi (Silvio Muccino) who is recently divorced. Roberto is also in a relationship with Elena Ventini (Valeria Bilello), a single mother.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: As Roberto spends most of his time with the security cameras, even in the night, he rarely gets any sleep at all. Claudia is a conservative candidate, who is determined to become the first female mayor of the town, whatever it takes. Walter Spezi (Tommaso Ragno), Maria’s father is considered to be the man who was responsible for beating her up, but as she comes to her senses, she tells everyone that it was someone else, and a boy was involved. Walter is freed, but he does have a history of sexual assault and other abuses. Roberto doubts if Elena’s son Dario Ventini (Giulio Pranno) who was found drunk and driving was involved in the crime. Roberto and Claudia understand that Angela is in a relationship with an older man, and they feel that she is sleeping at his place while telling them that she was studying with her classmate (Lavinia Cafaro). Roberto tries to find out the secrets of Angela and Maria, while trying his best to keep Elena out of it, but can he really do that?

The defence of Security :: This is the fourth Italian movie on this website after Piranhas, Pinocchio and A Classic Horror Story, and my venture through the movies from Italy has only gotten more and more interesting – this movie should be a high point in that case. The thriller in this movie works smoothly, and even when slowing down, maintains its strength very well. The emotions are really strong, and there is an effective picture of individuals as well as their relationships, portrayed with efficiency around here. The visuals are nothing less than stunning, and that makes this particular beach town a place we should visit for sure. The pain, grief and regret in this movie can be felt, and at times, even seen. Marco D’Amore surely reflects the same, and it is a similar reflection that can be seen on the face of Valeria Bilello, but nothing matches the suffering of the character played by Tommaso Ragno, who seems to have no way out even at his old age. The movie is a poetry of grief set in motion, even though there is something to be relieved in the end.

Positives and negatives :: For those people who fail to get immersed in this world, this can feel slower and complicated – the attention is required. Some people might also want an exaggerated ending, but for everyone else, this feels close to reality. As the film stays close to one’s emotional with never overdoing the drama, the audience can easily go through what these character go through. Even when the movie shows that relationships are fragile, and pain and suffering becomes part of one’s life for no reason, there is always a chance for healing and redemption; but only those humans who take the right step can provide assurance about the same. The movie knows that lives can be ruined for no reason, or redeemed with care. To show the same, the movie has performers of different age groups, which serves perfectly – they let things unfold and come together in the end, and that works beautifully. There are not many movies which caught my interest like this in a long time other than the Chinese movie, The Soul, and this also serves as a reminder to me to watch more Italian movies – maybe even to visit the beautiful town of Forte dei Marmi in northern Tuscany of Italy.

The performers of the soul :: Marco D’Amore has a solid performance to his credit around here. The whole thing finds some good time resting on his capable shoulders. He goes through the whole situation in a very much believable as well as emotional manner, as the less celebrated hero whom the small town has always deserved. He plays a hardworking commoner whom we can recognize as our own. Even though not forced to go after truth, he becomes the truth seeker. Valeria Bilello and Maya Sansa plays the two women in the life of the main character. The former is the symbol of the protagonist’s future while the latter belongs to his past. Maya Sansa who plays his wife as part of a marriage which is breaking apart, depicts the ambitious and adamant lady well enough to leave an impression. She is the kind of lady who would do anything to reach the top of the food chain, no matter what loss she has to suffer in the process. The two makes the not-so-suitable marriage seem to work to the outside world, but it is evident that they are not even trying in reality. They do have a number of intense and emotional moments together.

Further performers of the soul :: Valeria Bilello has a perfect act performed here, as the struggling mother with two children, one of whom not liking or listening to her, and the other one not able to live without her being around him. She might also be playing the one character with whom we will be connecting with a lot of empathy, but is still left with less screen time in comparison to others. She seems to be the main character’s future, and has close and intimate moments with him – the protagonist is also very much serious with her. Ludovica Martino who plays the daughter, is the one girl who keeps feeling that she has been wronged by everyone, a job well reflected in her performance. It can be seen that her acts of rebellion means something in the end too. Beatrice Granno plays the girl wronged here, and she displays the pain that she always had to go through, really well, even though she could have been given chance for more. Silvio Muccino and Fabrizio Bentivoglio plays the roles with negative shades effectively. Tommaso Ragno is memorable at the man who is always in trouble, and wronged regularly.

How it finishes :: There are not many movies which serve as a perfect package like this one – you won’t be missing much with this film, and there is not much to complaint about it. Whatever you expect from a movie like this, can be seen here, worked out efficiently. An emotional adventure of a thriller with suspense and twists on one side has further reflections on the drama of humanity which it also has running. This is not that much of a well-known movie, and I was also not expecting this to be that good; but it serves something grand, which means that we have a film of quality here. There are so many characters with which you can relate, especially with grief and remorse like in the Spanish film Adios – we also see a lot of things happening with the characters, and none of them are exaggerated or beyond our grasp. As this tale unfolds with beautiful people in an even more beautiful landscape, you are always immersed in this one, no matter how much the pace changes. This is the kind of movie which Hollywood should also try, with all those ingredients including the special one.

Release date: 16th June 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Peter Chelsom
Starring: Marco D’Amore, Valeria Bilello, Maya Sansa, Ludovica Martino, Beatrice Granno, Silvio Muccino, Tomasso Ragno, Giulio Pranno, Anna Della Rosa, Antonio Zavatteri, Lavinia Cafaro, Gaia Bavaro, Doris Von Thury

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Red Dot

Vampire Owl: It is nice to have a Swedish movie on the list too, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, we only have Norwegian from Scandinavia until now.

Vampire Owl: Well, Netflix knows how to choose the right movies.

Vampire Bat: We have known that the best with Minnal Murali premiering there.

Vampire Owl: So many interesting movies in foreign languages too.

Vampire Bat: Those are the kind of collections which Amazon Prime Video should have too.

Vampire Owl: They could always have more of those lesser known foreign movies.

Vampire Bat: Scandinavia is a fine area to build a castle right now.

Vampire Owl: There should be our kind already in existence there.

Vampire Bat: Why don’t you take a trip there and find out?

[Gets a sweet puffs and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: David (Anastasios Soulis) proposes to his girlfriend, Nadja (Nanna Blondell) in public on the day of their graduation at the university. She accepts it gladly, even though the proposal turns out to be very much awkward, despite having a certain amount of cuteness related to it. They make a promise that they will always be together, no matter what happens. But one year and half later, due to the need to study and work at the same time, they are no longer happy at their apartment in Stockholm, the busy capital of Sweden. Soon, she finds out that she is also pregnant, and she is not sure if they should be parents, as she is studying to become a doctor – this would not be helpful for her future either. She feels that if she has a child any time soon, she will end up being a housewife taking care of the kid, as David is working all the time. Despite being assured by their neighbour that they will be great parents, she doesn’t inform David about the pregnancy, and decides to keep it a secret as long as possible.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: David arranges a trip to the northern lights so that they can have some happy time together. This is also the one tour which they are having after a very long time. On the way, they meet two locals, Jarmo (Kalled Mustonen) and Rolle (Tomas Bergstrom) at the gas station, but are comfortable with their presence and their strange dialogues about the dog and the lady. While leaving too soon, David’s car also leaves a scratch on the pick-up truck of the locals, but they go on moving without saying anything about it. Einar (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) seems to be the only person who is friendly to them, as he runs the inn where they are supposed to stay. He says that the people there are not used to seeing interracial couples. Nadja soon finds their car scratched, also leaving few racists words, which makes her angry enough to leave a scratch on the truck of the locals which they earlier encounter, as she is sure that they are the ones who did it. But the two locals seem to be much surprised by the same.

And what awaits them with the northern lights in the wilderness? :: David feels strange about the actions of Nadja, but she feels that this is how one should deal with racists. After a long drive, they finally reach an area beneath the northern lights, and it gets really cold. There, she reveals to him that she is pregnant, and that makes him very much nervous, as he is not sure what is to be done next. But their conversation about it is soon interrupted by a red dot on the wall of their tent, which keeps moving. They first feel that it is a prank done by some local kids with a laser pointer. But with a jolt, they soon understand that it is a laser view from a gun, as they are shot at. Nadja is sure that it is the brothers who are attacking them in revenge for her action, and David remembers that he had seen a weapon in their truck. Their dog which tries to find the attackers, is killed and as they return to the camp after searching for it, finds its head, a trap, and their belongings including the mobile phone missing. With the snow coming down slowly, they have to somehow make it out of there, but can they? Is there hope within so much of cold?

The defence of Red Dot :: The movie uses its landscape to its advantage, and the locations here are all beautiful enough. Whether it is the beauty of nature or the terror of it, we have things going well. Scandinavia is the area which almost everyone wishes to wish to visit, and maybe spend most of the life – I would have done that if there was the opportunity, and there is no shortage of such motivation with the world for eyes within this film too. It also has some interesting twists in the last few moments of the film, and also leaves a message that many things are lost as people just randomly points a few actions as a result of racism, often because it seems to be the easiest thing to do, along with adding things as misogyny or part of religious beliefs – sometimes, things are just personal to the core, and nothing more than that. As the movie is less than one and half hours long, things don’t get dragged or slow down at any point of time. There is no loss of pace at any moment, and it takes the deviation from the usual well enough, but never turning to melodrama even when it could have used the chance.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have achieved more with a couple being hunted in the snow, with no hope seemingly around. It also seems that none of the characters are likable, with a mostly irresponsible couple, and the lady seemingly attributing most things to racism, and randomly blame the mentality. The snow as well as the red dots could have been used more, and there could have more twists over the incidents. There are times when the movie seems to be unwilling to take the risk with most of the things. The romantic side is often forced rather than having any intimate or lovable side to the same. When thinking about Vikings from Denmark, Norway and Sweden, we are always expecting an intense ride with the movies from there, even with the realization that it is not that age any more. There were so many moments for some horror to be added here and there, and this could have transcended the genres with ease. Some more red blood on white ice along with some shocks added here and there would be been worthy enough – more action too.

How it finishes :: The movie has the strength throughout its run, thanks to the performances which are appreciable – there are only a few characters of significance in this movie, and they had to do well, which does happen around here. With people being hunted, this would feel like Wrong Turn in the snow at some point of time, but that idea is lifted during the last few moments of the film. Maybe, we could also have a similar movie shot during the corona virus times, hunted in the lockdown, with nobody around to help. At least, the viral pandemic did provide us with opportunity to watch movies like this one on the OTT platforms. It is always better to have them on the laptop screen, as you can also type on another laptop at the same time. I would also like not to know how much the popcorns, puffs and tea would cost in a multiplex after the lockdowns. Yet, we all know that the rise in petrol price won’t serve the purpose at all, and hope is only with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar, Sony LIV, Manorama MAX and others.

Release date: 11th February 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 85 minutes
Directed by: Alain Darborg
Starring: Johannes Kuhnke, Nanna Blondell, Anastasios Soulis, Kalled Mustonen, Tomas Bergstrom

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Antakshari

Vampire Owl: This reminds us of the great game that we had in the castle.

Vampire Bat: The human game was indeed interesting.

Vampire Owl: Yet, humans play more of the evil games.

Vampire Bat: It is just a part of their evil nature.

Vampire Owl: Evil is part of their nature more than ever these days.

Vampire Bat: Can you guess how many evil humans are in this movie?

Vampire Owl: I am guessing that at least ninety five percent of them will be evil.

Vampire Bat: It is not really a big percentage for any group of humans.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has determined it be as high as ninety nine most of the time.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that this has anything to do with Mr Frankenstein and his fake experiments of no meaning.

[Gets a chicken samosa and three cups of orange tea].

What is the movie about? :: Circle Inspector Das (Saiju Kurup) is the officer in charge of a police station in the remote area of a hilly terrain, where Srinivas (Sudhi Koppa) joins as a probationary officer while hoping to solve a big case as soon as possible. Das gets into a fight with Vasudevan (Vijay Babu), who is a local leader of a prominent party, and also has multiple business interests. On the very next day, Das’ daughter is almost strangled to death by a man wearing a paper mask, saved only because of his wife Chitra (Priyanka Nair) noticing it at the right time. Despite threatening Das and his family before, Vasudevan denies any kind of involvement in the act, affirming that his problems are solved face to face, and there will be no hiding. Das has the habit of playing antakshari where each person sings a song, and the next person begins with the letter on which the previous person’s song ended. On the day on which his daughter was attacked, he had also received a call from an unknown number asking him to sing a song, or his daughter will be singing instead.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Their senior officer Jayachandran (Binu Pappu) and the local head constable Hariharan (Kottayam Ramesh) are not really fond of Das, as they are on the side of Vasudevan, and do not want him to solve too mysterious a case. He also comes against a strange, mute girl named Nayana (Ishita Singh) who has come to her grandparents’ home from Delhi. There is something about her, as she also seems to be hiding some secrets which nobody would want to know. Das and Srinivas slowly, but effectively connects the dots and finds out that similar murders have happened before, but police had closed the cases. Some of those murders were also considered to be accidents, and the deaths of the fathers after the murders of their children were considered to be accidents or suicides as a result of alcoholism and depression. The two officers end up finding a chain of events which lead a long way back, but will they be able to find the person behind it in time or is there another murder on the path?

The defence of Antakshari :: The movie has a police officer who is rather ordinary, and it has his struggles in finding the psychotic murderer, who is really that crazy as in Forensic, and very unlike the non-psychotic revenge seeker in Anjaam Pathira. The cop doesn’t have that much of a flaw as the protagonist of Memories, but is very much relatable with a usual kind of family and personal problems. The movie is shot nicely, and with some fine performances, leaves scope for a possible sequel – despite the low chances, we hope that such an attempt is made; there are also other similar trials of investigation which can be combined with this one to create a shared universe. Such a sequel can also talk about those elements of this movie which seems lost, and maybe, it can be a serial killer universe instead of a cop universe. This is the kind of movie which Bollywood would use to make a super-cop, but thankfully, we don’t leave it in their hands. The movie doesn’t take the predictable path either, as there seems to be the possibility of fun discovered in taking the road less taken, on the lines of Robert Frost.

The claws of flaw :: Antakshari is quite slow in its progression, and there are characters who don’t really play much of a role in moving the tale forward. A few things also go without explanations. The whole saga of one family with an abusive father, frustrated mother, music-playing son and cat-loving daughter facing a mysterious girl don’t fit in here at all – neither do the broken guitar and dead cat. This is that kind of a family which could have been there for namesake, but so much of time is wasted on them. If a red herring was intended, that should have been a part of the storyline – there was another villain out there who could have served the same. The young engineering student who is in love with a mysterious mute girl makes no sense, even if the vampires were to turn cent percent vegetarian. Without these moments, the movie could have been shorter, and the pacing could have surely been better. This one lets the lost moments go lost rather than get it back and link them. There were so many paths that this film could have taken, that is for sure.

The performers of the soul :: Saiju Kurup shines really well as the police inspector who has this investigation on a personal level rather than anything else, like Joju George of Joseph. He has been one actor who didn’t get enough opportunities to lead, but this is one chance which he holds on to. He is someone who suits this kind of a police officer really well. Sudhi Koppa plays the role of the supporting officer well, and it is also not a role he is stranger to. He is another performer whom we need to see very often, as there seems to be a lot of requirements for quality actors rather than entertainers. Binu Pappu doesn’t have that good and understanding police officer role here, but does this shade with ease. Priyanka Nair who did have some fine roles years ago has another one to remember here. Among all the roles being performed here, Ishita Singh’s role remains the one which doesn’t seem to give us any idea of its purpose of existence – feels like an absurd side around here, even though she suits the character. The rest of the characters mostly just have to play along here, but more notable are the woman and child from the flashback. Vijay Babu has a small role.

How it finishes :: Like Salute, Antakshari is another movie which doesn’t depend on the foolish mass masala to go through investigations by police officers. It is very good and effective because it doesn’t cater to those brainless fans who visit the theatres and get a movie crores of business while losing all their money to petrol, parking fees, highly expensive food and others. This movie is for the others, who look out for the new releases on OTT platforms, as the Corona virus pandemic has shown us that it is indeed the right thing to do. Well, you have the choice not to go to the theatre and watch those foolish dance and music to which insanity is unleashed in between a story – I would call for the lack of the same every time. The mass masala genre itself is a fake thing created for the superstars and their children to call their fans to the theatres and by creating the fake vibes, they make the rest of the audience feel that the movie is fantastic – lets see how long these star kids who fly around beating people and doing dumb romance will go. After that, you can come back to good movies like this one.

Release date: 22nd April 2022 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Vipin Das
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Priyanka Nair, Sudhi Koppa, Vijay Babu, Binu Pappu, Thomas Kunnampuzha, Shabareesh Varma, Sruthy Suresh, Kottayam Ramesh, Boban Samuel, Sandeep Pradeep, Ishita Singh

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Snake Eyes

Vampire Owl: I remember a time when all vampires played with GI Joe toys.

Vampire Bat: Well, that was a very short period of time.

Vampire Owl: Yet, those were some wonderful days.

Vampire Bat: If I remember correctly, those were nights. When we were awake.

Vampire Owl: Both days and nights belonged to games.

Vampire Bat: You mean to include computer games too.

Vampire Owl: Yes, that would make this a very long list.

Vampire Bat: I would start with Age of Empires and Age of Wonders for that.

Vampire Owl: Yet, there was no game like Unreal Tournament 99.

Vampire Bat: Only to be permanently addicted to Mass Effect later.

[Gets a milk peda and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young boy witnesses his father being murdered by a group of armed people, after their leader determines his fate by rolling a dice. Many years later, he has grown up to a skilled martial arts fighter Snake Eyes (Henry Golding). As he keeps winning all the fights and changing cities, a rich Yakuza boss named Kenta Takamura (Takehiro Hira) disovers him in a fighting arena in Los Angeles. Even though he doesn’t like the offer in the beginning, the idea of being able to find the people who killed his father makes him interested. But when he is asked to murder Tommy (Andrew Koji), who despite being Kenta’s cousin, had broken trust, he refuses, and even helps him to escape. Both Tommy and Kenta were next line to become leader of their clan, and the latter tried to have the former killed. Kenta’s plan was discovered before it could materialize, and Tommy had him banished. As Snake Eyes cannot go back to Los Angeles as he would be hunted by the Yakuza, he is taken to Tokyo instead.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Tommy who feels that he owes a blood debt to Snake Eyes, takes him to his ninja world. Sen (Eri Ishida), Tommy’s grandmother who leads the ninja clan agrees to let him join the group under some conditions, even though the head of secutiy, Akiko (Haruka Abe) is not fond of anyone from outside joining them, as it would be an unusual practice. He is supposed to go through three challenges, first two challenges to cleanse him of ego, anger and fear, and get him ready for the third one. Tommy also lets him know that failure means death. He will only has a few days to train for the same. With no recorded history about him and being known only by a strange alias, Akiko continues to doubt him. But she is still confident that Snake Eyes will fail the first test itself, as at least eighty percent of them fail every time. Tommy feels confident that Snake Eyes will be among the passing twenty percent, but there is certainly more than one twist to it.

The defence of Snake Eyes :: There is a lot of fighting going on in this tale inspired from a toy line, and the reboot has started off pretty well with hope for something big to be seen in a sequel with so many characters to come. Four of the most interesting characters, Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Baroness have been introduced, and we can keep hoping for more. The sword fights show a certain amount of quality here, and it is not all that we see here, as we have something more in an year which provided us with Mortal Kombat. The final battle is a big one, and it has everyone going after one another. The location of the ninjas is nicely chosen too. Well, one always feel happy about watching Japan on the screen – Tokyo is nothing less than a dream city. When you look at origin stories, starting with the tale of the two ninjas seem to be the right choice, especially as the earlier movies didn’t focus enough on the two. From this beginning, the movie seems to assert that it won’t go the Transformers way, bringing more confusion as the film franchise progresses.

The claws of flaw :: Even with its twists, there is a certain amount of predictability associated with it. The hero here is the one whom we wish to have on the side of the Cobra though, as Storm Shadow is hundred percent a better person of quality than Snake Eyes by any means – it is how things are shown here. We would have wished for Snake Eyes to stay in the Cobra even as the toy storyline states otherwise. Well, just one person is responsible for all these, and he seems to be the good guy in the end. A better introduction for the characters of GI Joe and Cobra would have been better – just having Scarlett and Baroness is not good enough, and the two ninja brothers have only started. Cobra could have actually had a better job to do here too. The idea of vengeance could have been portrayed better, and instead this one seems to go here and there, not sticking to a particular plan, just like the main character himself who seems to be the most clueless one. Maybe, he intends to set things right with a sequel if there is one.

The performers of the soul :: The two leading actors, Henry Golding and Andred Koji seems to be perfectly suited for the roles, and they seem to go on with the action sequences with relative ease, especially the latter who seems to blend in from the beginning itself. Rachel Nichols who played Scarlett has been replaced by Samara Weaving, and it does seem to be a nice change – there is still only a little to be done for her here, even though she gets some of the action. Sienna Miller has been replaced by Ursula Corbero, and let us hope that this time the story won’t have the dumn romance angle, and what was ridiculous about the character played by Sienna won’t be repeated here – Ursula does make a fine entry here, and there is some nice action for her too. Haruka Abe nicely blends into her role of the security in charge of the ninjas, while Takehiro Hira has his interesting moments as the antagonist. The two masters played by Iko Uwais and Peter Mensah remains interesting too. Along with the same, Eri Ishida as the grandmother comes as a surprise package in the action scenes too.

How it finishes :: It seems that this movie will serve as a new beginning, with the origins stories coming one’s way. The earlier movies of GI Joe were entertaining for sure, but it never really used the strengths to the best advantage, and there was even some strange romantic sides to them. This movie could serve as a better beginning for a franchise reminding us of all the toys that we had during our childhood – I still have them in the showcase of the house. Well, there are not many movies which can bring such a nostalgia from figures – actually, there is no other which I can remember. In that case, this film would serve nicely to bring more into the series. Let us hope that this new coming won’t be confused as the earlier journey with the toys. But as this is based on toys, we can only hope for the best, not for it to haunt us. Until then, let us be prepared by watching this movie on Amazon Prime Video in advance. You always have space for movies like these, at least as the big entertainers full of action and style.

Release date: 22nd July 2021
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Ursula Corbero, Samara Weaving, Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira, Iko Uwais

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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.

The Power

Vampire Owl: It is the time to test our powers, right?

Vampire Bat: There is no need to test any power right now.

Vampire Owl: All powers need to be tested. We haven’t used them for some time.

Vampire Bat: The powers belong to all of us, forever. We don’t need to keep testing them.

Vampire Owl: These are basically skills. They weaken without practice.

Vampire Bat: Frankenstein needs to go through practicing skills, not us.

Vampire Owl: You mean to see that we have the powers like humans have lies.

Vampire Bat: Yes, lies are their superpowers, and we have ours.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that we can have any stronger power than that.

Vampire Bat: Well, lies are immortal, but no human likes to hear the truth. Not even Mr Frankenstein in human form.

[Gets a masala bonda and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: The story takes place in East London in the year 1974. Trade unions and the government are now against each other as the economy is in crisis. Blackouts have been ordered to conserve power, leading to long time periods of darkness every night. Valerie (Rose Williams) is a young nurse who is supposed to work through the night on some day. She is also someone who loves being part of pediatrics. She used to be an orphan, and hopes that she can make a difference among the people in the poor community of the area. But as the matron finds her talking to a doctor against her advice on the first day itself, she puts her on night duty earlier than she is supposed to be. She is left in charge of the intensive care ward, and is asked to stay there at all times, as the whole place will be dark. But the power seems to go off rather too early, and she is left in the middle of nowhere, as she tries to get back to her level and ward.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: She has no idea about how to get to her assigned level, but is helped by the nurses of the only other ward which is working at night. Barbara (Emma Catherine Rigby) is the only other person who is in the ward, and she happens to be an old acquaintance. She is also not happy about being in the hospital, as she hopes to get married to someone rich, maybe a doctor. Soon, the generator which just manages to provide the minimum lights to the room goes out, and Barbara goes out to check, leaving Valerie behind with a candle. Soon, Valerie begins to have some strange visions, and even feels being pulled from behind. She needs to get some medical charts, but it is darkness everywhere. There is also a girl around there who hasn’t left with the other patients too. Is there some secret about the place that needs to be dealt with? Is there something supernatural about it which cannot be stopped? What could be hiding in the darkness and awaiting an opportunity?

The defence of The Power :: The movie attempts to depend the most on the atmosphere – the settings elevates the film all the time. The situation seems to favour the horror genre from the beginning to the end. The year of everything happening around here, and the historical background also seem to be things of interest. There is the feeling of danger present at all times, thanks to the visuals contributing so well here. The same also adds to a feeling of antiquity around here, as we are transported to that past successfully. It is more or less like a walk through a hospital museum. The horror is somewhat working, mostly due to the darkness and unpredictability rather than anything else. There is nothing clearly visible around here to bring the horror, and the uncertainty does work, even though we do end up asking for more. The movie also seems to move towards some message, even though that is not really achieved in the end.

The claws of flaw :: The movie mostly remains slow, even though there were so many opportunities to raise its level, and bring something special in between to speed up the pace here. When a horror movie which is only one and half hours long feels long, it means that there was the need for something to be done in between. A number of areas feel complex, and the explanations often feel strange. It seems to have more with the way this story is told, and the mystery is being built. The synopsis seems to have had more to offer in comparison to what we have here. How many demons could have been used here, and in what all means? The scope was endless in this atmosphere, and with this scope. But what we have here is half-baked in nature. The route to the ending is also nicely built, but we see that in the end, that is not strong enough. It needed to live up to the title of the film, but we see that there is a certain struggle regarding that too, with the movie not being strong enough with enough power.

The performers of the soul :: The movie depends a lot on Rose Williams to come up with a deep performance. With spirits around and possession also coming up, there is a lot more to be added around here. Even as she does so well, the movie is the one that lets her down with its inability to make her seem that good as she really is. She has more power than the movie itself, and would shine in another horror movie as the scream queen even more. In this particular movie, we are often confused about what her character is really about, and what she is actually trying to achieve. Emma Catherine Rigby doesn’t have that much to do around here, and she has to quickly disappear without making an impact, which we did feel that she would make. One would have expected more from her though. Diveen Henry has quite a strong presence in between, even though it is not there for too long. Charlie Carrick also has a smooth role, but it is also small enough. Shakira Rahman as Saba is also notable enough, and she also has her moments.

How it finishes :: The title, The Power might feel a little bit confusing with another movie releasing with the same name, in the same year. It is also a movie which could have done a lot more with its premise. What is required was more power rather than anything else, along with better focus. During these days, making an interesting horror movie requires more than just one spirit and an environment for it to thrive. Innovation has been a basic requirement for any horror film without a grand cast or lots of budget, and this one also required to keep that in mind for longer. This also makes one wonder why Amazon Prime Video is not acquiring quality horror movies like Netflix has been doing. It shouldn’t always be about Madres, The Manor and Black as Night. We all prefer Prime as there are multiple advantages to it, but there are so many movies from last year which Amazon can get into its bag. Let us hope that a good number of them will be of horror or thriller genre, and raise the bar.

Release date: 8th April 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Corinna Faith
Starring: Rose Williams, Marley Chesham, Diveen Henry, Mark Smith, Amy Beth Heyes, Emma Catherine Rigby, Maria Major, Paul Antony-Barber, Nuala McGowan, Robert Goodman, Sarah Hoare, Anjelica Serra, Charlie Carrick, Shakira Rahman, Joe Haddow, John Mackay, Gbemisola Ikumelo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Things Heard and Seen

Vampire Owl: I have seen and heard many things.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we have to see and hear a lot these days.

Vampire Owl: I have seen and listened to more specific things.

Vampire Bat: We, vampires are supposed to have a shared vision too.

Vampire Owl: Well, we are now in an age of respect for privacy.

Vampire Bat: You have a lot of privacy within the coffin.

Vampire Owl: It is just undead privacy. That won’t count.

Vampire Bat: Why do you require so much of privacy these days after sleeping in cemetery for most of your life?

Vampire Owl: The world has changed, even though we haven’t.

Vampire Bat: And you want to change against all vampire traditions.

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

What is the movie about? :: It is the year 1979, and Catherine Claire (Amanda Seyfried), an art restorer, lives in Manhattan with her husband George Claire (James Norton) and daughter. When George gets the job of teaching art history at a college, the family is forced to move into a huge farmhouse in the countryside of New York. The house seems to be really old, belonging to the 1800s, and is a big house, which is available at a small price. As an art restorer, Catherine instantly falls in love with the place, and it also has a piano which seems to have been abandoned for a long time. The child is first one to be scared in the house, even though the parents are more interested in the beauty of the place as well as the low cost. George is happy to be in the new college campus, but Catherine feels isolated in the house. Catherine employs brothers Eddie Vayle (Alex Neustaedter) and Cole Vayle (Jack Gore) from nearby to take care of the house, while she remains obsessed about her gaining weight, and eats very less.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Catherine finds the family tree of people who were living in the house before. She also comes actoss an antique ring, which she starts wearing. Their daughter continues to wish to sleep with her parents. Catherine goes to the Historical Society, and tells them that she wishes to volunteer for their programmes, as she is new to the town, and loves to meet the people around. There, she finds the old photos of the house, and of the people who had originally built the house. George meets Eddie’s cousin sister Willis Howell (Natalia Dyer) in a library, and they start an affair. He is also quite popular in the college too, despite giving up fine arts to focus on the theory. Catherine become friends with George’s colleague Justine Sokolov (Rhea Seehorn), while George remains close to the department head Floyd DeBeers (F Murray Abraham). Their daughter keeps telling them that she had seen a lady in her room, and Catherine has the eerie feeling, but George dismisses both of them, but for how long?

The defence of Things Heard and Seen :: The movie can boast about a beautiful as well as eerie setting which is present throughout its run. A number of paintings from the Hudson River School, a mid nineteenth century American art movement influenced by Romanticism, can be seen here throughout the movie, and the beautiful paintings often reflects different parts of the setting in movie itself. As they nicely depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, we also wonder if there could be a similar movie about British Romanticism, reflecting what the Lake Poets of the time had penned down. The focus on relationships do happen, and the emotional as well as dramatic side is strong, even though overdone at times, with some moments not really making that much sense related to the situations. The performances are of top quality, and the twists are very much effective – there are many of them, as we look around. You have to love how things come together in the end here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does feel a little long, as it takes some time to keep things going forward. It seems to be on a struggle to establish everything right at the beginning, and later, the struggle makes way for the lack of pace, and then there is another struggle to end things. It shows so much promise in between, and then it just misses out on the whole thing. There are lots of slow moments in between, and speeding up or removing the same would have made this film no longer than one and a quarter hours instead of the two hours length which seems rather too much. It seems that it has also kept the elements of horror to the minimum, and the focus is shifted to drama instead. The movie is basically categorized as horror, but it is more of drama and mystery – the chances to have some terrifying sequences in this atmosphere have not been taken, and it is a shame that despite finding so many opportunities, they have let it go. The idea is really good, and they haven’t really used it to the best effect.

The performers of the soul :: I have loved most of the early movies of Amanda Seyfried, and she shines in this one too, even though there is the feeling of being a little tired. This still won’t be among my favourite performances or movies of her, but with the focus on her, she maintains the character with all characteristics, without failing at any point. The work of James Norton is solid, and the realization of the true nature in him comes through stages – a character with many faces, but is much lovable at all places. You will also notice how Natalia Dyer comes in, does a fine job in the few minutes when she is there. Alex Neustaedter also blends in to the role really well, and so does Jack Gore who plays his brother. Rhea Seehorn comes with a nice performance in a role which has more than what it seemed in the early stages of the movie. One can say the same about F Murray Abraham who also has more to contribute than we would think. Emily Dorsch’s ghostly appearance doesn’t get what it deserves – no spirit in this movie gets what was deserved.

How it finishes :: Things Heard and Seen is a slow moving drama and mystery film with horror taking the backseat as if it is terrified of the dramatic elements. But it still works with some fine twists, and there are the surprises which were not thought about before. The final few moments take the thrilling path, and there are also some symbolic moments to go with them here. The title would also seem to make perfect sense as the movie reaches the final stages, and big revelations are made. It doesn’t go through the path of usual horror movies due to the mixing of genre, and therefore, we have no need to expect The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, Insidious, Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil, The Curse of La Llorna, or anything like that which brings some direct horror with the evil sprits. This movie is certainly not about that kind of horror. This one just flows slowly with the drama, as mysteries are revealed, and finally ends with the twists in a thrilling few moments. You can watch this particular movie only with this type of expectations.

Release date: 29th April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton, Natalia Dyer, Rhea Seehorn, Karen Allen, Alex Neustaedter, Jack Gore, F Murray Abraham, Michael O’Keefe, Emily Dorsch, James Urbaniak

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bhoothakaalam

Vampire Owl: So, the title could mean the days of the past as well as the days of the ghost.

Vampire Bat: It is a nice play on the words being used here.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Malayalam movie industry can have good horror anymore?

Vampire Bat: Well, horror is the only reality of life. So, it is always possible.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the realistic tendencies of the industry can help.

Vampire Bat: Yes, what is life, but a collection of horror of reality?

Vampire Owl: I can’t disagree. I once heard the story of the devil finding the burning hell as a better place to live in comparison to Earth.

Vampire Bat: Well, you know what humans are capable of. They have already made their world a place worse than hell.

Vampire Owl: So, who are the real monsters?

Vampire Bat: Humans are the real monsters, from the day of birth itself. You should see how they torment their own people.

[Gets a chicken biriyani and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: Vinu (Shane Nigam) is a D.Pharm graduate who is living with his mother, Asha (Revathy) in what seems to have been a very unhappy household since the death of Vinu’s father post leaving a lot of money to be paid back for the loans which were taken. His grandmother dies after living most of her life on the bed after a terrible stroke which she barely survived, and the life of mother and son which was full of negativity only gets worse after the demise. Vinu has been looking for a job for a long time, but as he is focusing on getting some work in his field, and is also trying to keep the search close to home, he is not really able to make any progress with that. Depression seems to come naturally to him, as well as his mother, who is a school teacher for small children. Asha is also hesitant to send him anywhere distant, especially to go for a job which is not directly related to the course which he studied. She also temporarily losses her job, as she ends up hitting a child accidently.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The mother and the son continues to have arguments over the past, present and future, as Vinu decides to find a job outside Kerala or even India at some hotels where his friends are working. Asha finds him as a rather useless person, as she originally wanted him to study MBBS, and they had spent a lot of money related to that too. But soon, things get worse, as Vinu feels that he was locked within a room by his dead grandmother, who moves around in the wheel chair. Asha feels that he needs counselling, but he doesn’t agree. George (Saiju Kurup) who runs a counselling centre comes home to help him, but Vinu is not happy about it at all, as he feels that he is being marked as an alcoholic and drug addict. George also feels that the sleeplessness might also be a reason, along with the mental problems which runs within the family. Vinu is in love with Priya (Athira Patel), but has stopped returning her calls, as he does almost nothing, while staying in his room, or in front of the television. But he continues to see and feel things – can this mean something else?

The defence of Bhoothakaalam :: Starting off as a movie which seems to have characters with some mental problems related to trauma, it smoothly enters the horror mode after some time. With many options being left behind, one can make different guesses about what actually happened. The minimum elements are used effectively, and the atmosphere of the house also brings a certain amount nostalgia – like our old houses which had mosaic on the floor along with some old style furniture as well as spaces on the wall. The darkness and shadows are pretty much effective in bringing the scares, and there is much to be felt about the possible presence in the house – they contribute to reaching a point where the title can be justified. The emotional side is also very much working, and there is much of the feelings going through here. Even with all the terror coming from outside, there is also the presence of the depressing past related to regret which continues to haunt everyone – the memories can be disorienting enough, as we move forward through a world of chaotic mind here too.

The claws of flaw :: Bhoothakaalam often restricts itself in the use of horror, except for the finally fifteen to twenty minutes when the film is finally allowed to unleash itself, bringing all the elements which it had in store, but didn’t use early enough. It does take its own time, and one feels that it is moving too slowly during that period of time. There are movies which slowly gets stronger, like Come Play, In Fear and It Follows, and one might feel that this might not feel that new with the early slow movement. The mind could have been given better focus, and the presence in the house could have also been better explained, thus leading to a better final finish. It is surely not that scary as some people seem to talk about it – there is something to be frightened about, but not that much as what the reviews exaggerate here, for only those who haven’t watched Hollywood horror movies at all can be that scared about it. After all, these are not the days when people are scared of ghosts that much, because humans have proven themselves to be more evil, each and every time. Ghosts have to be a special kind of scary to rise about human demonic acts.

The performers of the soul :: Shane Nigam continues his work more out of Kumbalangi Nights rather than the other movies, as he once again plays a similar youth who doesn’t really have a job for a multitude of reason, even though he is better educated this time. Revathy’s work continues to be a thing of quality, as he plays a mother role with a difference. There are moments which rises above the natural so well. James Eliya seems to be the man with logic, and has his moments of advice. Jilu Joseph has a small presence as a psychiatrist, as it is Saiju Kurup who deals with the counselling more, and even finds out a few secrets about the house – one would have loved to see more actions being taken by him here. Manju Pathrose plays the usual nosy neighbour, a role which is quite short. Valsala Menon played the grandmother, and that was the role which also lasted for only a few minutes as the movie continues to focus on the mother-son duo for almost all the time. Athira Patel is more or less the Mamitha Baiju of Operation Java coming in here as the seemingly forced love affair which in this case doesn’t reach anywhere in comparison.

How it finishes :: When we think about ghosts and past, the first movie which comes to our mind is Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, a Gothic romance horror which was not watched by that many people in this part of the world. But the past that haunts this movie is more or less related a good number of other horror movies, with one haunted house as well as a psychological side, both complimenting each other, sometimes from a distance, and at times, getting close enough and going through one another in style. Bhoothakaalam doesn’t hesitate to combine its elements, and then come up with the defining moments in the final stages of the film. This is surely a good deviation from the usual horror movies that we have in the Malayalam movie industry, and just like some of the other Sony LIV movies which released in the last few months, like Madhuram and Kaanekaane, this one also has a strong emotional side to go with. Well, you can also have some interesting horror with relationships running emotional in the background, for the ghosts are better and truer with their emotions than the fake humans.

Release date: 21st January 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Sadasivan
Starring: Shane Nigam, Revathy, Athira Patel, Saiju Kurup, Manju Pathrose, James Eliya, Jilu Joseph, Valsala Menon

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Whole Truth

Vampire Owl: There is a lot of talk about truth going on around here.

Vampire Bat: It is something that humans never try to speak.

Vampire Owl: Humans haven’t been close to truth for a long time.

Vampire Bat: Truth just doesn’t suit them. They are basically liars. You cannot blame them for going back to their basic nature.

Vampire Owl: Their basic nature is related to robbery and murder.

Vampire Bat: It is really difficult to talk about human nature. They are pure evil.

Vampire Owl: Yes, which is why many witches travel to their world and try to kill a few of them or transform them into better creatures like cats and dogs.

Vampire Bat: It is the same reason why we don’t have Vampire Cats anymore.

Vampire Owl: Human existence has no real meaning related to anything other than evil.

Vampire Bat: If Corona virus makes them go extinct, it can be called a pure evil thing.

[Gets a marble cake and three glasses of mango shake].

What is the movie about? :: Mai (Nicole Theriault) is living happily with her two children, Pim (Sutatta Udomsilp) and Putt (Mac Nattapat Nimjirawat) in the city of Bangkok, until she meets with an accident on her way back home from office, on the same day that she received a promotion at her office. She is now in a coma, and even though out of critical situation, has to stay in the ICU. It is then that their grandparents come to visit them – Phong (Sompob Benjathikul) and Wan (Tarika Tidatid) takes them to their ancestral home. The house is quite a large one, and Phong says that Wan is not really well, and due to her dementia, she also needs some taking care of. At the same time, Mai has some severe injury to her brain, and it will take some time for her to get better. Until then, the two siblings will have to stay in their ancestral home, even though they are not really comfortable about it. They take everything from home, and place them at the new place, as they feel that they are for a very long time. But this doesn’t seem that good a place for them.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, the cat which they brought there from the original home is no longer found. They are also able to find a hole on the wall, which the grandparents don’t find to be present. They blame the children for making up things which are not there, and advises them to stop looking for cats. There is something going on in the house, and it feels really strange for the siblings. When Putt looks through the hole, he sees a strange girl on the other side, and it does seem like a strange house on the other side there. At the same time, Fame (Sadanont Durongkaweroj), a boy who studies with Pim, comes to the house and warns them about leaking a video of her showering in the gym. He is also not able to see the hole on the wall either, but is pulled to the wall, hurting his nose. He leaves the place with a broken nose, telling Pim that he will leak her naked video on the internet. As the grandmother reaches home, she sees the blood on the floor and losses her mind for a few minutes. Pim and Putt understand that things can get only worse from there, as there are some secrets out there.

The defence of The Whole Truth :: Even though this particular movie is from Thailand, there is the feeling of watching a Korean film – that kind of quality is here with the visuals. It also gets into action quite fast, and we are glad to follow it around early enough. The idea of the hole in the wall which provides some strange visions is nice, especially with the arrangements on the other side. The feeling of danger is always effectively there. This does bring some scares, but the film is more about mystery, revealing a few things about human nature, rather than anything else. The theme of the movie is related to how people only give half truths, manipulating everything to suit their own versions. The film also has a nice way of revealing everything, through visions and incidents. The way that it keeps us in suspense is good, as we are not really sure which way it is to go, not just about the ghostly figure, but also about how the leading lady’s situation would be, in the school – there are even twists about her life there, and the supernatural only comes later.

Positives and negatives :: The Rings creature feeling is there for sure, as if to provide something like a repetition, for that is one demonic presence which everyone has liked for a long time. There were also so many more possibilities for the incidents of the movie to progress, and it could have used better clarity at some parts. The ending could have also been more direct. There are moments when it makes us feel that this is going to be like The Visit, but it is surely not going that way. Also, the movie’s drama feels a lot like Indian films at times, and therefore, it is more relatable to our audience. The ghost here more like the past which continues to haunt us, reminding us of a few dialogues in Crimson Peak. The idea of the ghost trying to tell the truth, or rather the whole truth is not something new, but this one takes different steps towards it. The way in which this movie changes your expectations in between, is also notable. There is no early clue about what we have in the end, for the twists work in that way, and make this one effective.

Performers of the soul :: Among the performers, it is Sutatta Udomsilp who stands the strongest, as the elder grandchild and sister who has to stay strong in the absence of her mother. She reflects a number of scream queens which we have seen in Hollywood movies, and still has a lovely touch of divergence that relates her to horror movie stars of Bollywood too. She expresses herself incredibly well throughout the different events, from the emotional ones to the scary ones. Nicole Theriault has only the first few minutes as the mother, as she gets to face the car accident too soon, waking up much late. Mac Nattapat Nimjirawat plays the young brother figure who is weakened, pretty well. Sompob Benjathikul plays the grandfather figure with a lot of strength, while Tarika Tidatid fits into the grandmother role with ease. Sadanont Durongkaweroj plays the usual creepy boy who reminds one of the Drishyam boy who got buried under the police station, after capturing the video of the showering girl. Thasorn Klinnium, who is only there for a few minutes, also has her contribution.

How it finishes :: The Whole Truth is the first Thai movie at Movies of the Soul, and it did come late, when we look at the foreign language movies at the website. Even though there have been many movies which came close to becoming the first, this one finally made it way here through Netflix. It is rather surprising that we have already had Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian movies here to add to a South East Asian list, there hasn’t been any from Thailand. This movie changes that in style. Movies like Furie, Impetigore, The Wandering Earth and Train to Busan were all movies which had something special in their own ways, coming from different countries and languages. The Whole Truth proved to be a fine example with which to start Thai films. When we had visited Pattaya and Bangkok, we did really want to watch a movie or two, but that didn’t happen because of the busy schedule of the trips. At least, that desire is fulfilled for now. As we go through the beginning of the new year, let us hope that more wishes can be fulfilled in 2022.

Release date: 2nd December 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Wisit Sasanatieng
Starring: Sutatta Udomsilp, Tarika Tidatid, Sompob Benjathikul, Sadanont Durongkaweroj, Steven Isarapong, Thasorn Klinnium, Mac Nattapat Nimjirawat, Keetapat Pongrue, Nicole Theriault

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fear Street: 1666

Vampire Owl: And now we have to go back to the year 1666.

Vampire Bat: It is a little too long backwards, don’t you think?

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein is preparing a time machine. So, we can actually do it ourselves now.

Vampire Bat: So, you believe that he is finally going to invent something useful.

Vampire Owl: He is the best scientist the vampire world could ever find.

Vampire Bat: He is not a scientist, but an alchemist. There is a difference.

Vampire Owl: Yet, he has invented so many useful things.

Vampire Bat: These inventions have been useful only to him.

Vampire Owl: What about the portal to different dimensions?

Vampire Bat: The portal could only lead us from one room to the other.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: As the severed hand of Sarah Fier is reunited with the rest of her corpse, Deena is Sarah Fier (Kiana Madeira) now, as she sees things from her perspective, slowly finding the past revealed to her. She lived with her brother Henry Fier (Benjamin Flores Jr) and father George Fier (Randy Havens) in 1666. Things seem to go well in the original settlement before it was divided into Sunnyvale and Shadyside. Soon, things seem different, as Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch) falls in love with Sarah, something which is discovered by Mad Thomas (McCabe Slye). When Sarah and her friends meet a reclusive widow to gather berries for a party, she also comes against a book of black magic. She witnesses that the world around her does change, with strange things happening. Cyrus Miller (Michael Chandler) who is Hannah’s father, begins to act strange, while the town’s food and water supply are poisoned. The people of town are suspicious about almost everything, especially Sarah.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sarah talks to Solomon Goode (Ashley Zukerman) in person as she wonders if she is responsible for the town’s newly found bad luck. Soon, they discover that Pastor Miller has murdered twelve children in the chapel, after taking their eyes out, and that includes Henry. The town is very much frightened because a man of God himself was responsible for this terrible act. They hope to get rid of the evil, but none of them knows where to find the same. Soon, with a number of witnesses, Hannah Miller and Sarah Fier are considered responsible for what is now happening, and even though they find and decide to execute the former, the latter couldn’t be found. Sarah decides to find the widow’s book of black magic and use it to make a deal with the devil so that she can somehow save Hannah, with whom she declares her love, and begins a lesbian relationship which reflects what happens later in 1994. But while trying to find the devil, she only finds the book missing and the widow murdered. What could be really happening out there now?

The defence of Fear Street: 1666 :: There is an interesting backstory to the origins of the movie, and also a grand return to the present to make sure that things end pretty well. The film does have a pretty good twist coming in between, and has its own interesting surprises as we look at them. The world of 1666 has also been nicely created, not just with the surroundings, but also with the people. There is something about the colonial world as much as the European Middle Ages when it is created well enough. The addition of a deal with the devil element also works in favour of the movie. One would feel that there is a certain amount of confidence running through this movie, which is reflected in the characters, as we quickly move towards the final showdown – it does have a better pace in comparison to the previous movies, as the focus is less in relationships in comparison to the others. The final fight scene has a lot of interesting moments, and as we see all those serial killers out there, we keep asking for a film for each of them.

The claws of flaw :: The romantic nonsense elements continue to haunt this last part of the movie, as it was one thing which didn’t work in the first part either. It also seems that the best villains of the movie seems to be from those time periods of the franchise which didn’t really have a movie to support it. Despite all the elements that it puts in here, the other two movies of the franchise seems to be better than this one – the first one did a fine job in establishing the world, while the second one was the best of the franchise as it felt like a typical slasher with quality. This one lags in comparison, but not by much, as it is saved by the settings in two time periods and with some fine surprises as well as bringing everything together in the end. The romantic side continues to be nonsense, and using that between fight feels even more stupid. This shouldn’t have been about love, for it is not really difficult to know what matters these days. We cannot let some silly teenage love ruin a slasher horror movie which was rising otherwise.

Performers of the soul :: Kiana Madeira has more to do in this film, going through two different timelines, and there is something about her in the seventeenth century that keeps us more interested. She seems to suit in that time period better than the 1990s. This film seems to show her evolution to suit slasher horror films better. Darrell Britt-Gibson as Martin does add some interesting and funny moments in here, while he had only a few moments in the first flick. Ashley Zukerman stays strong, not just in one avatar, but in different forms. Olivia Scott Welch is also better in the seventeenth century, and we see her blending in there well. One would feel that she is also slowly moving towards becoming a scream queen at some point, as horror films becomes the strong point of actors and actresses when least expected. Benjamin Flores Jr adds more in this film, and he is also a memorable person of two different centuries. McCabe Slye adds the much needed creepiness to the past for the film. There are many actors and actresses who play different roles in multiple centuries, which does bring some confusion here though.

How it finishes :: The final movie of the trilogy seems to have ended the film well enough, even though it doesn’t hesitate in leaving the scope for another movie in the series in the final stages of the credits. If you ask me, I would like to see a film which comes in between all these movies instead of having a sequel belonging to the early 2000s or the contemporary world. We have all been looking for some horror, and just like we had expected, the villain here is actually human rather than the supernatural – it is a fine end when we look at it, as it has always been clear that humans are the most evil creatures to walk on Earth. As I have mentioned before, even after facing so many natural disasters and the Corona virus itself, humans of our times haven’t changed either. They are all going for wealth and influence, while considering the others of their species as not worthy, and won’t hesitate to murder them – the killers of slasher horror movies are always better than humans of reality, aren’t they? Well, you never know.

Release date: 16th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Kiana Madeira, Ashley Zukerman, Gillian Jacobs, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr, Darrell Britt-Gibson

<<< Click here to go to the first Fear Street movie.

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sacrifice

Vampire Owl: Vampires have always been against sacrifices.

Vampire Bat: Yes, sacrifices are now limited to the Northern Witches.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the Draconians don’t do sacrifices anymore.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it has been an outlawed practice throughout the realm.

Vampire Owl: Yet, they didn’t officially declare it so. Illegal sacrifices are still happening.

Vampire Bat: The Land of the Vampires shall have no part of it.

Vampire Owl: They even put up some posters inviting vampires for blood moon sacrifices.

Vampire Bat: We never accept the invitations of the Northern Witches. I am sure that they are completely aware of that.

Vampire Owl: You still cannot blame them for trying so hard.

Vampire Bat: The borders have been left open for too long these days. We need to have some control there.

[Gets some tapioca chips and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Isaac Pickman (Ludovic Hughes) and his pregnant wife Emma Pickman (Sophie Stevens) travel to a remote island which is part of Norway, all the way from United States of America. After his mother’s death, he is hoping to claim a surprise inheritance which has come to his attention. The place is extremely beautiful, and there is so much of lovely scenery around. It would have been a perfect tourist destination for anyone from any part of the world, and also a great eco-tourism holiday. The home is also located by the same of a charming lake, which gives the feeling of being in a magical world. Some of the paintings at home seem to bring something back to the memories of Isaac, as they go on living as normal as they can. The locals don’t seem to like the British who manipulated the Nordic language and the Americans who claim that Christopher Colombus discovered America. They come up against a fight which Isaac seems to lose miserably, but when they realize that Isaac is from around there, they turn rather friendly.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They also meet Renate Nygard (Barbara Crampton) who is the local sheriff – she wants to know about his father and his murder on that night when Isaac left Norway for the United States of America. Isaac understands that the police feels that his mother murdered his father, and lied to him that he had left him as he found a new family. The sheriff provides some updates about Isaac’s family after calling them for supper – they also come up against Astrid Nygard (Johanna Adde Dahl), the sheriff’s beautiful daughter. As they make their seemingly vacation-like visit, the couple discover some dark secrets which are related to the family. Then the sinister events that happen around there have other directions to follow. This seemingly charming trip turns into a nightmare without warning as Isaac and his wife comes across a secret pagan cult that worships a deity based on the sea and its waters. Astrid’s brainwashing of Isaac only makes things worse. Emma understands soon enough that the people have something more to provide than what meets the eye.

The defence of Sacrifice :: What catches our attention the most around here is the visuals, as the natural beauty is almost everywhere, from the smallest detail to a world of nature’s visual splendour – add a few beautiful people around to go with the same, among which Johanna Adde Dahl stands apart, and has her moments rising out of a lake which would have been iconic in cinema if this film was more popular. Along with the usual things of beauty, these moments from her might be the creepiest thing of beauty like nothing else that we see – one would also wonder here, whether she is of this world or a human manifestation of an ancient demon, as she appears with the northern lights from the freezing waters of the lake, naked and with only a few words of mystery. There are mysteries that runs through the movie, and it also has some scares going on with it, mostly related to the location itself, and related to the waters that surround the water and imprison its people. The mystery here does live on, and doesn’t depend on the ending to provide that usual conclusion.

Positives and negatives :: The movie might feel slow, and a little bit predictable at the final moments, but the slow descend towards horror is not to be considered a negative. Just like the film Castle Freak and the direct adaptation Color Out of Space, this is also closer to the definition of Lovecraftian horror which focuses on the incomprehensible and the unknowable. Even though there might be some shock and gore added to the newer films which take these features, this one is without them. Our movie here thrives on the mystery, as we don’t know what is real and what is not, for there are so many dreams and nightmares around here, with the cult not really showing what it is really about, and what Johanna Adde Dahl is all about, whether she is a figment of one’s imagination or a human representation of the goddess that they worship. It doesn’t have much of the special effects to go with it, and also hesitates to have that huge an ending, but it leaves the scope for a sequel, and we can always hope for the Lovecraftian world to find new life in everything around.

Performers of the soul :: Sophie Stevens does a great job as the pregnant woman who is caught among things that she doesn’t seem to be able understand. She is the only one who feels that there is something strange around there, and the feeling of being alone in a terrifying world. There is fear and helplessness being portrayed, after the beauty and bliss earlier. Ludovic Hughes’ descend into madness is also portrayed well, as it is an even better performance from him in the final stages of the movie. Barbara Crampton remains solid throughout the movie as one character who seems to know almost everything, and also does decide most of the things around there. Johanna Adde Dahl has our attention more than anyone else, even with very less dialogues spoken – the creepy beauty that she brings makes sure that there is something terribly divergent about the movie, as she her appearance out of the lake is one of the most magical moments in the film, unclothed and supported by the magical aura of the nothern lights, with the scope to be iconic if the movie gets more popularity later. She has her dialogues only then, and they enchanting as much as creepy in nature.

How it finishes :: Sacrifice is a surprisingly interesting film as you look at it, and the same suits more than just the genre of thriller. Brought into a Lovecraftian world, it is your need to understand this kind of a thriller, horror or drama, and what kind of a universe it would be depending on. For those who are looking for usual horror and thrills might not be that happy about it, but that is indeed a problem with their understanding, with expectations for a usual Annabelle, The Nun, The Conjuring, Sinister or Insidious. This film is much more than that, as it transports us to this particular world which boasts of both beauty and creepiness – the strange universe is something that we can cherish, with a few things to keep us guessing. After all, such an isolated world might be completely free from Corona virus and certainly free from its newly formed mutation which threatens to conquer the world again, Omicron. As we fear more pandemic induced lock-downs, keep looking out for some good films while you can. Christmas is on its way, and as the grand celebrations arrive, you stay safe.

Release date: 22nd October 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Andy Collier, Tor Mian
Starring: Barbara Crampton, Sophie Stevens, Ludovic Hughes, Lukas Loughran, Johanna Adde Dahl, Jack Kristiansen, Erik Lundin, Dag Soerlie, Ingeborg Mork Haskjold, Edwin Roseth-Oye, Annika Josefine Stromblad, Balder Bjorke

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Curse of Audrey Earnshaw

Vampire Owl: I think that I have met this girl before.

Vampire Bat: No, she is not the witch who cursed you last year.

Vampire Owl: How can you be so sure? She had the same expressions.

Vampire Bat: The witches can be confusing with their looks.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that they alter their appearances very often.

Vampire Bat: Yes, many more times than we do in a human city.

Vampire Owl: Yet, we can see through them, can’t we?

Vampire Bat: We are not immune to all kinds of magic.

Vampire Owl: We are still immune to dark magic.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but not all kind of dark magic. Some witches practice the darkest of magic, and we are often not strong enough to resist the same.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three glasses of Vanilla shake].

What is the movie about? :: During the times when there were more and more settlements in North America, a group of families decided to separate from the Church of England, leading to the establishment of an isolated settlement, further away from the rest in the continent. Years passed, the the World Wars broke out, and science had the advantage over religion, with unrestricted expansions, but the villagers of this particular settlement kept their old ways of life alive. Later, in the year 1956, a strange phenomenon, which came to be known as the eclipse, a kind of pestilence spread throughout the settlement and its surroundings, poisoning the land and also corrupting the livestock. The only exception was the land belonging to one woman, Agatha Earnshaw (Catherine Walker), and he was suspected of heresy. She also gave birth to a girl child during the eclipse, but kept the child as a secret from the villagers who kept looking at her with suspecting eyes.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The community has kept struggling without hope, and with a feeling that God abandoned them, and that there is no future for them, as the time shifts the 1973 – not many things have changed for this particular village far away from civilization. Agatha continues to live separated from everyone with her daughter who has now grown up, and yet remains hidden from the eyes of others. She tells Audrey that anyone who tries to come to their place is a villain, and that everyone in the village wishes to steal young girls like her. The villagers continue to despise her as she still has a great harvest all for herself, and is not ready to help even those who have been starving for days and close to death. Colm Dwyer (Jared Abrahamson) and Hannah Bridget Dwyer (Emily Anderson) are further angry about her as they lost their child for some illness, and lack of food comes naturally with the life. Everyone knows that there is a curse going on, and soon, they will have to take another step to change their lives.

The defence of The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw :: The film thrives on its atmosphere, which has so much in store with a setting which is established nicely with an initial writing about the premise – the first scene surely sets the mood, and the visuals nicely contributes to the same, as it does raise our expectations by quite some distance. If the story could have explained all the happenings better, the atmosphere could have elevated this one in the blink of an eye. There is the presence of blood and gore, but the same is not that much justified as we look at them. The main character does have the looks which are required, and there is always the feeling of having more than what meets the eye soon enough. We have seen films like The Witch, and so we are expecting something similar around here too, as the evil creatures of the night, from vampires and werewolves to zombies and demons, we are also interested in the witches to make the horror runs strong into a world of escapism that we always need.

The claws of flaw :: The real-life curse for the movie lies in the ending here. It doesn’t seem to know how to finish everything after building up all these. Running towards confusion is not what one would want with a film like this one. Finally, you are wondering what has actually happened, and there is always something wrong with the titular character, and it is not just the usual kind of wrong, but more, in a complicated manner. The movie is also really slow, and in between, there are scenes which don’t seem to make much of a sense, and we are always looking for some big terrifying sequence with sorcery to happen, but that is not there to be taken. There are no real witch-like gathering or frightening events happening in there, and due to the same, the movie has less strength as a horror movie, as it focuses on being a slow thriller. There were so many paths for this movie to follow, and none of them are taken, which brings some disappointment around here, as we don’t really get what we were expecting at all.

Performers of the soul :: Jessica Reynolds as Audrey Earnshaw is the young lady who is the reason for almost everything around here to happen – she has that kind of a look which would serve a witch, supported by the expressions and even movements. She has taken on the character which is a little bit too complex and strange, but managed to work with that well enough. She also has that stare that a witch would require, and her violence is unparalleled just like her curses. Catherine Walker as Agatha Earnshaw plays the mother, and she also remains as strange she can get, staying close to the character with the possible mysteries. Jared Abrahamson plays the role which is closest to a leading man, but he doesn’t really get much of a screen space either. Hannah Emily Anderson plays his wife, and that is done pretty well too. Sean McGinley adds well to the characters of interest in the movie, and so does Don McKellar, and later Geraldine O’Rawe. There are others who are just part of the world, and has something or the other to do at some occasions.

How it finishes :: There have always been something about the tales of witches in worlds created in any village far away from civilization, and with strange curses being felt all around. This one is no exception, even though it doesn’t make the best use of its resources, not living up to the strength that it displays in the beginning, and progressing to the end without enough of the explanations. You know that this movie was capable for much more, but we take this dark and disturbing story as it is, and enjoy is as much as we can, without that much expectations in horror. These movies serve as a reminder to how the world of strange beliefs have been, and how we have not become better people with science taking over – we are just the same if not worse, even without the supernatural, evil, distrustful and full of hate. We all have the devil in more people these days, and humanity’s lack of conscience has made the present world a worse place to live in than those days when people at least feared and revered God. Beware of the people around you more than the witches.

Release date: 2nd October 2020
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Thomas Robert Lee
Starring: Catherine Walker, Jessica Reynolds, Jared Abrahamson, Sean McGinley, Geraldine O’Rawe, Don McKellar

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Castle Freak

Vampire Owl: This is certainly not the castle that I know.

Vampire Bat: Not all castles are related to vampires.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but I was expecting at least this one to be related in some way.

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t question your right to be disappointed.

Vampire Owl: Disappointed at the time of Corona virus. It is two levels of sadness.

Vampire Bat: Well, all viruses will have to meet the end, one day or the other.

Vampire Owl: Yes, except for those viruses which makes people zombies.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the apocalyptic event was postponed until further notice.

Vampire Owl: We might see it coming as a Corona virus variation some day.

Vampire Bat: You can surely use a computer virus in your head as of now.

[Gets a vanilla cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Rebecca (Clair Catherine) and her boyfriend John (Jake Horowitz) used to have some good time wasting their time, until a terrible car accident which was caused by latter leaves Rebecca blinded, and things wouldn’t be the same any more. But things seem to change for the better, as she is contacted by a real estate agent, Marku (Genti Kame) who tells her that she has inherited a castle in Albania from her mother Lavina Whateley (Kika Magalhaes) who had left her for adoption. Rebecca is interested in solving the mystery behind the death of her mother, who is supposed to have whipped herself to death, while John looks forward to selling the castle, and earn a good amount of money which would help them to have a better future. There seems to be sinister secrets about the castle, as she begins to have terrible nightmares, while the two also find out strange memories of a forgettable past within the stone building.

So, what happens with the events here? :: John also invites their old friends to the castle, even though it is not something Rebecca needed to see, considering their past which was full of alcohol, drugs and that one fatal accident which had her losing eyesight. What they don’t understand is that things are not that easy or direct as it seems, as they are being stalked by someone who seems less human, and more like a creature. Rebecca does realize that early enough with her ears set on the walls, but it is not easy for anyone else to believe in the same. They also find Necronomicon, the book of spells around there, and it only points out to the possibility of something too old and beyond their understanding in there. Shelly (Emily Sweet) who is still in love with John wants to claim him back as she returns with his friends who find out connections of the castle with monstrous entities from the past known as the Great Ones. Now, things can only get worse, as they understand.

The defence of Castle Freak :: The best advantage of this movie is its setting, which is beautifully Gothic in nature, with scope of horror being placed almost everywhere – the beginning scene itself is a sign of what can follow later. There is the idea of creepiness which is follow here, and the scenery is also as beautiful as the world is terrifying. It is also nice to have everything coming together towards something which we hadn’t imagined in the beginning, as the sinister plans quickly turn into more than what had met the eye before, towards something not of this world. The similarities to Lovecraft’s The Outsider are there, and in the end, the movie also seems to connect to a world of terrifying creatures reminding us of his own tales of horror. The movie makers seem to have made this with a low budget, and it has certainly been managed really well. The first flogging scene, murder of Shelley and the open space ritual can be considered as the three scenes of unexpected quick shock.

The claws of flaw :: There was surely some scope for improvement around here. We have such a grand setting in here, and it is only fair to expect more out of it. There could have surely been some more scares in here, as many occasions seem to be all prepared to come up with something, but suddenly leaves that behind. We also see that the blood and gore stuff go a little bit over the board with the violence really climbing over the usual limitations. There are many occasions when this one doesn’t seem to be the movie for everyone, with it taking many steps to make the film more and more weird. The quality of graphics is also quite low when we consider all those demonic elements coming into the picture. The movie is also quite slow in getting into the action after that first scene, as we get to the present – the party moments and the initial moments of the couple at the castle take a little bit too long to get things going here. The ending could have also been more polished with bigger and more terrifying moments supported by possible twists.

Performers of the soul :: Clair Catherine leads the way as the blind protagonist really well, and it is a controlled, realistic performance, something which is not easy to find in a horror movie. She can be seen here as more or less a stoic one, accepting her fate without complaining, but still can’t help being curious herself. One would want to see her in more horror flicks or thrillers. Jake Horowitz provides pretty good support too. Genti Kame suits the mood of the place really well, as the story moves forward. Kika Magalhaes as Lavinia Whateley is the one who sets things in motion in the beginning, and she does that really well with a very creepy start that might bring the early shock to some – she has that kind of looks which suit her character’s background. Emily Sweet plays the usual kind of role in a horror movie, but she makes it interesting in her own way – she could have more of the genre and be the perfect scream queen, even though stereotypical in nature. The unknown entity also has the creepy performance to do, which is indeed the usual thing.

How it finishes :: Castle Freak is the kind of horror movie which comes out of nowhere to score above expectations, and it comes out of the usual horror movie list, deviating on the repeated style. It has the Lovecraftian influence, and there is another movie of the same name which came in the 1990s, which people around here seems to have missed. The movie is somewhat disturbing with its content, and therefore not recommended for all types of audience. This is not for those people who get disgusted with such content, and are looking for those flicks to watch with family members. If you feel aversion for any kind of the usual old style slasher horror content, you would have to keep away. Otherwise, it is certainly an interesting watch for people who are tired of these usual movies on ghosts, vampires, zombies and werewolves. These have been the years of one freak virus, and so we can take this particular freak too.

Release date: 4th December 2020
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Tate Steinsiek
Starring: Clair Catherine, Emily Sweet, Kika Magalhaes, Chris Galust, Jake Horowitz, Klodian Hoxha, Elisha Pratt, Genti Kame, Klodjana Keco, Omar Shariff Brunson Jr

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Madres

Vampire Owl: How many horror movies can one watch in a small gap of a few hours?

Vampire Bat: We vampires do not have limitations in horror.

Vampire Owl: During the Corona virus times, there should be restrictions.

Vampire Bat: Not in the case of films, for we are not watching them in theatres.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that vampires should go back to horror.

Vampire Bat: We were always in horror. You didn’t know that?

Vampire Owl: This is not the horror that we were born into.

Vampire Bat: You should remember that all kinds of horror are connected.

Vampire Owl: Not in the watch of owls. Maybe that works for bats.

Vampire Bat: Still doing better than the Vampire Crocodile.

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

What is the movie about? :: In the 1970s, a Mexican-American couple are expecting their first child, and during this time period, they move from Los Angelos to a migrant farming community in the nineteen seventeens, and he would be working as a manager in a farm. The area chosen for the same is in California, and the place seems to be quite peaceful and quiet enough for the baby when it arrives. Diana (Ariana Guerra), the pregnant lady is American, while Beto (Tenoch Huerta) is Mexican, and had migrated to the United States. The small town where they move to, seems to have more of a Spanish influence too. The first person that they meet in the town is Anita (Elpidia Carrillo), who provides them with a blessing of Holy Mary, and assures them that the town can be a wonderful place to live in, much to the dismay of Diana who wonders why it is not already such a place. Beto doesn’t work much about the same.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: As Beto goes for work, Diana feels that there is something strange about the place, and that doubt leads her to the outhouse building near the house, and she finds a few things which might have belonged to the previous owners. She also gets locked inside, and after somehow getting out, finds a severed eye being hung on tree outside the house. Beto feels that these were not things to be worried about, as the door might have closed due to the wind and the severed eye might have been there for a very long time, and maybe it meant something for the previous owners or the locals. They also meet the locals who seems to be friendly enough, but don’t get much of information, even though they end up having more acquaintances. Still, they remains more of Beto’s friends, as he is Mexican and good at Spanish. Diana only gets more and more disoriented during her time there. She wonders if there is more than what meets the eye about the place.

The defence of Madres :: The one advantage that this film has over the others is that it really has its creepy world going strong during all times. The environment here is really good, and very much notable. An ancient curse in the background seems through run through here, and adds to the creepy atmosphere really well. Even though there seems to be something supernatural around here, we soon come to know that it is not all, and we soon face the mystery being revealed. Some of us might be able to guess the final twist, but it also has its own small changes related to the same. It also leads to a few things which really happened, and it does remind of a few things which can happen if we are not aware. It leaves the message that with or without the presence of the supernatural, the world and its people are not what we feel they are, for people will always have their hidden agenda and a good dose of hatred inside. The music here is also very much suitable for the same.

The claws of flaw :: Just like the case of The Manor, this film also has the problem of being classified completely into the category of horror, as this one is also no fully something that focuses on the scares. It could have used the horror, as well as the grand atmosphere that it possesses with the house and the town with maximum effectiveness, for these days, many horror films are on a continuous struggle to be what it really should be. It is actually not restricted to one location with scope for here, as there is a lot more in here, for the town itself has something in store at different parts. A faster movie could have dealt with all of these with better strength, but this one hesitates to pick up the pace. The movie also released without much of a hype, and not many people know about its entry into Amazon Prime Video – the title also has people confused about the language. The movie came silently, and it is still there, but not many people know about the same.

Performers of the soul :: Ariana Guera plays the one character who seems to be fully English, and she is also the upcoming mother in trouble, here she is acting as the main protagonist, as well as the centre of attraction. She achieves the same really well, as we look at the scenes here. She is not that much of a believer in the supernatural, and we see her knowing things the hard way. Tenoch Huerta gets into his role really well too. The next important character is played by Elpidia Carrillo, and you will remember her from Predator, fighting the monster with her newly discovered American allies. She has blended into this role, even though one does feel that it should have been better written. The others are just part of the usual process, and they just blend in here too. Most of these characters become relevant at some later stage of the movie, and we are not to avoid them – there is the twist about this particular mystery that awaits us later.

How it finishes :: This one has some similarities with The Manor with how it progresses, how it deviates from its genre, and how it joins different things in a building as well as with an environment that catches our attention. Instead of the old age home and the strange surroundings, this one has one home and a lonely enough world around it. As far as the whole atmosphere is concerned, and related to the progress that happens in each minute, Madres has the advantage. This is also part of the Welcome to the Blumhouse film series, just like The Manor. I would suggest this movie to those who are interested in some slow, atmospheric horror, with a strong base on ancient legends and curses, and this is not your Annabelle, The Conjuring, Insidious, Don’t Breathe and Lights Out. You just need to live through this atmosphere rather than trying to be scared at all times, for there are different things of interest here.

Release date: 8th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 83 minutes
Directed by: Ryan Zaragoza
Starring: Elpidia Carrillo, Ariana Guera, Tenoch Huerta, Jennifer Patino, Kerry Cahill, Evelyn Gonzalez, Britton Webb

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.