Kidnapping Stella

Vampire Owl: So, these people have made a movie about just one kidnapping?

Vampire Bat: You are saying that one won’t be enough?

Vampire Owl: No, I am saying that it can be like a vampire movie made out of one blood-sucking event, which won’t be enough.

Vampire Bat: It is a remake of the 2009 British thriller movie, The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

Vampire Owl: Okay, the one starring Gemma Arterton, the lady vampire from Byzantium.

Vampire Bat: The whole vampire team is indebted to her for the work in that movie.

Vampire Owl: It is my second favourite vampire movie after Interview with the Vampire.

Vampire Bat: If you add Let Me In, it could go to the third spot.

Vampire Owl: Do you realize that you haven’t reviewed a full-length German movie yet?

Vampire Bat: Yes, but there has been a short-film which left enough for us to think about.

[Gets an vancho cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: There is some big preparation going on with the two former convicts named Vic (Clemens Schick) and Tom (Max von der Groeben) getting something ready inside a building, just before they get prepared to commit some crime. Stella (Jella Haase), the only child of a wealthy businessman is their target, as they hope to become rich with the money of her father. This act and the resulting ransom is supposed to make sure that they won’t have to go to work for a long time. For this, they come up with some very careful planning, and leave no chance for them to escape, as they undress her and keeps her in a red tracksuit, blindfold her, tie her to a bed, and keeps her in a soundproof room, with no chance for her to even move more than al ittle. To conceal their identities, the two also wear masks while talking to her. There is a certain amount of risk involved with her knowing their identities, because she is pregnant with Tom’s child, as they were in love some time ago.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Stella tries hard to escape from her bondage, but there is no positive result for those attempts, as far as she is concerned. Tom does have a soft corner for her as he comes to know that she is pregnant only at a later moment when they threaten to cut off one of her fingers in front of the camera, while making a video which is to be shown to her father so that he would finally agree to give the ransom money to them. But the problem here is that during one of those vulnerable moments, she finds out that one of the kidnappers is Tom, and almost manages to overpower him to get hold of the gun. But Tom handles that situation as well as a few others which follow. Soon, Vic starts to have some doubts about Tom and Stella, as he is no longer the person whom he met in the prison – he is not sure if Tom can be trusted either. Now, it is to be seen how the two manage to keep the situation going. Can they get the money, or will the girl end up being dead? What will be the priority for Tom now, as he knows that she is pregnant with his child?

The defence of Kidnapping Stella :: You will notice that Kidnapping Stella, just like The Disappearance of Alice Creed and its earlier remake Reckless, doesn’t waste its time in getting into action. There are a few minutes when nobody talks about anything, and then we are quickly into the action when the girl is kidnapped and tied up without any chance to escape even from the bed where she is tied up. We do not have any subplot to take the focus away from the main thing, and even though there is a possibility of some flashback, we never really go towards it. You do have some twists, even though not used to the full effectiveness. A kidnapping scenario is also shown without any pretensions, and without showing it as someone who is locked in a random room giving them an easy journey throughout the abduction. The kidnapping programme is quite a solid one, and even though becoming only the third version of the same tale, you have to appreciate them doing this situation well enough here along with maintaining the thrills.

The claws of flaw :: If you have watched The Disappearance of Alice Creed or its Dutch remake, there is nothing much that you can find here to keep you interested, because you have seen all these in more critically appreciated movies, and the performers who have gained better applause not just in one film, but also many others. This movie also doesn’t seem to have gathered that much of an attention or appreciation as those movies which released much earlier. This one is also quite slow at parts, and for a movie which doesn’t have that much of a run-time, it is definitely a strange thing, no matter how you look at it. The movie could have used some more intense moments to make things feel better. As most of the movie is set within a small area, there was scope to bring more. When you have a film with kidnap as the main thing or rather the only thing, you would expect that something else would be there to be taken. There is always the chance for improvement as far as remakes are concerned, but we doubt if that chance was even thought about here.

Performers of the soul :: One cannot deny the fact that this movie misses someone like Gemma Arterton who has been one class actress in different roles, the best of them that we remember being Byzantium, the highly underrated and under-watched vampire movie coming from the director of the highly appreciated Interview with the Vampire. We can only guess that it would have been a fantastic performance. Jella Haase is pretty much okay as the kidnapped girl, but she doesn’t seem to raise that bar that much. The two kidnappers are actually very good though, and Clemens Schick as Vic, the tougher one comes up with a work that will make us attached to the situation here. Max von der Groeben as Tom, the guy who is caught between two sides also have our attention – he wants to do more than one thing, as there is the need to save his former lover and their unborn baby along with getting all that money from her father. There is no other character here, and these three makes the performers list fully.

How it finishes :: The movie originates from The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a 2009 British movie, which also had another remake in the form a Dutch movie named Reckless. From the reviews which we have read about this version here might be the film with the lowest rating, while the other two movies seem to be quite ahead. But for most of us who haven’t watched those two movies because we never really had much of an experience with Dutch movies and as the British movie was released a long time ago, Kidnapping Stella is going to be an interesting experience. There are enough thrills around there, and it surely feels more than the usual hostage movie. Matching The Disappearance of Alice Creed was always going to be a tough task, as it had Gemma Arterton who has been in all kinds of movies with all the glory, a performer who is difficult to match. You are free to watch all the three versions in different European languages and decide the best for yourself if you feel the need to disagree. Otherwise, you can just enjoy this newer version.

Release date: 12th July 2019
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Thomas Sieben
Starring: Clemens Schick, Jella Haase, Max von der Groeben

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Platform

Vampire Owl: Have you walked through the platforms?

Vampire Bat: Which one are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: The moving platforms which have been introduced inside the castle.

Vampire Bat: Now we vampires have moving platforms? Why?

Vampire Owl: Come on. This is supposed to a haunted castle with many vampires. Such attractions are supposed to be there.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that Uncle Dracula is planning to make Hotel Transylvania, a five star hotel with special attractions.

Vampire Owl: No, the castle a historical place. We can only add some attractions which supports its status as the monument.

Vampire Bat: They are going to destroy another historical monument. Do the vampire elders know about this?

Vampire Owl: They will know when the platforms are introduced. We are giving them a sweet little surprise.

Vampire Bat: They are so old that such a shocking surprise can make them former elders, and bury them in the vampire underworld.

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

What is the movie about? :: Goreng (Ivan Massague) wakes up in a concrete room with another man on the bed opposite to his, and Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor) is a man who seems to have different opinions on world compared to him. The room is marked by the number 48, and there is a hole in the centre through which he is able to look at a large number of similar rooms going up and also going down towards infinity. Trimagasi explains that they are in a tower-style building that goes a long way to the higher and lower levels, at which food is delivered through a platform that travels from the top, stopping for a fixed period on each floor – each floor below gets only the left over of what the higher floors eat, and the amount of food decreases as each floor passes. If they try to keep some food with them for later use, the room gets heated or cooled towards the extreme ends until the food is thrown down. Each month, the imprisoned people are randomly reassigned to a new level and it seems to happen randomly.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The prisoners at the building were allowed to take one item which they really loved, or wanted to keep, into this building, and Goreng had taken a copy of Don Quixote, one of the best known and the most influential novels in Spanish, something which has been an inspiration and part of syllabus in many colleges all around the world teaching English Language and Literature course. One day, a young woman named Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay) rides down on the platform with food, and Trimagasi tells Goreng that she goes down the hole every month searching for her lost child. Goreng sees that she is being attacked by two men, but is relieved to see that she manages to kill both of them using a knife she had with her, and she continues to go down with the food, seemingly searching for the child that she needed to find.

And what is to follow here as time passed in the pit? :: While Goreng had volunteered to spend six months in what was known as the Vertical Self-Management Center to earn a special diploma, Trimagasi is someone who is serving a one year sentence for manslaughter, and he is surprised to see that someone would volunteer to be part of such a programme just for earning a diploma degree. Even though Trimagasi is not someone who seems to be so friendly, the two somehow manages to be pretty good friends, but only until they are transferred to the next cell, which is numbered 171, a place which is on the lower side, and would get none of the food, because 170 levels above and 340 people in there would need a lot more than what is moved on a platform. So, this is up to the two friends to figure out how to survive in this terrifying situation with no food. Will they find a way to survive until the next change to a better space, or will they end up killing and eating one another? Os is there a way to go to another room or escape from this experiment?

The defence of The Platform :: There are some relevant ideas being discussed in this movie, some directly, and most them indirectly. There is some violence, and it is shown as part of human need, and we also have survival of the fittest, with the certain support of luck, as the residents of this building shows life itself in another way, but the core remains the same. There is a display of how higher social order, or people of a better economic status will look at others, even those who were at their same status earlier. The idea at the base goes like this – if you only take what you need, there will be enough for everyone else; it thrives on the need rather than the want, because the desire for more than you need is the root of all evil. It is not just the case of food, but also of other basic needs like clothing and water among others. Along with food, the one thing that people have more than they need is surely clothes, and water is the one thing which is wasted the most. The movie nicely touches these elements with action and thrills to go with them, and the performances from everyone is good.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have been more accurate with how it presented its ideas, because some are being lost here. There are also some repetitions, even when considering the fact that this is a movie which is just over one and half hours in total run-time. It is also to be noted that more elements could have been included in this movie in that run-time itself, or by adding a few more minutes, because the movie remains a short one considering the idea which it is trying to convey to the audience of our times. The characters could have also been more interesting, and the ambiguity regarding what was happening above could have been removed, especially with one of the people in the office also becoming a prisoner. The movie is also pretty much violent, and often makes some people feel disgust and shock – this is not really a movie for everyone, as the film doesn’t choose to go through that safe path to bring in the audience, making this a much lesser known Spanish flick.

How it finishes :: As The Platform asks some questions relevant during the time of Corona Virus, with COVID-19 spreading throughout the globe, and it is the time to help others, we cannot deny its significance against a world of chaos as well as selfishness. With only a few main characters, the movie manages to bring its point during the season of crisis, even though it did release much earlier, but not many people had heard about it then. It is the kind of movie which will come to the light during different types of similar problems in the world, and it can be considered as a movie standing on its own, with similarities more with its other elements, and not with its core idea. The Platform is the movie that you need to watch during the season of quarantines, isolation and lock-downs, so that as a part of humanity, you can ponder over whatever is happening in a world which has been taught to be the fittest to survive in a cruel world full of inherent evil that William Golding talked about in his novel, the much studied Lord of the Flies. You can also watch another similar lock-down social experiment with The Belko Experiment.

Release date: 6th March 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Starring: Ivan Massague, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale Coka, Alexandra Masangkay

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Akam Puram

Vampire Owl: Why does the title sound to me like Inside Out?

Vampire Bat: It is more like Inside Outside.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the insides could be outside, and vice versa?

Vampire Bat: Are you referring to mind being outside the body?

Vampire Owl: Yes, such things are possible with meditation in a coffin.

Vampire Bat: I have heard that Doctor Frankenstein has developed a method to separate body and mind.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that the volunteer would have lost both his mind and body if Frankenstein was involved.

Vampire Bat: You are being too judgmental about someone who cured you of zombieness.

Vampire Owl: Dude, it was a temporary thing. I was going to be okay in a few minutes.

Vampire Bat: Anyway, this one requires none of these things.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Udayan (Sarath Das), a policeman, reaches late to report to his senior officer (Prem Lal) as he goes to pray at the nearby temple. As time is running out for them to present a murder convict (Arun Punalur) to the district court, the senior police officer is furious. But Udayan tells him that he has had no time at all, as his mother is not well. It is her birthday, and usually they all go to the temple together, and this time, after leaving his mother to the care of his sister, he had to go to the temple alone, and pray for her well-being. He remembers how his rich relatives have been hesitant to help, or even look in their direction after the demise of his father, after which his mother had been taking care of him and his sister. Now, she is not well, and he is sad about not being able to be there at home to look after her due to this special duty which has come up because of someone else taking leave for personal reasons.

So, what happens next in the tale? :: The senior officer tells him that it is quite natural with their job, and it is their duty of presenting this man at the court in time that should matter the most – otherwise, they could be suspended, or transferred to somewhere far away; in that case, he wouldn’t be able to take care of his family at all. It is then that Udayan gets a call from his sister letting him know that their mother’s condition became critical, and she is admitted in the Intensive Care Unit of a nearby hospital. Udayan begs his senior officer to take a turn and go to the court after seeing his mother, to which the officer reluctantly agrees. But now, the question remains if they can reach their destination in time. Also, there is doubt if Udayan’s mother could be saved – the uncertainty is there at both sides, and the convict also has something to say about it contribute to the situation. Will at least one of the two things end well for the two cops on special duty?

Soul exploration 1: More than one responsibility in life :: It is the nature of our world that when we have a job, we will be blamed for not doing enough at home, and when we are at home, we are blamed for not being good enough to get a job. It is like not getting a girl for marriage when you have no job, and having no leave for marriage when you have the girl – it is that kind of a world. In this situation when we have to keep working, there is no hope to do our duties well enough, as the balance is so difficult. Yes, there are some people who have it easy as they lie, cheat and steal their way to the top, for the common man, maintaining this balance is eternally difficult. We see the same reflection of difficulties with the protagonist of this movie too, as he struggles to keep up things. Then there are those relatives, who are useful more for the blame game than anything else.

Soul exploration 2: Life running through a busy world :: One can’t predict or judge in a world which is rather too busy. There is nothing that will go according to plan, and the line between good and evil gets rather thin. When nobody has any time for anyone, as we see the protagonist having no relatives to take care of his mother – they are rich, but they don’t have time for their own people, and they pretend to like people only to make money. We see how much lies are being told these days just to make money, and one would wonder if such liars have any honour. But what makes us lovable for the friends and relatives is money, and these days, nobody really cares how you got the money and property if you have them. Well, it is a modernized, mechanical world build out of money, isn’t it? Who wants good qualities? There are parents who will get their daughters married to any fake person if he got money.

How it finishes :: Akam Puram directed by Abhilash Purushothaman is another interesting short-film which makes one think about the harsh realities of life, as one can’t help wondering how it could be any better with the same. We all live in a world which is full of uncertainties, and often when we look at the lives of others, we wonder how different it is. Supported by the performances from a good cast lead by the popular serial artist Sarath, this successfully catches the interest of its viewers, who are made to realize that no matter how hard one tries, there are few things that will never change, and it is the difference between each person in their though process, and their priorities – it is often due to how they were brought up, but as we all know, the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself. Also read the reviews of those movies which are in theatres right now, Thrissivaperoor Kliptham, Varnyathil Aashanka, Clint, Sarvopari Palakkaran, Chunkzz, Kadam Katha, Sunday Holiday and Thondimuthalum Drikshakshiyum.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: I have had similar experience with one of the vampire convicts.

Vampire Bat: You were assigned to transporting convicts?

Vampire Owl: Yes, those guilty of the bloody terror.

Vampire Bat: I believe that it was called blood terror.

Vampire Owl: Yes, during those times, I was working as an apprentice with the vampire imperial guard.

Vampire Bat: You are a soldier? You never mentioned it in your resume.

Vampire Owl: It is because I was dismissed for failure in transporation of convicts.

Vampire Bat: So, how many days did you work with the vampire imperial guard?

Vampire Owl: One day, one job, the end.

Vampire Bat: What a beautiful case of one day’s work.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 14th January 2017
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Abhilash Purushothaman
Starring: Sarath Das, Prem Lal, Arun Punalur

Watch the movie Akam Puram here:

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.