Come Play

Vampire Owl: Strange people calling us to play at this point of time. Why?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I think that they are the brain-repaired zombies.

Vampire Owl: So, zombies now have their brains repaired?

Vampire Bat: Yes, they manage the repair with the brains that they eat.

Vampire Owl: I am still not sure why they would want us to play with them though.

Vampire Bat: Well, they want our vampire brains for further repair.

Vampire Owl: In that case, I would tell them to find some of those evil humans.

Vampire Bat: Well, evil humans are easy to find. We can refer them directly.

Vampire Owl: Yes, almost every one among them qualifies as evil according to the definition.

Vampire Bat: Let the zombies and humans meet each other soon enough through the next viral apocalypse.

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

What is the movie about? :: Oliver (Azhy Robertson) is an autistic boy who cannot talk either, and uses a smartphone so that he can communicate with people. One night, he finds an app on his mobile named “Misunderstood Monsters” which talks about the story of a monster named Larry who is different, and therefore nobody wants to be his friend, even though the only thing that the creature wants is friendship. He does have his own episodes of screaming at night, and his mother Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) has some tough time with it. She also feels that her husband and the child’s father Marty (John Gallagher Jr) is just not doing enough for the troubled child, as he is almost always working. Oliver is troubled by his classmates who don’t like him as he gets special treatment due his disabilities. They also try bullying him, and also takes away his mobile phone, throwing it into the field near the school. At the same time, the relationship between Sarah and Marty only gets worse.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sarah is not happy because she feels that Oliver only likes Marty, because he is the earning member of the family, and always brings the child the presents. As the tablet which Marty brought for him as a present identifies someone else with Oliver in the room with its face recognition software, there seems to be something wrong. The tablet actually starts talking to him using the same app which he was using to talk to others, and it identifies itself as Larry, who just wants to be a friend. As Marty who is bothered by Sarah’s talks finally decides to move out, the latter organizes a sleepover to help Oliver to become more social. But the chosen friends are the boys who had earlier bullied Oliver. Oliver hides the tablet as he is afraid of it, but the other boys find it, with a boy reading the story. It leads to Larry appearing, and things, as expected, can only get worse. But who would believe that Oliver is not responsible for all that is happening in house, and that there is a supernatural force at work?

The defence of Come Play :: There are some interesting scares added here and there in the movie, and some of them are more effective than the rest. The darkness and the sound effects are used well, as the visual effectiveness gets only better at the later stages of the film. The demon at work here is pretty good, and the idea that it can be seen in its original form through the tablet opens another dimension for horror very well. The idea of loneliness being spread through technology feels real, and as part of our present world. The demons from inside the technology – social media and the internet, mobile phones and laptops, they are all more real than ever. They might not be having an exact form these days, but they are present at all times, and even in the absence of the supernatural, the human evil shows its presence. Come Play’s monster can also be seen as a reflection of such evil humans, and the film also scores with a fine emotional side. It is not that easy to escape from such realistic monsters.

The claws of flaw :: Come Play could have added more effective creature horror rather than focusing more on those quick scares, and use of divergent creatures is nothing new, as we know from movies like Lights Out and It Follows. One does feel that something better could have been added with the creature detail, as better design only means the possibility of something better around here. With such a premise, it is not ready to take the risk, and that is surprising, because there was a lot that could be done with this particular monster. It could have gone beyond one family, and maybe it could have also had a background story – instead, we go for the safe zone with singular focus around here. An appearance of the monster at school, or at shops would have also been useful. The ending of the film also seems forced, and it doesn’t try to take a peek into the other dimension. All the build-up surely required more than this, as we look close here.

Performers of the soul :: Gillian Jacobs is very effective in becoming the motherly figure in a horror movie, and seemingly suiting the horror genre well. She is the one person who is there throughout the film as a mother who tries to understand, and is also the kind of person who would suit a horror film with younger cast, as she looks very much young. She does shine as the mother who has made some mistakes in the past, but does love her child and is ready to make all the sacrifices for him, as she also gets certain emotional moments which are of quality. John Gallagher Jr joins as the father figure well enough too. There are some moments for him too, especially with the creature making it to him. Azhy Robertson plays the child in trouble well, and Winslow Fegley plays his friend without much trouble. Some good performances from children also means that the horror story has better strength. The monster here is a fine performer all by himself, but a creature of electricity is surely capable of more – maybe the creature required a face too.

How it finishes :: Come Play might be a lesser known horror film in comparison to others, but is one effective work anyway. When children are involved, and when there is a monster from another dimension trying to come in through technology, one knows that this cannot be of lesser horror, especially with so many more people getting into technology due to the Corona virus pandemic and the related lock-down, work from home, schooling from home and more. Another film, Chathur Mukham has also dealt with the same thing, in Malayalam. Demons as part of technology can only get worse – we have watched Pretham and its sequel too. Let us have as many monsters are we need, because humans and the one virus spreading all over the world has made it much worse for the world. At least these monsters stick to a routine, but not those whom we see in real life. If you are looking for a similar movie with children and demons, you might also want to watch the Spanish film, Don’t Listen and the Korean one, The Closet.

Release date: 30th October 2020
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Jacob Chase
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr, Azhy Robertson, Winslow Fegley, Rachel Wilson, Jayden Marine as Mateo, Gavin MacIver-Wright, Eboni Booth, Dalmar Abuzeid

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

In the Tall Grass

Vampire Owl: How tall can the grass around the castle get?

Vampire Bat: They surely can’t be taller than us, because we have to use those fields for daily exercise, sports and other activities.

Vampire Owl: The grass in this movie surely looks scary even for vampires.

Vampire Bat: It is based on Stephen King and his son Joe Hill’s 2012 novella with the same name, and so it had to be scary.

Vampire Owl: I didn’t know that Stephen King’s son was also writing horror stories.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and there are film adaptations based on his works, like The Horns which had Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple in the lead.

Vampire Owl: That is something not well known, I am sure.

Vampire Bat: The television series NOS4A2 is also based on his novel of the same name, and is pronounced Nosferatu.

Vampire Owl: So, he is also a master of horror, only of a later and new generation.

Vampire Bat: Yes, his original name is Joseph Hillstrom King, and his brother Owen Philip King and mother Tabitha King are also authors.

[Gets a ghee roast and three glasses of grape juice].

What is the movie about? :: Becky DeMuth (Laysla De Oliveira) is a young lady, six months pregnant, who seemed to be becoming a mother before he was prepared for it, and due to the same reason, the child’s father Travis McKean (Harrison Gilbertson) is no longer with her, leading her to think about not having this baby or leaving the baby behind after giving birth. Her brother Cal DeMuth (Avery Whitted) is in charge of driving the car all the way to San Diego so that she can live with her aunt there, and with Travis gone, he considers himself to be the protector of his sister and her child. Traveling through an empty road, they stop at an empty space near what seemed to be an abandoned old church. Some other vehicles were also parked nearby, but there was nobody around. It is then that they hear the voice of a child from the field nearby, which has very tall grass, and they also hear the child’s mother calling.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The two gets concerned, and enters the grass field, and begins searching for the mother and child. The sound seems to close, but they are not able to get to the father and child, despite moving quickly towards them. In the process, Becky and Cal are also separated from each other. There is no network connection in the mobile phone, and they are not able to find each other despite being able to hear the voices. In the process, they meet the members of a family who are all trapped in here. The boy whose voice they had heard is Tobin Humboldt (Will Buie Jr) who had entered the grass field chasing his dog, and his father Ross Humboldt (Patrick Wilson) and mother Natalie Humboldt (Rachel Wilson) had also entered the space following him. Now, the family is separated just like the brother and sister. It seems that there is no way out, or is there at least a slight chance?

The defence of In the Tall Grass :: The movie scores the best with its visuals. With the tall grass, and a mysterious rock in the open area which seems to be the middle of the grass field. This open space with the rock is as grand a visual as the tall grass which seems to have no end. There are separate feelings provided during the day and night, and we look back to a past which modernity cannot understand – something which goes to time before American colonization and the earlier tribes settling down, as the modern world looks at its people in confusion. There are those minutes in the beginning which serves the best to bring the terror, as the two siblings jump once to see each other close, and then with the next jump, they are nowhere to be found. The movie is also of a short length, and with only tall grass all around, it is a good thing, bringing no elongation.

The claws of flaw :: The humanization of the grass is rather underused, and the movie doesn’t have even a monster to use when caught in such a strange, supernatural world with creepy grass, a strange rock and darkness – it has a loop, and so much of mystery, but never chooses to reveal them. The background of the characters are not explored much either, and we don’t know why one character is acting different from another. The characters go out of control, as we don’t know who is dead, and who will end up killing someone, and also about who all are real, and belonging to what kind of loop. It is the kind of confusion that comes in the middle, but thankfully, things get solved in the end. But the movie could have used a post-credits scene, because this is the kind of horror film that will make people ask the questions, and they need to answer them.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has a collection of unknown actors and actresses trying to escape the tall grass field. Patrick Wilson of The Conjuring, Annabelle and Insidious fame is the only person whom most of us know. The actor who was also there in A-Team, Aquaman and Watchmen continues to be the one who makes the most impact, even though his character is so less developed, even though it was the one which needed the most of such development. Laysla De Oliveira is another actress among all others whom we are seeing for the first time, and she comes with a good performance as the pregnant lady caught in between some tall grass with no hope for escape. Will Buie Jr, the kid shows the hopeless and creepiness of those caught in such a situation very well. Harrison Gilbertson was there in Need for Speed, but we would be noticing here for the first time, and he is fine, and so is Avery Whitted. Rachel Wilson’s role is too small.

How it finishes :: The movie has you in a situation from where there can be no escape. The rules of the world, its physics won’t matter inside this strange field of tall grass, and it is a scary place to explore, and the movie has used this setting well enough to create the needed horror impact. But it has to be noted that there is not much of work done beyond that, and there is also a certain amount of confusion here, as everything is not that clear as far as In the Tall Grass is concerned. There are many things which this premise could have had, but as it is now, the whole thing looks good, and catches your attention – there are some nice visual moments of glory too. In the Tall Grass is surely not the movie which would make horror feel great, but is enough to keep it going, staying strongly within the genre, and using the tall grass to its advantage.

Release date: 4th October 2019
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Laysla De Oliveira, Harrison Gilbertson, Avery Whitted, Will Buie Jr, Rachel Wilson, Patrick Wilson, Tiffany Helm, William Frater

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.