Superdeep

Vampire Owl: I thought that Meander had gone quite deep with its crawlspaces.

Vampire Bat: We cannot be sure that it was about going deep into the ground.

Vampire Owl: From the final moments, it did give me that feeling.

Vampire Bat: The feeling should most probably be wrong.

Vampire Owl: I am more confident about Russian science fiction than others.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I do remember Sputnik and The Blackout.

Vampire Owl: Russian high budget films seem to have some quality which Hollywood lacks.

Vampire Bat: Hollywood seems to be running out of ideas like Bollywood.

Vampire Owl: Bollywood is not what we usually associate with new ideas.

Vampire Bat: Still, they are so much available everywhere.

[Gets a blueberry cake and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: The action is set in 1984, during the final years of Soviet Union, before its final dissolution into Russia and the other nations. Anna Fedorova (Milena Radulovic) works as an epidemiologist is working for a vaccine for the government, but wishes to resign her post as the head of research, as her research associate is now dead due to trying the vaccine on himself without precautions and no preliminary animal testing. As there is a quick need for the vaccine, the military continues to force her to do what she has been doing, and she is also authorized to continue the human trials, and come up with a result. She still considers herself to be fully responsible for the failure of Vaccine MX23, and the death of her colleague. Her original idea was also to shut down the project immediately, but that wouldn’t be an option in Soviet Union. With the military having an eye over everything, things now have to proceed faster than ever.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The Soviet soldiers in Africa are going to require this vaccine soon, and there is a deadline coming up – the government has never been fans of those who fail to meet the deadline, even if it is by a few days. Soon, Anna is seen as being congratulated on her success in developing the vaccine in a short period of time, much ahead of the deadline. She also receives a call from the military, and she is informed about an incident in a secret underground research facility at Kola Superdeep where sounds of unknown origin were discovered below the surface after twenty people had hone missing. The facility is going to be shut down soon, and there is the need to collect the samples very soon, for which she cab lead a team. For this, some fine rewards are offered to her. She finds the offer to be appointed as the head of the Military Biological Defense Institute to be something which she cannot turn down, and that leads her to the secret facility set in snow.

And things can get only stranger in this world of chaos :: With a group of highly armed soldiers, she reaches there, only to be approached by a strange man who refuses to obey instructions, and is shot. The stranger detonates a hand grenade to kill himself, and there is some damage caused to the helicopter, and the cew is also slightly hurt. This comes as a shock to Anna who feels that there is more to what has happened now. Anna notices the corpse, and finds out that there is something strange about the body, as she continues to collect samples from the remains. The dead man was supposed to be a scientist who came up and lost control of his mind, but according to the crew, he had become so strong that nobody could hold him down. Anna also checks the miners from the mining shaft attached to the secret facility, but she is able to find nothing specific. One of the miners do give her a clue, that this is not about a disease, and it is basically hell down there. Now, it is up to her to find something out of that particular idea.

The defence of The Superdeep :: Milena Radulovic whom we know from The Balkan Line leads the way well in this film which has her as the advantage. The film does have some fine visuals of this particular world which goes a long way underneath the surface of the planet. The fine detail around here does provide us with the feeling of 1980s and the Soviet world. It is different from what we see in the usual Hollywood movies, and that difference works as an advantage to take us to a different universe. It also reminds us of some of those computer games with some fine graphics. This is more or less like a whole world down there to explore, and we can surely make a video game out of this. There are moments when it also reminds one of Prometheus and Alien Covenant, as there is something out of this world at work. There is also a certain amount of alien-like horror working out here. The detailing here is also very good, and unveiling this mystery only makes things scarier. The fear here feels real, and the thrills go on.

Positives and negatives :: The Superdeep doesn’t have good beginning, as we do have our doubts about what is to happen, after the start. Other than the main character, the others don’t contribute that much around here. Once the film gets its setting to the snow-filled world and underneath it, we are quick to know that we are up for something that will keep us glued to the seats. The sound effects nicely contribute to the same as much as the atmosphere created. All these contribute well to the fear generation. The idea of the creature at work here brings more to totality too. There is so much about the creature that is scary, and it is not just the view itself. The limitations and the lack of soul in science can also be seen here, as we see the sinister motives here too. The ending leaves a few things to ponder about, not just about humanity and its survival as well as weakness, but also about what is to happen next, leaving the possibility of having a sequel at some point.

How it finishes :: Russian film industry has been very good in making some special science fiction movies, and this one is the latest addition to the same. It is also like a computer game in which we enters a dangerous new world, and we enjoy this setting a lot. It does reminds one of Doom, but does manage to create its own identity, thanks to the Soviet style which is reinvented really well with a certain amount of quality. The scary elements also work really well here, and the horror that is provided here can stay. If you are into science fiction horror, you have to give a chance to this film too. Among the recent flicks, you might have watched Russian demons, ghosts and witches through Guests, Queen of Spades, Baba Yaga and others, but it seems that the best of horror lies in science fiction. You can take a look back to The Blackout and Sputnik along with this one, and this is a film that I consider at a higher level, somewhat above many Hollywood films dealing with similar elements.

Release date: 4th November 2020
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Arseny Syuhin
Starring: Milena Radulovic, Maksim Radugin, Nikita Dyuvbanov, Vadim Demchog, Kirill Kovbas, Viktor Nizovoy, Sergey Ivanyuk, Albina Chaykina, Artyom Tsukanov, Nikolay Kovbas

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cadaver

Vampire Owl: I have got some doubt if they are talking about us.

Vampire Bat: This is surely not about the undead. You can have my assurance.

Vampire Owl: Well, dead people have no rights in the human world. So, we cannot be sure.

Vampire Bat: Such doubts that you have are usually wrong.

Vampire Owl: This is just our second Norwegian film to be watched.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the last one, Lake of Death was a good one, right?

Vampire Owl: There is something sinister about these movies. I can feel it.

Vampire Bat: You can reserve your feelings for later, after watching the film.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but I am a vampire of extreme doubt, you know that.

Vampire Bat: Yet, you remain the leader of a large vampire battalion.

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

What is the movie about? :: One of the big Norwegian cities was hit by a nuclear disaster, and people struggling to survive with devastation all around. There is no hope for future in this post-apocalyptic situation – food is very difficult to find, and there is also no electricity. Dead bodies could be seen in different parts of the city with devastated buildings, and the climate seems to be very rough, as news about nuclear disasters, conflicts and possible world wars are everywhere. Leonora (Gitte Witt) and Jacob (Thomas Gullestad) live in this particular city with their little child, Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman). The child has regular nightmares, as they live alone in what seems to be an abandoned apartment. They understand that they cannot just hang in there with nothing left other than each other. It is then that they find out that there is a theatre play happening nearby, with a free meal. They understand that it is their chance to have some food for the family, and decides to go there at night, even though they do have some initial doubts about the same.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Leonara hopes that these are the signs of things getting better, and her optimism leads them to the thaetre building – she feels that even if the meals are not enough, they could still have some fun, which the child desperately needs. Even though Alice is first refused entry, the hotel director, Mathias (Thorbjorn Harr), personally gets there and allows the child inside. The building seems to the one last thing standing tall in between all the destruction around. They are all happy to see what is like a new world for them, with a lot of food and it is more like a festival. Everyone seems starved, and they all eats as much as they want. There are other people who are also there for the first time. Mathias tells the guests that the play will be performed by using the whole hotel without curtain, seats and intermission. Everything during the night would be part of the show, with spectators given masks to wear, and the actors would be without the masks, as they move around.

And things can get only stranger in this world of chaos :: The performance starts all of a sudden, without a warning. The guests have the option to attend any performance at any part of the huge building with so many rooms and floors. Everyone keeps looking for things that would catch their interest, and there are so many different spaces without masked people. As everyone keeps walking around, soon Leonara and Jacon understand that Alice is not with them anymore. They remember seeing her just before, but now she seems lost. They keep searching for them, while others also seems to have lost people who were with them. Soon, it seems that there are no more spectactors, and all of them seems to have disappeared without trace. The show still seems to continue in the same manner, but without people. There are some strange trapdoors and creepy rooms around, while things only get more sinister as they keep moving on. It seems that we have more than what meets the eye with this particular building and the show – how dangerous is it?

The defence of Cadaver :: There seems to be so many mysteries hidden in this particular world, and after the initial introduction to the world of chaos hit by an apocalyptic world, we have a terrifying post-apocalyptic world outside, and we are then introduced into something even more frightening inside a building, that is two levels of horror unleashed without warning. The world inside is creepier than one can imagine. The structure, with its creepy corridors, rooms, paintings, darkness – this old-style building is something which will stay in our minds for a very long time. The terror that the movie brings feels much realistic than it is supposed to be, because it is more or less a reflection of humanity and the inherent evil that has led it for a long time throughout history. People have always been evil, as William Golding had shown in Lord of the Flies, a long time ago – it is the same reflection that we see here. As we look at where humanity has reached as of now, what happens in this film is only a little distant probability, for modernity has taken a part of everyone’s soul, as people go for riches above everything else.

Positives and negatives :: The film could have made itself a bigger blood and gore fest with terrifying secrets being brought to light on after the other, but it gains some remarkable ground in its current form. There were more opportunities in between, with all those strange acts being possible with this premise – the film could have used it for the better. The conclusion is pretty good, there are some moments in between that seems to stretch the movie rather than doing anything else. There is also a little bit of predictability, but we can go past that quick enough. Yet, when you are transported into this particular world, you are more or less in a mystery which seems to get thicker and thicker as time passes. When you have a horror thriller set inside a strange building which is part of a post-apocalyptic world, what can be there other than consistent scope of danger? Well, that much has been achieved really well with this particular movie which thrives on its atmosphere again and again. The idea of survival of the fittest, when applied here works remarkably well. The performances are pretty good, but that is not the focus here.

How it finishes :: This Norwegian film seems to rise above the usual horror flicks, as it rises above the genre which has depleted some of its strengths due to modernity and the lack of belief in traditions. The way in which Cadaver uses its scares should come as inspiration to Hollywood too, as one cannot always depend on The Conjuring, Insidious, Annabelle, Lights Out and Don’t Breathe among others to do the thing, and even come up with more and more sequels, for originality matters. Cadaver is innovative enough to create something special out of an already terrifying premise, and the ability to display some extra skills to keep the audience engaged makes sure that this is one of the most effective horror flicks of these times. The atmosphere, setting, situations – all seems to come together so well. If you haven’t watched this one, you are missing the opportunity to watch a well-made horror movie making unexpected impact. This is indeed a film to stay with you even after the whole thing ends – as effective as you can expect from such a world of mystery.

Release date: 22nd October 2020
Running time: 86 minutes
Directed by: Jarand Herdal
Starring: Gitte Witt, Thomas Gullestad, Thorbjorn Harr, Tuva Olivia, Kingsford Siayor, Maria Grazia Di Meo, Jonatan Rodriguez, Trine Wiggen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Meander

Vampire Owl: I remember having met an elf with a similar name.

Vampire Bat: Well, this is certainly not a fantasy movie.

Vampire Owl: Elves are as real as we are. None of us are fantasy.

Vampire Bat: Well, for humans, we are all fantasy elements.

Vampire Owl: The girl on the poster does look very much real.

Vampire Bat: You surely cannot say the same about her surroundings.

Vampire Owl: The poster here doesn’t seems to mean anything.

Vampire Bat: It could be a reflection of the useless lives that the humans lead.

Vampire Owl: Well, with the terrible mindset that they have, what else can they do?

Vampire Bat: They could always choose to be extinct and save the planet and the other life forms that live without hate.

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

What is the movie about? :: Lisa (Gaia Weiss) who works as a waiter is seen lying in the middle of a road in the countryside until a car arrives from a distance. She starts walking, but the man in the car, Adam (Peter Franzen) who works as a night watchman offers her a lift, as there is nobody nearby, and there is no hope of finding civilization soon enough. They seem to get along well enough, and Lisa is disappointed about her daughter’s death – she realizes that the girl would have been nine years old on that day if she was alive. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through her, and she hopes that she could die one day and unite with he daughter again. It is then that it turns out that the man who is with her is a murderer, and the police is in search of him, as she realizes the same from the news on the radio. But the realization comes a little late, as he slams her head against the dashboard of the car, leaving her motionless.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Lisa wakes up in a small room which seems to have no way out. She is clothed in a strange suit which tightly fits her body, and a strange light-emitting device is attached to her wrist. Later, a door on the side opens and reveals a narrow tunnel through which she crawls with great difficulty, and the door closes right behind her, leaving her trapped inside on her all fours. She has no option, but to continue crawling, trying to find and exit which could lead her to freedom. The device on her wrist also seems to have a timer and alarm, as it seems to remind her of time running out, as she has to go squeeze through extremely narrow passages, as she moved towards light. As the roof of the tunnel comes down, almost catching her buttocks stuck within, that would be only the first of the challenges that she would have to overcome, soon to be followed by a rotten body, water, acid and others.

The defence of Meander :: Almost whole of the movie has just one setting around here, and it has also dealt with the same effectively. There are some fine traps in here, and the more terrifying thing is that they are all within a crawlspace, with the chance of escape being really minute – I wouldn’t give most of us any chance with this, but we root for the lady in distress here, as we are more confident about her getting through, even though not as much as Prince of Persia or Tomb Raider would. Here, in between, we come to know that there is more to all of these than what meets the eye, and that there is something beyond our comprehension, most probably supernatural or paranormal at work. The same is revealed in the end, and it means that we have further scope for a sequel here. After all, this kind of a premise, like that of Prometheus and Alien Covenant, even though lesser in grandeur, can have many different paths to follow. The mysterious feeling never really leaves us.

The claws of flaw :: Meander is surely not the usual kind of a movie, and it goes divergent from even any other possible film who can deal with a similar circumstance. It doesn’t have much more than what it provides here, and leaves us with minimal settings. People who don’t wish to see one person trying to fight it all to make the way out of a long crawlspace won’t find this one to be of their type. Even though this is supposed to be science fiction, the same type of elements show less of a presence around here. We also feel that this could have been better, more direct in what it does, because you know how these have worked really well with the video games. There could have been direct ideas provided here, and even though there could be symbolism being connected here, there is not much that we can use directly. We do have many films with one actor getting all the focus, and others being almost absent – Sunny is a recent example, and this one could have done more with the one character other than the trap escape acts.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has only two actors, and it is more or less about Gaia Weiss, who is there for the whole of the movie, and works through it very all, as her character keeps trying to survive against all odds. She nicely fits in here, and one would feel that if there is a full action film coming soon, she could be right in there, doing a great job. She plays the character that has do the impossible, and she does some fantastic work as the one person who goes through all of these. To add to it, there is also an emotional side to her character, which is also portrayed well. Peter Franzen also has some work to do, but he has a very less time on the screen. Basically, we can say that everything is left to Gaia, and she becomes the sole pillar on which the movie depends on, as far as performances are concerned. She never looks like she is going to lag with that much of a weight on her. Not many people could have handled the same so well too.

How it finishes :: Meander makes a fine French movie that has different elements coming together even with almost everything set in one particular place. It is all about survival, set in a seemingly difficult situation, much scarier than The Shallows where we know the enemy, and much hopeless than The Platform in which there was at least the certainty of food and a possible companionship. Unlike the rest which has some hope for its protagonists, this one is at an advanced level of leaving almost no chance to survive, like a hopeless level of The Maze Runner. As a film which gives you claustrophobia, this one is surely an experiment which you might want to remember for long. As the lady moves through this particular crawlspace world, you are into some slow and effective moments of thrills, unlike the ones that we usually see elsewhere. It is that tale of survival which once again has the protagonist fighting against all odds, and we are all hoping for her to survive.

Release date: 11th October 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Mathieu Turi
Starring: Gaia Weiss, Peter Franzen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Manor

Vampire Owl: Are we talking about the Dracula Manor?

Vampire Bat: There is no such a manor. We only have the castle.

Vampire Owl: Well, this could be a manor which looks like a castle.

Vampire Bat: Well, Uncle Dracula certainly has some specific ideas about what a great vampire abode should be.

Vampire Owl: His ideas are as outdated as the castle dungeon coating.

Vampire Bat: We are not supposed to talk like that about the vampire elders.

Vampire Owl: Uncle Dracula is still a few centuries away from being a true elder.

Vampire Bat: The elder status is not always gained by age.

Vampire Owl: Yet, all our vampire elders are older than history.

Vampire Bat: Well, you will see how Uncle Dracula is an exception.

[Gets a pineapple cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Judith Albright (Barbara Hershey) had considered herself to be of perfect health, and enjoyed her life with family including little kids, until she suddenly faces a stroke. She decides to move into a famous nursing home, even though her family feels that it is totally unnecessary. Her grandchildren considers her to be young and healthy as anyone of a lower age, but she is adamant. In comparison to her, the other residents of the nursing home are not really that healthy, both physically and mentally. For the peace and quiet of the place, the authorities actually keep a no mobile phone policy, much to her dismay, as she hoped to text her relatives and find some interesting photos and news from the social media. Judith had chosen to stay at this place, as she didn’t want to be a problem for her family, especially if she gets bed-ridden at some point, and has the feeling that things might not be the same again after the stroke.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, she feels that there is something really strange about the manor and the people around there, even though she does make some good friends out there. The nights no longer allow her to sleep, as something is seen or heard all around. The surroundings around this particular nursing home is also pretty much spooky, as we look on. Her room-mate makes some strange noises, and doesn’t seem to be of good mental health. She also feels that there is a supernatural presence there, with nurses also acting strange, and wants to escape. But the problem is that it was her own decision to choose the nursing home – now she needs to act against it. For the same, she would have a lot of convincing to do though, as everything looks perfect from outside. There is a mystery to be revealed here, about what is it that haunts this particular world, but can it be known?

The defence of The Manor :: There are some fine moments of terror which comes out of nowhere, even though there are not many, and nothing much that we would remember for that long. The setting is really good, and they do use the environment to the best advantage, from the building to the surroundings. There is always something about the world around, whether having an enchanted feeling, or about being ready to unleash the terror at any moment. We also have fine concept behind this film, even though not at its full strength when executed. As expected, there is indeed the twist that awaits us, and there is a certain amount of deviation regarding that too. With Barbara Hershey in the lead, this was going to create a certain amount of impact, and one could be confident that the same was going to increase the positive effect.

The claws of flaw :: The Manor could have done a lot more, and we know that from the premise itself. The film is also very slow, and slower than any horror film would have wanted to move forward. When a horror film cannot go at a good enough pace, it affects the whole thing rather too much. Such a film is also expected to use what is required to keep itself in the genre. The idea here should have been executed better, and there could have been many paths to follow. The scares that it uses could have been manufactured in a better way. It also doesn’t try to build on a possible message which was standing so close out there. The structure could have been better as we look at it. As part of a bigger series, Welcome to the Blumhouse, this one had the chance to stand out, but really doesn’t try to do that. Well, it is our right to expect more here.

Performers of the soul :: Barbara Hershey plays the main role here, and she is also the old lady in distress around. She is the name that has been familiar the most for the supernatural horror film, The Entity more than anything else. It is also one film of those times which has had its presence well known. After so many years, she is part of another horror flick, and she blends in here really well once again. Bruce Davison is the next notable face here, as he has a bigger role to play here than what it seems in the early stages. Then there are actresses like Ciera Payton, Stacey Travis and Jill Larson who also contribute to the film naturally. Nicholas Alexander plays another significant role here, which becomes even more important in the later stages of the movie. Katie Amanda Keane and Shelley Robertson also drops in, along with Fran Bennett. As this is a nursing home, there are enough in-mates here to add to the characters, even though not all of them are used to the best advantage.

How it finishes :: The Manor is the latest addition to the thrillers added to Amazon Prime Video, and last month we did have The Voyeurs doing the job. It doesn’t use enough of horror to its advantage, unlike what was expected, and if it had done that too, The Manor could have had its own good fan base with its premise. In the world of films like The Conjuring, Insidious, Annabelle, Lights Out and Don’t Breathe among others, this is no grand horror fest, but a small one to be part of the group. The focus here is more on the mystery, and as we go through the environment, we are going to be part of this journey, at a lower pace. In a world slowed down by COVID-19 pandemic, there is always scope for some slow horror too. During these days when you cannot trust the people or the virus enough, all you need is some supernatural horror.

Release date: 8th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 81 minutes
Directed by: Axelle Carolyn
Starring: Barbara Hershey, Stacey Travis, Bruce Davison, Ciera Payton, Jill Larson, Mark Steger

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chathur Mukham

What is the movie about? :: Clement (Alencier Ley Lopez) used to be a professor in the Kerala Agricultural University, and even though he has retired from service, has a certain amount of interest in science which can be matched by nobody else. Due to his skills in science, he is approached by Antony (Sunny Wayne) who wishes to talk to him about a certain kind of energy which can be associated with ghosts, but this time, he is trying to connect the same with science in one way or the other. Clement is a strong believer in science, but not in ghosts, and he is not ready to believe in Antony’s tale about energy in the form of ghosts. Then, Antony comes up with the full story about the woman who was haunted by ghosts, Thejaswini (Manju Warrier). She is someone who spends most of her time in the social media, and has everything related to her life posted on Instagram. She belongs to a new generation which believes that technology is an important part of life, and also that women needs to have education and financial independence before getting married.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hailing from Kollam, she works with her old friend, Antony who has been running a CCTV business at Thiruvananthapuram as a new venture. Things seem to work out well for her until a strange incident occurs during a ritual at temple and she losses her phone in the temple pond. This leads to her deciding to go for another phone, and she hopes she can find the cheapest one with multimedia features. It is then that she comes across a special offer in a website which seems to have started only a few days ago. This is a type of phone belonging to a brand that nobody had heard about, and they guess that it is some kind of new Chinese device. She orders the same, and gets it only to find out that there is something strange about it. She finds out that there are messages going out of it without her consent, and she even gets electrocuted from the charger, but the mobile phone seems to have full charge even after a long time period of usage. Initially, she feels that only the selfie camera of the phone is the weaker link.

And what is to follow with the terrifying series of events? :: But there is much more to the mobile phone than what meets the eye. The sequence of events unfold in such a way that she becomes afraid of her own mobile phone. She tries to get rid of the phone multiple times, but it ends up being with her, or forces her to take it back in one way or the other. Even dropping the phone in the middle of the road or the temple pond doesn’t help. As the phone continues to come towards her and cause problems, she becomes confident that there is a ghost haunting the phone. She approaches a local magician, but the spirit scares him away too, and she is forced to live with the phone which seems to slowly taking her to death. Clement is still not convinced, and decides to see the woman anyway. But this leads them to a strange past that the mobile phone seems to have a strange and mysterious past, and it is not the only phone that belongs to the same category.

The defence of Chathur Mukham :: The film provides a good deviation from the usual horror films, with technology bringing the horror again, as it was surely tried before, but not with this much focus on science. The cinematography is one thing that increases the effectiveness of this film, as we can see them. These are not the usual horror settings, but the different ones which can provide the environment in a similar manner with variety. With the mobile phone at the centre, this doesn’t even need to have that much of the usual jump scares in action to bring the horror to the social media and the usual dose of technology. There is also the chance of a sequel which is left behind at the end. The special effects are used well enough, and there are some fine explanations to the horror which is added here too. Having Manju Warrier as the main character is also a good addition. With technology being an integral part of our lives, the ghost from technology is more relevant here in comparison to those spirits which wandered through cemeteries and old haunted houses.

The claws of flaw :: There are the usual kind of things which have been done before, and these repetitions bring us back to different films which we have seen before, like The Ring and The Final Destination series. The dramatic side is also not that effective in comparison, and some characters are just not used well enough. With the concept having the deviation, the film could have made it even more innovative, but by the end, film is moving more towards a safer side rather than anything else. It could have also focused on the background, or added more scares, which are not considered either. The ending could have also been better, because there was the chance for creating something grand. It could have also had some science fiction elements taking over in between, but that doesn’t happen, and the film could have also had more deaths, and more spreading of terror. When you have spirits in store within a mobile phone and when it has effect on technology and electricity, you know there are no limits that need to established – it could have run free.

Performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier leads the way in a horror film, and even though this genre is not unfamiliar to her, when we consider The Priest, this is time she faces the ghost, her own fears and death as a strong character. Sunny Wayne, just like he did in Sara’s and June, has the supporting role in another heroine-centered film, which he does in his usual way, being the second most important character around here. He doesn’t really have his moments this time though, but manages to hold on. Niranjana Anoop is unfortunately wasted in a small role here, and the character doesn’t even get killed by the ghost – a few others at least had moments in that way in comparison. The other actors who deserved more attention, including Rony David, Srikant Murali, Babu Annur etc also have their roles limited. Alencier Ley Lopez is the only other actor who comes into the spotlight, and this happens to be a nice change for him from the usual roles. Meanwhile, Shyamaprasad is notable in his small role, while mobile phone is definitely a character all by itself with its ghostly presence.

How it finishes :: Identified as techno horror, the film does have its moments. We have already had ghosts haunting electronic devices, especially mobile phones – the Bollywood film 3G was related to the same, and this one is certainly a better creation in comparison, even though it released eight years later. Pretham and Pretham 2 were also wanderings through the spiritual presence in technology. There are many things that make Chathur Mukham different though, and Manju Warrier is surely one of those elements. This one also works as a warning against the presence of technology in our lives. This is the kind of film which could have released on the OTT platforms much earlier – this delay has made the interest in the movie much lesser, and the fact that it didn’t release in Amazon Prime Video also contributes to that. Cold Case with its ghost in the refrigerator had already made the supernatural working online, and now we have this ghost to haunt the OTT, which it surely does pretty well.

Release date: 8th April 2021 (India), 8th July 2021 (ZEE 5)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Ranjeet Kamala Sankar, Salil V
Starring: Manju Warrier, Sunny Wayne, Alencier Ley Lopez, Rony David, Shyamaprasad, Niranjana Anoop, Babu Annur, Srikant Murali, Shaju Sreedhar, Kalabhavan Prajod, Balaji Sarma, Navas Vallikkunnu, Saranjith

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cold Case

What is the movie about? :: ACP Sathyajith (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is in charge of an investigation of a case which has turned cold. As a skull is discovered in the backwaters near Trivandrum, from within a cover, and it becomes an internet sensation, the requirement is to discover its origins as soon as possible. But Sathyajith has to start with no clue on where to begin the investigation, but with the help of CI Ziyad (Anil Nedumangad) and the new recruit Neela (Pooja Mohanraj), he has to make a move quickly. At the same time, Medha (Aditi Balan) is a recently divorced mother of a little girl, and finds a new home somewhere around Trivandrum. She is an investigative journalist who is interested in paranormal happenings, only to find something strange in the new house which she had rented. There is something cold about her new home, and the AC, refrigerator, television, laptop, lights – everything electric seems to have something to do with it. To add to it, her daughter also has a strange doll given by her sister who committed suicide.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Medha finds out a name from a blind occult researcher, Zara Zacchai (Suchitra Pillai), and the presence had a name, Eva Maria (Athmiya Rajan), who has a troubled history. She tries to find out the secret behind the disappearance of the woman with that particular name, while Sathyajith also comes across a similar name, from a dental transplant which remained on the skull. Now the question remains where Eva Maria has disappeared, and whether the skull points to somebody else. Medha’s advocate who filed the divorce, Haritha Manakkal (Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli) points her to Eva’s previous husband who is now married to a wealthy lady, and Sathyajith also digs up her past, from her family which included her stepmother and children. But Eva Maria hadn’t disappeared for everyone, and some people feel that she had taken a spiritual path. There is more than what meets the eye about Eva, but with ghosts and murderers around, can truth somehow make it outside?

The defence of Cold Case :: Here, Cold Case comes up as another interesting thriller with a supernatural side, combining both elements quite well. The supernatural side is also nicely used, even though it is not combined well enough in totality. There are some nice moments of horror around here, and there are fine twists to go with it. With some red herrings added here and there, the film makes sure that we don’t get that much of a clue about who is behind all of these happenings. There is always something here to keep the horror going, and the suspense does keeps us guessing – we do come up with many possible villains, but this asks for more than the usual guesses. The use of refrigerator and the cold works pretty well, but the hair doesn’t. Above everything, the cast is also good, and with fine support, things work better. This one can have its sequel for sure, as there is that opening which is left to be explored in the end.

The claws of flaw :: Cold Case, while trying to do it differently, focuses on too many things, and due to the same reason, has some diversion, which was not needed. The problem with having such diversions is that the most important thing, the police investigation is not always on the lead. The other side following the supernatural lead often seems to be not necessary, as we keep having moments from both sides. An expansion of the supernatural, and making it connect directly with the police investigation would have improved the work further. The idea about another death is also kept in the balance, to be explored in a sequel if there is any. The film certainly had so many opportunities, and it should have taken it, maybe even at the expense of extending the film by half an hour or so. If this had released when most of the Indian states were in lock-down, it would have managed many more audience too, but this is surely going to gain its fans, anyway.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran in a thriller has always been joy to watch, and there is no better example for the same than Memories, one of the best investigation thrillers of all-time as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned. Kunchacko Boban’s triple thrillers of Anjaam Pathira, Nayattu and Nizhal seemed to suggest that a deviation was coming in the genre, and the usual police officer solving a case was gone, a case reiterated by Tovino Thomas in Forensic – none of these films had the police officers solving the problem. Prithviraj as the protagonist, the police officer goes after the case here in a more systematic manner as we see it. He is certainly the hero here, even though the tale does provide a side for the lady protagonist too. He is indeed the one who solves the problem here, and any ghostly help which comes from outside was not that much needed. We see that Prithviraj comfortably go through the role here, and has no direct contact with the paranormal side to ask for help.

Further performers of the soul :: Aditi Balan makes her Malayalam debut in style too. She does have her moments, but her character doesn’t have that much strength to add to this investigation, which is in control of the police. Almost all the supernatural elements are related to her, and she excels in her first Malayalam film, far above her character, as we also see the focus shifting to her effectively. This is also one of the final films of the talented Anil Nedumangad, who died by drowning in a dam reservior a few months ago. He once again proves to be of fine support yet again. Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli who was last seen in Malayalam cinema in the movies Angels and Salt Mango Tree can be seen in a certain kind of a return here too, and she has done a neat work here. Alencier Ley Lopez has much more to contribute here than what earlier met the eye. Athmeeya Rajan of the Joseph fame is once again here as the lady everyone is searching for, and she has done some fine work, even though we have much less of her on the screen.

How it finishes :: Cold Case is not the usual kind of investigative thriller, as there is the supernatural side going strong from one angle, which might have been less expected from the work. There are lots of interesting moments in this film, and it also leaves a scope for a sequel in the end. It is part of that long list of thrillers which have brought the entertainment to us during the COVID-19 season, and with some horror effects to add to the investigation, this is also one nice flick to watch in the theatre, if there is ever any opening of the same in the upcoming months. We can only thank Amazon Prime Video for bringing us films like these which keeps the entertainment coming to our laptops. When Kilometers and Kilometers released on television, people had the feeling that this was not going to work, but now we have so many films which have released or had a later release in the OTT platform. Cold Case makes it there, and it also scores well, just like the other Malayalam films which came to OTT, with Drishyam 2 in the lead.

Release date: 30th June 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Tanu Balak
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Aditi Balan, Anil Nedumangad, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, Nitha Promy, Athmeeya Rajan, Pooja Mohanraj, Suchitra Pillai, Gibin Gopinath, Alencier Ley Lopez, Parvathy T, Baby Aleena, Tessa Simon, Rajesh Hebbar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Scary Stories

Vampire Owl: So, we have Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Vampire Bat: Did you notice that it is the name of one movie with a very long title?

Vampire Owl: Yes, do you think that there will be stories which are that long?

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t seem to be about separate movies, not something like an anthology.

Vampire Owl: But the impression given is that of an anthology.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but this seems to be a story in which there are stories written about real horror which happens.

Vampire Owl: Horror has always been real. It is the only original genre in the world. The rest are not that close to reality.

Vampire Bat: Yes, who can expect thrillers and romance in life?

Vampire Owl: But horror happens to everyone, and is very much real.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if it is not present, we can always volunteer to provide them.

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

What is the movie about? :: It is the later 1960s, and three teenaged friends, Stella Nicholls (Zoe Colletti), August “Auggie” Hilderbrandt (Gabriel Rush), and Charlie “Chuck” Steinberg (Austin Zajur), prank play a Halloween prank on the bully Tommy Milner (Austin Abrams) who had been bothering them for a long time. Tommy is not someone who would take this lightly, as he and his gang chase them with baseball bats, they run to a drive-in movie theater, where a young drifter Ramon Morales (Michael Garza) hides them in his car. As he makes sure that Tommy doesn’t get them, he promises to have revenge on all of them sooner or later. Ramon becomes good friends with the kids, especially Stella with whom he has an instant connection, with a special interest in horror stories, and also connecting to her troubled past when her mother left her.

So, what happens with the events here? :: They decide to visit a haunted house for Halloween, where a girl named Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard) had committed suicide. After a kid had gone missing, the place was locked down by the local authorities, but the group manages to get in, only to be locked in by Tommy along with his own girlfriend who is Charlie’s sister, Ruth Steinberg (Natalie Ganzhorn). Stella finds a book which seems to be writen by Sarah who was mostly a recluse, and considered by people to be mentally unwell. She decides to take it home, but on that night, she finds out that the book starts writing all by itself, and it is done using blood. Soon, they understand that Tommy has gone missing, and by finding his t-shirt on a scarecrow, she realizes that he had become the new scarecrow after being attacked by the former scarecrow according to the book. Now, before it starts writing again, she has to stop it with her friends. Can she do that in time?

The defence of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark :: The movie is well-structured, and each death here becomes a special tale of supernatural murder when we look at them, connected by one which gets written by a supernatural entity which has terrible past behind it, that needs to be revealed. The idea is a really good one, and we are immersed in it, even without it trying to do the extraordinary. Everything here is kept pretty much simple, and you can always have time to admire some simple horror. The monsters are nice, beginning with the scarecrow coming alive, and going on to add more which relates to the worst fears of the victims. The Halloween setting is a fine beginning to the tale, and it continues to score well through the haunting in the middle, reaching to the end which is pretty well done, and leading to the option of a sequel being kept open. In the end, you have more than one story in your mind.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much unique being added here though, as this does remind us of other tales, and the predictability does come in, at times. There is not much of a character development around here, and the beginning moments are kind of drag, which could have been shortened to give this movie a better pace at the start. Even though the movie is based on Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a series of three collections of short horror stories meant for children, this could have had some special additions because this is the movie version, and visuals mean a lot of horror. The book is supposed to have drawn heavily from folklore and urban legends, and so anything more can fit in here and there. Then there is the Academy award winner Guillermo del Toro’s name flashed as a producer, and your expectations are even higher, keeping this movie’s level below that. Well, I still want a sequel to his Crimson Peak as soon as possible, just like Dredd always needed.

Performers of the soul :: Zoe Colletti plays the protagonist, and leads the way in a horror movie amazingly well, leaving us hope for a scream queen many years later. From the beginning with silly Halloween pranks, she is someone who leads the way through the murders, and does that without doubts. Michael Garza who plays the next important character also does well, from the very moment he gets to meet the other characters. The other kids who are being hunted by the ghost with a past includes Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Zajur, Gabriel Rush and Austin Abrams, and they all provided good support. Gil Bellows who plays the police officer also has his moments. But as usual, the ones who scores the best are the monsters, and even the book is a fine character enough. When you make good monsters, you inspire better work from the cast, unless you have The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun group, which works anyway.

How it finishes :: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark shows that simple scary stories do come alive, and when it does, there is great scope for horror. There is no usual anthology here when you hear that it is about stories. There are no different tales coming together from different directors this time, like they have been doing for a long time. It does take an amount of such terror, and use it pretty well, with a cast which is not much known, and it works well enough with some interesting moments of monsters to go with it, as well as a past which is worthy enough for a good haunting. The idea to bring these tales and monsters are also nice, as it becomes not a usual horror story with spirits haunting us. It makes a fine thing for Halloween, and maybe you can watch it during the witching hours, with one monster after the other, as you even feel the need to write a horror story by the end of this movie.

Release date: 9th August 2019
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Andre Ovredal
Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wretched

Vampire Owl: These humans often refer us by this name.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is clearly wrong, as we are not in a wretched condition yet.

Vampire Owl: I am pretty sure that the humans are in a more wretched situation now.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the Corona Virus has gotten into them pretty badly.

Vampire Owl: I believe that they have always been wretched enough.

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t say that for every one of them.

Vampire Owl: You have always been too kind of the humans.

Vampire Bat: And you have always been the cruel one.

Vampire Owl: Nobody in the known world are as cruel and wicked as the humans.

Vampire Bat: Now, this is something you don’t even say about the werewolves or zombies.

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

What is the movie about? :: A young girl names Megan (Sydne Mikelle) has a babysitting duty, only to find a creature feeding off the little girl, and as she tries to escape, it seems that Megan also meets a similar end in the hands of the demonic creature. Later we see Ben (John-Paul Howard), a youngster joining his father Liam (Jamison Jones), as his parents are in the middle of having a mutually agreed divorce. Ben gets to work in the local harbour in the countryside with his father on a temporary basis. At the same time, Liam is getting too close to his co-worker, Sara (Azie Tesfai) while Ben becomes good friends with a local girl working there, named Mallory (Piper Curda). Ben also can’t stop himself from noticing their new neighbours, Abbie (Zarah Mahler) and her son Dillon (Blane Crockarell). They do get lost in the woods, and Dillon gets called by a tree into the hole underneath, but they do manage to bring home a deer which their car had hit and killed, much to the dismay of Abbie’s husband Ty (Kevin Bigley). She tries to cut the animal for a dish, but messes it up.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, we see that a certain creature is coming out of the body of the deer through the cut which was made earlier, and Ben also sees something sitting on the rails of Abbie’s home – seemingly human, but something else in reality. It does disappear when the light goes off, but makes appearances inside the house of Abbie. Ben tries to mingle with the young people in the neighbourhood with a party, but is publicly embarrassed by the most desired girl of the locality JJ (Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden). As he returns home, he finds Abbie walking into the woods with her toddler, but is interrupted by Liam and Sara, leading to a dispute. Even though Abbie returns from the woods, she doesn’t seem to be the same. It doesn’t seem to be the usual trouble that haunts the small town, as there is more to it than what meets the eye. There is a force beyond one’s understanding, and if someone tries to solve the case, that person might be considered a lunatic. How many lives will be lost before such an evil vanquished?

The defence of The Wretched :: There is no doubt about this particular movie’s ability to score with the ambiance, as the setting as well as the neighbourhood where the people are living, can all be considered to be very much perfect. We have the small town where people are denying the existence of evil, but there has always been one in the woods, and a tree has been central to everything. To get to the depth of this evil, we have even more twisted ideas in there, and more of terrifying suspense will be revealed in the end. There are also some scares to support the same, and the nature around the place is indeed beautiful. It is more or less like a dark fairy-tale, as there are elements of a dark fantasy which runs right through. The characters are the kind of people whom you can relate to, and that makes the transformation caused by the witch feel even more real. After all, it is always nice to be taken back to the idea of that witch who used to haunt us during the childhood and reached as far as The Witch – until you had the older version of Evil Dead to scare you in the best possible way.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that the movie does try to have a little too much than a regular witch story, which doesn’t always work in its favour. The mixture doesn’t make the best use of its elements, especially as there are so many things which a witch possessing a lady or two can do. The terror could have had even stranger forms, and it also takes some time to make one feel the seriousness of the same. Some scenes are also not needed, even in a movie which goes just above one and half hours. Some people can even find this movie to be confusing in parts, and the creepy poster doesn’t come up in there, which is also disappointing. The mask does come though, and just like the other elements related to the witch, there could have surely been more. The ending has also been left open, maybe for a sequel, but that would need more, and not just the type of material that we have here. There are also some characters who could have done more – some are just left not explored well enough, and we feel the need to see them more.

Performers of the soul :: It is to be noted that the main characters are driven by a terrifying feeling – if you die, and nobody remembers you, where you really alive? That existential crisis is first discovered by John-Paul Howard who plays Ben well enough, but the truth is that it is not just his neighbour who has forgotten his son, as the darker secrets are there to make him realize the terror further. He plays the curious youngster who understands things happening around better than the others, and he does that well. At the same time, Piper Curda remains very cute and brings a lot of charm to the movie – not your usual leading actress, she brings a few joyful moments here and there in what really is a dark movie as it progresses. Zarah Mahler is really good as the young lady next door who is possessed by the witch, as she makes some really scary appearances, and there are scenes with her skin ripping off, which takes it to another level. Azie Tesfai with that deer-skull mask on her face is joy to watch, even though it is only for a short period of time to make a good enough bad witch. Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden could have been there for more though.

How it finishes :: We have always had the supernatural creatures running around in different movies, but the witches have always struggled to keep it going in comparison to vampires, werewolves, zombies and other creatures of the dark who have been competing well with the demons and ghosts. But The Wretched does manage to bring some of such interest back to us during these days, as the witch gets her due, without a broomstick, staying close to an evil tree in the forest. It has enough surprises in there to keep the whole thing going, and with such a setting to help its cause, The Wretched is sure to take you to a world of forest’s witches whom we have known since childhood. You can always expect more, but this is indeed a good beginning to a type of horror cinema which hasn’t made that much of success in comparison to the others. After all, elves and similar creatures of light are not the only ones you keep finding in the middle of the forest.

Release date: 19th July 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Brett Pierce, Drew T Pierce
Starring: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Zarah Karen Mahler, Kevin Bigley, Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden, Richard Ellis, Blane Crockarell, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Beach House

Vampire Owl: This is certainly not the right time to go to a beach.

Vampire Bat: We, vampires have always preferred the hills.

Vampire Owl: That is a tradition left for us by Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Bat: Even the Corona Virus has struggled to make it all the way to the hills under his control.

Vampire Owl: Historically, vampires have only caught bacteria, not virus.

Vampire Bat: That won’t be a statement approving our immunity.

Vampire Owl: There is nothing in a vampire that attracts a virus.

Vampire Bat: Doctor Frankenstein has said otherwise though.

Vampire Owl: All mad scientists try to prove it the other way around.

Vampire Bat: Mr Frankenstein is still a successful scientist in our realm.

[Gets a strawberry cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) arrives at the beach house which belonged to latter’s father, and as it is not the time when the tourists make a visit, they feel that it could be found empty, just like many other buildings in the area which is supposed to be a travel destination at a certain period of time. After getting into the beach house, and spending some time together, Emily is surprised to see someone else in the house. Jane (Maryann Nagel) and Mitchell (Jake Weber) identifies themselves as friends of Randall’s father, and according to them, latter knew his father from the university. A confused Emily who is upset about almost being caught be strangers without her pants, offers that they can move out somewhere, but the elderly couple asks them to stay with them, as they have known Randall whom they addressed as Randy from those times when he was a little kid. They offer them that the youngsters could stay there in their room as much as they wanted to.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The four get along really well, and Emily comes up with her plans to study astro-biology and become a scientist, while Randall is not at all fond of studies, comes up with a packet of cannabis which they share. Emily does have doubts about what it could do to the elder couple, but Randall is sure that it is just a little, and will only help them. At the same time, there is also some heavy fog outside, and it seems rather out of this world. Jane goes out to see the same, while Mitchell follows her later. The next morning, the young couple wakes up, and Emily finds Jane in a strange state. They also find Mitchell, and he is also not in a good shape. Emily follows him, as he doesn’t come back after walking into the sea, and finds something strange catching her legs. At the same time, Randall who tries to gelp Jane finds that there is something seriousy wrong with her, and it is not something that they can understand. What is it that is haunting the area? Is it of this world or is it from another planet or dimension?

The defence of The Beach House :: This one is surely not your usual kind of movie, and it is only the name of the setting, as you look at it, without providing a chance to explore the place more – but horror does gets its significance here. The horror here is mostly based on the strange fog and the worms which get into people followed by movement inside them until a complete transformation occurs. The setting is really good, and there is terror being created by the atmosphere, even though one does wonder if it has been taken a little too lightly for this type of a movie – yet it does get to somewhat the expected level during the final stages. We get to know the terrifying situation even when that much is not shown, even though we know that there could have been more. It is Liana Liberato who lifts this movie higher, and I would say that the performances have all been pretty good, even though it is Liana who gets the chance to do much. Whether it is with the relationship or horror itself, she makes it work.

The claws of flaw :: The Beach House does have a struggle with some of its elements, and it could have used more of horror in a better way. This is not the kind of idea which we haven’t seem before, especially with the creepy little worm-like things. The scares of the fog or the mist are not that new, or used with the best possible effect. The movie does feel a little bit too long even with its short total run-time, as there is a little bit too much time spent talking, and all those talks become not too relevant for what is to follow later, a the film changes the mood almost completely. The beginning stages had already given us one kind of impression, but later stages mean something else. Creating a movie like this required more of a different kind of horror to be added to it. You see that there is a beach and the sea which are central to the tale, but the main characters don’t even jump into it or get close to thinking about at least wetting their feet, which is strange, even under these circumstances.

Performers of the soul :: Liana Liberato plays the protagonist in this movie, as she is the girl who wishes to be an astro-biologist here. It is not really the face that we have seen much, and I am sure I haven’t come across her movies before. She makes a fine scream queen, with very good job being done in between all the chaos and terror that is unleashed there. Horror, as a genre seems to suit her, and the other one which seems to be good enough to work out for her feels like romance. In the beginning, there is the case of a fading relationship, which is done with ease, and when horror comes, the same level is maintained. Noah Le Gros supports well, playing her lover. Jake Weber and Maryann Nagel plays the older couple, and their performance is also believable, but we are left without themselves before the half-time itself. But a movie like this doesn’t demand much of them, except for more from the girl who seems to go on towards the end, as people are not the ones who provide the much needed elements of horror.

How it finishes :: The Beach House makes another movie which goes divergent in pursuit of horror. It is to be noted that the movie does remind us of the short story The Colour Out of Space by HP Lovecraft as well as its fine adaptation in which Nicholas Cage stars. There is that same strange feeling that we have here, even though this one is not that colourful, and we understand that it has been made on a low budget. With Corona Virus said to be spreading by air too, we do feel that this kind of a terror is always possible too. After all, we are the ones who will be responsible for the end of this planet, speeding up the upcoming extinction event like never before, in the last few years. Therefore, we await the extinction event or just the human extinction in one way or the other. Before that, we do have movies like this one which seems to bring the end closer than ever, and that is also done in a way that it moves away from the usual stuff with ease.

Release date: 9th July 2019
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Jeffrey A Brown
Starring: Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber, Maryann Nagel, Michael Brumfield, Matt Maisto, Steven Corkin, Veronica Fellman, Dan Zakarija

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cult of Chucky

Vampire Owl: There was this question for VPSC.

Vampire Bat: You mean Vampire Public Service Commission? You are writing exams out there?

Vampire Owl: Yes, my exam centre was on the Old Vampire Isles, and there was this particular question which caught my attention.

Vampire Bat: You travel a little too much to write a silly examination.

Vampire Owl: It is not my point. The real point is related to that question.

Vampire Bat: I know how strange the question of VPSC are. They rarely make sense, and they never really wanted anyone deserving to get a good score.

Vampire Owl: They asked about the greatest doll of all-time. the options were Annabelle, Chucky, Barbie and Shrek.

Vampire Bat: So, you only had to choose from two.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and I ticked on the last option, Shrek.

Vampire Bat: You and VPSC should make best friends, in that case.

[Gets three cups of ginger tea with Hide and Seek biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Years after the events of Curse of Chucky, a lot of things remain the same, including the existence of Chucky (Brad Dourif). Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) who had shot him in the previous movie, has his head kept at his house, and keeps punishing it for the crimes which were committed. At the same time, Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) has been spending her in life in a mental institution, most of the time restrained and sedated for the murders of her family. After being watched at all times through cameras, and going through never-ending therapy, she murdered everyone in her family, and that the doll was just a creation of her mind as a result of her seeing things. Doctor Foley (Michael Therriault), who is sexually attracted to her, has her transferred to his own medium security facility where he can watch her at all times. There, the nurses Nurse Carlos (Zak Santiago) and Nurse Ashley (Ali Tataryn) are in charge, and are nice to her.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: Nica has an interesting group of people to give her comany, with Malcolm (Adam Hurtig), a confused man with multiple identity disorder who is instantly interested in being with her; Angela (Marina Stephenson Kerr), an older woman who believes that she is dead and nobody can see her; Claire (Grace Lynn Kung), a woman who is known to have burned her own house down; and Madeleine (Elisabeth Rosen) who is believed to have killed her own son by suffocation even as she believes that he is not dead yet. To make things more interesting, Foley adds a Good Guy doll, as if bringing Chucky back between them again – nobody really likes that idea, except for Madeleine who believes that it is her child that has come back to her. Claire is more hostile to Nica than anybody else, believing that she is a mass murderer who killed her own family.

And what is to follow next in this adventure? :: Nica is visited by Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly), who has been the legal guardian of her niece, Alice. Tiffany reveals that Alice has died and leaves her a Good Guy doll, which she claims was a gift from Alice Pierce (Summer H Howell). After informing her that the kid is dead, she says that Alice wanted Nica to have her Good Guy doll, and that night, she tries to commit suicide by slicing her wrists. Chucky, who has woken up at the hospital, finds it out, and stitches her wound back, leaving a message that she won’t die that easily. At the same night, Angela is found dead, and Claire follows, as Chucky makes his impacy felt. Now the question remains about which doll is the one that is possessed, and despite Nica’s best efforts, nobody believes that there is a serial killer doll killing people – the doctor himself is not interested in her words, as his attention is only towards her body. Now, the question remains about who all will survive the Chucky attack.

The defence of Cult of Chucky :: If you like this never-ending franchise with Chucky, the charming serial killer doll at the centre of it, there is no reason why you need to miss this movie, as there is that murderer doll spirit being carried on to this one too. You have fun, and you have those scary moments, most of them with the elements of blood and gore though – well, Chucky is not Annabelle, and as most of you already know, his motives are significantly different. Well, in a seventh movie of a franchise, you have so many characters returning, and if you are a fan of the series, you are up for the treat again. The one you need to watch out for is indeed Fiona Dourif, who plays the helpless one with a lot of strength from within, and the supporting cast is also very good. The setting is also nice, as the mental hospital brings the appropriate environment to make sure that Chucky shines even after so many years. Well, you need to come back because Chucky needs you.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have surely been better, with a lot of scary moments – this one, with its one and half hours of length, doesn’t add that many of them, which could make the whole thing bigger. The previous movie, Curse of Chucky was surely ahead in that case, and was surely the better movie in comparison. Chucky needs to scare more characters, and here, right after people know that he is alive, they are just killed within minutes – give the poor doll some more time, will you? At least in the next movie? Why would someone need more than one Chucky? Why would one of them be in distress for so long? Why couldn’t the doll get more serious at least with a few things? We need the character to be better, and we need the doll to be creepier. This is not that age of old horror any more – ask many movies including last year’s Don’t Breathe, Lights Out and The Autopsy of Jane Doe for some ideas about innovation, or this one’s own predecessor about being better.

How it finishes :: We have one of the most popular horror dolls of all-time returning to action here, and due to the same reason, we just can’t stop the need to watch this particular flick, as we have felt the urge for so long, and it can only get stronger with time. Child’s Play has been an integral part of our horror lives, just like The Evil Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wishmaster, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and Friday the 13th, all of them, never really leaving our childhood, and all of these movies beginning before I was born. Along with accepting the fact that this one is not going to please everybody, you will accept that this is still good, and Chucky franchise is one of those things of horror which you need; if not now, at some other point. Remember this when you come across a nice looking dolls next time. Maybe there is more to it too, than what meets the eye.

Release date: 3rd October 2017
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Don Mancini
Starring: Fiona Dourif, Michael Therriault, Adam Hurtig, Elisabeth Rosen, Grace Lynn Kung, Marina Stephenson Kerr, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Zak Santiago, Ali Tataryn, Jennifer Tilly, Summer H Howell, Christine Elise

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Let Her Out

Vampire Owl: I remember having said this at the other world to save Lady Death‘s evil twin sister.

Vampire Bat: What? You mean to say that she used to be a damsel in distress?

Vampire Owl: Yes, she was in hell’s prison for pouring water into hellfire.

Vampire Bat: So, it is true that she used to work with firefighters during her exile among humans.

Vampire Owl: Yes, she even earned a medal for saving two dead bodies.

Vampire Bat: I don’t understand. How could she save dead bodies?

Vampire Owl: She worked with Lady Death to delay their soul transfer, letting them die in a plane crash a few days later.

Vampire Bat: And earned the medal for herself. She is the smart one indeed.

Vampire Owl: I have heard that this movie also has twins.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and one of them is the cool evil twin.

[Gets three cups of Wayanad tea with Patanjali Doodh Biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Helen (Alanna LeVierge) is just another normal person who is working at a courier company which makes deliveries by bikes. Her best friend is Molly (Nina Kiri) who is an actress at her lover Ed’s (Adam Christie) drama company. Helen actually has a troubled mind due to the thoughts about her mother (Brooke Henderson) who tried to kill herself and the baby in her womb, coming to her regularly. A man named Roman (Michael Liipka) is in love with her, and orders more and more couriers from her to see her again, along with drawing pictures of her. Things seem to go just normally until she meets with an accident on the road which lands her on the hospital, and keeps her on the bed for some time. When she feels that things are better gets back to her normal life, there is a party arranged to her, but it just doesn’t seem normal anymore.

So, what happens next? :: Helen begins to have hallucinations of someone being with her, and sometimes, she wakes up at place where she has no memory of going. She regularly losses track of what she has been doing – among all things, there is her waking up at a parking lot with her bicycle, walking around the city in just a towel, and standing naked in front of her friends. They consult Doctor Headly (Kate Fenton) who has a scan and finds out that she has a tumour growing inside her. The biggest possibility here is that she had a twin and the other person got killed with the mother, but a part of it was growing inside her brain. The doctor fixes a date for operating and removing the tumour, and everyone assures her that things are going to be just fine. But it turns out that things are not the easy to get better.

And what is to follow with this adventure? :: With only a few days left for the operation, Helen has more visions of the twin who looks just like her except for the eyes. She also figures out that she has done terrible things to people under the control of her twin who wishes to get out and gain control of the body. She hopes to keep her evil twin out, but she just can’t, with her losing control of both her body and mind. She ties herself to the bed and locks the door, but it doesn’t stop her unborn twin sister from doing things that would make her life difficult. Molly figures out that there is something wrong about her than just a tumour, and confronts her, but the evil twin is not something which humans can figure out that well. So, how many others close to Helen will have to suffer because of the presence of her evil twin? Will it one day gain full control and get to live her life or can she, with the help of her best friend stop this menace early enough?

The defence of Let Her Out :: There is something interesting about how this one progresses, as we have that feeling of mystery in the way it is taken. Alanna LeVierge does a great job here as the protagonist on whom the movie is focused as the others just becomes random additions in comparison – she surely makes us feel the protagonist’s pain and sadness, and it is something which is not that common among these horror movies which are rather less noticed. The movie also has its scares, and with a dark setting, and with the protagonist having to face all these alone, there is the certainty of terror. A horror movie with an emotional side is nice – they never really try to develop on that situation of no hope though. There are also those moments which make us wonder if it is all in the mind – that is also a probability in these kinds of movies, isn’t it? At least up-to an extent – after all, there was a trauma there. There should be a day when these lesser known, lower budget horror movies should rise above the big ones.

The claws of flaw :: From what we have in this movie, we are all sure that more could be done. There has been so many options to add more and more scares here and there. Even the evil twin in the shower doesn’t appear when we need to be scared by her, and the final big event gets less than it should have while it could have actually transformed the movie into something else – such simple moments could have been utilized better to elevate this movie. We have seen what evil twins can do, from The Unborn to many more movies which have dealt with a similar idea. One also has to wonder if some of the characters in this movie are present more to be killed rather than to stay alive. Also the people who are facing a situation of life and death, just seem not to try hard enough to save their own lives. It would be nice to have a better development of this idea another time, because there is so much scope when concerning the same.

How it finishes :: There is the chance that this movie will remind one of the Chloe Grace Moretz starrer, Let Me In, which was one of the best vampire movies around, and maybe this title is also intended to make us feel some connection, but the relation is indeed more to The Unborn rather than any other. But you can’t deny that this movie does have a similar kind of an atmosphere prevailing, as our protagonist is also going through a winter in her life. It will surely feel like going through two different personalities, one evil and one good, but the movie is surely more than that, working on the vanishing twin syndrome. This is surely not going to get into any list of a favourites in the genre, as it is not something that will bring something that new or divergent for the horror of our times. Yet, Let Her Out is the flick that will have enough for most people looking for more horror fun, as evil once again finds a way.

Release date: 25th August 2016
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Cody Calahan
Starring: Alanna LeVierge, Nina Kiri, Adam Christie, Kate Fenton, Michael Lipka, Brooke Henderson, Glen Reid, Deborah Jayne Reilly Smith, Kyle Hytonen, Paul McGinnis, Eric Picard, Rachel Sellan, Heather Dicke, Kerstin Bradler, Michael Francavilla

<— Click here to go to the previous review, and the one before that.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat. 

The Last Witch

Background to the movie :: We are no strangers to the tales about witch hunts, and most of us have read about similar incidents all around the world, especially Salem witch trials which had presence in movies like The Lords of Salem and The Conjuring – we even remember a television series with the name Salem. When we look deeper, there has been no shortage of similar incidents throughout the world. In a number of books, we have read about the witch trials in Early Modern Europe. We read in our schools and colleges about Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake, accused of witchcraft. Even in India, we often hear the word Chudail, associated with the witch, even though the same can be applied to demons and spirits too. Here, the movie The Last Witch has its roots on real incidents related to witches in the past too – on one of those incidents involving allegations of witchcraft, witch trials and execution.

One particular witch trial and execution :: Here we have our attention towards the Terrassa witch trials which had taken place in Terrassa, a city in the east central region of Catalonia, in the province of Barcelona in Spain between the years 1615 and 1619. During those days, a terrible weather and crumbling economy of the time was credited to the evil plans of witches, and their worship of their masters in hell. This had lead to a lot of rumours during those times, which finally meant that there would be panic, bringing the need for a witch commision to have the suspects arrested, lest people would take law into their hands. A number of suspects who were arrested, agreed to have been part of Witches’ Sabbath, a meeting of those who practiced witchcraft and other similar things. On the date 27th October 1619, Margarida Tafanera, Eulalia Totxa, Joana Sabina, Guillermo Miramunda Font and Miquela Esclopera Casanovas were executed.

So, what is this particular movie about? :: There were those five women who were hanged during the Terrassa witch trials in Spain, and then there is Joana Toy (Clara Gayo), who had escaped death after being brutally tortured by the authorities for many days, as the torture devices like Heretic’s Fork, Iron Maiden, Judas Cradle, Breaking Wheel and Wooden Horse were part of many such incidents. There is no clue about how she escaped, and where she had disappeared after the incident, as it remains a mystery to be solved by a newer generation. Three friends are all set to discover the truth behind all these, and finding Joana’s whereabouts is the key. These three young friends, Sandra (Paula Pier), Eduardo (Jorge Gallardo) and Mario (Alfonso Romeo) are all set for the same, with a desire to become famous video bloggers after finding something which has been hidden for so long. One of Sandra’s grandparents turns out to be part of that commision which found out if the women were really witches or not, and sending them to their newfound fate of brutal torture and death. He had once told her that the escaped witch lived just outside the city and that her house is still there.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: They feel that she could have come back to her home some time later and might have settled down there, followed by her bloodline – the place has been a farmhouse for a long time, as Sandra figures out from her grandfather’s words. This leads to more of curiosity, and they will find more than just a few homeless men and empty spaces as they usually do. It is no more about getting it viral on Youtube and finding maximum viewers – the mystery is darker than what they thought it would be, and too much for them to handle. There is nothing funny about it anymore. They end up seeing a symbol associated with an ancient organization, which Professor Robert (Fernando Tato) identifies as related to be a Satanic organization of the early seventeenth century that has a history of worshipping a witch rather than the devil. But it is only the beginning of what they are going to find in that abandoned farmhouse. Were they even close to being prepared for this?

The defence and negatives of The Last Witch :: Coming from Carlos Almon Munoz, the only Spanish winner of the Horror Society Awards for Best Short film of the year 2014 for his short-film “Face Your Fears”, as his first movie, this one is surely well-crafted within its genre. We know that Spain has a rich history of coming up with nice found footage films including the REC series. As a fictional account is made about what might have happened to Joanna Toy, this one gets the tale going in the right direction. This is not one of those movies which can score big with what comes out of its budget, as The Last Witch is very much simple and without wonders there. But you will surely want to have more scares, and the need to get into action earlier. But after it gets into the action, there are enough of scares to keep things moving towards that end. With the found-footage stuff, maybe the movie makers here also can make some good work in the category, which has never really been here, gaining some inspiration from this one. We have a good story here, without doubt.

The newfound love for the subgenre :: Where I come from, there are not many fans for the found-footage horror, and I am myself not a big fan of the same. But still, I was able to find interest in this one. Even I have watched only two, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Skin I Live In, liking them both – it is only safe to say that I loved both of those movies, with my admiration for Guillermo del Toro beginning there. I was very close to watching REC, but I did watch its English remake Quarantine and liked it, which was one of those moments when I started feeling that I had to look into this particular subgenre of horror. When a found-footage horror movie is related to something which really happened, like the Terrassa witch trials, there is a certain extra strength regarding the same, no matter how much fictionalized the story ends up to be. I would consider this to be my beginning to watch more of found-footage horror.

How it finishes :: It is said that Spain actually had only a few witch trials compared to other nations and states in Europe, and just a few years after Terrassa witch trials, the practice disappeared completely. It is on one of these later, and one among the last trials, that this movie is focused on. Many European records show cases of people being accused of taking part in Witches’ Sabbath, and a good number of them tried and some executed. The Last Witch nicely uses one of those background tales to create and bring an interesting story to light. There might be many other high budget movies with witches, including The Last Witch Hunter, and there are those which are divergent in character like The Witch and The Autopsy of Jane Doe, along with those on full entertainment mode, like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Seventh Son and Dark Shadows. However, you can see here that The Last Witch also brings an identity of its own without going into that possible void, and manages to be a horror movie which uses what it got, to good advantage, with fine performances.

Release date: 1st January 2016
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Carlos Almon Munoz
Starring: Fernando Tato, Pepe Penabade, Alfonso Romeo, Paula Pier, Clara Gayo, Jose Zumalave, Jose Antonio Almon, Jorge Gallardo

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Void

Vampire Owl: I have always liked the Void. It made sure that there was nothingness in our realm. It was beautiful.

Vampire Bat: There is more than void that brings the nothingness.

Vampire Owl: Void is actually better than the rest. It is quite harmless, unless you use it to tamper with the wheel of time.

Vampire Bat: You can’t manipulate the wheel of time with just the void.

Vampire Owl: Well, you can’t just manipulate anything like the humans do. They just lie, cheat and steal as they want to.

Vampire Bat: These days, they are busy spreading the same on the internet, right into the social media.

Vampire Owl: Maybe, we can put them right inside the Void.

Vampire Bat: The Void doesn’t take anyone who tries to get in – it chooses people with quality.

Vampire Owl: What about the Shadow Domain?

Vampire Bat: The humans might be capable of entering that domain, because they are that evil. We can keep this in the list of suggestions.

[Gets three cups of Wayanad tea with Patanjali Doodh Biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A man named James (Evan Stern) is seen running away from two people who shoots him, but misses. They hope to continue the chase and find him, but he reaches the main road and stumbles across a police car which is parked on the side. The police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) gets him to the nearest hospital which only has parts of it working after a fire, and will be closing down soon. There are only the minimum number of staff present there including Doctor Richard Powell (Kenneth Welsh), nurses Allison (Kathleen Munroe) and Beverly (Stephanie Belding), along with the inexperienced intern Kim (Ellen Wong) who was supposed to leave much earlier. Other than them, there are only a pregnant girl Maggie (Grace Munro), her grandfather Ben (James Millington), and the only patient admitted there, Cliff Robertson (Matt Kennedy).

So, what happens next? :: The hospital is not the best preference for anyone who is looking for the best of treatments, but its proximity makes it a good choice for the people living around. It is the only reason why at least three people from outside are already there for treatment. The state trooper Mitchell (Art Hindle) also follows there, as there has been a blood bath in a farm house, and he is also looking for James, who could be the one responsible for the same, as the is known to take drugs. Meanwhile, Beverly murders Cliff and attacks Daniel, who is caught with surprise by her skinless, bloody face, but manages to shoot her dead. Mitchell attributes this to James and some drugs which he was taking, which the nurse could have used for herself. Daniel who goes out to use the radio in his car finds things getting complicated as he is attacked by a cultist wearing a hood having the picture of a triangle.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: An escaped Daniel manages to get himself back into the hospital, but two strangers are also inside (Daniel Fathers and Mik Byskov) who wish to kill James – in the confrontation, the doctor gets killed. As more and more cultists gather outside the hosptial, they understand how messed up the situation is, and tries to have some control. But it turns out that Beverly has come back from the dead, and she doesn’t even come close to looking the same. After failing to get hold of James, this animated version of her takes Mitchell, and kills him. They survivors finally manage to kill the creature, but there seems to be some more evil lurking under the hospital. They can’t get out as the armed cultists are waiting outside, and something threatens to come up and finish them off from the hospital’s basement – what will they do? The pregnant girl’s time is running out, and Daniel himself was stabbed – will they survive the night?

The defence of The Void :: Without wasting any time, The Void is ready and right into action, and this one keeps building on what it has in the beginning, bringing more horror into the material. You can feel the evil present throughout, and there is almost no way of how terrible it is; we just keep knowing its existence, and understand the chance that it could be fully unleashed at any moment. The scary moments work really well, and we see the effective use of terror in the form of undead creatures which are not zombies by definition. There is one nice scene where the heroes are caught between the creatures seemingly right out of hell rather than becoming walking undead in the form of zombies. There is scope for unleashing the most ancient and the most powerful of evil around here, and we know that death is only the beginning, once again. The cast is also pretty good, even though there is nothing big done. Caught in a half-burnt hospital, it is a nice setting for all.

The claws of flaw :: The blood and gore in this movie is going to keep some people away, as the movie gets violent early enough, only to get a few steps further as it moves forward. The Void might also be a little late in its arrival; if it had come a lot earlier, we could have enjoyed it as the first flick of a franchise which would have a fine cult following. The movie could have also used some fine, detailed creatures for its horror rather than those half baked ones, which surely adds to the horror, but not as whole. There could have also been better clarity with its story, and it could have made up a grand one with its proceedings – with this kind of a premise, there are so many places that its tale could go. But its chances are not fully explored here, as it ends in just an ordinary way instead of making it a big terrifying finish to a journey resembling the idea of hell.

How it finishes :: The Void will get more of interesting horror, and there is not that much of delay for this movie to take you on the terrifying ride. Even if not as good as those divergent horror movies like Don’t Breathe, A Cure for Wellness, Get Out, Lights Out, The Autopsy of Jane Doe and It Follows, this one has also has its own variety in treatment, as horror gets its dimensions explored yet again. There will be those haunting tales about ghosts on one side, and then there are these stories, which takes it to a different level – we will always love those movies like The Conjuring, Insidious and Annabelle, but we want things to bring more twist like this one, even if it is not a perfect story with all things coming together. Maybe, there could be a nice sequel to this one, working on its established origins, and making things better. We can only hope and wait for that though.

Release date: 7th April 2017
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie
Starring: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Mik Byskov, Grace Munro, Evan Stern, James Millington, Art Hindle, Stephanie Belding, Matt Kennedy

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Forest

Vampire Owl: I once went to this particular forest known for suicides.

Vampire Bat: And then what happened?

Vampire Owl: I just couldn’t live up-to its reputation as I had already died.

Vampire Bat: Even the undead can die, you know.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the ghosts were against it. They told me that it is cheating.

Vampire Bat: Why did you even have to listen to them?

Vampire Owl: Well, they told me that they would transform me into a human.

Vampire Bat: What? It is so cruel. It would have been better to keep split personalities instead.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I just couldn’t bear being part of an inherently evil species. So, I said no.

Vampire Bat: I have to say that you did the right thing this time. The blood wars are coming, and we have to say no to more than one thing.

[Gets three cups of lemon tea with 50-50 biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Sara Price (Natalie Dormer) is spending her time with her fiance, Rob (Eoin Macken), and is having some happy moments of her life in her home in the United States of America when she gets an unexpected call from Japan. She is informed that her twin sister, Jess Price (again Natalie Dormer) is dead. The idea is that she was last seen going into Aokigahara forest known more as the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees, and those who go there alone at night rarely come back as it is a place where people commit suicide. It is rather believed to be the most popular suicide destination in the world which has so many strange tales associated with it. The forest is known to be home to yurei or or rather the ghosts of Japanese mythology. It is also said that long ago, the elderly or unwell people were left to die in the forest, and the place had its dead bodies and ghosts from centuries ago. The place has that kind of a terrifying reputation.

So, what happens next? :: But that doesn’t stop Sara from looking for her sister, and despite the concerns of Rob, she travels to Japan, and after talking to the people at the school where she was teaching, gets to the hotel where Jess was staying. There she meets a man named Aiden (Taylor Kinney) with whom she share a drink and they become friends. After listening to her story, he tells her that he is a photographer and will accompany her to the forest. They are also to be accompanied by a guide named Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) whose presence will help them to get out of the forest if they lose their way or if anything goes wrong. As they go to the forest, Michi tells her that Jess should most probably be dead, and there is nothing changing the same. But Sara says that it is not possible, and as they are twins, she will somehow know if she was dead. She is quite convinced that her sister would never commit suicide.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: After traveling for some time in the forest, they come across the tent which Jess had used, but it was nearing nightfall, and Michi tells them that they have to go back as soon as possible. But Sara is convinced that the best option for them is to stay there, as Jess might come back to the tent by night. But Michi tells her that it is not safe, as the forest has its own ghosts, and they will make her see things which will drive her mad, and it will be she who will be lost on the next day. With their best efforts not seeing anything good in the end, Aiden says that he will stay with her throughout the night, and Michi leaves them to what seems to be a complicated fate. So, by staying in the dark forest which is believed to have more spirits than people, can Sara finally find Jess, and can at least one of the two sisters return home alive from the forest? Well, it is not that simple as it seems to be.

The defence of The Forest :: Aokigahara Forest is a nice location for a change, and with the tales that are told about the same, we become more and more interesting in watching a horror movie based on the same location. Natalie Dormer does a very good job as the twins here, and we are glad to see her in two roles, and she does her job very well. Known the best for her work in Game of Thrones series and also in The Hunger Games, it is great to see the talented actress doing the big role in a horror movie. The forest is also a solid character by itself, as we see possibilities going endless from the beginning itself. It does bring the question about what really is the reality and what is the hallucination – something that the ghosts use to confuse its new preys. The visuals are nicely used to support the same, and we surely have to say that there is an attempt to go different here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have surely used more scares, especially with such a mysterious forest at the centre of everything – the site of tragedy and strange beliefs hasn’t got the due that it deserved. The Forest could have used more ghosts than any other movie, and the variety that it could have brought with its scares would have made it close to a masterpiece; but such an effort is certainly not made here. When such creepiness is around, you expect the scary side to hold on and get to be better, and it is something that you never see anywhere around here. This struggle to use the material in hand should feel strange for many viewers. It also has to be noted that other than Natalie Dormer, there is nothing much of a cast to do anything big. Maybe it is the lack of focus that bring the trouble rather than anything else, as we see the struggle towards the end from a movie which began so well.

How it finishes :: You will surely find The Forest to be a rather strange movie, which means that whether you like it or not, it is very difficult to ignore it. With Natalie Dormer in full form, you might expect more and more, and what you get might not satisfy you enough. If you consider the mystery elements more and the scares a little less, you will not find this one to be less interesting. As you think differently, you will find this movie to catch your attention with its divergence. After all, it is one reality that we have in our lives, and the inability to understand what is real and what is unreal, and what is good and what is evil, is something that should be scary even out of the limits of a horror movie. Well, this one is creepy enough, and you just need to read less number of reviews before watching this movie. You remember the movie Pet, which was different in its own way.

Release date: 8th January 2016
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Jason Zada
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken, Rina Takasaki, Noriko Sakura, Yûho Yamashita, James Owen

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Phobia

Vampire Owl: I hope that she doesn’t have vampirophobia. I really hope that she doesn’t.

Vampire Bat: I believe that the exact term for the same is sanguivoriphobia.

Vampire Owl: What? Who on Earth comes up with such strange names? Who even gets that at first attempt?

Vampire Bat: Well, they call it the fear for blood eaters.

Vampire Owl: How can someone actually eat blood? And we are vegetarian vampires; we have suitable replacements instead.

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t count. Humans are masters of generalisation, and they create opinions based on that.

Vampire Owl: We should have a phobia of them instead – unless they are all dead.

Vampire Bat: You are in no position to call an event which causes human extinction. They have to cause their own downfall.

Vampire Owl: It is something that I have always believed in.

Vampire Bat: Just make sure that Wonder Woman won’t murder you after naming you Ares, the God of War.

[Gets three cups of special tea with Tiger biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Mehak Deo (Radhika Apte), a talented artist who is quite popular with her friends, attends almost every party in the town, becoming more of the popular girl in the city. But after being molested by a taxi driver on a terrible night, she develops the worst of agoraphobia, which keeps her away from public places and large groups, as she keeps herself inside the house and mostly in her room. Living in the same house as her sister Anusha (Nivedita Bhattacharya), it gets worse for everyone, as her actions remain more and more uncontrollable and unbearable for all. With the eccentric and unpredictable nature affecting Anusha’s little kid too, they all feel done with helping her, because it seems to be of no use, and Mehak herself doesn’t want to be treated, staying inside home without making an attempt to go out for months.

So, what happens next? :: Shaan (Satyadeep Mishra), Mehak’s good friend decides to help her, and gets her to an apartment which is empty for now after its previous occupant decided to move away. He hopes that this change, and life alone will be better for her, and she will start longing to meet people after this. At the new place, she seems to have some visions, and she feels that there is something sinister about these particular visions. She has two neighbours there with whom she gets to talk often, one of them being Nikki (Yashaswini Dayama), who is a graduate student who lives on the flat on the right, while on the left side, there lives Manu (Ankur Vikal) who had anger management issues and is using laughter to fight the same. The latter used to be in a relationship with a woman called Jiah Khurana (Amrit Bagchi) who had left the place.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: It turns out that Jiah was living in the same apartment in which Mahek is living right now. Knowing that the girl had disappeared without telling anyone, and that there is no clue of where she is, Mahek begins to feel that there is a big mystery behind the same. She comes up with the idea that an angry Manu had killed Jiah and has hidden her body in his apartment. Mehak also feels that her visions are from Jiah’s spirit which is trying to tell her something about the demise. Shaan feels that this is all part of her disease, and that she is having so many hallucinations. Her psychiatrist (Faezeh Jalali) also confirms that Mahek’s condition is worsening every day, and there is not much that can be done unless she is taken to a mental asylum. But Nikki is curious, and decides to help Mehak in finding the truth behind the missing girl. Now the question remains about what really is the truth here.

The defence of Phobia :: There is one thing about which you can be cent percent sure, and it is that Phobia won’t be like any other movie which you have seen in Bollywood, and in psychological horror, it explores more territories, and most of these areas are divergent. The story is nicely presented right from the beginning, and it keeps you wondering what is happening, and what is to follow. The visuals nicely match the overall mood of the movie, and there are some scenes which are particularly great and deserves our attention. Radhika Apte is once again too good, as you would expect her to be – she is that kind of an actress who has more in store for us than anyone from Bollywood, and it is a fact that you just can’t ignore. There are moments from her which you are going to remember for so long. The next one to make the impact is Yashaswini Dayama who keep the curious college girl act going on very nicely.

The claws of flaw :: One can say without doubt that Phobia is not a movie for everyone; I am sure that it might have already been established by many others in one way or the other which randomly talking about the flick. There are also logic flaws in this movie, and her living alone in the flat is nothing less than strange, and having a knife near her when she goes into the virtual reality is rather comfortable. The way in which the mystery is finally solved is also rather strange, when it could have taken a rather direct approach. The climax had potential to be something more, and for some reason, it chooses not to live up to the fantastic build-up in the first half, and finish the movie on a high. The audience is left clueless on a lot of occasions, and more scary moments could have been built regarding the neighbour and other residents of the apartments. When you have an apartment where someone with a mental problem living alone, there is always scope for more.

How it finishes :: Phobia demands that you take things differently, and get your thinking procedure to go another way, which has almost no relation with a regular Bollywood movie; all that those movies are, this movie is not. It is where movies like Phobia and Raman Raghav 2.0 scores, and it is also what we strive to have. Otherwise, Bollywood can only focus on biopics, and tales inspired from real life incidents like Neerja, Rustom and Airlift, which they need to keep the ship sailing in the right direction. It is during such times that this movie does go against the flow, and what we can do is to appreciate the effort and watch this movie without second thoughts about how it will make us feel, and how well it can relate when we haven’t watched similar movies before.

Release date: 27th May 2016
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Pavan Kirpalani
Starring: Radhika Apte, Yashaswini Dayama, Satyadeep Mishra, Ankur Vikal, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Amrita Bagchi, Faezeh Jalali, Salone Mehta, Arush Nand, Dinyar Tirandaz, Amit Kumar Pandey, Malhar Goenka

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.