Sweet and Sour

Vampire Owl: I see that they are now exploring two shades of life.

Vampire Bat: Life has millions of shades as of now, towards infinity.

Vampire Owl: There are not many shades for the undead.

Vampire Bat: We have stayed in the grey, not light or dark, not sweet and sour area.

Vampire Owl: Well, humans do consider us to be very much evil.

Vampire Bat: You have never really cared for their opinions.

Vampire Owl: If they are going to cross over to our realm, we will have to care.

Vampire Bat: Nobody can come through the portal without identification. They shall meet their doom even if they manage to do so.

Vampire Owl: Well, you cannot be sure about humans and evil – both always find a way to spread the terror.

Vampire Bat: Evil shall spread, but random humans crossing the portal are the least of our worries. An army of the dead led by the lich queen should worry us more. It would give even Uncle Dracula a jolt.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of Thekkady tea].

What is the movie about? :: Jang-Hyuk (Lee Woo-je) is hospitalized due to Hepatitis B, and his own relatives as well as parents keep away from him. They keep their masks and glvoes at all times and makes him very uncomfortable. A nurse Da-eun (Chae Soo-bin) ignores the advice of others and takes good care of him. Soon, they become close, and spends some time time together after he saves her from being caught for smoking. She is annoyed that she has to work all the time, and often eats with him or falls asleep on his bed. He helps her to take a nap in his space while setting a timer. Jang-Hyuk is unhappy that he has to be in bed at a time right after he got a permanent job, but the presence of Da-eun makes him feel better. Even though he feels that she the two are really close, the time for his discharge is almost there, and Da-eun seems to be getting distant from him. On the day on which he leaves, his favourite nurse is nowhere to be found, and his friends and family returns to him as he is now cured. His friends also tells him that people like him won’t be able to get beautiful girls like her as girlfriends.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He goes back to the hospital and find the first part of her number, and calls a good number of phone numbers until he finally finds that it is her on the other side. She invites him to come to her home, and he stays with her for the night – he spends the night repairing the broken lamps and preparing breakfast. The two seem to be attracted to each other, and after they go on a trip to Jeju Island together. He decides that he would lose weight and in that way, they can wear similar clothing and look cuter together. A slim Jang-Hyuk (Jang Ki-yong) comes into the picture soon. As he has been a hard working engineer, he is intimated by his superior that he will be sent to a big firm in Seoul where he will have some grand opportunities with chances to earn more. This means that he will have to travel from Incheon to Seoul so that the couple can still be together. But when he reaches there, he discovers that there is another candidate for the permanent post, and he would not be assured about holding the position because she is tough competition.

And how does life go on with the new changes :: The other candidate for the permanent post, Bo-yeong (Krystal Jung), seems to be always trying to make him look worse than her. But when Bo-yeong comes up with a new bridge design, Jang-Hyuk comes up with a critical flaw in the design. She is forced to sort it out with him. Initially, he is happy about her not able to solve the problem, and thus not able to go home. Soon enough, he takes pity on her, and helps her in solving the problem – the two begin to have a bond, and with their success, gets more projects to work together. The relationship between Jang-Hyuk and Da-eun seems to be more strained though, as both of them have to work late, and traveling all the way between the two cities in the heavy traffic is even more strained. He arrives late, and even though he does not come home every day anymore, shows less interested in Da-eun. He even refuses to do the small things at home. Soon, it turns out that Da-eun is pregnant, and he wishes to spend more time with her, but it also seems near impossible. Then it seems that he has feelings for Bo-yeong. Life becomes more complicated for all of them.

The defence of Sweet and Sour :: Chae Soo-bin raises the level of this movie with her performance, and it can be seen that she is always one step ahead – it becomes clear by the end of the film. The cuteness factor also serves well towards the performance, and the initial moments at the hospital are so good. Krystal Jung and Jang Ki-yong plays the other two main characters, and their work also contributes well here – the combination scenes at the office are very much interesting; there is some humour related to that too. I am seeing all these three main performers in any movie for the first time. Lee Woo-je, despite lesser screen space, adds some humour to the movie early too, along with a feel-good factor – the early incidents featuring him are very relevant to how the movie ends. The movie is more drama and less romance, and it is evident after half an hour into the proceedings itself. It has to be best appreciated for how it brings the twist in the end, how it brings everything together to have a feel-good even within break-up – a little bit of tampering with the narrative helps it to achieve the same with efficiency.

Positives and negatives :: The movie nicely move away from the cliché which would have been expected with this movie. As things come around, the audience is reminded of the situations when work and family are not easy to manage together. With the stress that comes as the result of work, and the desire to reach newer heights as part of the job, the relationships are very much destroyed with ease as shown here. The endless work and no appreciation is no stranger to any of us even in India – as it has been evident for years, the situation of nurses never got to be any better, despite the service that they have provided during the corona virus pandemic and beyond. The movie keeps reminding us about the every day problems which become part of relationships. The physical exhaustion as part of a competitive world is something that would feel real for almost everyone; unless you are a politician who can get whatever is needed with least work. The movie should have still focused on the romance as much as the drama. There are also moments when the film seems to repeat things, and does a little extra when not needed. People who missed the first few minutes will also fail to catch up with the finish.

How it finishes :: Sweet and Sour is the romantic drama with a twist that makes us feel that it is more than just the usual drama of life – yet, it is as close to reality as it can be. The last fifteen minutes or so becomes the big finish that elevates the movie. It serves as a reminder to what can happen when more importance is given to things other than relationships. Yet, in a world which seeks success in work for the definition of an ideal person, especially men, you just cannot stop working as if your life depends on it. You will never stop thinking about how the world has transformed, and about the difficulties to battle the competition, and still be available to do anything other than work. It is the curse that has come across the profit-seeking world, which never stops asking for more; profits matter more than lives, and there are not many things that can substitute money in a world which favors nothing over a huge bank balance. The idea that simple romantic drama can bring something different makes us think a lot about the possibilities that we can have even in a realistic world. The reality of romance strikes hard.

Release date: 4th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Lee Gye-byeok
Starring: Jang Ki-yong, Chae Soo-bin, Krystal Jung, Lee Woo-je, Choi Hwan-yi, Shin Joon-hang, Park Chul-min, Yeo Min-joo, Park Ji-hoon, Yoon Byung-hee, Lee Geung-young, Yoo Sun, Choi-hyeong, Kim Mi-hye, Ahn Gil-kang, Kim Mi-kyung

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Two

Vampire Owl: There are two of us here. Therefore, watching the movie is relevant.

Vampire Bat: This movie seems to have something to do with the number, two.

Vampire Owl: I don’t really like that number though. I like “one” – I am the greatest one.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula is the greatest of us all.

Vampire Owl: You just cannot put so much greatness on him anymore.

Vampire Bat: The times haven’t changed. Dracula is still relevant.

Vampire Owl: Vampires are still relevant. Dracula is not.

Vampire Bat: There are no vampires without Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Owl: Maybe in the Dracula Castle. It is not the same case outside.

Vampire Bat: Well, you can just wait and see, after his birthday party which is coming up.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three glasses of oreo shake].

What is the movie about? :: Sara (Marina Gatell) and David (Pablo Derqui) wakes up in the bed somewhere, stitched to each other. They don’t really have any memory how they reached there. The two try to figure out what has happened with them, and where they are. They guess that someone drugged them and brought them here and stitched them up. The people responsible seems to have taken away everything from them, from clothes to wrist watches. They try to make some connection between them, but there is nothing in common between the two. It is also realized that they are being recorded with cameras all around the room. The room seems to be something that gives an aristocratic feeling, making them feel that someone rich and influential is behind their situation. They do find some clues about the same, but someone seems to get into the room at times, and they are not able to find out who. The room seems to be too secure for anyone to go out, with lock being strongly applied from outside.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sara has the feeling that her husband, Mario (Esteban Galilea) has something to do with it. He is supposed to be someone very rich and influential, with doubts that she is having an affair with another man. She feels that there is also something about him that has resulted in David also reaching there. He also has the feeling that maybe he also knows her husband, who is a much older person. There is also a name Rita (Anna Chincho Serrano) that comes across them, as part of a photo which is placed in the room. Yet, they are not able to remember any of such a name as part of their lives. They feel that maybe this will end only in their death, and try to break down the door, which feels very reinforced. The windows also lead nowhere. There are some big revelations to be made, but they wonder if they will stay alive to understand all of those. Soon, their past will come back to them, and the one thing which makes the two connected with the man who is behind all of these.

The defence of Two :: The movie is just one hour and ten minutes long, which makes sure that there is absolutely no drag about it. It doesn’t slow down even though there were many chances in between. There is also the successful maintenance of suspense with twists, as we don’t guess what is coming in the end, even though there are so many things happening in between. The red herrings are delivered effectively, and we make so many guesses about the antagonist who is responsible for what is happening here. It does work as body horror, a subgenre which is difficult to appeal to people – unlike other movies of the same kind, this film actually knows where to keep the borders, and not to be disgusting at any point. The genre is often too much to handle for many people due to the amount of gore and extremities related to body parts, but this one stays at the border related to that. The setting of the room which this movie uses throughout its run also adds on well, and the mysteries to be revealed here are also of interest.

Positives and negatives :: There have been a number of Spanish movies which have tried to be different from the rest – there was The Platform, and here we have this one. This one still seems to have rushed through things too much, as we look at the final moments. It could have taken more time finish it though, as the length here is just seventy minutes and nothing more. The setting which is one place at all times, is nicely managed too. This is also one of those rare films which maintains the Classical Unities of Aristotle. Unity of action is maintained with that one principal action of being stitched together and being together at all times, while unity of place is maintained with where they are trapped, and unity of action is clear as everything happens within twenty four hours. It has been difficult to maintain these in movies, as people look forward to seeing many other things and occurrences as films progress. But in this case, they have made the situation very interesting. Even though this is not the usual horror, the situation of the protagonists is surely a scary one.

Performers of the soul :: With everything dependent on two people, this film focuses on their performances, one can safely say that this works effectively due to the same. We also see that the characters do evolve as the tale progresses. The conversation between the two becomes very important too. Marina Gatell places herself in the situation very well, and comes up with a fine performance. She plays a person who is confused and wants to figure out what is happening quick enough, and even suspects the person who is with her – the character works out really well for her. Pablo Derqui who plays the other person in trouble, takes things slowly, and has better idea of how criminals works – makes the person with him doubtful. The situations which are nicely created for them, is managed well by the two. The whole idea is made better with the performances of these two. The rest of the characters only arrive by the end, or are present only in photos. In the end, we know that in Two, there are only two characters who gets the chance to come up with worthy performances.

How it finishes :: Being stitched to someone else is horror enough, and this Spanish movie use that to its advantage, getting to the list of films in that language which have tried to be different in multiple ways. Thanks to the performance of the leading cast, this one never lags behind, even when there were so many opportunities. It provides us with the opportunity to make so many guesses, and it also has us coming to that twist when least expected. The short journey is very much an engaging watch, and as long as you don’t have a problem with some body horror, this is to work just fine. During the time of Corona virus pandemic, a number of films had people quarantined alone, while this one has two people locked in a room as one. It is indeed an interesting, but strange concept, as you look at it. The creative imagination behind the movie seems to be working well in this particular case. Netflix has once again scored with another fine addition to the grand list of horror and thrills.

Release date: 10th December 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 70 minutes
Directed by: Mar Targarona
Starring: Marina Gatell, Pablo Derqui, Anna Chincho Serrano, Kandido Uranga, Esteban Galilea

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fear Street: 1666

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: What about the portal to different dimensions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Unforgettable

Vampire Owl: There is nothing unforgettable in this world.

Vampire Bat: It is not true. Some things just stay. I thought you would agree to the unforgettable nature of things.

Vampire Owl: I have been able to forget everything, and re-programme my brain with ease.

Vampire Bat: Was that part of one of the experiments by Doctor Frankenstein?

Vampire Owl: No, it is my own special skill, and no Frankenstein is required for the same.

Vampire Bat: But I know that you keep remembering Lady Death and your inability to get to her realm when needed.

Vampire Owl: Lady Death is not of past. She is more like the present.

Vampire Bat: This is exactly what I am talking about.

Vampire Owl: There is more to that particular story than what meets the eye. You should realize that better, considering how life has been. Well, it follows.

Vampire Bat: I think that you are going to write a book, considering how you have been talking about your life’s story in the last few days.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with banana chips].

What is the movie about? :: Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson) is in a new relationship with David Connover (Geoff Stults) who has only recently separated from his wife Tessa Manning (Katherine Heigl) with whom he has a child, Lily Connover (Isabella Rice). They seem to have managed very well as individuals, sharing the custody of their daughter who stays with each of them at one place after the other. Julia herself has her own little secret, with her abusive former boyfriend Michael Vargas (Simon Kassianides) getting arrested for his violence on him, and is on a restraining order, which has only few days left. To add to her fear about the same, she also has Tessa acting rather strange, seemingly intruding into their lives. Her best friend Ali (Whitney Cummings) would comfort her telling her that these are just common things in life, and is surely better than her last abusive relationship which left her with scars on her body.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: After leaving her job and city to arrive at this town, her biggest nemesis remains Tessa who keeps creating problems for her, mostly in the name of the child, and her inability to take care of the kid as she is not a mother. Scolded by her own mother Helen Manning (Cheryl Ladd) for letting go of her marriage, Tessa gets more and more angry and frustrated, deciding to teach her husband’s new lover a lesson. She searches for information on Julia and finds more than enough about her past, which is not revealed to David. She decides to use the same to her advantage, and contacts Julia’s ex-boyfriend. What follows is a series of events which involve Tessa trying to get rid of Julia, while latter somehow manages to hold on. But the question remains about how long can she evade the traps set by Tessa who seems to have everything in control.

The defence of Unforgettable :: There is the suspense associated with this one, and it keeps you engaged about what is to happen next, and how the plan works out. But above everything else, and even above the story, the movie works the best due to its two leading female actresses, Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl. The former shows her desperation to perfection, while the latter is more like the snow queen who has her heart made into ice, having almost no remorse over her action which would destroy lives – the selfishness that is reflected there is more than what a regular villain would bring in a movie like this. Katherine becomes what they describe by psycho barbie between two characters, and there is some terror hiding behind her eyes as she stare into her nemesis. There are some smart movies being made, but twists oppose the same, and thankfully there is no melodrama even while dealing with this kind of a theme. The one doubt left is whether we have loved the villain so much that we were wishing for her to thrive.

The claws of flaw :: There are a few moments which looks not really living up to what seemed to be planned, and we have some situations that seems to be not done well enough – the movie has its problems here and there as it brings its content. There could have been more to the flashback of the villain too, as we see how good she is even without the same. The final sequence is also strange, seemingly made to let the heroine win, and it is only fair for someone’s good side to let her be the last woman standing, and we wished otherwise, and it would have been more realistic that way. The male characters don’t really have anything interesting to do here, and we see that there was so much more of villainy that could have been brought on. There could have also been certain suspense about what was going to be done, and how worse it could become for the protagonist – the psycho barbie idea could have been twisted to the extreme limits.

How it finishes :: When you see a movie like this, there is that category which you fit this one into, and that is erotic thriller, and then there is erotic drama which has more chance to be chosen by the regular audience. This is certainly not a movie that will be memorable for a very long time with its thrills, but thanks to Katherine Heigl, this one gets raised from where it could have stayed otherwise. After watching this movie, one thing is for sure – we would want a bigger version of such evil on the screen – it is more like the purge that takes away all the bad things; we need something like this more often. When you see the negative reviews and you watch this one, you are going to be surprised by what it brings, and we know that thrillers based on relationships and home can also bring some more when you least expected them.

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

Vampire Owl: I think that this particular lady reminds me of someone.

Vampire Bat: If it is about the ex-girlfriend, it might be about Lady Death.

Vampire Owl: What meaningless thing are you talking about? She is not an ex. She is part of my present.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you know that the realm of death has stopped all connections with the vampire world? You can only be trapped in one of the worlds.

Vampire Owl: It is not possible. We are the connection between the living and the dead. We are needed.

Vampire Bat: Even the Lich Queen has been saying the same. There is no real contract regarding the same.

Vampire Owl: There is one with the Vampire Elders.

Vampire Bat: Dude, that connection no longer exists. The Vampire Elders have given up all positions of powers because they are very old.

Vampire Owl: It is absurd. A Vampire Elder rules forever.

Vampire Bat: You should read The Vampire Times at least once a week.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Denise Di Novi
Starring: Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl, Geoff Stults, Isabella Rice, Whitney Cummings, Cheryl Ladd, Simon Kassianides, Sarah Burns, Alex Quijano, Stephanie Escajeda, Kincaid Walker, Aline Elasmar, Lauren Rose Lewis, Jayson Blair, Robert Wisdom

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.