The Prodigy

What is the movie about? :: In the countryside of Ohio, a serial killer with roots in Hungary, Edward Scarka (Paul Fauteux) has been murdering young girls after cutting off their hands which he kept as souvenir. Hands have always been his weakness, looking at them before selecting the victims. He has a wonderful time, as the number of victims increase every day, leaving no clue for the police to follow. But things take a turn when due to one small mistake, one of the girls, Margaret James (Brittany Allen) escapes from captivity after he takes away her right hand, and alerts the cops. The police conducts a raid at his farmhouse, and he gets shot to death. At the exact same time, a couple in Pennsylvania, Sarah Blume (Taylor Schilling) and John Blume (Peter Mooney) have their first child. Sarah is excited to finally have her first child, as the couple have been waiting for this moment for a long time after getting rid of their family problems.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Miles Blume (Jackson Robert Scott) grows up to be more intelligent than the usual kids of his age, making people feel that he is a certain kind of child prodigy. He has no trouble in solving mathematics problems and mastering language after learning to speak much earlier. He is someone who could start pre-school early, and even skip those earlier batches considering how good he was proving himself to be. Even those all these things point to one positive side, there are changes in the boy’s behaviour as he grows up. He almost kills his bab-sitter Zoe (Elisa Moolecherry) while playing hide-and-seek by setting sharp piece of glass on the steps to the basement, and also beats up other kids at the school because he didn’t get the space which he wanted using whatever he could manage to find from a hand tools kit.

And what else follows with the happenings? :: Miles seems to be a threat to everyone around, as violence follows him to places. Sarah brings Miles to a psychiatrist Dr Elaine Strasser (Paula Boudreau) who refers them to Arthur Jacobson (Colm Feore), an expert on rebirth and reincarnation. He tells Sarah about the possibility of rebirth in Miles’ case because the language which he was speaking in sleep, and was recorded and given to him by her, is a very rare dialect of Hungarian. There are not many people who know this language, and Sarah and her husband knew only one foreign language which they had mostly forgotten – Spanish. With Miles not being exposed to any other language, Arthur tells her that it could be another soul trying to be born again, replacing the soul of the boy, thus getting hold of the body to do something it had left unfinished in earlier birth. But this soul would need something more which Sarah won’t guess.

The defence of The Prodigy :: The movie maintains a good amount of creepy feeling, which only gets better with the serial killer soul taking further control, often making one think of Chucky of Child’s Play which nicely changes into the brutal murderer. There are some nice scary moments, most of them being creepier if you consider them with clarity. The creepy undercurrents drive this movie forward, as there are so many things that an evil genius can plot, even though not all of them are done. We are kept in the perpetual fear of some terrifying evil coming up, and the feeling of hope is rather bleak in this one. The movie has so much of nice foreshadowing which we can appreciate, as we do get some feeling regarding what is to come. There are not many things spookier than having an evil kid that acts like a vessel of pure evil. As we have heard on many occasions, evil comes in many forms, and always finds a way.

The claws of flaw :: Some years ago, in 2009, Orphan had a poster saying there is something wrong with Esther – Isabelle Fuhrman who later bagged a role in the dystopian thriller The Hunger Games made that movie one which everyone loved. Ten years later, in 2019, this movie comes with the tagline, what is wrong with Miles? Well, there is no difficulty in understanding where this is pointing to. There was the plan to make something like Orphan, and this time, they added rebirth to the plan. This could be even considered similar to a sequel, even though it is not. In comparison to Esther, The Prodigy struggles at times, and the effect of the twist is also not that much to be seen. The fear element is also not that real as Orphan which also had even better performances, and a past which was so mysterious and a twist which was heavy. The Prodigy could have had the evil manifestation doing more to people too, and the serial killer’s past could have been better shown too.

Performers of the soul :: As this is not the usual horror movie like The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun and Insidious, performance was always going to matter much. Taylor Schilling makes a perfect, confused mother here, as someone who thinks that one or the other action can save her child, but ends up being foolish in her motherly love. Peter Mooney who plays the father figure almost does the same, even though not that much. Jackson Robert Scott who plays the child comes with a fine performance – it won’t be that creepy as what we had seen in Orphan, but it is still something that we will remember in acceptance of another evil kid on screen. Colm Feore is solid as the man who tries to help, but knows that he has to be careful when standing on thin ice. Paul Fauteux who plays the serial killer needed to have more space, and his actions with the kidnapped girls are never really shown, except for those hands being hung there.

How it finishes :: If you have liked movies like Orphan, you are also going to like The Prodigy. The idea of a kid that acts strange and goes on a killing spree isn’t something new for us, but it will continue to catch our interest for a long time to come. After all, the idea of inherent evil being being present in children is something we haven’t been able to deny, and the works like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies had further strengthened the same. It had been working further in the movie world since The Omen. The idea of rebirth and reincarnation are used here instead of the usual haunting when the kids are shown to be evil. The idea here works in a more terrifying way because of what lies underneath, and by establishing that this is pure evil, and there is a master evil brain at work here, which is almost impossible to defeat.

Release date: 8th February 2019
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Nicholas McCarthy
Starring: Taylor Schilling, Jackson Robert Scott, Colm Feore, Brittany Allen, Olunike Adeliyi, Elisa Moolecherry, Peter Mooney, Paula Boudreau, Olunike Adeliyi, Martin Roach, Ashley Back, Tristan Vasquez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Child’s Play

Vampire Owl: Do you remember Chucky?

Vampire Bat: How can we not remember Chucky? He was the coolest scary doll until Annabelle came into the picture.

Vampire Owl: Annabelle could never be that creepy, as the spirit is not always creepy enough.

Vampire Bat: Well, he has been an inspiration for vampire dolls too.

Vampire Owl: They say that this time we have a reboot and not a sequel.

Vampire Bat: That is not natural. Usually, the come up with more and more sequels as if this is something eternal.

Vampire Owl: This one also got Artificial Intelligence.

Vampire Bat: Yes, what is a doll without AI during these days of science and technology?

Vampire Owl: That would make it a robot.

Vampire Bat: A robotic doll which would replace all, maybe.

[Gets some tapioca chips and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Kaslan Corporation has a new type of high tech dolls called Buddi, which are designed to be long time companions to kids, learning their interests and what happens around, and then acting accordingly. These dolls become huge hit among the children, as parents find them to be substitute for other children and pets – the dolls are also supposed to be flawless, passing a large number of tests, and not reporting a faulty piece anywhere. With factories for manufacturing and assembling all over the world, one of them in Vietnam, has its safety protocols manipulated and disabled, just before one of the fired workers finish his final Buddi doll. After doing the same as an act of vengeance, the worker commits suicide, but the doll is packed among the other dolls and sent to the United States of America to meet the rising need for the models.

So, what happens with the events here? :: In the city of Chicago, a retail clerk and single mother Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) and her son, Andy Barclay (Gabriel Bateman), movies into a new apartment, where latter struggles to make friends. To help Andy move away from his continuous staring at mobile and television, and to take his attention away from her newfound boyfriend Shane (David Lewis) who is with her most of the time, Karen blackmails her boss to get a faulty Buddi doll which was returned to them, as a new version of the doll was ready to hit the markets. The doll which does seem to have some problems with its working procedure, calls itself Chucky (Mark Hamill) and is instantly attached to Andy, whom he considers to be his best friend, and a pal forever. Due to interest in Chucky, two kids in the building also becomes friends with him, Falyn (Beatrice Kitsos) and Pugg (Ty Consiglio).

And what else follows with the happenings? :: But Chucky doesn’t seem to be the usual Buddi doll, as it develops violent tendencies from the horror movie it watches with the kids, and almost stabs them mimicking what happens on the screen. It strangles Andy’s pet cat which had scratched Andy, and scares Shane for making him happy. Chucky is one possessive doll that doesn’t like anyone other than him to be too much attached to him. Andy and his newfound friends make the other neighbouring kids like Omar (Marlon Kazadi) unhappy. Meanwhile, Andy also becomes friends with other neighbours Detective Mike Norris (Brian Tyree Henry) and his mother Doreen Norris (Carlease Burke) to whom he gives advice on new technology. But this increase in the number of friends is not something that pleases Chucky, as he is the one who is supposed to be the best friend forever – for that to happen, he would do more.

The defence of Child’s Play :: There are some nice scary and even more creepy scenes in this movie, as the doll becomes more of a threat than it had ever been in the past, with Artificial Intelligence threatening to do more. There is also the presence of blood and gore, especially related to the killing, and the final fight scene has more of it, with a lot of dead bodies involved with chaos being unleashed by the doll. The new generation who has not watched the original will like it even better. In the age of Annabelle doll with a spiritual presence, Chucky does more with Artificial Intelligence and catches our attention in style. Aubrey Plaza as the mother leads the way here with the performance, followed by Gabriel Bateman and the other kids, mainly Beatrice Kitsos. In between, Brian Tyree Henry also has a fine role done well.

The claws of flaw :: The fans of original movie and its early sequels might not like to stick to this one with a different look and also a divergent tale about its origins. The violence brought forward here might not make some people feel happy either. There are garden tillers and chainsaws in action here with the soon-to-be dead people not getting any close to a deviant respect either. The movie also ends too soon, as there is less happenings after the doll goes rogue – we should have certainly had more of them. Child’s Play is a franchise which was always destined for more greatness than it ever had. We can hope for the same greatness to be achieved in the possible sequels. We know that there is always more ideas coming up as far as horror is concerned, and with the slasher elements added, it is yet to be seen how much this can accomplish.

How it finishes :: The original version of Child’s Play was about a serial killer performing a Haitian Vodou spell to transfer his soul into a Good Guy doll. This one changes the storyline to match the current situation, as Artificial Intelligence becomes the key. Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky have been some very interesting movies in the franchise, and so a reboot here was supposed to arrive at some point. The variation that this movie had brought might not feel good for people who wanted to keep the original idea alive, but one has to agree that this one also brings a lot of scary and creepy moments to remember. It can even stand as a stand-alone film without the help of the previous movies – a claim which not many movie reboots can claim. Well, horror here can have many more sequels, and they can strive to be even better with this particular premise.

Release date: 21st June 2019
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Lars Klevberg
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill, Beatrice Kitsos, Ty Consiglio, Tim Matheson, David Lewis, Marlon Kazadi, Carlease Burke, Nicole Anthony, Trent Redekop

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Anjaam Pathiraa

What is the movie about? :: A policeman is murdered, with no clue being left behind for the cops to follow. The dead body is soon found, and it was supposed to be a case of revenge from one of the criminals whom he had locked up earlier, but it doesn’t end there. A second policeman is found dead, with the killer following the same pattern of murder, including the corpses of the men being left without their eyes and heart. This leads to a crisis in the police department, and a team being formed to investigate the case lead by Catherine Maria (Unnimaya Prasad) and Anil Madhavan (Jinu Joseph). The latter also includes in the team, Anwar Hussain (Kunchacko Boban), a psychologist who is serving as a consulting criminologist for the police department. He has been studying the psychology of criminals on the way to a doctorate. As the CCTV cameras are also hacked, a hacker and Anwar’s patient, Andew (Sreenath Bhasi) is also forced into the team.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The series of murders doesn’t seem to stop though, even though all the policemen of the city works twenty four hours, and are put on high alert. Anwar, with his wife Fathima (Ramya Nambeeshan) and children are also under the eyes of the serial killer who also seems to have a helper. The killers seem to be masters of disguise, and has everything planned from zero, with each step leaving nothing behind for the police. The clues that seem to lead to them only ends up being misleading. As death lurks around the corner, it is up to law and enforcement to take back control and make the civilians feel safe. But that would need taking more than the usual path, and this divergence might be a red herring left by the killers – can they rise above this at some point and stop the killing spree?

The defence of Anjaam Pathiraa :: The movie nicely brings the tale of serial killing together, and the elements of shock and twists are nicely brought into the tale, especially in the first half. There is a certain amount of suspense at work here right from the beginning. To bring the terror to the screen, the movie nicely uses the darkness, even the quick return of lighting is used to bring a startling effect. The creepy masks and their quick appearance out of nowhere could provide something new. By the interval, we have enough to know that this is a game in which the serial killers will be tough to beat, and it is here that movie has its full strength – nobody would want to leave during the interval as the need to know further is always there. It also has to be noted that the movie does have some funny moments in store in between the serious moments, and all the tension which has been ruling the big screen from the beginning to the end.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s strength in the first half is not maintained in the second half, as the latter part of the second half is rather predictable, and by bringing the element of a planned revenge, it losses out in the psychotic side. Such a predictability which seems to be like finding unnecessary meaning for the lotos eaters is rather unnecessary. Having a smart psychopath without a clear motive for the rational human was always the better choice, as that would bring chaos to darkness, and keeps the lights away all the time. After all, Anjaam Pathiraa is no Memories either, as such a brutal strength is not there, not with the protagonist or with the antagonist. The movie could have also had a better background score, even though at some points, it is good – at that point, it could have been there for longer. The sequence involving the ripper could have also been there for more time.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban leads the way well here. There is no heroic style entrance with heavy background music for him here, and it is the beauty of his work here – there is no pretending to be the superhero star anymore unlike what was shown in another movie’s trailer which was showed in the beginning in an absurd state. It is certainly not the usual kind of role for him, but there is no staying behind here. He doesn’t play the police role, but this role of the psychologist assisting police is no less investigator. There are some interesting dialogues in store for him too. His previous work, Virus was a different kind of a thriller in which he was only playing a part. Ramya Nambeeshan is someone whom we don’t see in Malayalam movies much these days, and it is nice to see her in the movie, playing the wife of the protagonist. She was one actress who could have been in more movies, and it is something I felt long ago.

Further performers of the soul :: Unnimaya Prasad who is best known for two short time high impact characters in Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Parava also comes up with some of the best of moments leading the investigation team. Jinu Joseph plays a rather calm police officer with a twist in store, and this avatar definitely feels different. Sreenath Bhasi has a good run here as the hacker always looking for something more. There is also a funny side to his character, which comes out at times. Indrans’ screen time felt rather less, as his ripper character steals the moments in the beginning with ease. Mathew Thomas, even though there only for a short period of time, leaves a mark, after Thannermathan Dinangal and Kumbalangi Nights. We also have a good number of supporting actors who has contributed to this movie, which needed a lot of it.

How it finishes :: The director Midhun Manuel Thomas has been known for light-hearted movies like Ann Maria Kalippilaanu, Aadu and Alamara, but it can be clearly seen that the feeling has changed now. Anjaam Pathiraa could find no difficulty in going on to become the first interesting Malayalam movie of the year, and it was clear from the dark shades of the trailer too. This is not just the first movie of the year 2020, but also the write-up about the first movie around here that deserves your attention. May the best of films be there in the theatres this year, and let us have some of the best of the decade as it comes to an end with 2020. As far as this movie is concerned, I would say that those movies which deal with horror and thriller elements have a lot of work to do, and it is to be noted that these have worked very well, and is worth the appreciation for the effort.

Release date: 10th January 2020
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Midhun Manuel Thomas
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Ramya Nambeeshan, Unnimaya Prasad, Jinu Joseph, Mathew Thomas, Harikrishnan, Indrans, Sreenath Bhasi, Sharafudheen, Divya Gopinath, Sharafudheen, Jaffer Idukki, Abhiram Pothuval, Sudheesh

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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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Tell Me How I Die

Vampire Owl: This looks more like one of those “death-star” experiments from Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: Well, he doesn’t work with the humans anymore, and so this can’t be his work.

Vampire Owl: I never understand what he meant by “death-star” though. Isn’t that a Star Wars thing?

Vampire Bat: Well, he is the star and others die. That could be one of the reasons.

Vampire Owl: I certainly wish that it was the other way around.

Vampire Bat: A dead Frankenstein is surely not a good Frankenstein, especially when he returns again. So, you can stop thinking about it that way.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that he has traveled beyond the boundaries of life already.

Vampire Bat: He has even told me how you die.

Vampire Owl: What? That is impossible. I would prove him wrong.

Vampire Bat: Which is why he mentioned only about Lady Death being involved.

[Gets three cups of self-made tea with Good Day biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A group of youth from different parts of the state comes together at a medical facility for the drug trials, which turns out to be the easiest way to make some quick money. They get all the facilities until the trials end, but till then, they are not supposed to leave the facility or communicate through mobile phone to anyone. Anna (Virginia Gardner), a waitress looking for better options and more money also joins the team of young people at the facility. The other people participating in the experiment includes Den (Nathan Kress), Kristen (Kirby Bliss Blanton), Marcus (Mark Furze), Scratch (Ryan Higa) and others. They are told that they can choose to leave before taking the drug, but will not be allowed to leave the premises once they take the required dose. The officials confirm that this restriction is placed for their own safety because there is the possibility of some strange side-effects.

So, what happens next? :: This drug which could be unsafe, has some of the testers in doubt, but these experiments have already been done before, and people have walked out; there is also the presence of specialists, which meant that precautions were enough. So, everyone in the group decides to take the drug and enjoy the facilities provided there. Kristen and Marcus are the first two people to feel the effects of the drug, as they see the future, or rather go through it, to come back to the present again. They are confused, with their life repeating before them more than once. But they go and see those in charge, and are assured that this is quite normal and natural after taking the drugs. Only some people in the group are expected to have these effects on them, and so the two are told not to speak about this to anybody else, as they awaited more results.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Anna is the next one to see the future, but this goes further as she sees each and every person among them dying a horrible death. But the result is that she is sedated and tied up so that there is no panic among the others. Meanwhile, Den, Kristen, Marcus and Scratch plans and escapes from the facility, only for Den to make them come back for the others, especially Anna, who might all die inside there if the vision Anna had indeed was about future. Their worst fear comes true as the others are killed by a stranger. Anna manages to get herself free from the restraints and they unite, except for Scratch who never got back inside. Anna keeps having visions of them being killed, and Scratch finds something which he was not supposed to find. They discover that Dr. Jerrems (William Mapother) who is in charge had locked himself inside a bunker, and the serial killer on the loose is someone who was earlier experimented on, and now he wants revenge on everyone.

The defence of Tell Me How I Die :: We have another tale of people being used for testing drugs having unexpected effects on the volunteers. The idea is expanded cleverly here, and with the interesting developments in the first half, gets our attention right where it needs to be. We are given the license to expect the terror to be unleashed in one way or the other. With its limited resources, the movie has surely done well enough, one has to admit – there is nothing that big being tried here, and we notice the same easily. Even for a movie that is not known to have that much of a budget, this one does look good – there is nothing to blame visually here. The movie also has the potential to develop its main character in such a way as to make a big serial killer out of it with a possible sequel. Kirby Bliss Blanton whom we know from The Green Inferno, and the protagonist Virginia Gardner are the pick of the cast here.

The claws of flaw :: What we feel the first time after watching this movie is that it had so much scope with its idea, and the basic thing could have been explored further. There is even a serial killer, the villain who is on rampage, and he gets his kills so easily – but the movie doesn’t bring him as a scary figure or try to make him a character whom nobody is going to forget. There could have also been a better way of seeing future, and the same could be used to bring effectiveness to the cat and mouse game between the killer and his possible victims. There is also an ending which is not that effective, and we have a certain amount of confusion about how things turn out in the end. We demand more, without doubt, especially after everything is set up nicely with a sequence of events – we ask for scares, and big twists which can turn things upside down as the core is revealed, but the choice taken here is not to do anything special and just go on, which is rather surprising.

How it finishes :: There has been many experiments which have been the theme of movies like Ex Machina and Morgan, but both those movies were about creating something new, while this one is focused on enhancing human abilities. Once again, we have people trying do the strange and the unpredictable in the name of science, crossing some areas which were not supposed to be crossed. Tell Me How I Die is going to be just another one of those stories which will have our attention, and keep going through the same. It will be an interesting choice for some time-pass, and maybe it will have us watching more of similar movies again. After all, the world is never really that short of such ideas. There are always smaller movies which tries to get through with an interesting idea – you can surely add this one to that list of movies which try to do more with what it got.

Release date: 2nd September 2016
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: D.J. Viola
Starring: Virginia Gardner, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Nathan Kress, Ryan Higa, Mark Furze, Ethan Peck, William Mapother, Marnie Alexenburg, Mark Rolston, Katie Booth, Christopher Allen, Shaun Brown, Julia Ling, Daisun Cohn-Williams, Barry Habib

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Raman Raghav 2.0

What is the movie about? :: The movie makes it clear that it is not about Raman Raghav a.k.a. Psycho Raman who was a famous serial killer, who unleashed terror in the city of Mumbai in the 1960s. About fifteen years later, another serial killer named Ramanna (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who seems to follow the same kind of methods, starts his work in the same city. His way of operating is rather strange, and the police has not much clue about what his operations are. His list of victims only get longer, and it also includes Ramanna’s own sister, Lakshmi (Amruta Subhash) who is living with her husband (Ashok Lokhande) and their only son. She reluctantly lets him stay and cooks him food, only to get into an argument with the family. She leaves the place and comes back to take their money as well as kill them all one after the other.

So, what happens next? :: Ramanna is not the kind of person who has any kind of remorse for his actions, and he is surely not the kind of man who thinks twice about what he is to do. He is the worst kind of serial killer whom one could have on their trail. Even after being caught by the police and questioned, there is nothing that comes out of him, and he even escapes with the help of some local boys, thanks to the natural acting that comes to him. ACP Raghavan Singh (Vicky Kaushal) is in charge of the investigation, and has no real clue until finding the photo of Ramanna on the scene of crime, where Ramanna had murdered his sister. He figures out that the man whom they had apprehended a few days earlier has some kind of connection with these brutal murders which have been happening all around the city, keeping the residents terrified.

And, what is to follow next in this tale of terror in the streets? :: Even as he puts a tough cop act all the time, and seems to be righteous cop looking after criminal when someone looks from outside, Raghavan Singh is a a troubled person in his mind, having an unparalleled addiction to drugs, and has an even more terrible anger management issue. He is in a relationship with Smrutika Naidu (Sobhita Dhulipala) at whose place she is staying. It is another terrible relationship that they are having, with him forcing her to have more than one abortion after she keeps getting pregnant as he has his way as he likes. He also has no shame in beating her, but she stays faithful to him, and refuses to go home even after her family hopes for her return. Raghavan gets obsessed with catching Ramanna to such an extent that his issues deepen, and Ramanna at the same time, keeps an eye on the investigating officer – where does this game end?

The defence of Raman Raghav 2.0 :: The dark and terrifying avatar is given more and more life as the movie progresses, and then there is the other side which gets rather scarier. You feel the power of darkness in this movie, and there is so much of energy throughout the flick, thanks to the two main performers. It successfully makes you depressed and leaves you disturbing, with not much hope in the world of chaos. Humanity is surely capable of terrible things, and a lot of these capabilities are there right from the beginning, and are further powered by upbringing and the society. We keep wondering what is to happen next, and we are always interested to know how it all ends, or reach a new beginning. It takes only one serial killer to inspire more, and lets hope that Ramanna becomes our Hannibal to bring more of such movies which can prove to be even better. The final twist is something that breathes life like no other.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt that we had expected more from a movie like Raman Raghav 2.0 with its cast and the people who are the helm. We feel that a certain amount of hollowness do exist at times, and this one isn’t that much focused on what we would have been hoping to see with a police officer after a serial killer – this one has almost nothing about the investigation about the murderer. More focus could have been on the characters, and they could have had origin tales, even at the cost of the movie going longer – there are some parts of the movie which could have been cut down to provide space for more of the tale. This kind of movies should have more action, thrilling sequences and deeper story-line which should make us wish to remember the tale more than once; but the focus of Raman Raghav 2.0 seems to be rather a little too much divergent. Then there is the violence – nobody is a role model here.

Performers of the soul :: There is Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vicky Kaushal doing a fantastic job in this movie, which surely keeps things going strong. We keep wondering when we will see more of them with movies which get the wider release here. If it was more about the former in the beginning, the latter of Masaan fame takes it to the next level in the second half towards the end. You will also notice Sobhita Dhulipala and Amruta Subhash, as two actresses who brings some great performances in two of the best sequences of the movie. The one thing about Bollywood is that these names which are not regularly talked about as superstars are the real actors and acting stars – I really hope that their movies get release in every theatre here rather than those which brings the crowd; if I was running a theatre, I would run a special show for sure, no matter how much of box-office collection such movies are to bring.

How it finishes :: The movie leaves one with the message that everyone has the tendency to be bad, or rather evil, as it is the inherent evil in man which has more certainty to it than anything else. It is the situation that brings the worst out of people, whether they are branded good or bad. The hopeless state of humanity is directly or indirectly reflected in this movie, which struggles to find goodness which seems to fade away further and further as the flick progresses, and by the end of this, we have lost almost all hope in mankind – it is the ultimate truth, right? We do our best, and still we live in a society which is all about money and power, and the need for it as well as the possession of it, will only turn more people against each other. Evil is so easy, right? Being good is so difficult, especially with a new generation caught inside more than one kind of addiction. Raman Raghav 2.0 has that kind of protagonists, and we know that there is a good chance that we are all going to die an early, terrible death considering where the world is going.

Release date: 24th June 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vicky Kaushal, Sobhita Dhulipala, Amruta Subhash, Vipin Sharma, Ashok Lokhande, Harssh A. Singh, Anuschka Sawhney, Hitesh Dave, Rajesh Jais, Kalidas Parthitan, Rhea Pagar, Arun Singh

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The Great Father

What is the movie about? :: David Nainan (Mammootty) is a successful builder, going through a happy and peaceful life with his wife Michelle (Sneha) and the only daughter Sarah (Baby Anikha). As David is a busy man with the construction work of his firm which has been growing fast and because Michelle is a reputed doctor in a big hospital, they rarely have enough time to spend with family though. Sarah is so proud of her father that she never misses the opportunity to boast about his status, not only as the successful person that he is, but even as a feared man even in the Mumbai underworld. He has told her some of those stories himself, most of which common people will feel exaggerated at the first time itself. Most of her friends don’t believe her as expected, and she even brings her grandfather’s gun to make them believe, and lands in trouble for the same.

So, what happens next? :: There is also the story of a pedophile serial killer, who ends up killing also the police officer, Samuel (Shaam) who investigates the case, and is believed to have some so close to catching the culprit. It is then that the new officer in charge of the investigation, Andrews Eapen (Arya) gets into the act. He is the new generation police officer who keeps his own style, and tries to get to the bottom of everything in one way or the other. As this series of parallel incidents threaten to destroy the happiness of his family, David tries to restore the same, as well as seek vengeance on the faceless evil which is so much becoming a part of his world. But for the same, he will have to go through Andrews Eapen who has decided to solve this by himself, and will accept no intervention in the case which he is investigating. So, where does that leave these two?

The defence of The Great Father :: The movie definitely looks nice, and there is the stylish treatment to go with. There is the suspense maintained, even though this investigation never really progresses on the clues gathered, as the focus is more on how awesome the superhero dad is so that he will know everything and anything is possible for him. Coulrophobia is something that you can successfully gain with this movie, and if that happens, it is also a case of success for this flick; still, a psychopath clown has never really been part of our culture, which could lead to partial alienation here. With the recent news, the theme that the movie chooses is also something which is relevant. For someone who is coming up with his first movie, the director has managed things well, without letting things go through the path of movies like Gangster. Mammootty fans are surely going to love this, as this one has proven to be a nice entertainer.

The claws of flaw :: This movie needed to get rid of its slow motion – it is not part of the style, not anymore. There is also too much of sunshades being used, and using the same for style is rather shameless when repeated so many times. A character in the movie asks about the need for jacket in this hot climate, and it is the correct question, and it is another shameless addition. There is also too much of superhero stuff here, and everything is just too easy for the hero here, which is often irritating – the movie’s social relevance gets degraded by this, as style, mass and heroism are not those elements which could best support a cause. One often wonders why what should have been the main focus becomes something of secondary interest with the two heroes right there in front? Along with the same, there is the certainty of the lack of ideas with the villain, his name being used and also with his mask and imagery – joker and the clown! From early Batman to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight to Stephen King’s It? Even about the guns being too quick? Seriously? And who would blur the image of a gun?

Performers of the soul :: Most of the movie is more like custom made for Mammootty, and he undoubtedly shines in this avatar – all the style gets brought to him here. It is what makes this a celebration for his fans, and this might be the grand return to form that the great veteran actor wanted for quite some time after that break that succeeded Pathemari and Puthiya Niyamam. Arya gets the secondary chance to shine, and he doesn’t go that far beyond despite being given too strange a police officer role to perform. Anikha is a child actor who could have had better than what she had in this movie considering the potential; sadly, the same is not there, even after she gets to perform more after those first thirty minutes of considerable irritation with boasting and boring talks. The movie, from the beginning itself, doesn’t allow kids to be kids, which is rather strange in what has been called more of a movie that was to appeal to the families.

Further performers of the soul :: Sneha gets limited to being the wife of a superhero, and that is all for her – this never really seems to come close to changing. Malavika Mohanan with all the looks and intensity, also gets side-lined here. With Pattam Pole, the one big bad movie, and Nirnaayakam which became the torrent hit, she surely needs more movies to bring the potential. Miya George is just quick to come, make a visit again, and then just go again not to be seen again – her last big role was in Paavada in 2016 opposite Prithviraj Sukumaran, and wonders why she is not seen on the big screens here that much she should have been. Kalabhavan Shajohn also gets less of a screen presence here. When you look at this as a whole, it is a solar system with Mammootty as the sun, and the rest are planets who just rotate and revolve around him; at least Arya get to be Jupiter; sometimes he even gets to be Saturn – he even gathers his own satellites in the process starting with one lady police officer character.

How it finishes :: The Great Father is known to have broken many collection records already, starting from the first day itself. I couldn’t find a ticket on the first day of its release. This one follows the path set by C/O Saira Banu and Take Off while dealing with incidents having social relevance. The Great Father does stick to what the earlier promotional material was promising to deliver, and the movie is surely better than the teaser. What you will really need to avoid are those terrible dialogues by the kids in the beginning, and those slow motion fight scenes that go towards the end. What you need to look forward to, along with Mammootty, is the looks of the whole thing here, and the theme that it deals with. Well, the thrills and the suspense factor will play along in between, even though this is no Memories with one serial killer ready to bring the big twist, and having no overdose of super-heroism! With Georgettan’s Pooram also there, this one tries and edges ahead in style.

Release date: 30th March 2017
Running time: 151 minutes
Directed by: Haneef Adeni
Starring: Mammootty, Arya, Sneha, Baby Anikha, Malavika Mohanan, Miya George, Shaam, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Santhosh Keezhatoor, IM Vijayan, Balaji Sharma, Sunil Sukhada, Rony Davis, Prajod Kalabhavan, Mukundan, Sohan Seenulal, Shaji Nadesan, Anup Pazhayakada, Deepak Parambol, Aaryan Krishna Menon, Anu Joseph

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A Walk Among the Tombstones

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What is it about? :: Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is someone who used to be an aggressive police officer in the early 1990s. But now, eight years later, he is a recovering alcoholic and is approached by Peter (Boyd Holbrook) for his brother, a drug trafficker called Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens) whose wife Carrie (Razane Jammal) was kidnapped and murdered despite the ransom fee being paid at the right time. The fact that he got his wife as pieces inside the trunk of a car makes his hope for vengeance that stronger, and Matthew who works as an unlicensed private detective is the one he looks out for help. Despite the initial reluctance, he takes the case and starts collecting clues. It turns out that Carrie is not the first one to suffer the fate, and neither will she be the last.

The defence of A Walk Among the Tombstones :: The return of Liam Neeson in another thriller might be reason enough for this movie to defend itself in front of the fans. It is the protagonist played by him that once against manages to be outstanding. As a crime-drama thriller, this one is more artistic and having strong emotional moments which add to the thrills very well. The movie nicely progresses with its strengthening factors until the nice finish has been reached. The links between the brutal murders are well connected in a realistic way rather than bringing some big clue out of nowhere. The lack of goodness in this grey or darkness-aligned world is well portrayed in this movie which successfully shows some signs of hope by the end, but not before going through the test. There is no unrealistic action sequences in this one, and don’t look for it.

Claws of flaw :: The movie is surely slow, and despite having a certain beauty about its pace, it is still slow and so it is surely not for the fans of Liam Neeson’s other movies like Non-Stop, A-Team and that popular Taken franchise – it is not Unknown or The Grey either. So, people who don’t like to have an artistic and realistic touch instead of those exaggerated sequences, are surely going to be disappointed. This doesn’t go the The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en way either, even though the serial killers and violence to victims are there along with the inquiries into the same – there is not much of the gore on the screen despite the idea being used. There is also a certain lack of the background to the killers, and the ending could have been more intense – it is surely satisfying and peaceful, but there could have been more strength to it.

Performers of the soul :: Liam Neeson is the man in control once again. It is completely about how his character go through these situations in his own way. It should be his name which might have brought the attention here, and he is perfectly fit for his character. This will remind you of some of the other characters he has played, but only here and there – he goes a lot more realistic in this one. He keeps avoiding all chances of getting into a fight, so much that once he keeps getting beaten up while not even trying to resist until he speaks when given a chance. He talks against violence and revenge so often in this movie, and hopes to keep himself always straight forward and also support even the not so good people in a positive way – even with similarities in the role, it is not your powerful action star here! Brian Bradley’s character was kind of strange and often irritating, but the rest worked well in this movie.

Soul Exploration: The problems of being a good person :: The main character himself is firmly rooted in disappointment as well as guilt, as he goes through what he should have done earlier during his times as a police officer, to reach the salvation that he intends to. He never hopes for that though, as he is without a direction, doing just random things for no reason, instead of having a purpose. You can see that feeling on his face throughout the movie, as Liam Neeson does that to perfection with ease. It is about people with high potential never being realized, and they end up being lesser achievers than they deserve to be, while there is no limits to what the liars, cheaters and back-stabbers can achieve in this world of chaos – and they are appreciated for the same. But good people always have to suffer and struggle even for the smallest mistakes.

Soul Exploration: The difficulty in finding goodness :: There is a certain amount of darkness and sadness which prevails throughout this movie, and almost nobody in this movie is a happy person, and not many good things happen around here – it is a clear reflection of what the life is, a pure situation of hopelessness were only the richest, powerful and those who can lie really well thrive in this world and the good ones as well as the grey ones who mostly infest this movie will suffer because they are rarely considered important. We are all going to suffer one day, may be in the hands of those who are just evil, or otherwise the rich who wants to feed on those who are not that rich or the system itself. Goodness is not valuable in this world, and at the end of our times, we are going to suffer for the presence of goodness and die.

How it finishes :: “People are afraid of all the wrong things” – this dialogue sets the mood for the movie a few minutes into the action, as it has that kind of evil that should be feared more than many others because it is random and naturally existing in most of the humans. The movie reflects this statement, as it goes steady and solid throughout, and keeps its power in its smooth movement towards the end, and the feeling that the audience has remains the same till the end. This one is also a fine opportunity to see Liam Neeson in his most human form as far as his action thrillers are concerned. A Walk Among the Tombstones is fine addition to the list of thrillers in which the man has acted in, and you can watch this one and find out where it features in that interesting list.

Release date: 19th September 2014
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Scott Frank
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour, Boyd Holbrook, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Brian Bradley, Eric Nelsen, Mark Consuelos, Adam David Thompson, Sebastian Roché, Laura Birn, Danielle Rose Russell, Razane Jammal, Kim Rosen, Natia Dune, Genevieve Adams, Lana Delaurent, Al Nazemian, Jolly Abraham, Frank De Julio, Whitney Able

awalkamongthetombstones

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Sinister

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There was a time when I had a longing for movies of pure horror rather than the ones with blood and gore. My prayers were answered this year with The Conjuring, but I later came to know that there was a movie in 2012 which I missed, that was also dependent less on the blood and gore and more on the shocks and thrills. That movie was Sinister, and even as I almost confused it with Insidious for apparently no specific reason, here is another addition to my long list of favourite horror movies which can extend beyond any long paper. This is one of those movies which got released before our theatres had the courage to release horror movies here – lack of cowardice which they gained with The Conjuring and its long run in the theatres here. There was the pure absence of horror movies in the theatres before that, with the exception of hybrid movies like those of Resident Evil series. It is a strange thing, because they could have had a lot of success with Silent Hill last year and Evil Dead this year, but they decided to keep both out of theatres just like they did to Sinister. But there would be not many people who wouldn’t know of this movie, and that is a certainty.

We have the director of Hellraiser: Inferno and The Exorcism of Emily Rose working on this one – that was inspiring even as I can’t recollect the first movie and I never did watch the second. He would also direct Deus Ex, a movie based on the awesome computer game of the same name. The presence of Ethan Hawke was also interesting, as the last time I saw him was in an action-horror mix of a movie called Daybreakers, and I loved his performance in it. The movie also had a very interesting poster almost giving us the feeling of presence of a serial killer more and of a supernatural entity less. But what it gives us would be another result, a mixture of horror which has evolved into something innovative and new compared to the other horror movies of the year. I had also expected a lot of blood and gore, but this one has not much of it, and that works mostly to its advantage rather than against it. From what we see, it is just a simple horror film with innovation inside it. But it might be more than that, as there is a lot to this movie than what meets the eye. We have a lot of interesting things in the movie which arouse our curiosity by a good margin.

The movie begins with a Super 8 footage depicting a family of four standing under a tree with heads covered, hands tied and nooses around their necks, and someone causing their deaths by hanging. We can later see that a true crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves into the house with his family of his wife, daughter and son. He was not having a good run as a crime writer for sometimes, and believes that this might change his situation. He doesn’t tell his family that this was the house where the murders took place. By staying there, he hopes to unveil something about the murders and write about it in his book thus bringing him back to fame and fortune. As he tries to mix fact and fiction without much hope, he soon discovers a projector and several reels of Standard 8 mm footage under the label of home movies. To his shock, he discovers that they are rather snuff movies, and it shows different families being brually murders in several ways: being burnt in a car, drowned in a pool, throats being cut, being run over by a lawn mower and finally the hanging which was shown in the beginning of the movie.

He actually notices a figure with a demonic face witnessing all these murders from some part of the screen. He also discovers childish drawings showing the murders, along with sketches of a demonic figure, whose name is written as Mr. Boogie. He finds out that the sketches are made by the one member of the family who went missing in the case of each murder which took place at different places during different time periods, with the helps of a deputy at the nearby station. He feels that there is some killer specialized in the occult or demon worship behind it after seeing a sign and knowing that it is a little kid who went missing all the time. He feels that he is on to something huge this time. Trying to decipher the symbol seen in the films, he comes to know that it is relate to a pagan Sumerian deity named Bughuul (Nick King), who would usually kill entire families before he takes their children into his world and consume their souls. Meanwhile, strange things happen at his house, as he has visions of dead, decaying children as well as the monster. His son has night terrors and his daughter draws strange things on the wall. So the game is on – are they hallucinations, an extremely smart killer or something supernatural at work?

Ethan Hawke is the star of the movie, as the man who investigates for money and fame, and almost feels that he has got something about a serial killer which the police didn’t, but later realizes that by moving into that house and searching for information, he has put the lives of himself and his family in trouble. We can see him making a sincere effort to portray his character who is determined at first, hopeful later and beyond all expectations by the end. The character himself is the tragic flaw which has them in peril, or accurately talking about it, there is the desire to unravel a mystery which was not supposed to be known to him. In one way or the other, this writer becomes another Doctor Faustus and even without signing a deal with the demons, brings about bleeding dagger on the head of his family and himself. His idea of hiding this information from his family, and telling his wife that the place is nowhere near any house where any murders took place doesn’t help at all. He might have been a best-selling author with a lot of fans, but not everyone would care about the same. He needs this work to be done so badly, and we can see his feelings, and well done Ethan Hawke in bringing the same to us.

Our director also bounces back from a not that good remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still with Keanu Reeves, and gives us a lot to expect from Deus Ex. The movie shocks with its child images itself [Spoilers Ahead – you may skip to the last paragraph] One of the most shocking things in the movie is the realization about the children, as they wanders around in their decaying state – as if the result of the evil that has befallen them in the form of Mr. Boogie. Yes, the children are damned, and taken to the other world of the evil deity whom we can interpret as a demon. Before they are taken, there is the manipulation by the creature they call Mr. Boogie who makes them kill all their family members themselves before taken into the other dimension inside that movie. The process repeats very often as the creatures takes his own collection of souls to feed on. We do remember the 2008 horror movie The Children, don’t we? Yes, the children are the evil ones, manipulated out of their supposed innocence, like William Golding depicted in Lord of the Flies. This movie also asserts the fact that they can be easily corrupted – by circumstance or by a villain; or even by the circumstance which is the villain.

One has to wonder if Sinister gives a little too much and fails to keep the suspense glowing till the end. But it is a clear fact that they have rightly added those shocks to help the procedure. It does remind one of many movies, but none directly and therefore it is quite fresh for most of the audience. This could rather be a predecessor to what awesomeness which was to come next year in the form of The Conjuring. I did feel that keeping the creature from the other world as simply the devil would have been much better, as it is more of an entity whom we can attribute taking human souls with. With its theory of goodness plagued by the branches of evil, and the multiple shocks involving decaying children as well as that shadowy figure that is Mr. Boogie, Sinister does something that most of the horror movies fail; that is to bring a powerful plot with lots of brains behind it. The creepy atmosphere rightly ornate this movie with such an ease, and if someone other than Ethan Hawke scores, it is our own monster from the movie with right support from the kids who have turned into his own children.

PS: Thanks to Simon (http://simonsayswatchthis.wordpress.com/) for the recommendation 😀

Release date: 12th October 2012
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick King, Victoria Leigh, Blake Mizrahi, Cameron Ocasio, Ethan Haberfield, Danielle Kotch

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The Raven

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“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore — While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door”. These are the first few lines of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, The Raven, which we had to study as a part of our American Literature syllabus for the partial fulfilment of the Masters Degree in English Language and Literature. Even as I found the process of doing seminar about Emily Dickinson more fascinating in this particular paper, my favourite work of that one paper was undoubtedly this poem about this black creature. Later in the poem, we have a better sight of the magnificent dark bird: “In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door — Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door — Perched, and sat, and nothing more”. The poem created such a great supernatural environment with the raven’s unexpected visit to a man who is mourning over his lost love.

Even as this movie takes the title from the same poem, and carries over the same darkness which the poem had in itself, the movie is not directly related to the poem, as it rather fictionalizes the final days of Poe’s life until his mysterious death instead of taking the poem’s imagery forward, and at the same time, gives our poet the powerful image of a crime solver. The use of the image of a literary figure can always be interesting, and as this one poet is considered, he was that big an influence in our question papers that it was quite difficult to take a decision to skip his poems – for that would leave us with not much to score in the exams. There might be many differences between a crow and a raven even as they look the same; as we consider the two movies The Crow and The Raven, they also belong to two different worlds, united only be the presence of murders, deaths and the dark side in both the movies. As the 1994 supernatural action movie is concerned, it remains one of my favourites, but I can’t say the same about The Raven with its investigative thriller atmosphere even as I have my own reasons for liking it.

The story takes us back to the nineteenth century, when Poe (John Cusak) lives his life filled with alcohol claiming to have used up all his literary abilities, and the only other thing he is interested in is the love for one woman, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve). He is loathed by the lady’s rich and influential father (Brendan Gleeson) though. Meanwhile, a group of cops find two dead bodies of a woman and her daughter, and detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) finds out that the crime resembles a murder in the short story The Murders in the Rue Morgue written by Edgar Allan Poe. As more incidents follow, Poe is called to the police station and is asked to help the cops in solving the strange case. At the same time, Emily is kidnapped by the killer who asks Poe to publish a new story. The murderer keeps leaving Poe clues until he gets to that one final clue which would reveal what has lead to this situation, and also that mystery behind the killer should be removed. But as Emily is buried under the ground in a coffin and time keeps running out, Poe is left with less to think and more to act.

I might have to agree that this didn’t work as well as I supposed it would, even as John Cusack and Luke Evans have come up with very good performances and so did the villain who shall not be revealed here. Cusak plays the man who invented the detective genre and blessed us with the best of the supernatural, with so much ease, even as the question remains about how much the character in the movie has deviated from the original person except for the mustache. May be the movie tried to bring too much of the characteristics of the man into one movie which is a suspense thriller with an unnecessary romantic background, thus making it a little too much of a mixture. Poe might not have liked it, but as an admirer of his work, I do; and there is no suspense about it. Alice Eve once again gives her best along with being out of the league, making her way towards the character as she should have. She plays more of a lover of Poe as a poet and his ideas, and plans to marry him despite of the disapproval of her father; and this is one love story which doesn’t have a good beginning or a happy ending.

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! — Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted — On this home by Horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore” – the lines from the poem matches with the depiction of Poe in the movie too, as he accepts his dark imaginations in the movie, and asks if imagining is also a crime. He is shown as a man with no money or fame left, even as The Raven remains one of the most famous works. He finds solace in alcohol as well as his love, and attempts to publish articles instead of fiction which both the editor and the admirers want, and would be something which can bring him fame and fortune again. As he says “Nevermore”, we can see that his character mostly reflects the same man who is the protagonist in his most famous poem. He is there to prove his lines, “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted – nevermore”! So as the title is concerned, we can identify the man more with the protagonist of the poem of the same name, which is more Poe than anywhere else.

The Raven has its own collection of blood and gore, with even a huge mechanical axe-like device used by the murderer to cut a man into two halves, as the machine swings to and fro like a pendulum coming down towards the victim second by second – from Poe’s another work, The Pit and the Pendulum. The whole atmosphere is full of shadows and darkness creating the much needed creepy world. The villain is someone who knows Poe’s imagination more than he himself does, and his characters and stories too well. There is even that question about Poe inspiring those murders. The inspiration for the movie might be many slasher movies which came earlier, that is for sure. There lies the agony, and the sadness which arises due to the fact that this is just a random fictionalized story with lots of areas which could have been better. There could have been further logic and strong connections, but The Raven has taken the easy way out, with three of the skilled leading actors and an addition of the dark atmosphere supported by blood and gore, trying to work the mystery of a literary figure and his works. It does work in parts most of the time, but as a movie which requires that standard of the poem whose title has been taken, there should have been a lot more.

Coming from the man who directed V for Vendetta this is surely a let-down. May be the movie confuses itself a bit about what it tries to achieve, but this is still a good flick for the literature enthusiasts, especially fans of this one poet and his works, even as there can be disappointment about the changes in depiction of the poet, and the lack of anything amazing in the story that made him a crime solver. There was a lot more scope to this idea of the fiction which has been explored here. I liked this movie because I could connect it with Poe’s works which I had to study and it was easy to remember more about him with this movie, even as it would have helped me much better if the movie had released in 2011. This movie is my nostalgia, of my time reading Poe at college. I can’t say the same about others though, and for those who don’t know Poe or haven’t read any of his works, this is better to be avoided. The other choice for you is to read his works, something which might be a tough ask in a world which is ruled by fiction of no real quality. Still, I would suggest you read the poem The Raven, about which I managed to write a lot in my exam, and a reading of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Blessed Damozel with it might prove further interesting.

Release date: 9th March 2012
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: James McTeigue
Starring: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jimmy Yuill, Kevin McNally, Sam Hazeldine, Pam Ferris, John Warnaby, Brendan Coyle

therav copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.