Split

Vampire Owl: Sometimes, I feel that I am more than one person.

Vampire Bat: Due to you being unable to keep your promises, we have all felt the same on one day or the other.

Vampire Owl: You are taking this the negative way.

Vampire Bat: I remember you telling us that you were not you, but another you when asked about coming for the vampire exercise.

Vampire Owl: But that was not me, but a shadow of me.

Vampire Bat: You just found a few reasons to run away from everything; that is what happened.

Vampire Owl: I am telling you that all of you haven’t met my most dominant side yet.

Vampire Bat: And that will still be you.

Vampire Owl: My zombie minions clearly understand all these.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why they wouldn’t try to agree to your theory about yourself, as it is told to your own brainless minions.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with special ghee roast].

What is the movie about? :: Three teenagers, including best friends Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), along with another girl Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), who were part of a birthday party celebration, are kidnapped while returning home. They wake up only hours later, and they realise that they are held in captivity by a man known by the name Dennis. This particular person is actually one of the twenty three personalities present in the mind of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). This man, who was a victim of childhood abuse was having a case of dissociative identity disorder, and has been treated by his psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley). The girls soon meet Patricia, which is actually the same person dressed in women’s clothes, and is just a little nicer than Dennis. They also meet Hedwig, who is the third personality, a nine year old boy who is looking for some fun and is afraid of Dennis and Patricia.

So, what happens next? :: The three girls discuss how to escape, and while Claire wishes to pounce on the man and attack him, Casey keeps thinking about a smarter way to get out from there. It is Claire who tries to escape first through the ventillation, and she does get to an open space in the building, but is caught by Dennis who takes over from Hedwig and chases her. She is taken to a room, and is kept there in solitary confinement. Marcia also tries to escape, when Patricia is in charge, but she also finds her, and threatening with a knife, gets her into another room alone. Meanwhile, Casey also tries to make a radio call, outsmarting Hedwig, but that idea also doesn’t work, and Patricia gets hold of her, as she gets locked up again. These two personalities, Dennis and Patricia, who have replaced Barry who was the earlier dominant personality, are planning present the three girls to a rumoured twenty fourth personality, known only as the Beast – can the girls escape before that?

The defence of Split :: After you read the synopsis and summary of this one, you know that something different is in store, and the same has been provided here by M. Night Shyamalan who continues his run after the lesser hyped thriller, The Visit. The movie goes on steadily right from the beginning, and we soon comes to know what is awaiting us as the flick progresses. There are some nice twists, and a fine finish in the end, which makes way for a sequel which could be even better than this one, so much is the potential there. Our director is one man who knows how to keep the balance, between the psychological thriller and the supernatural thriller, and the same is revealed here. We already know how good he can be, and this is the movie that once again proves the same for the non-believers who go on this very interesting journey that will keep you guessing what is coming up next with the unpredictability of not just the antagonist, but also the protagonist who has her own big flashbacks.

The claws of flaw :: Split, with its variety in treatment, might not be the movie for everyone, as M. Night Shyamalan makes the difference again while not following the usual path. With this kind of a premise, people might be expecting something else, but not with this man at the helm. Split, even when there exists not much of a fault, will have to face those strange female reviewers who will also keep looking for the quantity of clothes that the female characters are wearing – something which doesn’t even come close to being anything by even Bollywood standards; well, some reviewers from India are the kind of people who are busy praising Hindi movies, and haven’t seen many movies from the other languages, and don’t intend to. Lets hope that the sequel to this movie is kept away from them as much as possible. Maybe, some people would have also wanted this to go faster, and with more action to go with the same – the need to see all those personalities might also be there with a few viewers.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, it is James McAvoy who leads the way here with one man and his multiple personalities – he shines with each one of them, and you are going to notice the Hedwig one more than any other. He is certainly the one person who can handle even more than this number of people inside him, and the character or rather the characters within the character are very much safe with him; maybe the Oscars next year can try and deserve him. Anya Taylor-Joy is one amazing talent as she continues her run, from The Witch, through Morgan and now into this movie – we see the character through sadness and a depressing past. The two other girls, Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula are not too far away in performances either, as they also leave a mark – both of them surely have a long way to go; more memorable scream queens should be there in store for us. Maybe they could have gotten to battle the rumoured beast a lot too.

How it finishes :: Releasing here a little bit late compared to its United States release, M. Night Shyamalan had showed signs of his return with the interesting thriller which was The Visit, and this one even does better. Unlike After Earth which was one terrible movie without doubt, his three negatively reviewed movies before that were not that terrible when we look at it overall. Lady in the Water, The Happening and The Last Airbender were all movies with so much scope and could have been there, even though they fell short. The same doesn’t happen with Split, as the force remains strong with this one, considering how it progresses, and how the cast is used to maximum impact. This year might be having the best thriller very early itself, as Split has all it takes to go the distance, being quite the improvement from The Visit. M. Night Shyamalan is back for real, and you can tell that to the other movie fans in the neighbourhood! If you liked this movie, also go for 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Release date: 20th January 2017 (USA); 24th February 2017 (India)
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus, Neal Huff, Kim Director, Lyne Renée, M. Night Shyamalan, Bruce Willis (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Up and Down

up&down (3)

We all get stuck in the lift. Those who haven’t are the ones who are waiting to get stuck there. Two years after the release of his Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty, this director has returned with what is listed as a psychological thriller – Up & Down: Mukalil Oralundu, which deals with the same issue. But I would not say that it is psychological, as it is more of a murder investigation; a suspense thriller of the recent Mumbai Police model, but the style resembles Banking Hours 10 to 4. But this surely has a good advantage over that; the advantage of the powerful base plot which forms the undercurrents. But the question would be about how it surfaces and faces those ships and boats, the critics and the common man who watches them after watching Neram, English and Mumbai Police in the other theatres. The more famous movie review sites doesn’t seem to have taken this one well, but as long as I am concerned, this is surely above average, and this successfully entertains more than any other Malayalam movie after the age of Amen. Even with its flaws, and the times when sharks become little crocodiles, this wide sea of thrills manages to make an impact on the viewers.

The whole thing happens in the tallest building in the city, a flat where a major event is taking place at the top, that is the twenty fourth floor. There is a lot of preparation going on, and there are many important guests arriving on the day. But it is not in a room, in a hall or at the premises of the flat that the story takes place, as the film is a story of eight people and a kid who gets stuck in the lift on a day when there is a major program there. The trapped people include the lift operator of the flat (Indrajith), the city police commissioner (Ganesh Kumar), the flat’s builder and a major businessman (Baiju), his wife who is a dancer and is dressed for an item in the program (Remya Nambeesan), an alcoholic writer and a stoic personality with a “Carpe diem” attitude to life (Prathap Pothen), an IT professional who plays the role of Godse in a drama for the program and also the secretary of the residents association of the apartment (Rejith Menon), his girl friend and the one in charge of the program (Sruti Menon), a former NRI from the United States who play the role of Mahatma Gandhi for the program’s drama item (Nandhu) and a little kid (Master Devaraman).

The writer keeps telling everyone that he reached there early morning; the kid keeps enquiring about his mother (Meghana Raj) and the lift operator himself tells the police commissioner about his doubts on the missing person. They are on their way to the top of the flat for the program when the lift gets stuck. The man who comes to repair the lift is an alcoholic (Koch Preman) and this delays the process further. The lift has a lot of problems, and this time, it causes bigger trouble as the function has to begin, and soon the writer has chest pain. They also find that there is a dead body on the top of the lift, and the police commisioner guesses that one of the people in the lift is responsible for the murder. He pledges to find the real victim before the lift is opened. But the question remains if it is possible in such a small space with so many people being related to the murdered person in one way or the other. The talks and actions of the people in the lift keeps on raising more and more suspicions. Even the investigator and the most respected people in the lift doesn’t seem to the kind of righteous people who can’t commit a brutal murder. Slowly, a good number of secrets are revealed, which would change their lives once they get out of the trapped area.

This one is more of Meghana Raj’s movie than anybody else. She is present in most of the flashbacks where the core of the movie is revealed. It might also be Ganesh Kumar’s best police role ever. Indrajith has very little to do as the serious lift operator who never has a moment of happiness in life. Prathap Pothen has the most interesting role in the movie, as an alcoholic who enjoys his life without worrying about the past, present or future. He provides the best comic relief with Nandhu. In many ways, this might be one of the most interesting intellectual alcoholics, a reminder of the wise fools of William Shakespeare (that was a little far-fetched) who provides those funny lines as well as the words of wisdom. It is the strangeness of his character that works the best in a situation of being trapped in such an environment. His character is most well-drawn, and the rest are just a little less developed. Some of them really don’t have any interesting character traits at all. The presence of flat characters subtract some points from the situation, and the scenes outside the lift losses in comparison to what happens inside the lift.

So where does the 2010 American supernatural thriller film come into the picture? No, The Night Chronicles: Devil doesn’t really come into the scene here. It had the supernatural within modern city life while this one has the usual crime within the modern urban life. There is no people getting killed one at a time, and there is surely no devil. The only common thing is the lift and the only similar event is the people getting trapped in the lift. So there is no place for Lucifer, Beelzebub, Satan or whoever he is. But in a world where the humans can do his job better than him, who needs that personality from the depths of the pain’s own abyss called inferno? There are satan’s little helpers who are both intellectually and spiritually better people of evil than the prince of darkness and eternal pain. Well, this one is successful in building that tension which remains there for most of the time. It is close to being brain dead in the end due to its attempt to come up with something strange and the requirement of another twist, but still, considering the fact that we have seen much worse Malayalam movies, and the greatest disasters of the Malayalam movie industry, this is not at all a bad thing in its glory.

The movie would have been better if the creators had simply forgotten about everything outside the lift and there were more incidents inside rather than the outside. That would have been more of the psychological piece as expected. May be the makers thought that the common movie watcher of this world who hasn’t watched movies like Buried might not stand a chance if they had to face with a monotonous environment such as a plain lift. The need for some colourful factors always comes to the scene when entertaining crowd-puller movies are considered. The movie’s subtitle “Mukalil Oralundu” would signify God, but there is no such direct involvement. The operation of the lift can be related to that divinity, but it is not something that can be directly connected. If the title means the dead body on the top, that would make more sense, but that would turn the usage into a rather funny thing. The more interesting thing might be about considering the lift as a character, which works as it wants itself to. Such a thing can’t be avoided even if that factor is also not explored. The supernatural clearly takes the backseat when the not-so-natural human beings takes control and leads the way.

To be frank, I have been waiting for this one for quite a long time, as the release date was changed from 17th May to 24th May; something unusual for me to long for a movie which had no special cast or nothing to boast about – I was impressed by the trailer and this being a thriller added to the longing. But the movie doesn’t seem to give what the trailer conveys to the viewer. The mystery should have been a little more bifurcating for my mind if it was so. But here, the mystery is straight, but still strange. This suspense works very powerfully throughout the first half and the movie soars high despite of some small troubles, and goes through with half of the second half without too much trouble, but it is the end that fails to justify the means. It was as if everything was made just to make the end happen, or the finish was just made for the movie to end. It is somewhat uninspiring, but everything else throughout the movie is worth all the attention. It might not be what one expect after watching the best of the world, but with the limited resources, it has been turned into something which can be watched for the fun and thrills, especially that first half which keeps one guessing about what happens next, or what can’t happen next.

Release date: 24th May 2013
Running time: 115 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: T. K. Rajeev Kumar
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Meghana Raj, Prathap Pothen, Remya Nambeesan, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, Baiju, Nandhu, Sruti Menon, Rejith Menon, Master Devaraman, Kochu Preman, Vijayakumar

up&down copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.