John Luther

Vampire Owl: It has been 826 days. That is a long time.

Vampire Bat: 826 days after watching a movie in the theatre, and now we are back.

Vampire Owl: The OTT life was quite long during that time, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, mostly of Prime Video and Netflix, and then others.

Vampire Owl: The last one we watched was Forensic.

Vampire Bat: That was a good end to the sequence before corona virus.

Vampire Owl: Well, we remain the same even now.

Vampire Bat: We continue to live in a world without hope.

Vampire Owl: There is no movie that can be close to the reality of hopelessness.

Vampire Bat: Well, we will watch this movie for now, and think about the meaninglessness of a hopeless life later.

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

What is the movie about? :: Circle Inspector John Luther (Jayasurya) of Devikulam police station is someone who is very much committed to his duty. He is fully supported by Sub Inspector Felix Joy (Deepak Parambol) who also spends a lot of time dedicated to duty. The absense of John during the major programmes at his home has his wife Jessy (Athmeeya Rajan) and sister Leena (Drishya Raghunath) in sadness, and his parents (Siddique and Sreelakshmi) in disappointment. On the night before his sister’s engagement, John finds him in trouble due to two cases. The first one is related to a political murder and the second one is a man-missing case following an accident which kills another person. The first case leads to John getting physical with the goons and ends up getting smashed on the head with a tube-light, which leads to him going deaf on one year, and requiring to use hearing aid on the other. But with a boy also found to be missing, he has to get back to the case and solve it within a deadline of two weeks.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He discovers that the two missing cases have no relation with each other, and there is soon a woman that goes missing. The death in the first accident, and the missing person of the same accident seem to have no common person behind them. Their only clue is a pickup truck which doesn’t have the registration number displayed on one side, which makes it very difficult for them to go forward. All of these incidents have happened in a certain area which doesn’t seem to have many people around. As this takes place in the high-ranges between the tea plantations, there seems to be a shortage of CCTV cameras too. But they hope that there could be that one witness who might have seen one of these victims just before or after being taken away by the criminal. Still, it is to be noted that the man who is behind all of these can’t be a common criminal – there might be a lot more to him. John and Felix have to be very careful in this case. Can they find out the mastermind before there are more victims?

The defence of John Luther :: As far as the thrills are concerned, they are here to stay with this particular movie. There is the grand mystery running through the middle, which never losses strength. The suspense could be maintained, and it keeps us guessing. There are red herrings which almost makes us think the other way. The quality that we see on the big screen is too good – the beauty of visuals is always there, whether it is about the long shots of the enchanting Munnar and Cochin or the classic shots of night with danger lurking in the corners. The final moments have us more in fear than anything else, as the villain is revealed, but not with further twists. The songs are interesting, and they support the happenings of the movie well. The background score is effective, and the use of sound effects to support the proceedings also need to be appreciated. The darkness in a very good ally for this particular movie, as much as the different noises used around here – the scene at the beginning is a nice example of the same.

Positives and negatives :: One would be right to find some cliches here, but we have always required most of them to keep the cinematic world moving forward with strength. The movie could have given more significant chances to its female main leads to perform, as they are pushed to the background rather too early. There is a little bit of horror touch to the movie at times, and that could have worked even better if the elements were introduced much earlier. The movie is a reminder to us that any person among us could be a psycho killer, and idea that could save lives – well, those who enjoy when we fall are no less of such killers either. After all, all human beings are born evil, and this film once again shows how effective in evil they can be, especially when they feel that they are done with the society. We blame the evil spirits and demons, and maybe even categorize vampires as pure evil, but humans have always been the root of all evil. The dark world of the investigation in this movie also points towards the same, and we can’t agree less.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya is someone who performed all alone in Sunny last year, and this time, he gets a fine team, and we have him with a fine performance here. We believed that he was indeed the actor to be trusted while booking a movie ticket after such a long time, and also at Lulu Mall; quite an expensive one in this case. One would think that after watching so many films in the theatre from 2013 to 2020 until corona virus brought the trouble, the celebrities will be supporting this blog, but that is wrong, because only a very few of my reviews like Meppadiyan and Luca have been shared by the leading actors of respective films. Anyway, coming back to Jayasurya, he looks and performs like the dedicated actor that he always has been. From the perfect police officer to the flawed one like we see in Memories, he is to be appreciated for how well he has brought the quality in here. It is to be noted that Deepak Parambol also brings some fine support in here, as the police officer who is not left far behind, but stays beside the main character. Athmiya Rajan and Drishya Raghunath are lovely, but has less screen time. The villain is really good, but can’t reveal more about him due to spoiler possibilities.

How it finishes :: You always have time to support a dark mystery thriller placed on an investigation. We did welcome movies like Anjaam Pathira, Antakshari and Forensic with much appreciation. Like the latter movie, this one also keeps its killer as the psycho and not a revenge seeker, which lets it have the advantage over the rest of the similar movies which attempt to turn themselves into random movies of vengeance. The time it takes to come to the final villain also needs to be appreciated, as the suspense is successfully maintained until then. This is also the first movie I have watched in the theatre after 826 – the last one was Forensic just before corona virus had made that big run. It is always good to watch thrillers as much as horror movies, as we are better prepared to face all the evil in the world after watching these movies, and we know when to be ready, and when to give up and just die. After all, evil is too natural for humans, and there is always someone trying to lie, cheat and steal, as well as murder us, or make our life a living hell; its in human nature.

Release date: 27th May 2021
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Abhijith Joseph
Starring: Jayasurya, Athmeeya Rajan, Drishya Raghunath, Siddique, Deepak Parambol, Sivadas Kannur, Pramod Velliyanad, Sreelakshmi

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham

What is the movie about? :: A former television actress Haripriya (Grace Antony) feels that she is stuck in an unromantic marriage with Pavithran (Nivin Pauly), who is has been a junior artist and acting coach for a long time, without any success. Their marriage was fixed by a mutual acquaintance, Sivakumar (Sudheesh) who works in the cinema field, as both had some film ambitions which didn’t materialize as they had wished for. Pavithran took loan against Haripriya’s grandmother’s golden earrings for helping his friend, and it had become another reason for their marriage landing in trouble, along with his usual unsuccessful pursuits in the film industry, along with that acting coaching going nowhere. The two are now on the verge of their separation, and as his acting coaching classes are also held in the corner of Haripriya’s father’s restaurant, Pavithran gets some gold coated earrings to replace Haripriya’s golden earrings for the time being, and both are finally together, with an added plan to go on a romantic trip.

So, what happens next in this tale? :: As Haripriya’s brother ask for the earrings to be used for loan for her family’s expenses, Pavithran decides to speed up the romantic trip and steal the earrings. They get room at an expensive hotel, thanks to Sivakumar’s contacts in the film field. There, they meet Jobby (Vinay Forrt), the manager, and Shalini (Vincy Aloshious), the receptionist. One of the room boys, Manaf (Rajesh Madhavan) seems to develop a special liking for Haripriya’s earrings. A mostly successful writer, Balachandran (Joy Mathew) is also there, along with a drunkard, Surendran (Jaffar Idukki) whom almost everyone detests. Pavithran successfully steals the earrings, and hides them. But soon, he realizes that it has been stolen from that location, as he cannot find it either. Haripriya will not stop until she makes sure that each and every person in the hotel is innocent. Jobby who has to go and meet his lover’s parents are also stuck there, and Shalini who is forced to work late without salary is more than just angry about the situation. Can anyone find a solution here?

The defence of Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham :: The movie is fun enough, and mostly mindless fun, when we look at it. The whole thing depends on the messed up lives of everyone who is seen on the screen – none of them seems to be happy, and they are all facing troubles due to one thing or the other. It is a true reflection of our world, in which there is no real happiness, and a certain search for the same leads us nowhere. We see that there is nothing that goes right in this particular hotel, which holds a mirror to a Corona virus affected, climate change affected world of chaos. Everyone has their different problems, and each one of them is shown coming together towards this one particular incident. The set design is really good, and it could even suit a horror movie, as there are reminders of The Shining and its sequel, Doctor Sleep. The setting serves the purpose more than any other thing in the film. Some of the humour is quick to rise, and there are the jokes which do no feel that dumb as some others are. There is some satire that works in the background too.

The claws of flaw :: Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham doesn’t have that much of an effectiveness with its jokes as we would expect in the beginning. In the later stages, it only becomes more and more repetitive in nature. The calls for the manager as well as one drunkard who remains irritating for most of the time doesn’t score that much as expected in the later stages of the film. There is a little bit too much of stretching of the whole thing. The same thing goes on moving forward, and the idea to bring a message in here is lost. It is more or less an opportunity lost in that case. Often it goes down to the level of the kind of movies which we have detested for the buffoonery that gets repeated – such films are not there now, but we do remember such a past. Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham did have some good hype related to the cast, and the trailer despite not giving out a clear idea, did make us feel that there is something special in store, but that much is not there to be taken.

Performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly leads the movie well as expected. This is similar to what he had done with Love Action Drama, another comedy film which could only partially work with its humour. But for someone who has done many movies with some effective light humour, this won’t be a step forward. The one whom we remember for Thattathin Marayathu and Om Shanti Oshaana‘s light comedy was quite a different star, and that was the one whom we continued to prefer. It seems that the same has been lost up to an extent. Grace Antony had her best movie in the form of Kumbalangi Nights, and this one has her as the sole lead. She has provided an entertaining performance here too. Vincy Aloshious plays the other female character of importance, and we would be remembering that one well enough too. She should be considered as the pick of that Naayika Naayikan show on Mazhavil Manorama along with Meenakshi, especially with the way they do comedy.

Further performers of the soul :: Sudheesh has another role which runs through the movie with focus on the beginning and end, and it is good to see him in such roles, like the one we saw in Theevandi. He has been the one actor who has been there from our childhood itself. Vinay Forrt can be considered as playing the funniest character around, and we also feel for the character trying so hard. He and his mobile phone do become interesting from the beginning itself. Joy Mathew plays a role suiting him well. Jaffar Idukki plays a drunkard who is often too irritating, but most of the time, he manages the same in an okay manner. Rajesh Madhavan as Manaf comes up with a notable performance here, and he is the one character who scores when least expected. Sudheer Paravoor as Vijesh Nair is another employee character that we will be noting. There are a few other interesting characters, and they all blend into the hotel atmosphere really well.

How it finishes :: Life has been very serious in the last few months as far as OTT films are concerned. Well, we know what has been happening everywhere, and there is no confusion about the films being serious with a world of chaos all around. Starting from Drishyam 2, we have had a series of serious films, like Kaanekkaane, Sunny, Malik, Kuruthi and others, which have held on to the serious characters really well. The number of comedy movies has been comparatively less, as we look at them. So, this one serves something light-hearted in between, even though it is certainly not that effective. As the theatres have opened now, the movie needed to be of better quality to keep the audience in the OTT platform. Now, with the theatres having opened, people will be moving there unless there is enough power in the OTT to keep them online. The challenge of Kurup is there to stay for long, as it seems. Well, we know that more is to come soon.

Release date: 12th November 2021 (Disney Hotstar)
Running time: 169 minutes
Directed by: Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Grace Antony, Vinay Forrt, Vincy Aloshious, Joy Mathew, Jaffar Idukki, Sudheesh, Rajesh Madhavan, Sudheer Paravoor, Sivadas Kannur, Neeraja Rajendran, Ratheesh Balakrishna Poduval

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Priest

What is the movie about? :: Fr Carmen Benedict (Mammootty) is a priest who is known to have helped the police in multiple cases. Diya Alex Alatt (Saniya Iyappan) approaches him with a certain amount of concern regarding a series of deaths which had occured earlier in the rich and influential family, and were dismissed as suicides. Diya feels that the present controller of the assets of the family, Elizabeth Alatt (Meera Nair) might know something about it. He calls DYSP Shekhar (Sivadas Kannur), who begins to share some of his doubts. When a little girl named Ameya Gabriel (Baby Monica) is also found in the house, and the connected incidents related to her lead to the discovery of more clues related to the murder, Fr Carmen also understands that there is more to her than what meets the eye. Ameya is an orphan, and nobody has any idea what she is upto, because she often goes missing from her orphanage, and comes back by herself. Her actions are also nothing less than what others consider to be strange.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jessy Cherian (Nikhila Vimal), a new teacher takes charge in the school where Ameya is studying. Even though Ameya has been hostile to each and every person in the school including teachers and students, she immediately becomes friendly to Jessy who is also happy about the same. As the school is closed for summer vacation, Ameya begs for her to be taken with Jessy. With the permission of the orphanage authorities, she manages to take the child to her home in the highlands, which had been abandoned for a long time. But it turns out that this child is not really the kid which she had expected. When anyone else comes in between Jessy and Ameya, the latter reacts violently, especially when Jessy’s fiance Siddharth (Venkitesh VP) comes to meet her, and proposes her. Soon, things take a further violent turn, and Fr Carmen makes his way to the place, as he understands the seriousness of the situation. But this might not be the kind of spirit which Carmen thought it is. He takes the help of Dr Mathews (TG Ravi), but he understands the need to learn about the spirit.

The defence of The Priest :: The movie scores heavily with its visuals, as we do have a perfect setting for horror, and along with the environment, there are the usual scares effectively used with the help of sound effects. The music is also very interesting. The scares are added here and there, and at times they work depending on the audience. There are some twists to be added here, but we do expect a few among with ease, seemingly because of trying to stick to the Hollywood style. The performance are also of a higher level, even though we do feel that the first investigation was even more interesting than what came later. It does have the most interesting part in the beginning, like Mammootty’s Abrahaminte Santhathikal had that crime at the start, and even with the presence of clowns, doesn’t make them nonsensical like it was done in the strange Mammootty movie The Great Father. Instead, most of the time, The Priest plays to its strength, and makes sure that there is no risk taken, even though it was there to be taken.

The claws of flaw :: The Priest has many elements which we would feel borrowed, and the reminder of Hollywood movies is sure to come back here. The climax doesn’t deliver the needed punch either, as it goes through the safe way, and adds one scene after the finish, seemingly as a justification. Looking at films like The Conjuring, The Nun, Insidious, Sinister and Annabelle, we have had an overdose of horror movies with spirits, and as there was enough for reference, this could have certainly done better – we all remember what Ezra did with the Jewish demon. Well, when the demon really doesn’t want to be terrifying, and with the first motive being close to a Mathematics teachers, the scary side weakens – when the motive and actions of the supernatural doesn’t scare us enough, the genre itself struggles. After all, a spirit should do what it always does the best, and it should go further when listing itself as a horror film at all places. There can be more to an act of exorcism and the process of haunting. We also see something missing with the sequence of events, but can’t talk about that without revealing the suspense and twists.

The performers of the soul :: The movie was marketed as the first movie in which Mammootty and Manju Warrier acted together – the last word does have some complications though, because the latter’s character was dead some time ago, and so the characters won’t be living together in the film, and we would have to wait to see them in the leading roles. Manju Warrier’s role is also quite short here, and it can be considered only as long as the work of Saniya Iyappan who also has some work to do related to the first adventure of the protagonist. Mammootty’s avatar here is a lot better than what we have seen in most of his action and thriller films, and this is a character that he does with ease. We can now remember him like Father Brown, the Roman Catholic priest and detective who was the main character in the fifty three short stories written by British novelist GK Chesterton in the years after Victorian era. There we were not into horror though.

Further performers of the soul :: Even though often known as the first Mammootty-Manju Warrier movie, the latter gets only limited presence, and in the first half we don’t even have a clue that she exists. But when she is there, she works through this very well. Nikhila Vimal is once again seen as a talented actress, extending her good work from Njan Prakashan and Aravindante Athithikal. Saniya Iyappan has the early shorter presence, and as we had seen her effectiveness in horror with Krishnankutty Pani Thudangi where she was the only saving grace, we were expected more of her presence there. Ramesh Pisharody and Jagadish are also given some early moments in here. Venkitesh VP whom we have known from the television show Nayika Nayakan also has done some good work. Baby Monica also contributes nicely once the horror side begins. She excels in displaying that scary side which is brought to light in the second half of the movie.

How it finishes :: The Priest was among the much awaited movies with Mammootty in the lead, and it has come late due to COVID-19 pandemic – according to the reports, it has still managed to be a profit-making venture, even with the theatre occupancy being controlled. The Priest is the one Malayalam movie which brought the viewers to the theatres and made sure that the business was running smoothly. As it has released on the OTT platform of Amazon Prime, one can now watch the film without those fears which we had earlier. The Priest is not only on a path towards being a stylish horror movie, as it is also an innovation in having a release on an OTT platform a month after its theatre release – it is a path which many more movies can follow, as there are other films which need to be released, and we are still facing the worst case of that one grand pandemic. With the clouds bringing darkness early in the afternoon, The Priest makes an interesting thriller for the time, even though it could have been bigger and smarter.

I also wish everyone a Very Happy Vishu! Stay safe and enjoy the day 🙂

Release date: 11th March 2021 (Theatre), 14th April 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Jofin T Chacko
Starring: Mammootty, Manju Warrier, Nikhila Vimal, Baby Monica, Venkitesh VP, Saniya Iyappan, Sivadas Kannur, Jagadish, Lishoy, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Ramesh Pisharody, Kochu Preman, Ameya Mathew, TG Ravi, Dinesh Panicker, Kalabhavan Haneef, Naseer Sankranthi, Sminu Sijo, Jeeva Joseph, Shiny T Rajan, VK Prakash, Meera Nair, Thomas Kuriakose, Jayadevan, Manoj Chennai, Sohan Seenulal, Madhupal

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the Holy Week’s movie review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.