The Paramedic

Vampire Owl: Another good Spanish film to watch? That sounds fair.

Vampire Bat: Well, we have always wanted to have more foreign movies to watch.

Vampire Owl: As we speak, the theatres are opening here too.

Vampire Bat: Well, the question remains – for how long?

Vampire Owl: So, you think that the next wave is coming soon.

Vampire Bat: I can already feel it to be close. One only has to wonder about the terror the virus can unleash this time.

Vampire Owl: Nobody is afraid of the Corona virus anymore.

Vampire Bat: They need to be afraid. It is a shame if they are not.

Vampire Owl: Well, people make their own strange choices these days.

Vampire Bat: Not people, just humans. All the other species are fine.

[Gets a chicken samosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Angel Hernandez (Mario Casas) is a paramedic who doesn’t care about his patients, and he also steals valuable items from them if he gets a chance. He is also disappointed about not having a child with his girl friend, Vanesa Francois (Deborah Francois) with whom he shares an apartment. He is also very possessive towards her, and blames her for them not having a child. But she wouldn’t care that much about the same, as she is ore interested in her work and advanced level of studies. Things get only worse when their ambulance which his colleague Ricardo (Guillermo Pfening) was driving meets with an accident, and Angel is paralyzed from waist down, leaving him on a wheel chair. This also further strains the relationship between him and Vanesa, and he begins to feel that she is cheating on him. His doubts only increase, and he also starts spying on her – when she realizes the same, she leaves him. But he still remains obssessed with her, and wouldn’t stop stalking her.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, he comes to know that Vanesa has also started a relationship with Ricardo. Soon, he feels that they are going to have a baby, and that further disappoints him. As he goes through his therapy, Angel is more and more concerned about the sequence of events which had occurred earlier. Therefore, he decides to take matters into his hands and calls Vanessa to come back to their apartment, and take her remaining possessions. But when she arrives, he injects him with medicines that leave her unconscious, and ties her to the bed. He also sends messages to Ricardo from her mobile phone, about her not wishing to have the baby, and that she is also not interested in continuing the relationship anymore. He also injects him with drugs so that she temporarily losses the use of her legs. Now, he has plans of them living together like this, and also raise the baby which she would have. Now, it is up to her to try to escape, and him to continue with his strange plans. The question remains about who will succeed in the end.

The defence of The Paramedic :: The Paramedic is partly a thriller and in part a drama, as we look at it. There are moments which raise the level of the movie, and it is very strong in parts, as we look at it. Some moments will be remembered, even though not fully, and the weirdness and sadness of the main character who often gets psychotic will be remembered. The tension does become stronger at times, and at times, we have some anguish and melancholy taking over, even though not at the strongest with the same. Yet, the same doesn’t reach the full potential, even when we feel that it is rising. The setting is really good, with the Spanish streets and an apartment proving as good backgrounds to the work. For a good amount of time, the movie has a certain amount of realistic feeling, and it is also simple enough, even though its characters are indeed complicated. After all, considering the times in which we live in, there are not many things which are not possible among humanity which has come down by a long way.

The claws of flaw :: The Paramedic had the chance to be something bigger, but it doesn’t use its scope to the best advantage. After the premise changes, and the quick turn of events create something for the film to use in the best possibly ways, it keeps itself back instead. In between everything that happened in the movie, we could have been able to add so many things here and there, but this one chooses to go the usual path, without adding the innovative. The movie is also too slow, and it doesn’t pick up the pace even when there was the certain chance to do so. The drag that it had in between could have been easily avoided. The ending is also not that strong enough, as we were expecting something huge happening with the climax too, but that was also not there. It could have also had some very disturbing and scary things to be added in between, and we feel that they could have arrived at many points. It could have been more fun, or with more substance, but both cases are ignored by the film which just goes on without the deviations.

Performers of the soul :: Mario Casas is solid in his role, which turns out to be a very negative one only a few minutes into the movie. He maintains the characteristics of the role throughout the run, and that does brings some unpredictability in between. Deborah Francois also comes up with a strong performance, as it is required from her here. Her character also changes, and gathers a lot of strength throughout the existence. The other characters give some support, and they are of lesser significance. It is to be noted that there are not characters whom we can call good, as most of them have a neutral vibe or the grey side in action here. We are not admirers of any of these characters, and most of us won’t even make friends out of them. Among the smaller performers who catch our attention, the first one is Maria Rodriguez Soto who has a lot of melancholy going on with her, and Guillermo Pfening who becomes a reason to keep the story going. Celso Bugallo also adds a bit there.

How it finishes :: The Paramedic was a fine opportunity to come up with something huge, but the film refuses to take that risk, and manages to provide us with the usual rather than anything else. While reading about the movie, the expectations were surely higher. For a movie which is known more as a thriller, more thrills are surely required, and with such fine performers, the film could have achieved more. With the theatres all prepared to open, one can wonder if what people would choose now, to go to the OTT platforms or go back to the theatres. I would wait in that case, and go for the movies which are still available in those platforms to watch. After all, the third wave of Corona virus might still be ready to come. You have to stay safe during these periods of time, and it has to be a thing of priority, not just for yourself, but also for the people around you. The two doses of vaccine are no guarantee for anything, and so we are supposed to continue to be as careful as we used to be in the beginning of this pandemic and during the lockdowns and quarantines.

Release date: 16th September 2020
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Carles Torras
Starring: Mario Casas, Deborah Francois, Celso Bugallo, Raul Jimenez, Pol Monen, Gerard Oms, Guillermo Pfening, Maria Rodriguez Soto

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cross the Line

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Spain has become my dream country again?

Vampire Bat: I thought that you were going to Romania.

Vampire Owl: All vampires are supposed to have some interest in Romania.

Vampire Bat: Does that lead to an interest in Spanish movies?

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why it shouldn’t.

Vampire Bat: Well, we already have some interesting Spanish favourites.

Vampire Owl: This seems to be the more critically appreciated type.

Vampire Bat: That doesn’t guarantee that this could be your type of a movie.

Vampire Owl: There is no my type of movie unless I make one.

Vampire Bat: Well, vampires don’t make movies, but do watch them.

[Gets a pineapple cake and three glasses of orange shake].

What is the movie about? :: Daniel (Mario Casas) is a shy and good-mannered man who is working at a travel agency in Barcelona. He is very much interested in his job, and loves his family consisting of his father and sister. After their father dies, Dani’s sister Laura (Elisabeth Larena) arranges a trip around the world for him from his own company, as he was the one who was taking care of their father, and might be missing the presence of their bed-ridden father. He is not really fond of the trip though, and he is not interested in changing his lifestyle either. He hopes that he can cancel the trip because there is a two week window, and therefore he just accepts the idea. It is then that he comes across a girl at a restaurant and cafe where he often spends time over a burger, and meeting this girl, Milagros (Milena Smit) changes how things would go about in his life from then. She borrows a small amount from him, and is not happy because she really wants to give it back to him.

So, what happens with the events here as some twist is coming up? :: She keeps asking him to come with her for the money despite him not wishing for it to be returned. They take a walk through the street to the place where she works. Finally, as she is a tattoo artist, decides to give him a tattoo instead. He is reluctant again, but finally decides to go for one due to her consistent persuasion. He becomes interested in her, and therefore, he continues to follow her when she asks for his company. But as he goes to her apartment, her interest in him stays only for a few minutes. Soon, things take a twist, and things are not as what he had thought they were. He would commit a murder due to the circumstances, and soon people would be after him, and it won’t be about just police looking for the murderer. These are not the circumstances which he thought he would have to go through at any point of his straightforward life, but he would have to work through it. Now his life has changed, but unlike what his sister thought, it is not for the best.

The defence of Cross the Line :: The film has managed thing nicely with less resources, and it something which we can appreciate. We can also see the beautiful colours on the screen as well as the spaces which also have that beauty about it. There is some nice music being used here, and the sound effects are really good. The film also serves as a morality tale in disguise, as it talks about what can happen when one crosses the line, hence the title being justified here. There is the side effects of what can happen when one immediately begins to trust someone, especially someone beautiful – you should always have limitations in a world like this, where things are not the same as what seem from outside. The situation of such a person is shown perfectly, without the addition of melodrama or extraordinary elements, and a change coming upon him is also visible. All these happen very quickly, and lasting only about three hours, there is no time being wasted here. It is a continuous busy ride from the beginning, even though the elements of thriller come up later only, and we stay close to the protagonist.

Positives and negatives :: Cross the Line, originally known as No Mataras, is no usual thriller, as it goes on from a drama to thriller half way, more or less like Drishyam and its remakes which changed the mood at the centre stage. So, there is that certain diversion, and some people might have wanted the mood in the beginning to continue, and others might have wanted a full thriller, but this one depends on that twist of events to make things happen. It also has no character development of others as it is completely focusing on the protagonist all the time, giving no importance to others except for in moments. It also ends too soon, and the ending could have had a certain amount of extraordinary, as this film is not something which is not scared of taking the risks. Along with that, Barcelona is among the top ten cities which I want to visit in my life, and in Western Europe, it is the first place which I wish to travel to, and I would hope that the same could be achieved some day, but after COVID-19 pandemic, you never know where you will end up.

Performers of the soul :: The performance from Mario Casas won him the Best Actor Award at the Goya Awards, Spain’s prestigious national annual film awards, and it is no surprise when we watch the film. The performance is realistic, and as far as performances from actors in foreign films are concerned, I would consider his work to be among the best, and something which should have all that appreciation. I had also loved his performance in Adios which released earlier. Along with the same, Milena Smit was also nominated for Best New Actress Award, coming very close to winning that one – when we look at her work here, even though not lasting throughout the film, is really good. She excels with her emotions, and I would love to see more of her in other movies, maybe in Hollywood too. The situations without money and clothes would seem to make her vulnerable, but it can be seen that her character dictates things even when it doesn’t seem so – a character at the strongest when dumped in a relationship, or when fully naked. Fernando Valdivielso was also nominated for Best New Actor there, and he had some good short time in the film too. Elisabeth Larena is a strong name in the film too, and in a film which is dominated by the main actor, she has her moments.

How it finishes :: The movie focuses on one character, and it has two others who are there for enough time to call them as providing support, and with these itself, the film manages to do very well. Serving as a message to what could happen if you cross the line, and also showing how much it can change a person, the film does the same very effectively. The thrilling moments of the film are supported really well by the music that runs in the background. The tension-filled atmosphere being nicely built, this is the kind of film that stays with you for the experience. With seemingly lesser budget and minimal characters, what the film has managed needs to be appreciated. One can be sure that there are many things that can be learnt from this particular film, and this one with its ending seems to taunt us to ask for a possible sequel too. Well, with films like these, it is only fair to hope for more, as it was short and we would have wished for it to go on for more.

Release date: 16th October 2020
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: David Victori
Starring: Mario Casas, Milena Smit, Elisabeth Larena, Javier Mula, Fernando Valdivielso, Aysha Daraaui, Javier Mula

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Spanish film review here.

<— Click here to go to the first big budget Spanish film review here.

<— Click here to go to the most popular Spanish in this part of the world reviewed.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Adios

Vampire Owl: So, there is a goodbye related to this title.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the movie is about the death of a child and the following vengeance.

Vampire Owl: Well, there is nothing that catches the audience better than a revenge tale.

Vampire Bat: I agree to that. They are repeated so many times, and still they are so popular.

Vampire Owl: What is surprising is that some good movies become random tales of revenge as it progresses to the end.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Anjaam Pathiraa showed such a tendency, but Forensic was beyond it, with a psycho killer with no motive other than the murder itself.

Vampire Owl: I have always felt that such tales should be a sub-genre with further divisions following it.

Vampire Bat: I feel that that this setting in Sevilla in Spain is perfect too.

Vampire Owl: Well, I did love that setting in Italy too.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the setting of Piranhas. That would be a suitable setting too.

[Gets a blueberry cake and three glasses of pineapple shake].

What is the movie about? :: In a neighbourhood of Sevilla in Spain, there is an area where police, law and order ends up having no power at all. In a newly re-established underworld of drugs and organized crime, Juan Santos (Mario Casas) is a con man gets out of the prison to celebrate the First Communion of Estrella Santos (Paulina Fenoy), their only daughter, with his wife Triana (Natalia de Molina). His uncle Andres Santos (Vicente Romero) and nephew Chico Santos (Mauricio Morales) do come to him on he day of function with a gift, and calls him back to the world of crime, but he is not ready to do that, thinking about his wife and daughter. But on the same day, there is an accident after the party, and after being hit by another car, they are injured, but their daughter dies. The police officers Manuel Santacana (Carlos Bardem) and Eli (Ruth Diaz) who arrives nearby at a murder scene to investigate the killing of four Romanians who were drug traffickers, realizes that the murder is connected to this accident.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Discovering that the car that caused the accident which killed Estrella is the same as that of the killers of those Romanians, Juan meets his mother Maria Santos (Mona Marinez), former Santos’ family mob boss who expelled from the locality by two rival families Fortuna and Taboa. She also seeks vengeance for her grand-daughter, as Andre and Chico also offers their help. A drug addict named Maravilla (Pilar Gomez), tells the cops that it was done by Fortuna family, and even though a strong police force is deployed, the boss Gordo Fortuna (Moreno Borja) escapes from the area. Juan tries running after him, but it is of no use. But there is more than what meets the eye, and the Santos family will not have many chances to regain their lost glory – finding those who were responsible for the death of Estrella Santos, the youngest member of the family, would be a nice start. But, as things go further complicated, there is no hope for them without making friends out of enemies, and vice versa – can Juan be successful in finding the person who caused the death of his only daughter?

The defence of Adios :: There is the early feeling of what is to come, from the beginning itself – the feeling never goes away. The feeling of sadness that runs through this movie is strong, and we feel that not just from the parents of the child meeting accident, but also from the lady police officer who is in charge of the case. The visuals of the city are beautiful, and there are some moments of intensity related to some action and there is suspense with twists to come in the later stages. With the movie not being the usual revenge thriller where the protagonist goes on fighting random people and beating them, this one stays close to a certain amount of realism here. The background music also adds to the charm really well, and there is something about all the music which is played in this movie. With the visuals combining with the same, we have the feeling of being taken to this world, many kilometres away from us, that historical city from where Ferdinand Magellan departed for the first circumnavigation of the Earth – one of the cities of Western Europe which I would visit before most of the others if given a chance.

The claws of flaw :: Adios could have done better with its side of crime, and one wouldn’t doubt that. There is a lot more to explored for sure, as such families of crime are involved. Ruth’s character could have also had an interesting background story, as the need was ascertained during the time when she was talking about kids to the protagonist’s wife, and something was left to be said, as one could observe from that shower scene. The use of another title for the English version was also not needed, as people are well aware of this particular title. It could have simply gone for more action sequences, as the vengeance element was always going to feel the need for more strength. Guns could have been there at all times to bring the power up further. Some parts of the film could have also used some polishing, especially related to the police and the prison, as well as the other gangs which could have unleashed themselves on the streets, which never really get to have the big action out there.

Performers of the soul :: She might not be playing the protagonist in this movie, but Ruth Diaz is the one actress who scores above everyone else, as far as performances are concerned. There is a certain amount of sadness, and melancholic determination in her, which we find early enough – she feels like a beautifully crafted, complicated character with a long past of suffering whenever we look at her. Her expressions nicely support the same, and it seems that her looks also support the same. Natalia de Molina’s suffering is rather easily visible to the outward eye, and it is the kind that we know about, and she goes through that with the character really well. She plays the wife and mother in a believable manner too. Mario Casas plays the main character well, and we know that he is fit for this from the first moments than anything else. He displays the anger mixed with sadness quite well. Mona Martinez who plays the mother figure for the mob family is as solid as one can get. Vicente Romero and Mauricio Morales who play the other family members also support well here.

How it finishes :: Adios finishes well, and in the end, we are glad to have watched another version of a tale of vengeance. This would add to the entertaining during the time of Corona virus lock-down with ease. There is a certain amount of realism in the way this movie progresses, and as it doesn’t unleash a father-figure in unrealistic ways like we had seen in the Malayalam movie, The Great Father and many others from films in different languages, this one surely is a welcome flick. I would hope for more of similar movies which keep the momentum going without losing the realistic side. I would also love to keep such lovely music going on in the background. Let us hope that sooner or later, with the COVID-19 coming down at a later stage, we can have things to be better for the people related to the cinema industry who are suffering at this stage, and also the people who are running the theatres or working there. Let us hope for the best in the month of July.

Release date: 22nd November 2019
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: Paco Cabezas
Starring: Mario Casas, Natalia de Molina, Ruth Diaz, Mona Martínez, Carlos Bardem, Vicente Romero, Paulina Fenoy, Mauricio Morales, Sebastian Haro, Pilar Gomez, Mariola Fuentes, Consuelo Trujillo, Pablo Gomez-Pando, Carlos Cabra, Juan Carlos Villanueva, Moreno Borja

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<— Click here to go to the first Portuguese movie review on the site.

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Son

Vampire Owl: And we have another Spanish movie, but this seems different.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one is from Argentina, and so it is not like the other movies we watched earlier, from Spain.

Vampire Owl: Okay, so just like the one Porutuguese movie on this site is from Brazil and not from Portugal.

Vampire Bat: Yes, people tend to have such confusions when someone is mentioning the language used.

Vampire Owl: So, we are seeing a rise in French, Spanish, Korean and Chinese movies in comparison to the other foreign languages.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and I don’t think that you would be surprised about the Korean ones.

Vampire Owl: It is not surprise, because Korean films have been here for a long time.

Vampire Bat: We haven’t focused on the rest, even though we should have.

Vampire Owl: Well, times have changed, and things can be different.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we can further work on watching more such movies.

[Gets an orange cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Lorenzo (Joaquin Furriel) is a fifty year old Argentinian painter who has been trying to rebuild his life, as he hasn’t been that successful with his career or the personal side, even though there has been no doubt about his talents. Julietta (Martina Gusman), his former student and love interest is now living with his friend Renato (Luciano Caceres), while Lorenzo marries a much younger Sigrid (Heidi Toini), a Norweginian biologist doing research in Argentina, who approaches him for an experiment, and later decide to move in with him. But there is a certain amount of anxiety related to the child going on there, and Lorenzo and Sigrid seem to be going apart. Sigrid who is a biologist, wants to have the baby at home, citing the possible infections in a hosptial, and for the same, she brings a Norwegian mid-wife who assisted in her mother’s delivery a long time ago. The baby is born, but the relationship between its father and mother is strained, and there is something strange going on with both of them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: It turns out that Sigrid doesn’t go out of her room or shows the baby to anyone else. She stay inside with the baby, and she is the pediatrician with the support of the mid-wife, much to the dismay of Lorenzo who doesn’t get to spend any time with the child, even after six months. She doesn’t allow him to take the boy to the hospital which makes him further depressed. When he finally takes the child to the hospital, she files a case of domestic violence, and makes sure that he can’t come near her or the baby. After that, she asks for divorce, and tries to keep him away using anything within the law that gives her the advantage as a woman. Now, the question remains if Lorenzo can finally meet him, because he feels that the boy who is with Sigrid is not their son, but somebody else. Is it the truth or just a feeling that he has? Is there a big mystery surrounding these incidents, or is he just hallucinating, as he is a person with a long history of being an alcoholic?

The defence of The Son :: The movie surely keeps one guessing, and there is a certain amount of skill being displayed here on not letting us know exactly what is happening. We are not sure whose side we should be on, because strangest of things do happen. But there is something about her which is not usual, because it is clear that she is playing the victim card as a woman to blame her husband for fake domestic abuse and everything else. As a biologist, something strange is going on with her, and we are still left in the dark about what is going on – with that, the movie is successful. The film also deals with the possibilities that someone could make use of, as far as laws helping a particular gender, religion, race or any such category is concerned – especially in the name of helping a group which seems to be brought into submission. It also talks about how judgmental people happen to be, as far as some cases are concerned, taking only one side with the help of law. At the same time, we have the suspense and twists in there.

The claws of flaw :: The film does have a certain amount of slow pace associated with it, but it is mostly solved by the short length of the movie. The feeling of danger is also absent in this movie, as we only suspect people being possessive, or having some minute problems, and nothing more. The ending also feels rather incomplete – it leaves too much for the audience to think about, and we feel like we left that movie without watching it completely. The movie could have been closer to horror rather than the other genres, but it doesn’t try to use the horror at all. Even those movies which don’t have any such inclination will try to do that, and this one leaves the idea behind completely. We feel that there is so much more that this movie could have done, as the stage was all set, and there was something in the background trying to take over at all times. There was enough around here to bring a special ingredient into the picture, which is not really there.

Performers of the soul :: Joaquin Furriel’s performance is the one thing that elevates the movie to another level. He looks solid as the painter and the one who is in some kind of problem almost all the time. We can relate to him as he seems to face situations which make no sense for him at all, even though he does leave enough for us to doubt him too – we lie there in between. Heidi Toini is very good as she goes on looking more or less like a psychotic person of science, someone who seems to be in control of everything biological, looking at even doctors as if they are not necessary. Martina Gusman also comes up with some quality performance as she tries to help the main character – the same can be said about Luciano Caceres in a lesser way, as he is not there for that much time in comparison. Then we only have Regina Lamm who speaks only in Norwegian, and we know nothing much about that – maybe someone who knows the language will bring some light into that if required.

How it finishes :: The Son might not be the first Spanish movie on this website, but is certainly the first Argentinian film around here. Despite a certain amount of weirdness associated with this movie, The Son does have enough to keep us guessing, as we wonder what is going on here, at all times. It also reminds us that things are not usually what they seem to be, and when one takes the side of a person who is also supported also by the law in the name of gender, race, religion or anything else, you have to look deep into it because things are not always what they seem to be. As of now, all the Spanish movies which I have watched did leave me with the same feeling. It should have more to do with my choice of movies, but it has been there. After all, the Spanish Football Team is also my favourite international team, and it is also a nation which I have always wanted to visit; you can add that feeling to both Spain and Argentina – maybe, one day, very long after the Corona restrictions, I will.

Release date: 2nd May 2019
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Sebastian Schindel
Starring: Joaquin Furriel, Heidi Toini, Martina Gusman, Luciano Caceres, Regina Lamm

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Influence

Vampire Owl: So, another foreign movie here? There has been so many.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I have felt an interest in watching those movies.

Vampire Owl: Are the usual types of movies not in the list anymore?

Vampire Bat: Yes, they are there too. But these need our attention even more because they are having some fine movies without many people knowing.

Vampire Owl: There are some English movies which are less known in this part of the world too, if you can remember them.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but you should realize that we get more supporters these days from locations further away from home.

Vampire Owl: Yes, people are rarely appreciated at their hometown, right?

Vampire Bat: You can say that. I have had that feeling for a long time too.

Vampire Owl: At least we vampires are true brethren supporting each other.

Vampire Bat: Yes, doing a lot better than zombies eating each others’ brains.

[Gets a vegetable cutlet and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Alicia (Manuela Velles) is a nurse who moves from the city to the little town in the north-west of Spain where she used to spend her childhood. She is greeted there by her sister Sarah (Maggie Civantos) who has been taking care of their mother Victoria (Emma Suarez) with the help of a nurse, Anna (Marta Castellote), as the old lady has been in comma for some time now, after having many other diseases earlier. As Alician is a nurse, she could work in the nearby hospital, and also take care of her mother. Alicia is accompanied by her husband Mikel (Alain Hernandez) and their daughter Nora (Claudia Placer) who gets admission in the nearby school. Nora doesn’t have a good time with her new classmates, as everyone considers her to be a weird girl who came from a distant place. Her only friend is Luna (Daniela Rubio) who is an outsider.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Mikel doesn’t manage to get his usual job as an electrician, and works at the port, handling fish. Alicia doesn’t like being back in the old home, because after the death their father, Victoria had been acting strange, and being abusive to them. But these memories are not the only thing hurting her, as there is a strange presence in the house, and it is somehow related her mother and the strange practices she had directly on indirectly related to witchcraft and demon worship. It also turns out that Victoria had written all her property in the name of Nora, much to the dismay of Sarah who used to take care of her mother until then. At the same time Nora begins acting strange, and she also gets to be terribly violent at times, punching another girl in the school repeatedly. Alicia attributes this to the black magic used by Victoria, and feels her mother’s presence even when she is in comma. Now the question remains if she can save her child, husband and sister from certain terrible evil.

The defence of The Influence :: This movie thrives on its setting, which is very good for a horror thriller. The environment provides the feeling of danger being present there at one corner or the other. The visuals are nicely done, and we are easily immersed in this world, even though not that much with the characters. Most of the scary scenes are left to the end, but there are some moments being provided in between, to keep it going. The idea of black magic works pretty well, even though not fully used here. The children with evil inside are nice to watch, and the creepiness depends a lot on them, just like we had in The Prodigy. There is also the presence of some fine imagery including the head of a goat, book on black magic, terrifying artifacts and more. The Influence can have that horror influence on us with what we see on the screen, and it is more or less symbolic as we look at some of them which feels special.

The claws of flaw :: The Influence is a slow moving horror movie, and it doesn’t bring the scares when needed, until everything is reaching the end, and that does lead to a certain drag, which moves on like a curse on this movie – it is solved only by the end. It is the kind of movie which needed a speed booster, and when we feel that it has speeded up, it slows down, and it is a procedure which repeats itself. In between the slowness, it doesn’t being the class in there, or something which would make the slowness enjoyable, maybe with the haunting. The characters are not the kind with whom we are attached that much, and we also wonder about their actions here. The movie had raised the expectations of its viewers, but doesn’t reach there, and instead becomes a horror thriller which deals with the basics that a horror movie might have, that too slowly.

Performers of the soul :: Manuela Velles plays the main character, and she does well, matched only by Maggie Civantos who plays her sister. Both sisters have some good moments together, and the emotional scenes are handled really well by the two actresses here. They take the movie emotionally forward, with Maggie bringing more of the feelings out there, but the one who gets more space is Manuela – she is not that far behind, as you will notice here. Both do prove that they fit into the horror genre well. I don’t know if the Spanish movies have their own scream queens, but it seems that they will not be short of those who are specialized in horror. Claudia Placer who plays the child might be a fine choice for a future run. Daniela Rubio also makes a fine team with her, as the two become fine evil kids in action. Alain Hernandez who plays the husband is okay, while Marta Castellote who plays the nurse needed more screen space. Emma Suarez is also fine with all the evil inside, projected well.

How it finishes :: Originally titled La influencia, this movie does have an impact as a horror thriller which works on a special setting. When entering into the usual horror world of Sinister, The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun and Insidious, and the unusual world of Lights Out, Don’t Breathe, It Follows, A Quiet Place and The Autopsy of Jane Doe, you have to be innovative, or you have to do the best with what you have – The Influence only does the same only upto an extent, and saves its world only in the end. It is the movie that you will want to like, as you enter the house with the protagonists, and you are with them, but in the middle, there is some of that being lost, and in the end, more is being gained. Therefore, it is a movie with its own ups and downs, and you will want to watch this movie as much as any other Hollywood horror movie with the usual stuff. After all, from the movies which I have watched so I far, there is no Spanish horror movie which didn’t have my attention with the setting.

Release date: 11th October 2019
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Denis Rovira van Boekholt
Starring: Manuela Velles, Maggie Civantos, Claudia Placer, Emma Suarez, Alain Hernandez, Daniela Rubio, Ramon Esquinas, Marta Castellote, Mariana Cordero, Felipe Garcia Velez, Sofia Tolina, Berta Sanchez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Whistlers

Vampire Owl: Do you remember how long we waited to watch a Romanian movie?

Vampire Bat: I am not sure. Maybe, we waited for an eternity.

Vampire Owl: Vampires deserve to watch Romanian movies, don’t they?

Vampire Bat: This movie was selected as the Romanian entry for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Oscars.

Vampire Owl: So, we might be beginning our Romanian movie watching with one of the best.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I don’t see why we shouldn’t go for the best.

Vampire Owl: Should we call Uncle Dracula and the minions to watch this one too?

Vampire Bat: After we watch the movie and declare it safe, they can watch it too.

Vampire Owl: Okay, then. We are going for our first Romanian film.

Vampire Bat: Do watch it carefully, and come up with an opinion.

[Gets an chocolate cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is a Romanian police officer who acts as a whistle blower for mafia, and it is made clear that he is not someone who stays on one side at all times, as the switch does happen very often. Even though he is under police surveillance for suspected corruption, Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) who has been part of organized crime, manages to bring up a plan to free a controversial businessman arrested in Bucharest and asks for his help in the job. She poses as a high level prostitute with Cristi as her most valued customer to make the cameras set in his house believe that she is up to nothing related to such crimes and gangs, and is just there to provide him her service which she proves to the eyes behind the camera. Cristi is forced by her to go to La Gomera Island, one of Spain’s Canary Islands to learn an ancestral whistling language which he can use to connect to mobsters without being detected by the police or anybody else who possessed some threat to them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: This ancestral whistling language has been the kind of thing used to communicate across the deep ravines and narrow valleys of the island. It enables messages to be exchanged over long distance, and he hopes to study it soon enough, because he needs to get the man out of prison, as he is someone who needs to be outside to give information about millions of cash. As this a case with so much of money involved, there is the certainty of twists occurring. Everyone is after a missing thirty million in cash, and as both the criminals and the police tries to find where the man hid the money. But Cristi has some other plans along with finding the money for any of these sides. For the same, he would come up with a more twisted idea. But it is to be seen whether he would be successful in the same, because he is playing with fire on more than one side. Can he get out of there, maybe with Gilda on his side without being hurt, or will he be hit by the terror that is going to be unleashed when the thirty million is lost?

The defence of The Whistlers :: It can be seen that The Whistlers is that kind of a movie which slowly gets the thrills to us, and from the beginning itself, the same starts getting on to us. You know that all the characters here are up to something, and we are able to feel the same quite early. It also brings a certain amount of humour in there and we also have the surprises thrown in here and there. The settings used here are all beautiful, and when looking at the scenes in Romanian towns as well as the Spanish island far away from its coasts, we are all glad to see such things of beauty. The performances of Vlad Ivanov and Catrinel Marlon are nothing less than deadly either. If you haven’t watched any Romanian movies yet, this might be the film to begin watching these from that particular industry, as it seems to be a lot ahead to catch our attention with almost everything shown on the screen. With the same, there is also simplicity in its complexity.

Positives and negatives :: The Whistlers is the kind of movie which moves too slow for some kind of audience who might be looking for better pace considering the fact that this is a crime thriller. The beginning with the main characters playing certain roles for the cameras seemed to suggest that this was going to be quicker in pace, but it was not so. But it is good to see that unlike the other crime thrillers, this is the kind of movie which cares about its humans too, and they are not really the kind of people who are there to keep shooting and get shot. You can see that power and weakness, loneliness and companionship, pretension and sincerity, trust and the lack of it – all are shown as part of life, while we see everyman elements in these characters around here. The world of crime is not about keeping on shooting people and creating chaos, as there is something more about it, as this movie tries to prove. The Whistlers is more than what meets the eye, as you compare it to the other movies of the genre.

Performers of the soul :: Vlad Ivanov as Cristi comes up with a solid performance, as he plays a character whose intentions are never really that clear, and it is one unpredictable character which he plays to perfection. This particular character is never really the person we think that he is, and he shows signs of the person who brings the twists quite early. Catrinel Marlon as Gilda is nothing less than fantastic, as she plays a femme fatale character with certain class, but it is also a character with more than one side, which she proves quite early into the movie. In the beginning, we even have the doubt if she is the main character, as she is in action just ten minutes into the movie, dictating terms and flourishing on the screen. She is a different kind of Anna, as you look at her closely, and she never hesitates to bring all that she can, at any moment. The same can be seen again in more and more moments, as we see her getting her righteous place in there on different occasions. Rodica Lazar comes up with a fine believable role as the police officer who is in charge.

How it finishes :: The Whistlers is a special movie, not just because it is a crime thriller which keeps itself solid, but also due to how well it handles the content smoothly. This is surely a movie that you would want to watch, and then continue to watch more of Romanian movies – I had said the same about another movie, a Vietnamese one which could introduce you to that film industry really well. Both The Whistlers and Furie as unknown movies in this part of the world, and as people rush to look for more and more Korean movies, these two movies in two different languages from different parts of the world deserves your attention. I have always loved Romania as a place which had the historical region of Transylvania, as my best interest is in Gothic works – it is a place which I would love to visit one day to see those castles which are often related with Count Dracula, but until then, maybe I can watch some more of wonderful Romanian movies. This one is just beginning, as rest will surely come.

Release date: 13th September 2019
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Corneliu Porumboiu
Starring: Catrinel Marlon, Vlad Ivanov, Agusti Villaronga, Cristobal Pinto, Sergiu Costache, Antonio Buil

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Legacy of the Bones

Vampire Owl: We, the vampires hadn’t known that the bones had legacy.

Vampire Bat: Well, for us, only the blood has legacy, for it binds us as well as curses us.

Vampire Owl: For the zombies, it is the brain that holds the legacy and it awakens them.

Vampire Bat: Maybe, for the werewolves and the witches, they do have something.

Vampire Owl: What can be the significance of bones without flesh?

Vampire Bat: Bones can be symbolic, and it can also be a serial killer thing.

Vampire Owl: In a world of chaos, a skull and two bones never losses its significance.

Vampire Bat: Yes, when there is danger all around, and we ignore it.

Vampire Owl: So, a Spanish movie is the need for the time.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we have been wandering through multiple languages these days, as far as movies are concerned.

[Gets a black-forest cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie starts with a few moments in the past with witch hunts and inquisitors around. Then, in the present time period, nine-months pregnant Police Inspector Amaia Salazar (Marta Etura) is at the city court of Pamplona in Spain, waiting for the trial of a murderer and rapist. But the convict commits suicide in the washroom, after writing down a word, “Tarttalo”. She soon gives birth to her child, much to the happiness of James Westford (Benn Northover), Amaia’s husband, who is an artist. Coming back to the service after a few months of maternity leave, she finds herself caught in multiple cases, all seemingly linked to one another. There is a church being desecrated, the priests want the senior police officers to be involved, as there were bones of a baby’s amputated arms discovered. A man who is in prison for killing his wife had sent Amaia a note revealing where is his wife’s corpse was hidden, with the same message which she had seen months ago – “Tarttalo”.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As she finds multiple deaths and the desecration of the church related in more than one way, the case gets complicated for Amaia. Not really much of a believer herself, she finds herself dragged to the church’s past related to the witch-hunts and inquisitions. It even goes further behind time, to the pagan beliefs and rites, and she also discovers that Tarttalo is the name of a giant who eaten Christians, coming from ancient legends which were prevailing at that time. To add to it, Amaia’s mother Rosario (Susi Sanchez)had been admitted in a mental hospital for a long time after she tried kill her as a child, and she found out that the mother has killed a male nurse at the hospital and there was the writing with blood, once again saying “Tarttalo” under her bed. She finds out that this mystery is related to her and her family more than anyone else, and in case of a failure to solve this case will have all of her loved ones in trouble. Can he solve the mystery before death arrives again?

The defence of The Legacy of the Bones :: The visuals are really good here, as they give that special mood to the movie, something which fits the genre, and what is progressing on the screen with a mystery, and hidden supernatural elements. The feeling of what is to come is established in the beginning itself, and the audience is taken to that world of mystery and complexity. The world is definitely something which looks really good, and the mystery is maintained throughout. The element of fear is present, even though the movie doesn’t really rely on scares. The need for a better sequel is surely felt, and as this itself is a second movie, can have that at some point. This is one of the very few Spanish movies which I have watched, and there is none that hasn’t left me satisfied – this one also adds to that list of flicks which have been doing a fine job with mystery and thrills. The legacy will stay on in our mind with moments.

The claws of flaw :: The Legacy of the Bones goes into action quite slowly, and it doesn’t really pick up its pace even when there was the scope for such a thing to be done. Supposed to be based on the second book of a trilogy written by Dolores Redondo, and as a sequel to a Spanish movie known as The Invisible Guardian which was based on the first book, this movie’s events might not be that clear to those who are following the series for the first time, and also to those who are not aware of the Spanish inquisitions and the witch hunts from the medieval age and later. There is a little bit too much going on in this movie, and it losses focus in the sequence of events at times, maybe trying to raise its level to a higher level which is not achievable that easily. Often, some moments seem to stretch the movie rather than do anything else. There could have been more action here, especially when there is something supernatural lurking behind.

Peformers of the soul :: Also known as Legado en los huesos, The Legacy of the Bones has managed to have a pretty good cast on the scene. Marta Etura seems to continue her work from The Invisible Guardian a.k.a. El guardian invisible, the 2017 which started this all. She will also be there in third film in the franchise, Offering to the Storm, originally supposed to release on March 27, 2020, but due to this ongoing coronavirus pandemic, is expected to be released on June 12, 2020. Her work in this movie makes one feel that she would have done even better in the first movie, and watching that film would have let us understand the character better too. Benn Northover plays her American artist husband, and he makes sure that we get to hear some English in between. There are some good supporting performances being done here with the different characers – there are many of them, and it is up to us not to lose track here, for there had to a good number of priests and detectives among the many others.

How it finishes :: The Legacy of the Bones is not your usual kind of thriller, as it is also part drama centered around family and kids. The need to watch the earlier movie, The Invisible Guardian will also be felt during times. Better explanations, and a clear beginning would have kept this movie at a higher level, at least for the audience from outside Spain, and also Western Europe. But with an exotic location which seems the best to have a mystery set, and with some beauty on the screen with the colours as well as architecture, this is the movie which will keep you looking for answers in a thriller which has big secrets to be unveiled. It doesn’t focus on the crime investigation that much as I had said earlier, and you have to understand the mixing of genres which is happening here. Even without trying too hard, you will find this movie as an interesting journey though. Enjoy the legacy, and I am sure that the book would have been an even more interesting thing.

Release date: 5th December 2019
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Fernando Gonzalez Molina
Starring: Marta Etura, Patricia Lopez Arnaiz, Alicia Sanchez, Nene, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Francesc Orella, Imanol Arias, Benn Northover, Itziar Aizpuru, Ana Wagener, Angel Alkain, Eduardo Rosa, Susi Sanchez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Last Witch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.