Chathur Mukham

What is the movie about? :: Clement (Alencier Ley Lopez) used to be a professor in the Kerala Agricultural University, and even though he has retired from service, has a certain amount of interest in science which can be matched by nobody else. Due to his skills in science, he is approached by Antony (Sunny Wayne) who wishes to talk to him about a certain kind of energy which can be associated with ghosts, but this time, he is trying to connect the same with science in one way or the other. Clement is a strong believer in science, but not in ghosts, and he is not ready to believe in Antony’s tale about energy in the form of ghosts. Then, Antony comes up with the full story about the woman who was haunted by ghosts, Thejaswini (Manju Warrier). She is someone who spends most of her time in the social media, and has everything related to her life posted on Instagram. She belongs to a new generation which believes that technology is an important part of life, and also that women needs to have education and financial independence before getting married.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hailing from Kollam, she works with her old friend, Antony who has been running a CCTV business at Thiruvananthapuram as a new venture. Things seem to work out well for her until a strange incident occurs during a ritual at temple and she losses her phone in the temple pond. This leads to her deciding to go for another phone, and she hopes she can find the cheapest one with multimedia features. It is then that she comes across a special offer in a website which seems to have started only a few days ago. This is a type of phone belonging to a brand that nobody had heard about, and they guess that it is some kind of new Chinese device. She orders the same, and gets it only to find out that there is something strange about it. She finds out that there are messages going out of it without her consent, and she even gets electrocuted from the charger, but the mobile phone seems to have full charge even after a long time period of usage. Initially, she feels that only the selfie camera of the phone is the weaker link.

And what is to follow with the terrifying series of events? :: But there is much more to the mobile phone than what meets the eye. The sequence of events unfold in such a way that she becomes afraid of her own mobile phone. She tries to get rid of the phone multiple times, but it ends up being with her, or forces her to take it back in one way or the other. Even dropping the phone in the middle of the road or the temple pond doesn’t help. As the phone continues to come towards her and cause problems, she becomes confident that there is a ghost haunting the phone. She approaches a local magician, but the spirit scares him away too, and she is forced to live with the phone which seems to slowly taking her to death. Clement is still not convinced, and decides to see the woman anyway. But this leads them to a strange past that the mobile phone seems to have a strange and mysterious past, and it is not the only phone that belongs to the same category.

The defence of Chathur Mukham :: The film provides a good deviation from the usual horror films, with technology bringing the horror again, as it was surely tried before, but not with this much focus on science. The cinematography is one thing that increases the effectiveness of this film, as we can see them. These are not the usual horror settings, but the different ones which can provide the environment in a similar manner with variety. With the mobile phone at the centre, this doesn’t even need to have that much of the usual jump scares in action to bring the horror to the social media and the usual dose of technology. There is also the chance of a sequel which is left behind at the end. The special effects are used well enough, and there are some fine explanations to the horror which is added here too. Having Manju Warrier as the main character is also a good addition. With technology being an integral part of our lives, the ghost from technology is more relevant here in comparison to those spirits which wandered through cemeteries and old haunted houses.

The claws of flaw :: There are the usual kind of things which have been done before, and these repetitions bring us back to different films which we have seen before, like The Ring and The Final Destination series. The dramatic side is also not that effective in comparison, and some characters are just not used well enough. With the concept having the deviation, the film could have made it even more innovative, but by the end, film is moving more towards a safer side rather than anything else. It could have also focused on the background, or added more scares, which are not considered either. The ending could have also been better, because there was the chance for creating something grand. It could have also had some science fiction elements taking over in between, but that doesn’t happen, and the film could have also had more deaths, and more spreading of terror. When you have spirits in store within a mobile phone and when it has effect on technology and electricity, you know there are no limits that need to established – it could have run free.

Performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier leads the way in a horror film, and even though this genre is not unfamiliar to her, when we consider The Priest, this is time she faces the ghost, her own fears and death as a strong character. Sunny Wayne, just like he did in Sara’s and June, has the supporting role in another heroine-centered film, which he does in his usual way, being the second most important character around here. He doesn’t really have his moments this time though, but manages to hold on. Niranjana Anoop is unfortunately wasted in a small role here, and the character doesn’t even get killed by the ghost – a few others at least had moments in that way in comparison. The other actors who deserved more attention, including Rony David, Srikant Murali, Babu Annur etc also have their roles limited. Alencier Ley Lopez is the only other actor who comes into the spotlight, and this happens to be a nice change for him from the usual roles. Meanwhile, Shyamaprasad is notable in his small role, while mobile phone is definitely a character all by itself with its ghostly presence.

How it finishes :: Identified as techno horror, the film does have its moments. We have already had ghosts haunting electronic devices, especially mobile phones – the Bollywood film 3G was related to the same, and this one is certainly a better creation in comparison, even though it released eight years later. Pretham and Pretham 2 were also wanderings through the spiritual presence in technology. There are many things that make Chathur Mukham different though, and Manju Warrier is surely one of those elements. This one also works as a warning against the presence of technology in our lives. This is the kind of film which could have released on the OTT platforms much earlier – this delay has made the interest in the movie much lesser, and the fact that it didn’t release in Amazon Prime Video also contributes to that. Cold Case with its ghost in the refrigerator had already made the supernatural working online, and now we have this ghost to haunt the OTT, which it surely does pretty well.

Release date: 8th April 2021 (India), 8th July 2021 (ZEE 5)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Ranjeet Kamala Sankar, Salil V
Starring: Manju Warrier, Sunny Wayne, Alencier Ley Lopez, Rony David, Shyamaprasad, Niranjana Anoop, Babu Annur, Srikant Murali, Shaju Sreedhar, Kalabhavan Prajod, Balaji Sarma, Navas Vallikkunnu, Saranjith

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Annabelle Comes Home

What is the movie about? :: Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) continues their paranormal investigations, and manage to take the Annabelle doll home, as it had been terrorizing those who had kept it at home. During their return home, they are forced to stop the car near a cemetery, and the spirits summoned by the doll almost kills Ed. The couple are quick to take the doll to the artifacts room and is blessed by Father Gordon (Steve Coulter) before any other terrible events happen due to the demonic connection that the doll makes. The doll is kept inside a glass case, and a warning sign is provided outside, so that nobody would even think about opening the case, in case they get inside the artifacts room ignoring the warning given outside. At the same time, they continue the paranormal investigations, and add more items to the artifacts, filling the space with remains of the supernatural.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace) doesn’t have a good time at school as students lead by Anthony Rios (Luca Luhan) makes fun of her in the name of her parents’ paranormal investigations, and even refuses to attend her birthday party in the name of the same. Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) is the one in charge of babysitting her, and she is only happy to listen to the stories about spirits and exorcism. Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela Rios (Katie Sarife) also comes to visit her, as the two try to make cake for Judy early, even though the birthday party is still scheduled a few days later. But Daniela’s aim is not the birthday, as she is haunted by the guilt of driving the car when her father was killed in an accident. As the Warrens are believed to have connections with the death and the undead, she hoped that something there would help her.

And what else follows with the happenings? :: When Mary and Judy are outside the house, Daniela offers to check the cake, and at the same time sneaks into the room where the artifacts are kept, hoping to find something to connect to her father. Only a message from her father could comfort her and save her from the guilt. While trying to find something that could help her and failing in doing so, she opens the glass case where Annabelle doll was held, and leaves it open, as the spirit is unleashed, looking for a human soul. Mary Ellen’s crush Bob Palmeri (Michael Cimino) arrives outside at the same time, and finds himself facing another spirit which Annabelle had awakened among the others. The house soon finds itself infested by more than one spirit, with Annabelle, the Bride and the Ferryman only some of them, as night arrives. Each space seems to be taken over by a spirit, as they try to find a solution.

The defence of Annabelle Comes Home :: We are never short of a little bit of horror, as there has been the need. The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, The Nun, Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation and now this one has left us full of this franchise which never really seems to leave us. There is enough horror in store in this movie too, with danger lurking behind the doors, windows, curtains and within the shadows. There is also more than one spirit in store here, and the room of artifacts is once again clarified to be the one place nobody should be visiting even during day time. The movie does mark a certain return to form for the franchise, as within this movie, we can see hope for further spin-off versions. Well, the doll is nothing that never ceases to catch our interest, even more than Chucky, the Child’s Play doll of our childhood. The characters of this movie are also nicely worked out, with the older people left out, and those who have no prior knowledge of such terror being forced to face it. As usual, we have those nice sound effects as bonus.

The claws of flaw :: Annabelle Comes Home has the predictability which has been there with the horror movies up to an extent, but it does rise above the same on occasions. Even with the repetitions, we have enjoyable moments, but it seems to keep some of those with pride. The movie does take a little bit of too much time to get into the horror mode, and considering the fact that this is a movie franchise which has had a lot of time already, and understanding the idea that Annabelle needs no more time to begin the hunt, we could have began this earlier in style. Even then, the story isn’t developed that much, as all these converge into one point. Annabelle doll could also be scary with its moments, and there should have been the realization that it should be the scariest among them all, as it is the movie of the doll, and not of the other demonic abominations which could have had smaller space in comparison.

The performers of the soul :: In a horror movie, you often look forward to the performances of the ghosts, demons, vampires, zombies and werewolves instead of the humans, but here, we are blessed with the younger actors who can act, and adds as a bonus to the flick. Mckenna Grace, the child actress seems to be perfect fit for a horror movie, as she displays the skills here. She already has some horror movies to her credit and more is to come up – for the common audience here who rarely watches Hollywood movies, she played the childhood of Captain Marvel’s titular character. Madison Iseman who played Bethany in Jumanji is also here, along with Katie Sarife, all of these having good scope for future considering their performances. Patrick Wilson and Vera Fermiga have very less to do this time, as facing the demons in the house is left to the teenagers.

How it finishes :: Annabelle franchise has another interesting movie, and The Conjuring franchise also has another welcome addition. But it has to be said the horror genre hasn’t been that powerful these days, with what strength was displayed by The Conjuring when it released in 2013 not staying. As long as you are a horror fan and a fan of the franchise, this one should stay to keep the momentum going for the series, but a lot of these have been getting repetitive. Still, this one manages to continue to be strong, and we can watch it and enjoy the movie with the doll. But we are always looking for more, and now at the time of the Corona Virus, the evil spirits are not the ones which are the scariest among them – and even a medical thriller like Virus can be scary; so we are to work more and find better ideas to make such premises work better, and until then enjoy this movie.

Release date: 26th June 2019
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Michael Cimino, Paul Dean, Steve Coulter, Luca Luhan, Anthony Wemmys, Alison White, Stephen Blackehart, Sade Katarina, Kenzie Caplan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Scary Stories

Vampire Owl: So, we have Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Vampire Bat: Did you notice that it is the name of one movie with a very long title?

Vampire Owl: Yes, do you think that there will be stories which are that long?

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t seem to be about separate movies, not something like an anthology.

Vampire Owl: But the impression given is that of an anthology.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but this seems to be a story in which there are stories written about real horror which happens.

Vampire Owl: Horror has always been real. It is the only original genre in the world. The rest are not that close to reality.

Vampire Bat: Yes, who can expect thrillers and romance in life?

Vampire Owl: But horror happens to everyone, and is very much real.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if it is not present, we can always volunteer to provide them.

[Gets a marble cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: It is the later 1960s, and three teenaged friends, Stella Nicholls (Zoe Colletti), August “Auggie” Hilderbrandt (Gabriel Rush), and Charlie “Chuck” Steinberg (Austin Zajur), prank play a Halloween prank on the bully Tommy Milner (Austin Abrams) who had been bothering them for a long time. Tommy is not someone who would take this lightly, as he and his gang chase them with baseball bats, they run to a drive-in movie theater, where a young drifter Ramon Morales (Michael Garza) hides them in his car. As he makes sure that Tommy doesn’t get them, he promises to have revenge on all of them sooner or later. Ramon becomes good friends with the kids, especially Stella with whom he has an instant connection, with a special interest in horror stories, and also connecting to her troubled past when her mother left her.

So, what happens with the events here? :: They decide to visit a haunted house for Halloween, where a girl named Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard) had committed suicide. After a kid had gone missing, the place was locked down by the local authorities, but the group manages to get in, only to be locked in by Tommy along with his own girlfriend who is Charlie’s sister, Ruth Steinberg (Natalie Ganzhorn). Stella finds a book which seems to be writen by Sarah who was mostly a recluse, and considered by people to be mentally unwell. She decides to take it home, but on that night, she finds out that the book starts writing all by itself, and it is done using blood. Soon, they understand that Tommy has gone missing, and by finding his t-shirt on a scarecrow, she realizes that he had become the new scarecrow after being attacked by the former scarecrow according to the book. Now, before it starts writing again, she has to stop it with her friends. Can she do that in time?

The defence of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark :: The movie is well-structured, and each death here becomes a special tale of supernatural murder when we look at them, connected by one which gets written by a supernatural entity which has terrible past behind it, that needs to be revealed. The idea is a really good one, and we are immersed in it, even without it trying to do the extraordinary. Everything here is kept pretty much simple, and you can always have time to admire some simple horror. The monsters are nice, beginning with the scarecrow coming alive, and going on to add more which relates to the worst fears of the victims. The Halloween setting is a fine beginning to the tale, and it continues to score well through the haunting in the middle, reaching to the end which is pretty well done, and leading to the option of a sequel being kept open. In the end, you have more than one story in your mind.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much unique being added here though, as this does remind us of other tales, and the predictability does come in, at times. There is not much of a character development around here, and the beginning moments are kind of drag, which could have been shortened to give this movie a better pace at the start. Even though the movie is based on Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a series of three collections of short horror stories meant for children, this could have had some special additions because this is the movie version, and visuals mean a lot of horror. The book is supposed to have drawn heavily from folklore and urban legends, and so anything more can fit in here and there. Then there is the Academy award winner Guillermo del Toro’s name flashed as a producer, and your expectations are even higher, keeping this movie’s level below that. Well, I still want a sequel to his Crimson Peak as soon as possible, just like Dredd always needed.

Performers of the soul :: Zoe Colletti plays the protagonist, and leads the way in a horror movie amazingly well, leaving us hope for a scream queen many years later. From the beginning with silly Halloween pranks, she is someone who leads the way through the murders, and does that without doubts. Michael Garza who plays the next important character also does well, from the very moment he gets to meet the other characters. The other kids who are being hunted by the ghost with a past includes Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Zajur, Gabriel Rush and Austin Abrams, and they all provided good support. Gil Bellows who plays the police officer also has his moments. But as usual, the ones who scores the best are the monsters, and even the book is a fine character enough. When you make good monsters, you inspire better work from the cast, unless you have The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun group, which works anyway.

How it finishes :: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark shows that simple scary stories do come alive, and when it does, there is great scope for horror. There is no usual anthology here when you hear that it is about stories. There are no different tales coming together from different directors this time, like they have been doing for a long time. It does take an amount of such terror, and use it pretty well, with a cast which is not much known, and it works well enough with some interesting moments of monsters to go with it, as well as a past which is worthy enough for a good haunting. The idea to bring these tales and monsters are also nice, as it becomes not a usual horror story with spirits haunting us. It makes a fine thing for Halloween, and maybe you can watch it during the witching hours, with one monster after the other, as you even feel the need to write a horror story by the end of this movie.

Release date: 9th August 2019
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Andre Ovredal
Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Demon Eye

Vampire Owl: This was the name of that artifact which the northern witches used.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that they were in contact with the demons?

Vampire Owl: Well, aren’t they supposed to be so?

Vampire Bat: They are usually in contact with those who rise from the grave.

Vampire Owl: Well, this is just one portal away from that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but the demons are not really the undead in any way.

Vampire Owl: You do have something against some popular demons.

Vampire Bat: No, I am not talking about those tik-tok using humans.

Vampire Owl: At least, that episode is over for now.

Vampire Bat: You should know that demons, the masters of hell are not to be treated without extreme care.

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

What is the movie about? :: Sadie (Kate James) haven’t been in good terms with her father John (Darren Day) for a long time, and never really picks up his call, until one day, she decides to do just that. But she hears some stranhe noise from his room, and he quickly cuts the call, citing an emergency. This is the last time when Sadie sees her father, and the next thing he knows about him is that he is dead. Much to everyone’s surprise, he is supposed to have committed suicide by hanging. This forces Sadie to come back to the house, which is in a remote location, and has nobody else to take over the same. There she meets the man with whom the house keys were left with, Dan (Robert Hamilton), and Sadie feels strange to be at that house which has her old dolls and cameras being set in every room, corridor and staircase. Dan also leaves a job for her in a newspaper, passed on to her by her father who had worked there until his death.

So, what happens with the events here? :: She is immediately hired at the newspaper as a photographer, and finds Dan in an awkward position with Faye (Ellie Goffe) who is supposed to be his fiancee. Dan and Sadie get their first assignment to interview Craig (Liam Fox), a local man who is supposed to have seen The Burning Girl (Alannah Marie) – it was part of a folklore which was supposed to have become reality for some people. There is the legend of the Demon Eye that goes with it, as a girl was burned as a witch a long time ago in the name of causing a famine which she had predicted with the help of an amulet some time ago. But on the way, she sees a fire and a person standing in it, and as she tries to take a photo, the battery goes down. Even while interviewing, she gets into a fight with the man whom she was supposed to interview. She is confused about all the information she had managed to get from different people about her father who she hated. Is there a secret to be unveiled in relation to her father’s death?

The defence of Demon Eye :: We have been falling short of some interesting horror movies, and then this one comes up. It is that movie which deals with its subject in a slightly different way, and the subject itself has more than one angle to take care of. The quick scares are all there, and the most effective one is with a severed head in the bath-tub, then there are hands coming from under the bed, hellish hound kind of thing and the usual burned face with all the creepiness that it can have. The length of the movie is also less in comparison, not going to even ninety minutes, and it does make the most of it, with not having much from the dull moments there. The atmosphere is also good, with a setting in the middle of nowhere, with vast landscapes inspiring dark folktales all around. There is always something about focusing on the folklore, whether it is real or not. This setting will impress you, and with moments to remember, makes its point really well.

The claws of flaw :: Among the horror movies these days, Demon Eye is the one which is rather less known, or not known at all at this part of the world. It should have still achieved more with the premise – you know that with the title itself and also with the idea which is being explored here. Whenever there is a demon involved, you can take it further with ease. The demons might have been less scary in comparison to pandemics, but they are not yet completely out of the equation. We have so many moments which could have been something bigger, but manages to adjust with what it has, not trying to raise the bar. The effects of the low budget are there too, even though they have partially overcome that. The ending of the movie also felt a little rushed, because a horror movie like this requires something bigger, and the case of the climax is also the same. The main character also required to make more out of the situations here.

Performers of the soul :: Kate James plays the protagonist in this movie, even though IMDb hasn’t really listed here at the top, or with a photo. Even though there is some struggle in the beginning stages, she plays the character really well, and only gets better in the later stages. She is part of almost every scary scene in this movie, and the best one is that of the bath-tub with the severed head, even though more could have been done with a character like hers. Her portrayal of the troubled character who need psychiatric help from the early stages is believable, without being melodramatic. The other actors don’t seem to try too hard, but manages to hold on. She is way ahead in that case, when we look closely. The other young lady in the movie is the next person to catch our attention, even though she is not there for too long on the screen – Ellie Goffe does a very good job too. Robert Hamilton, Darren Day and Liam Fox, all of them manage just enough here.

How it finishes :: There are always some interesting horror movies of interest, if we keep checking for them. Demon Eye can be on the list too, depending on your preferences, even though you can’t expect it to do too much with its content. This is the kind of horror movie which you watch on Friday nights for some fun scares, and for that purpose, this film is successful, leaving no doubts behind. With a fine premise, from a situation in which things could have gone much worse, the movie takes itself back to make sure that as a whole, it is a pretty good work. There might be a few things left unexplained though, but through the same, it leaves the scope for a sequel, even as we are not really supposed to expect one, considering the response it had received otherwise. Do add this to your horror collection, as one more demon, this time with another witch-hunting past, will bring the entertainment to you.

Release date: 26th April 2019
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Ryan Simons
Starring: Darren Day, Liam Fox, Kate James, Ellie Goffe, Jimmy Allen, Alannah Marie, Robert Hamilton

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Guests

Vampire Owl: I think that these people are more ghosts than guests.

Vampire Bat: The guests can be ghosts too. Sometimes, the ghosts are guests.

Vampire Owl: So, we the vampires are not guests?

Vampire Bat: We can only become guests with multiple level acceptance.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about having the need to be invited into a home.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we were rarely invited, and even Uncle Dracula was avoided.

Vampire Owl: Now, that is indeed atrocious, and it is also a case of racism.

Vampire Bat: Humans are born as racists, just like they have that inherent evil.

Vampire Owl: I hope that they learn from us, for here, all vampires are equal.

Vampire Bat: Yes, even zombies and werewolves feel so.

[Gets an vegetable samosa and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Katya (Angelina Bit) is a young girl who works as waitress at a restaurant which is not too busy a place. There she meets a special group of youngsters who have a different hobby, which is to organize parties in other people’s empty houses. They leave the place the same it used to be, after the party is over. They keep asking Katya for such a place, and she finds for them, an old summer cottage on the coastal area, where nobody really lived. The abandoned house, in which a spiritualist salon was running a long time ago, seemed to be an excellent place, with the Gothic looks making it even better – the location is also within what seems to be an area with a lot of trees, and one would require a vehicle to reach there. They reach there and has everything set, and it is then that they meet Andrey (Yuriy Chursin) who claims to be the owner of the house and asks them to get out. But they attack him and throws him into the cellar, continuing the party.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, it is revealed that Katya used to work in the same house as a cleaner a few months ago, and was in love with the man who had lost his wife and child in an accident. She did make some advances to him, but he had rejected her which sent her to a time period of depression. Another realization that comes upon them is that there is something terribly wrong with the house. They do find a book on demons out there and even tries to summon one without success. There is something moving around the house, and two of their friends go outside are missing. Even the man whom they had locked in the cellar is missing. Now, they begins to wonder what is going on in there. With something terrifying and sinister walking in the shadows of the night, is it possible for them to escape from the terror which seems to await them? Will they die at that night itself, or will they live to fight another day? Are they going to see the demons described and drawn in the book, face to face?

The defence of Guests :: The one thing that stands out as far as Guests is concerned, it is the setting, not just the mansion, but also the area around it. One would really want to have a movie at this part of the world set in such a world of terror. We have that haunted feeling here right from the beginning stages itself – it has to be noted that the movie itself is dark right from the beginning, and the dark clouds are more or less the foreshadowing of something which is supposed to happen very soon. The demons, even though in the shape of a woman and a child, are well-designed. The feeling of melancholy which is prevalent in this movie is also something worth noticing. The scary moments are more or less related to the atmosphere itself, and we can feel the danger lurking in each corner of that old, abandoned home with a past related to the summoning of demons, as well as the practicing of occult in such a way that it is so serious and facing an inescapable situation.

The claws of flaw :: Guests doesn’t make the best use of what is there to be taken, even as a wonderful atmosphere is established so early. The idea of partying in houses without people in there is rather strange, and not really that much acceptable, however we look at it. There is also that lack of punch in the ending, which could have been something better. Except for the main characters, the rest of not really likable, and even when they get killed, we don’t feel for them at all. The movie should have taken things more seriously, and added more of the terrifying moments, because they have two demons in the form of mother and child along with an unsettling atmosphere – we know what such an environment can do with movies like Crimson Peak, and the usual kind of movies like The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun and Insidious have also used the quick scares nicely to get them into the chilling atmosphere, but this one seems to feel that it has enough, and doesn’t try for more.

Performers of the soul :: Angelina Bit who plays the main character becomes another classic option for becoming a scream queen in many horror movies in different languages. There is a certain amount of dark melancholy surrounding her, and we understand that she is possessed by that sadness which itself could become a monster – she plays that well enough even though we have seen the same thing done better before. We see how she becomes a perfect part of this situation in the haunted house of demons. Yuriy Chursin as Andrey is the other person who comes up with a pretty good performance. He plays another man filled with almost the same type of sadness. The rest of the cast is the kind of thing that we see in most of the horror movies, as there is nothing special about them, while they play along within the movie. The rest of the characters are not human, but demons, along with the house itself which seems to have something to say.

How it finishes :: Russian horror movies seem to choose the settings wisely, and do score well enough from the same. Guests, even though doesn’t possess the needed strength with its tale, and goes through a struggle to raise the level of its horror, does have enough out there to keep things going. The same is supported by the ambiance, which is the one thing that raises this to a higher level. During the time of Corona Virus, we are never short of horror movies, even though the idea of terror did change in the last few months – it was no longer about the ghosts, but related to the pandemic. But horror will live on, as there will always be abandoned houses supposed to be haunted, and the traditional ghosts and demons cannot vanish that easily. Fear will keep coming in different forms to produce more of horror – until then, you can be happy enough with little horror movies like Guests.

Release date: 7th March 2019
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Evgeniy Abyzov
Starring: Angelina Bit, Morgan Berry, Yuriy Chursin, Mikhail Bachelor, Greg Chun, Elisha Gaikal, Ben Diskin, Mariya Lisovaya, Anar Khalilov, Mikhail Mescheryakov, Jessica Rau, Jonathan Meza, Marina Panferova, Jamie Rapaport

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Svaha

Vampire Owl: Another Korean movie. You are going international very often.

Vampire Bat: Well, there is the need for more movies for lock-down as far as vampires are concerned.

Vampire Owl: You still haven’t watched everything from Hollywood.

Vampire Bat: That can surely wait. There are many types of movies in different languages, from all parts of the world.

Vampire Owl: You have become a movie explorer beyond borders, haven’t you?

Vampire Bat: Exploration is a pure vampire trait, driven by blood. It is either a place or a movie, and it won’t matter what.

Vampire Owl: The quality of the wanderer and explorer has been inherited by all vampires in and around the castle.

Vampire Bat: About this movie, I feel that we are going to be reminded about another Korean movie, The Divine Fury, as this one also has demons.

Vampire Owl: But I do see a difference in pattern here.

Vampire Bat: Yes, they are not the same in soul, as the type is different.

[Gets a whiteforest cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: In the beginning, a few minutes show the existence of evil in the countryside, as something strange begins to happen there, making people worried. Back in the city, Pastor Park (Lee Jung-jae) is someone who spends his time trying to expose those religious groups which are involved in illegal activities, and he specializes in finding similar cults which have deviated from the main-stream religions, and are using the name of religious denominations to achive something sinister. He is paid for doing this by the heads of different religions, and the latest one is a cult group known as Deer Mount, supposed to be a Buddhist group, but does not worship or adore Lord Buddha, but others. This makes the Buddhist leaders interested, and they ask him to find proof, because it is certain that they might be having some kind of scripture, which will be the key to understanding where they stand, and how much they are different from Buddhism.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The result of the search is that they found out the existence of some edited versions, and also those parts which are never heard of before, giving a strange feeling with its content. There is something like a Book of Revelation, talking about beasts trampling the snakes and protecting the light. The Buddhist monk who is with them is not able to find the exact meaning, and what all these are about, and need to contact an expert. Meanwhile, Chief Hwang (Jung Jin-young) investigates the murder of a child and the main suspect might related to the same Deer Mount cult. As the suspect commits suicide, there seems to be no link to take this case forward. There is a much darker secret related to whatever has been happening around. It can now be traced and moved to a village where a family had two children, a girl and a thing, the latter being kept outside the house, locked in a shed. So where does all these lead?

The defence of Svaha: The Sixth Finger :: A Korean movie with a difference never stops being interesting, and this movie is no different. This one is also a complex tale regarding a series of murders of young school girls, and it is as interesting as the mysterious and spiritual side which it deals with from the other side, connecting to the killings which has been occuring through years, not being a new thing. The movie has its thrills regarding the same, and there is also a philosophical side to the movie, as the main character does have things to wonder about. The scary elements are there, but they do not run throughout the movie – they can be seen in moments though. The Divine Fury, another Korean movie was cent percent direct about the whole thing, but this one takes a divergent path to reach its destination, and therefore leaves some ambiguity, even while catching the interest of the viewers in style.

The claws of flaw :: The complexity of Svaha: The Sixth Finger will not be that appealing to everyone, as it throws in more characters into the mixture of things, making things even more complex. Everything just gets too tight at times, and some characters just seem to be there for the sake of it, not being defined well enough. The diverging story-line also has some problem in coming back together, and we are bombarded with one thing after the other, which makes us struggle to follow it at times. The characters provided for support are too many, and we do forget a good number of them, even though they don’t come up with a bad performance or anything. The movie should have also known to present its idea in a better way, even though it is entertaining and exciting as of now – after all, there seems to be a lot of things going in the background, and everything needed to be in the front, strong and clear in soul.

Peformers of the soul :: Lee Jung-jae as Pastor Park is the main character in the movie, and one person whom the audience is supporting from the beginning itself. He gets the special focus once he is introduced, and never does anyone rise above him. Park Jung-min as Na-han gets the significance later, but soon becomes a very important character that stays for long. Lee Jae-in’s character is also a notable one, and we see her at many points of the movie, which are all moments that will remain in our mind. Jung Jin-young as Chief Hwang gets a little less as far as the time spent on the screen is concerned, even after being introduced much earlier, seemingly with more importance. There is also some good support from Lee David as Joseph, the one who supports Pastor Park throughout, even though he is a bigger believer than the pastor is. There are so many other characters and all of them do manage to contribute by their own.

How it finishes :: Svaha: The Sixth Finger is that kind of a movie which has so many ideas, and brings them all from different directions on you, without pausing at any moment. It never losses focus in doing that, and only gets richer in ideas as it moves forward. As it gains in complexity, it doesn’t really use its strengths to the advantage, and it is where the movie losses control in some parts, but that is not a problem here, with the movie coming back stronger when needed. What runs under the movie is surely strong enough, and the variety in treatment of the subject also comes into the picture – it never ceases to be interesting, as we all need to unveil this mystery and understand the terror which has been going through here, underneath everything that is clearly seen. The result is that we have one more Korean movie which brings something different for us to watch, from many kilometres away from that nation.

Release date: 20th February 2019
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Jang Jae-hyun
Starring: Lee Jung-jae, Park Jung-min, Lee Jae-in, Jung Jin-young, Lee David, Jin Seon-kyu, Ji Seung-hyun, Min Tanaka, Cha Sun-bae, Hwang Jung-min, Jung Dong-hwan

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Metamorphosis

Vampire Owl: Do you know that some of the vampires in our group are having a great metamorphosis these days?

Vampire Bat: Vampires are having metamorphosis nowadays? I thought that it was more or less of a werewolf thing.

Vampire Owl: Yes, it used to be. Only the zombies and witches had a small share of the same in the recent past.

Vampire Bat: So, vampires are becoming more or less similar to those people.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but our metamorphosis is rather different in comparison. We metamorphose into something greater, or rather magnificent.

Vampire Bat: Aren’t we magnificent creatures already?

Vampire Owl: Magnificence is no longed counter in the same terms. We are using a new unit to measure it.

Vampire Bat: But, a metamorphosis now is not something that we can afford.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but Doctor Frankenstein has discovered a different method which is cheaper and of a better quality.

Vampire Bat: Mr. Frankenstein! I know that there was someone like him behind all these happenings in the castle.

[Gets an onion vada and three cups of mixed tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie begins with an attempted exorcism on a young girl who is tied to the bed inside her room. In the beginning, things seem to go on without much of a trouble, and the demon seems to be a weak entity, listening to all the prayers in Korean and Latin, not taking over the girl’s actions or words. But all of a sudden, it turns violent, leading the girl’s mother to come in, making the priest lose his control over the incantations as well as the demon, which takes the girl to the window, making her suicide. But before commiting suicide, the girl and the mother of the girl, both mocks the priest, and tells him that they are as old as God, and the Supreme Power has forsaken him, all these being the will of the Almighty. The priest who is originally named Joong-Soo (Sung-Woo Bae) decides to leave priesthood after being blamed for the girl’s death, but the diocese and his superiors do not approve of it.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As Joong-Soo who has struggled to keep the memories of the demons away, his brother and family moves into a new home in the countryside. Gang-goo (Dong-il Sung), his wife Myung-joo (Young-nam Jang) and the children, Sun-woo (Hye-Jun Kim), Hyun-joo (Yi-Hyun Cho) and Woo-jong (Kang-Hoon Kim) have a bigger home at the countryside with a lot of space both inside and outside, but things do not go as expected in the new place, as there is there is something strange going on there. The problem start with their neighbours itself, and there seems to be something weird going on with the person who is staying at the place too. There is undoubtedly a demon out there who is taking possessing people and taking the shape of humans. The family only has one person to turn to now, but if that person can do the exorcism or not is something that is to be seen.

The defence of Metamorphosis :: Being a movie about demons and exorcisms, it does have that, even though there is a certain shortage for sure. The power of exorcism is shown in the beginning as well as the end, and there is some fine display of creepiness with the neighbour’s house and the talk of the demons. It has blood nicely used, and having the evil entity more powerful than everything has more to be lost in this flick. Well, this time, the demons go personal, and it has more powers than one can imagine, making the idea of defeating it rather difficult and complex, especially with a failed exorcist trying to do the same. The scares are there, but there are limitations considering the fact that not many things scare people these days. The demons don’t have the belief in them coming from people in the modern world, but the movie does manage to rise above it, thanks to the visuals and the performances.

The claws of flaw :: It seems that the Korean film industry is trying a little too hard to find its perfect exorcist movie, just like the zombie movie was found in Train to Busan – the signs can be seen in this movie, where it struggles at times to keep it as what the flick was supposed to be. When you have a shape-shifting demon in your pocket, you are supposed to make more out of it, especially with the scares regarding who is who, and more like who is the demon and who is not. It was that demon who could have had its origin stories and had the strength to keep the whole thing creepy throughout its presence, but that is not done here. The movie also doesn’t use the protagonist’s guilt that much, and comes up that creepy scene in the shower, another one over the bed and another one in the dining room, all of them needing a boost to rise above the usual. Yes, cliches are going to be found here, and repetitions too.

Peformers of the soul :: Metamorphosis, as many other horror movies, has to depend on its demons and exorcists more than anything else. With the demons, it remains safe as usual, as they never stops doing what they were to do in a world of horror and demonic presence. Sung-Woo Bae plays the priest and the exorcist, and we see that he makes a fine priest in the movie, working through the terror very well. Dong-il Sung plays the father figure really well, with the concerns over his daughter worked nicely. Young-nam Jang plays the mother, and that is also done well enough. Among the children, Hye-Jun Kim stands out, as she plays the responsible elder sister, and she also gets to be part of more of the exorcism – she is the believer and the one with most faith than anyone else. Yi-Hyun Cho plays the younger sister who is not the kind of person who is happy with the family, and that also works out well. The rest of the cast adds on well too.

How it finishes :: Another interesting movie about demonic possession comes into the picture with Metamorphosis, and it is something which you can depend on, because it mostly follows the usual pattern, but is not without some divergence here and there. It can be considered as that kind of a movie which stays close to Hollywood flicks like The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, Insidious and The Vatican Tapes, but still manages to bring something which the regular English movie won’t dare to bring, unless it is something like It Follows, Lights Out, Don’t Breathe or The Autopsy of Jane Doe – the movie which could show full divergence. Metamorphosis is the kind of movie which can at least give the usual horror movie with demonic possession horror, even if you don’t like the deviations brought about here, and so the movie makes a safe title to watch among the rest. But you are most probably going to find it to be something more, depending on your taste.

Release date: 21st August 2019
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Hong-seon Kim
Starring: Sung-Woo Bae, Dong-il Sung, Young-nam Jang, Hye-Jun Kim, Yi-Hyun Cho, Kang-Hoon Kim, Se-hee Kim, Jeon Mi Do, Kwi-seon Kim, Dae-han Ji

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Divine Fury

Vampire Owl: We are certainly not used to watching Korean movies.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we make exceptions with some of those films

Vampire Owl: I think that the last two Korean movies reviewed around here were The Wailing and Train to Busan.

Vampire Bat: They were the only two movies of that particular language which were reviewed here. The other big movies were Chinese.

Vampire Owl: Yes, The Mermaid and The Monkey King 2. I remember them. There were two short-films too, I guess.

Vampire Bat: After that, the total number of movies watched itself was decreased, and there was no chance for Korean and Chinese films.

Vampire Owl: Well, we are back here watching them though.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is always more movies to watch, except at the theatres during the time of Corona Virus.

Vampire Owl: That time too will pass, and we will be back to watching the latest movies at the theatres.

Vampire Bat: I shall display no doubt regarding that statement, so that I can hold on to some more optimism at the time of crisis.

[Gets a pineapple cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Yong-hoo (Park Seo-joon) is a martial-arts champion who keeps winning all his fights as if he is seeking revenge for the death of his father, who was murdered while doing his duty as a police officer in the city, and his mother who had died even earlier. He feels that God didn’t listen to his prayer when he was a child, and left him an orphan, and the wrath which he possessed from the same feeling helped him to become the fighting champion he ended up to be. But one day, he has an injury on his hands, which he shows at the hospital, but after a number of days, it only gets worse with the doctor confirming that it is not an infection, and he should show it at a bigger hospital in the city. Finally, he decides to meet a new shaman, a blind young girl who has a connection with the spirit world. The girl finds out that there is something evil about him, and refers him to the priest at a local church.

So, what happens with the events here? :: There he meets Father Ahn (Ahn Sung-ki) who is performing an exorcism, and with his wound, he is able to help him. The priest reveals that it is stigmata, the bodily wounds which were imposed on Jesus Christ while he was undergoing crucifixion. He also added that it would appear only on those people who have strong faith. It surprises him though, as he has never known faith after his father died. But, as time passes, he gets involved in what the priest has been doing, including getting rid of the demons, as there is nobody else who is willing to help him in the dangerous exorcisms. He slowly and steadily begins to regain his faith in God, but there is a bigger evil in existence in the city, and soon enough, they need to find it. When they exorcise a demon from a young girl Soo-jin (Park Ji-hyun), the priest comes to know about it. Can they do it early enough, or will darkness envelope the city? What would be the key to defeating the demons they don’t know much about?

The defence of The Divine Fury :: There is something about The Divine Fury that you will find different, or rather many things, as you approach it as a horror movie, but that is only one side of it, while having your journey through the film. The movie basically blends many things, including action sequences, mystery, thrilling moments and others of emotional bonding. The emotional side to the movie also remains strong between all these action and horror. The movie has a run-time just a few minutes more than two hours, and we get through that quickly, as there is no slowing down the action here, for the demonic presence is always there. The final action sequence somewhat reminds one of Constantine, even though not that much well done, and there are some nice punches and kicks being landed in the end. The final shot of moving hands from the well is really creepy, and so are the exorcisms which are well done, especially that of the young girl and the kid.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t really begin so well, and it gets interesting with the first exorcism which the protagonist partially witnesses. There are many other approaches which this movie could have taken too, but it often chooses the easy way, especially with some parts giving the impression that we have watched all of these before. People might think that there is a little bit of too much speech about God and faith going on right through it, but it is a necessary part of the movie. The final action scene could have been made somewhat like the John Wick fights between the lights, and the demon in the end could have also been scarier. We could have also used more exorcisms, and the philosophical dialogues could have been quickly done with. The villain could have actually had a better background and backstory too.

Performers of the soul :: Park Seo-joon plays the main character, and he has some interesting movie titles under his name. We can witness the changes that come across him clearly, as we see the journey shown nicely. Ahn Sung-ki as Father Ahn also makes a perfect priest, and his dialogues about almost everything catches our attention – there are words of wisdom from him which we might miss, if we are not careful enough. From the first moment he is seen in the exorcism scene, we know that he would be the right priest. The two also share some funny moments too, even though the seriousness of the situations stay as it is. Woo Do-hwan doesn’t really fall behind much either. It has to be noted that the movie has managed to have some fine performances from the supporting cast, especially those who plays the possessed, starting from the young girl played by Park Ji-hyun. You have to look out for them every time.

How it finishes :: The Divine Fury is the movie that deals with exorcism and the demons in a very different way compared to what we have seen in many different movies, from The Conjuring, The Nun and Annabelle series or the good old Insidious franchise. There is also the hope for a sequel known as The Green Exorcist. I will surely be looking forward to it, as this is the kind of movie which Hollywood will find difficult to make, and the Korean movie industry has nicely made one movie which could stand apart, even though not without its flaws. Do not get fooled by the comparatively smaller rating given to it when we consider some other popular Korean movies, because this one is not a pretender, and it goes through things directly. If you want to watch a good action horror movie with martial arts and exorcism running through it along with some philosophy, do watch this one.

Release date: 31st July 2019
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Kim Joo-hwan
Starring: Park Seo-joon, Ahn Sung-ki, Woo Do-hwan, Park Ji-hyun, Jung Ji-hoon, Sim Hee-seop, Seo Jeong-yeon, Jo Eun-hyung, Kim Seon-min, Jung Eui-soon, Kim Bum-soo, Lee Chan-yoo

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Annabelle: Creation

Vampire Owl: Did they confirm with Annabelle before making this movie?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that they don’t really believe that Annabelle is real; otherwise they wouldn’t have dared.

Vampire Owl: But she does, and I had tried to adopt her and failed because I didn’t meet the minimum requirements.

Vampire Bat: There are minimum requirements for adopting a doll? This is surely a new thing.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and the procedure is also not under vampire control. It is far beyond our reach.

Vampire Bat: That is pure nonsense. The Vampire World has fine diplomatic ties with each and every race in the realm, even with those we don’t like and have war with, at times.

Vampire Owl: But we are beyond many levels of realm now. Annabelle’s contact details is beyond.

Vampire Bat: You shouldn’t be venturing the world beyond, alone – unless it is also human world.

Vampire Owl: There is that red guy with long horns out there. He talks business very well, and I think that he is a very rich man from the human world.

Vampire Bat: Well, most of the human millionaires have to be demons at one point or the other; being too rich has its own side-effects.

[Gets three cups of iced tea with Arrowroot biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A dollmaker in the countryside, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) are living a happy life with their seven year old daughter Annabelle (Samara Lee). Things seem to be too perfect until one day, the child is run over by a car, which leaves the two into a state of grief from which they never seem to get away, finding the tragedy too terrible to escape from. A few years later, the Mullins open their home to provide a place to live for Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and six girls who were left homeless after their orphanage closed. Among the girls, there are Janice (Talitha Bateman), a girl who can’t walk right, as well as her best friend from the orphanage, Linda (Lulu Wilson) who have agreed to the fact that if they are adopted by a family, they will go together as one, and not to separate houses.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: The other girls include the two elder ones, Carol (Grace Fulton) and Nancy (Philippa Coulthard), as well as the remaining two, Kate (Tayler Buck) and Tierney (Lou Lou Safran) who find their own ways to have fun in the huge house at the countryside which is nothing less than a palace or castle for them. There is a certain restriction imposed on the girls from entering Annabelle’s room though, and Samuel is very strict about the same. Despite such an instruction, Janice is awakened by a noise, and she enters the same room which is somehow unlocked despite being locked all the time, after she gets a note in front of the door which says “find me”. With curiosity getting the better of the girl who never really had the time or energy for an adventure, she gets into the room which has a lot of toys, but in the closet, there is a special one, the Annabelle doll, and as she uses the key to open the door leading to it, a demon is unleashed.

And what is to follow next in this adventure? :: The unleashed demon doesn’t wait in beginning to terrorize the girls, starting with the one who brought it into this world. Even though the other girls are reluctant to believe in the existence of such a demon, they are soon forced to have belief in the evil force inside the house. It reveals itself to Janice, and tells her that it needs her soul. The attacks get worse, and she is thrown down the stairs, leading her to be fully restricted to the wheelchair. Soon, she shows the signs of being possessed, and a scared Linda tells Samuel about the same. It is revealed that he and his wife had felt a presence a long time ago, which they believed was of their daughter Annabelle’s spirit, and gave it permission to pass through the dimensions and enter a doll which was made by him. But soon, they realize that they had attracted a demon looking for a host. They took the doll to Annabelle’s room and locked it in a closet with pages from the Holy Bible, and keep it away with the help of priests and prayers. It remained there for long, but not anymore!

The defence of Annabelle: Creation :: You will find Annabelle: Creation to be scary, and also better than the previous Annabelle movie, making the origins of something worth our attention, all the time. It has that kind of a setting, which will not only have the scary side to be stronger, but also having a fine emotional side, as we are more bothered about the characters than in most of the other horror movies. It is the setting that makes sure that it rises to The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 movies, even though not in totality. There is smartness in how the doll is used, and there is also the images of the scarecrow, and even the light is not capable of stopping our force of evil right here. The girls are all lovable, especially Talitha Bateman who plays the main character, who manages the fear and sadness before possession, and the change after the presence being inside her really well. Stephanie Sigman as Sister Charlotte is capable of carrying the whole thing too.

The claws of flaw :: There is a certain amount of slowness with this movie in the beginning stages, establishing a lot about the characters and the setting. The movie could be termed as about twenty minutes longer than it should have been, as this could be the perfect one and half hours of horror being unleashed quick and smart. There are also those moments which could have been scarier, with further frightening things added. You will find that a few mysteries remain unsolved in this one. There is the reminder about The Woman in Black: Angel of Death which had a school’s headmistress and children being evacuated to Eel Marsh House, an isolated manor house on a certain island in the marshes, being safe from the German bombing offensive against Great Britain during the Second World War. But you will find Annabelle: Creation to be a better movie than that one, without doubt despite feeling that you have seen the setting before.

How it finishes :: Don’t miss the final post-credits scene set in the Abbey of Saint Carta, Romania, for there is the little teaser to the upcoming movie The Nun, as the demon Valak makes the next move. Valak was someones who had created a better impact than any other demon with a name at this part of the world, and we know here that something huge is still to come, and with its setting in Romania, one can be sure that it has the inner strength to overtake all movies in the franchise. Until then, you can watch Annabelle: Creation, an improvement on its predecessor, and one of the horror movies to watch from the year 2017. You have loved Chucky of Child’s Play, with seven movies in that franchise, and Annabelle is like more of serious and believable horror with its tale – why shouldn’t the dolls have all the fun? Even The Boy had one in there to bring the thrills as well as the twist; humans really need to watch out. We might have a Cinematic Universe of horror here which can rise above that of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and team; better watch out, Avengers!

Release date: 11th August 2017
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: David F Sandberg
Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Lulu Wilson, Grace Fulton, Philippa Coulthard, Samara Lee,Tayler Buck as Kate, Lou Lou Safran, Mark Bramhall, Adam Bartley, Lotta Losten, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Tree O’Toole, Joseph Bishara, Fred Tatasciore, Brian Howe, Kerry O’Malley, Annabelle Wallis (cameo), Ward Horton (cameo), Bonnie Aarons (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Forest

Vampire Owl: I once went to this particular forest known for suicides.

Vampire Bat: And then what happened?

Vampire Owl: I just couldn’t live up-to its reputation as I had already died.

Vampire Bat: Even the undead can die, you know.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the ghosts were against it. They told me that it is cheating.

Vampire Bat: Why did you even have to listen to them?

Vampire Owl: Well, they told me that they would transform me into a human.

Vampire Bat: What? It is so cruel. It would have been better to keep split personalities instead.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I just couldn’t bear being part of an inherently evil species. So, I said no.

Vampire Bat: I have to say that you did the right thing this time. The blood wars are coming, and we have to say no to more than one thing.

[Gets three cups of lemon tea with 50-50 biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Sara Price (Natalie Dormer) is spending her time with her fiance, Rob (Eoin Macken), and is having some happy moments of her life in her home in the United States of America when she gets an unexpected call from Japan. She is informed that her twin sister, Jess Price (again Natalie Dormer) is dead. The idea is that she was last seen going into Aokigahara forest known more as the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees, and those who go there alone at night rarely come back as it is a place where people commit suicide. It is rather believed to be the most popular suicide destination in the world which has so many strange tales associated with it. The forest is known to be home to yurei or or rather the ghosts of Japanese mythology. It is also said that long ago, the elderly or unwell people were left to die in the forest, and the place had its dead bodies and ghosts from centuries ago. The place has that kind of a terrifying reputation.

So, what happens next? :: But that doesn’t stop Sara from looking for her sister, and despite the concerns of Rob, she travels to Japan, and after talking to the people at the school where she was teaching, gets to the hotel where Jess was staying. There she meets a man named Aiden (Taylor Kinney) with whom she share a drink and they become friends. After listening to her story, he tells her that he is a photographer and will accompany her to the forest. They are also to be accompanied by a guide named Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) whose presence will help them to get out of the forest if they lose their way or if anything goes wrong. As they go to the forest, Michi tells her that Jess should most probably be dead, and there is nothing changing the same. But Sara says that it is not possible, and as they are twins, she will somehow know if she was dead. She is quite convinced that her sister would never commit suicide.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: After traveling for some time in the forest, they come across the tent which Jess had used, but it was nearing nightfall, and Michi tells them that they have to go back as soon as possible. But Sara is convinced that the best option for them is to stay there, as Jess might come back to the tent by night. But Michi tells her that it is not safe, as the forest has its own ghosts, and they will make her see things which will drive her mad, and it will be she who will be lost on the next day. With their best efforts not seeing anything good in the end, Aiden says that he will stay with her throughout the night, and Michi leaves them to what seems to be a complicated fate. So, by staying in the dark forest which is believed to have more spirits than people, can Sara finally find Jess, and can at least one of the two sisters return home alive from the forest? Well, it is not that simple as it seems to be.

The defence of The Forest :: Aokigahara Forest is a nice location for a change, and with the tales that are told about the same, we become more and more interesting in watching a horror movie based on the same location. Natalie Dormer does a very good job as the twins here, and we are glad to see her in two roles, and she does her job very well. Known the best for her work in Game of Thrones series and also in The Hunger Games, it is great to see the talented actress doing the big role in a horror movie. The forest is also a solid character by itself, as we see possibilities going endless from the beginning itself. It does bring the question about what really is the reality and what is the hallucination – something that the ghosts use to confuse its new preys. The visuals are nicely used to support the same, and we surely have to say that there is an attempt to go different here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have surely used more scares, especially with such a mysterious forest at the centre of everything – the site of tragedy and strange beliefs hasn’t got the due that it deserved. The Forest could have used more ghosts than any other movie, and the variety that it could have brought with its scares would have made it close to a masterpiece; but such an effort is certainly not made here. When such creepiness is around, you expect the scary side to hold on and get to be better, and it is something that you never see anywhere around here. This struggle to use the material in hand should feel strange for many viewers. It also has to be noted that other than Natalie Dormer, there is nothing much of a cast to do anything big. Maybe it is the lack of focus that bring the trouble rather than anything else, as we see the struggle towards the end from a movie which began so well.

How it finishes :: You will surely find The Forest to be a rather strange movie, which means that whether you like it or not, it is very difficult to ignore it. With Natalie Dormer in full form, you might expect more and more, and what you get might not satisfy you enough. If you consider the mystery elements more and the scares a little less, you will not find this one to be less interesting. As you think differently, you will find this movie to catch your attention with its divergence. After all, it is one reality that we have in our lives, and the inability to understand what is real and what is unreal, and what is good and what is evil, is something that should be scary even out of the limits of a horror movie. Well, this one is creepy enough, and you just need to read less number of reviews before watching this movie. You remember the movie Pet, which was different in its own way.

Release date: 8th January 2016
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Jason Zada
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken, Rina Takasaki, Noriko Sakura, Yûho Yamashita, James Owen

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Monkey King II

Vampire Owl: I have this name wandering in my mind somewhere.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that you have known many kings and monkeys during your life-time.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the most recent acquaintance being the Lich Queen with her undead minions.

Vampire Bat: What? You met the Lich Queen? It is forbidden for a vampire to meet an undead queen sorceress.

Vampire Owl: She is not that undead, you know, and she is a good host.

Vampire Bat: Whatever. That doesn’t explain how you met the Monkey King though.

Vampire Owl: Well, I was reading this classic, and the pages came alive.

Vampire Bat: And they attacked you?

Vampire Owl: No, then I realized that I was tearing the pages apart. Then I took some glue and fixed it back to its place.

Vampire Bat: The imperial librarian won’t be that happy this time. You should get a few zombie minions to cover it up.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A young Buddhist monk, Tang Sanzang (Feng Shaofeng) is on the journey to the West, to the Thunder Monastery in India to collect some of the valuable scriptures of Buddha. But the soldiers who were meant to assist and protect him during his journey leaves him when a white tiger attacks them. Trying to protect the horse, he ends up being under attack from the tiger, only to get into a cave and save himself. As he is followed by the tiger, he sees Sun Wukong a.k.a. The Monkey King (Aaron Kwok) who was imprisoned under the Five Fingers Mountain as part of his five hundred years of atonement for the trouble which he had caused in heaven. The awakened and released monkey soon deals with the tiger, but that only begins in new life, as the Goddess Guan Yin (Kelly Chen) has instructed him to protect the monk throughout his journey.

So, what happens next? :: Wukong is not someone who likes taking orders from anyone, but he is bound to stay close to the instructions made by the goddess, as he is wearing a magical headband which can’t be removed, and will cause him pain if he acts like a bad monkey. He finds his life connected to the monk’s, and decides to finish this job as soon as possible, and get back to his usual, mischievous life. On the way, Wukong defeats two other immortals looking like monsters – Zhu Bajie (Xiaoshenyang) and Sha Wujing (Him Law) who joins them in the journey as atonement for their sins, as the monk gets protected from three sides. Both of the new travelers consider Wukong as their big brother, and approves of his superiority in skills. They have some interesting moments during their travel, and reaches Yun Hai Xi Kingdom, which is ruled by a king (Fei Xiang) and his people living in fear.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: The kingdom is terrorized by the White Bone Demon (Gong Li), a powerful demoness who is known to take away children from everywhere, and she is supposed to devour them to keep herself in this world. As the demoness learns about the arrival of the young monk, she decides to eat him, and thus get more powerful, without no reincarnation, being an eternally unstoppable demon who could challenge even heaven and hell. She, along with her three demoness minions (Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi and Miya Muqi) get the four to their house in the middle of the forest, where they offer all of them a place to rest. She tells them the story of her past as a young woman, which had Sanzang in tears. The two monsters fall into the seductive trap of the demonesses posing as beautiful girls, and Wukong seems to have some problem with his eyes – so, will the demoness and her minions be successful in using the young monk to expand their evil? Or will the Monkey King be able to save him?

The defence of The Monkey King 2 :: This movie is visually excellent with its creatures, surroundings and magic having our attention, and has those action sequences which will immediately ask for your attention. There are also the messages about forgiveness, and the reflection of the fact that humans are so capable of being more evil than the demons every time. There is also some humour present here, and the comic relief is very much useful in this movie. It actually combines nicely with the adventure as well as the spiritual side, making this package whole. Everything is so simple in this movie, and this simplicity in fantasy is something that we can cherish, and the same makes sure that this movie is for everyone – kids are certainly going to love this one as much as any animated movie. Even though there are not that many reviews of this movie in English, the ratings received, including those in Rotten Tomatoes make nice example of how well this has worked.

The claws of flaw :: Maybe, a more serious version of the classic might have been expected by many, and also this one happens to be a sequel rather than the original story, which could have also kept some people from watching this particular flick. There is also more needed of action from everyone other than Monkey King whose action scenes never cease being delightful – the fans from everywhere will always look for more from him, as I had wondered more about this particular character than anyone else. Also, despite having a very strong female villain there with minions, her manipulation or the fighting skills get quite less attention than we would have expected to witness. Looking silly at times is not something that one would expect from this movie, as there is enough depth all the time, as long as you have a classic in your hands, and got hope of everyone who has read or has read about the work expecting a lot. Also, despite the movie being a visual treat, there are moments when the CGI looks too much and strange.

How it finishes :: Those who have read the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, are sure to love this movie adaptation of the tale – there are so many version of the same, and many translations. This tale is actually something that needs to be read by everyone, and this movie will help in attaining that for sure. As more people get to read Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature, adding the other three, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber and Water Margin to their list of books to read, we can safely say that this visual extravaganza of an action movie is successful in doing the right thing for literature. Even if you haven’t watched this movie’s predecessor, or never known about the novel, it is still okay to watch this movie – this one is a rather stand-alone work, and things really can’t get any simpler than this as far as fantasy movies are concerned. Then, the messages are also straight-forward with nothing there to bring a message out of a message. Also note that the actor who played the antagonist in the previous movie plays the protagonist here.

PS: For more on the movie of the week here, read on – Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Release date: 6th February 2016
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Cheang Pou-soi
Starring: Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, Feng Shaofeng, Xiaoshenyang, Him Law, Fei Xiang, Kelly Chen, Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi, Miya Muqi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ouija: Origin of Evil

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Vampire Owl: I feel that this movie is totally against our own existence.

Vampire Bat: What? Why do you think so?

Vampire Owl: They are talking about the origin of evil. We are not supposed to speak about the origins of pure evil. It is so much against the tradition.

Vampire Bat: The humans know nothing of the origin of evil. This is just what they imagined on one jobless day.

Vampire Owl: So, it is not against our vampire beliefs?

Vampire Bat: Not at all! Don’t believe most of the things that these humans say.

Vampire Owl: I have believed in not believing in them. They are hypocrites.

Vampire Bat: See, I have told you that for centuries.

Vampire Owl: But, still we will watch this movie, won’t we?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I am assured of the entertainment in this one.

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

What was the first movie about? :: The protagonist of the movie, Laine Morris (Olivia Cooke) is searching for answers as she hopes that she could have done something for her best friend Debbie Galardi (Shelley Hennig) who had committed suicide, and she laments the fact that she was the last one to talk to her and yet couldn’t stop her from doing such an act. As she finds an Ouija board in her house, along with her sister Sarah (Ana Coto) and other friends of Debbie, Pete (Douglas Smith), Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), and Isabelle (Bianca A. Santos) decides to try and contact their recently deceased friend. Soon, they contact a spirit which addresses them as friends, but what they are not aware of is that Debbie already had made a connection to the other world which lead to her death, and they understand that more than one entity is now free. The friends realize that they will just be killed one after the other and there will be no stopping the terror. [Read the full review of the first movie here]

What is this movie about? :: A relative to the dead people returning as spirits, Paulina (Lin Shaye) who resides in a mental asylum seemed to be the key to stopping the evil in the first movie. This flick goes back, and tells her story as a prequel. In the 1960s, a widow named Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) acts as a spiritual medium to help people who are sad and attached to the dead people who used to be close to them – she makes sure that they let the past go and move on with their lives, accompanied by her daughters, the older one, Paulina (Annalise Basso) and the younger one Doris (Lulu Wilson). This is more of a fake show which the three comes up with, using some nicely executed plans. They don’t consider them to be bad, as they believe that they are only helping people in pain to help people to go ahead in their lives rather than living in sadness and pain.

So, what happens next? :: Most of these sessions end with the spirits forgiving the living, which gives them peace of mind. But one day, Alice adds an Ouija board to this programme, which changes things by a long way. They will end up breaking almost all the rules associated with this board. But they initially don’t realise this, with Doris finding some money inside the walls of the house, which lets them keep their home with them, paying for the debts. Alice believes that it is her dead husband communicating with them, and helping them with their lives, and Doris also thinks that it is her father. But Paulina is suspicious about this, even though Alice assures that this is only for the good, as they will now be able to help people by contacting the other world for real. Father Tom Hogan (Henry Thomas) is suspicious about something strange happening with his students, and realizes that the three ladies are going through a dangerous stage, as evil has already made its stand.

The defence of Ouija: Origin of Evil :: As we remember the predecessor, for which this is the prequel, we can be sure that there is a lot of improvement at work even when there was the need to end this movie in such a way that the connection is made well enough. They have managed to create a better work here, not just with the outside looks, but also on the inside, with better scares, and without doubt a better story. The movie scores with the “evil child” idea more than anything else, as the possessed kid is a level higher than any other – Lulu Wilson scores there, as the little demon gets all the applause with the best moments in the movie. Annalise Basso is not far behind as the other kid, belonging to the age, and bringing the scepticism to us. Along with that, Elizabeth Reaser remains strong as the mother figure. The cast and the setting plays a big role in making this movie a success and claim a good seat among the rest of the horror movies with their own spirits.

The claws of flaw :: There are limitations placed on this movie, and without doubt, it is the work of the previous movie, where this one had to reach as a prequel and kind of an origin story. If this one had come earlier, in the regular order, things would have been better for sure with the second movie too. We could have surely had more terror in the final few moments with a surprise finish – but this one chooses to go simple, which is not a bad thing, but with the spirit being so evil, there was bigger potential. There could have been more appearances of the spirit, and even some visuals from the terrible past of the spirit when it was human. Well, there is always more that we can do with an Ouija board, and this one doesn’t cover them all for sure. Maybe, all the best things are left for a third movie, and we can hope for the same. Still, one will feel that this is nothing like The Conjuring. This doesn’t go divergent like Don’t Breathe and Lights Out either.

How it finishes :: Just like I had mentioned in the review of Before I Wake that came before this opinion, Mike Flanagan at the helm has brought the horror genre back where it belongs. We had the Canker Man in that one, and we have the old fashioned possession along with the haunting in this one. Absentia, Oculus, Hush and the upcoming Gerald’s Game right out the Stephen King book of the same name – well, he is someone we horror fans are going to trust for, a period of time which resembles eternity if it is to go on like this. Ouija: Origin of Evil has an improvement from its predecessor which almost all the viewers are going to appreciate – after all, a movie about Ouija board should do well, as it is something on which a horror movie should be made more often. Well, we get to hear about it more than the usual local ghost, so why not we have more movies in this franchise?

Release date: 21st October 2016
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Parker Mack, Henry Thomas, Lin Shaye, Halle Charlton, Alexis G. Zall, Doug Jones, Kate Siegel, Sam Anderson, Ele Keats, Nicholas Keenan, Michael Weaver

ouija2

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Boy

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Vampire Owl :: All I see is a doll. There is nothing much scary about this one’s appearance either.

Vampire Bat :: We have always been taught and trained to believe that there is more than what eyes can see. What you are doing here is just passing judgment.

Vampire Owl :: I am not judgmental. The hypercritical ones are not my people, but yours.

Vampire Bat :: Still, you are judging this one too early.

Vampire Owl :: The critics have already judged it low.

Vampire Bat :: That is what they do, not us who live with these movies.

Vampire Owl :: I have liked Dead Silence’s Billy, The Conjuring’s Annabelle and Child’s Play’s Chucky. Unlike what you think about this, I am not really judgmental about dolls.

Vampire Bat :: Well, Chucky did put a knife on your neck to make you accept that.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, but I have accepted that dolls can be awesome, and that is the point which I intend to bring here.

Vampire Bat :: Whatever it is, just watch the movie.

[Gets three cups of tea with tapioca chips].

What is it about? :: Greta (Lauren Cohan) is caught in an abusive relationship with Cole (Ben Robson) at Montana. She hopes to escape by becoming a nanny for the Heelshire family based in the United Kingdom. After traveling to Great Britain and reaching the place, she introduced to Mrs. Heelshire (Diana Hardcastle) and the man who brings the grocery, Malcolm (Rupert Evans). Mr. Heelshire (Jim Norton) introduces her to their child, Brahms. But she is surprised to find out that the boy here is just a porcelain doll, treated by the family as if it is a living person. Mrs. Heelshire tells her that the boy had rejected many other nannies and they hope that he likes her. She also asks Greta to follow certain rules, as Brahms is like other children, and special care is needed for him.

So what happens next? :: Greta decides to ignore the rules and just spend her time there. She and Malcolm gets a lot interested in each other, and the doll remains neglected. But Greta finds out that there is something strange about the doll. She feels that it moves a little at times, and there are other strange occurences. On one occasion, she gets locked in the attic, and her clothes are also stolen while she is taking shower. She also feels that the doll is staring at her when she is talking to Malcolm, changing clothes or even while doing anything of personal nature. On another day, a sandwich is served at her door, and she also hears voices calling her name. She decides to find out more about the real child who is supposed to have died in a fire at the age of eight, years ago.

The defence of The Boy :: The idea here is working, and had a lot of possibilities towards horror. It does get working early with its central idea, and we get to the moments featuring the doll easily. The setting in the big old house actually helps a lot. There are lots of spooky moments in this movie, and the scene at the attic as well as the final twists worked very well in the end. How they have changed the supernatural idea works very well by the end of the movie too. The Boy does entertain, that is for sure – among the horror movies which released on one of those days around this one, there were not many of them as much entertaining as The Boy, which follows the much expected horror idea. As the movie follows the basic horror elements, there is sure to be some fun watching this movie for everyone. For people who don’t want movies like The Witch and It Follows as the different horror flicks, this would be the usual kind of replacement following the known path.

Claws of flaw :: It is rather strange that the movie doesn’t really use the elements in hand to the best strength. When there is a spooky doll around there, we expect that things get really scary and remain so throughout its run – but there are those weaker moments here and there. The doll could have been a lot bigger thing than it turned out to be. The movie also does remind one of two other movies, the Jocelin Donahue starrer The House of the Devil and Sarah Thompson starrer Babysitter Wanted. This one could have deviated further and should have come up with more innovative ideas. With so much mystery around, I am actually surprised that they have managed only this much – there was so much to be seen and so much more to be developed further. But our movie here manages to work even with all its inability to bring the best out of there.

Performers of the soul :: The performances of the cast here remains really good. Without doubt, Lauren Cohan as Greta comes up with the best of them all. Best known for her part as Maggie Greene in the television series, The Walking Dead, and being part of other series, here she plays the young lady with a troubled past in a lot believable manner, and so does she manage well with those horror sequences. I have to say that she makes a really good addition to the horror movies, and I hope that she will be there in more of such movies belonging to the genre. Her character actually undergoes changes throughout the movie, and she manages the same without any problem. Rupert Evans also makes a good addition in the flick. Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle who play the old parents also leaves a mark here.

How it finishes :: Well, there has been some impressive dolls in horror movies; Chucky from Child’s Play series might be the most popular of them all, and Billy from Dead Silence has been one scary thing; Annabelle has gained popularity with The Conjuring, and one can never underestimate the strength of a doll when it comes to horror movies. This one here, the Brahms doll is no exception either. It has enough to stay in the minds of the viewers too. There will be something about The Boy that can catch your attention here – from the cast to the setting, and more than everything else, the doll. Unlike what the reviews have mostly said about this movie, The Boy has more strength than most of the other horror movies around here which have somehow managed better reviews.

Release date: 22nd January 2016
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: William Brent Bell
Starring: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, Ben Robson, James Russell, Jett Klyne, Lily Pater

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.