Two

Vampire Owl: There are two of us here. Therefore, watching the movie is relevant.

Vampire Bat: This movie seems to have something to do with the number, two.

Vampire Owl: I don’t really like that number though. I like “one” – I am the greatest one.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula is the greatest of us all.

Vampire Owl: You just cannot put so much greatness on him anymore.

Vampire Bat: The times haven’t changed. Dracula is still relevant.

Vampire Owl: Vampires are still relevant. Dracula is not.

Vampire Bat: There are no vampires without Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Owl: Maybe in the Dracula Castle. It is not the same case outside.

Vampire Bat: Well, you can just wait and see, after his birthday party which is coming up.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three glasses of oreo shake].

What is the movie about? :: Sara (Marina Gatell) and David (Pablo Derqui) wakes up in the bed somewhere, stitched to each other. They don’t really have any memory how they reached there. The two try to figure out what has happened with them, and where they are. They guess that someone drugged them and brought them here and stitched them up. The people responsible seems to have taken away everything from them, from clothes to wrist watches. They try to make some connection between them, but there is nothing in common between the two. It is also realized that they are being recorded with cameras all around the room. The room seems to be something that gives an aristocratic feeling, making them feel that someone rich and influential is behind their situation. They do find some clues about the same, but someone seems to get into the room at times, and they are not able to find out who. The room seems to be too secure for anyone to go out, with lock being strongly applied from outside.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sara has the feeling that her husband, Mario (Esteban Galilea) has something to do with it. He is supposed to be someone very rich and influential, with doubts that she is having an affair with another man. She feels that there is also something about him that has resulted in David also reaching there. He also has the feeling that maybe he also knows her husband, who is a much older person. There is also a name Rita (Anna Chincho Serrano) that comes across them, as part of a photo which is placed in the room. Yet, they are not able to remember any of such a name as part of their lives. They feel that maybe this will end only in their death, and try to break down the door, which feels very reinforced. The windows also lead nowhere. There are some big revelations to be made, but they wonder if they will stay alive to understand all of those. Soon, their past will come back to them, and the one thing which makes the two connected with the man who is behind all of these.

The defence of Two :: The movie is just one hour and ten minutes long, which makes sure that there is absolutely no drag about it. It doesn’t slow down even though there were many chances in between. There is also the successful maintenance of suspense with twists, as we don’t guess what is coming in the end, even though there are so many things happening in between. The red herrings are delivered effectively, and we make so many guesses about the antagonist who is responsible for what is happening here. It does work as body horror, a subgenre which is difficult to appeal to people – unlike other movies of the same kind, this film actually knows where to keep the borders, and not to be disgusting at any point. The genre is often too much to handle for many people due to the amount of gore and extremities related to body parts, but this one stays at the border related to that. The setting of the room which this movie uses throughout its run also adds on well, and the mysteries to be revealed here are also of interest.

Positives and negatives :: There have been a number of Spanish movies which have tried to be different from the rest – there was The Platform, and here we have this one. This one still seems to have rushed through things too much, as we look at the final moments. It could have taken more time finish it though, as the length here is just seventy minutes and nothing more. The setting which is one place at all times, is nicely managed too. This is also one of those rare films which maintains the Classical Unities of Aristotle. Unity of action is maintained with that one principal action of being stitched together and being together at all times, while unity of place is maintained with where they are trapped, and unity of action is clear as everything happens within twenty four hours. It has been difficult to maintain these in movies, as people look forward to seeing many other things and occurrences as films progress. But in this case, they have made the situation very interesting. Even though this is not the usual horror, the situation of the protagonists is surely a scary one.

Performers of the soul :: With everything dependent on two people, this film focuses on their performances, one can safely say that this works effectively due to the same. We also see that the characters do evolve as the tale progresses. The conversation between the two becomes very important too. Marina Gatell places herself in the situation very well, and comes up with a fine performance. She plays a person who is confused and wants to figure out what is happening quick enough, and even suspects the person who is with her – the character works out really well for her. Pablo Derqui who plays the other person in trouble, takes things slowly, and has better idea of how criminals works – makes the person with him doubtful. The situations which are nicely created for them, is managed well by the two. The whole idea is made better with the performances of these two. The rest of the characters only arrive by the end, or are present only in photos. In the end, we know that in Two, there are only two characters who gets the chance to come up with worthy performances.

How it finishes :: Being stitched to someone else is horror enough, and this Spanish movie use that to its advantage, getting to the list of films in that language which have tried to be different in multiple ways. Thanks to the performance of the leading cast, this one never lags behind, even when there were so many opportunities. It provides us with the opportunity to make so many guesses, and it also has us coming to that twist when least expected. The short journey is very much an engaging watch, and as long as you don’t have a problem with some body horror, this is to work just fine. During the time of Corona virus pandemic, a number of films had people quarantined alone, while this one has two people locked in a room as one. It is indeed an interesting, but strange concept, as you look at it. The creative imagination behind the movie seems to be working well in this particular case. Netflix has once again scored with another fine addition to the grand list of horror and thrills.

Release date: 10th December 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 70 minutes
Directed by: Mar Targarona
Starring: Marina Gatell, Pablo Derqui, Anna Chincho Serrano, Kandido Uranga, Esteban Galilea

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Whole Truth

Vampire Owl: There is a lot of talk about truth going on around here.

Vampire Bat: It is something that humans never try to speak.

Vampire Owl: Humans haven’t been close to truth for a long time.

Vampire Bat: Truth just doesn’t suit them. They are basically liars. You cannot blame them for going back to their basic nature.

Vampire Owl: Their basic nature is related to robbery and murder.

Vampire Bat: It is really difficult to talk about human nature. They are pure evil.

Vampire Owl: Yes, which is why many witches travel to their world and try to kill a few of them or transform them into better creatures like cats and dogs.

Vampire Bat: It is the same reason why we don’t have Vampire Cats anymore.

Vampire Owl: Human existence has no real meaning related to anything other than evil.

Vampire Bat: If Corona virus makes them go extinct, it can be called a pure evil thing.

[Gets a marble cake and three glasses of mango shake].

What is the movie about? :: Mai (Nicole Theriault) is living happily with her two children, Pim (Sutatta Udomsilp) and Putt (Mac Nattapat Nimjirawat) in the city of Bangkok, until she meets with an accident on her way back home from office, on the same day that she received a promotion at her office. She is now in a coma, and even though out of critical situation, has to stay in the ICU. It is then that their grandparents come to visit them – Phong (Sompob Benjathikul) and Wan (Tarika Tidatid) takes them to their ancestral home. The house is quite a large one, and Phong says that Wan is not really well, and due to her dementia, she also needs some taking care of. At the same time, Mai has some severe injury to her brain, and it will take some time for her to get better. Until then, the two siblings will have to stay in their ancestral home, even though they are not really comfortable about it. They take everything from home, and place them at the new place, as they feel that they are for a very long time. But this doesn’t seem that good a place for them.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, the cat which they brought there from the original home is no longer found. They are also able to find a hole on the wall, which the grandparents don’t find to be present. They blame the children for making up things which are not there, and advises them to stop looking for cats. There is something going on in the house, and it feels really strange for the siblings. When Putt looks through the hole, he sees a strange girl on the other side, and it does seem like a strange house on the other side there. At the same time, Fame (Sadanont Durongkaweroj), a boy who studies with Pim, comes to the house and warns them about leaking a video of her showering in the gym. He is also not able to see the hole on the wall either, but is pulled to the wall, hurting his nose. He leaves the place with a broken nose, telling Pim that he will leak her naked video on the internet. As the grandmother reaches home, she sees the blood on the floor and losses her mind for a few minutes. Pim and Putt understand that things can get only worse from there, as there are some secrets out there.

The defence of The Whole Truth :: Even though this particular movie is from Thailand, there is the feeling of watching a Korean film – that kind of quality is here with the visuals. It also gets into action quite fast, and we are glad to follow it around early enough. The idea of the hole in the wall which provides some strange visions is nice, especially with the arrangements on the other side. The feeling of danger is always effectively there. This does bring some scares, but the film is more about mystery, revealing a few things about human nature, rather than anything else. The theme of the movie is related to how people only give half truths, manipulating everything to suit their own versions. The film also has a nice way of revealing everything, through visions and incidents. The way that it keeps us in suspense is good, as we are not really sure which way it is to go, not just about the ghostly figure, but also about how the leading lady’s situation would be, in the school – there are even twists about her life there, and the supernatural only comes later.

Positives and negatives :: The Rings creature feeling is there for sure, as if to provide something like a repetition, for that is one demonic presence which everyone has liked for a long time. There were also so many more possibilities for the incidents of the movie to progress, and it could have used better clarity at some parts. The ending could have also been more direct. There are moments when it makes us feel that this is going to be like The Visit, but it is surely not going that way. Also, the movie’s drama feels a lot like Indian films at times, and therefore, it is more relatable to our audience. The ghost here more like the past which continues to haunt us, reminding us of a few dialogues in Crimson Peak. The idea of the ghost trying to tell the truth, or rather the whole truth is not something new, but this one takes different steps towards it. The way in which this movie changes your expectations in between, is also notable. There is no early clue about what we have in the end, for the twists work in that way, and make this one effective.

Performers of the soul :: Among the performers, it is Sutatta Udomsilp who stands the strongest, as the elder grandchild and sister who has to stay strong in the absence of her mother. She reflects a number of scream queens which we have seen in Hollywood movies, and still has a lovely touch of divergence that relates her to horror movie stars of Bollywood too. She expresses herself incredibly well throughout the different events, from the emotional ones to the scary ones. Nicole Theriault has only the first few minutes as the mother, as she gets to face the car accident too soon, waking up much late. Mac Nattapat Nimjirawat plays the young brother figure who is weakened, pretty well. Sompob Benjathikul plays the grandfather figure with a lot of strength, while Tarika Tidatid fits into the grandmother role with ease. Sadanont Durongkaweroj plays the usual creepy boy who reminds one of the Drishyam boy who got buried under the police station, after capturing the video of the showering girl. Thasorn Klinnium, who is only there for a few minutes, also has her contribution.

How it finishes :: The Whole Truth is the first Thai movie at Movies of the Soul, and it did come late, when we look at the foreign language movies at the website. Even though there have been many movies which came close to becoming the first, this one finally made it way here through Netflix. It is rather surprising that we have already had Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian movies here to add to a South East Asian list, there hasn’t been any from Thailand. This movie changes that in style. Movies like Furie, Impetigore, The Wandering Earth and Train to Busan were all movies which had something special in their own ways, coming from different countries and languages. The Whole Truth proved to be a fine example with which to start Thai films. When we had visited Pattaya and Bangkok, we did really want to watch a movie or two, but that didn’t happen because of the busy schedule of the trips. At least, that desire is fulfilled for now. As we go through the beginning of the new year, let us hope that more wishes can be fulfilled in 2022.

Release date: 2nd December 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Wisit Sasanatieng
Starring: Sutatta Udomsilp, Tarika Tidatid, Sompob Benjathikul, Sadanont Durongkaweroj, Steven Isarapong, Thasorn Klinnium, Mac Nattapat Nimjirawat, Keetapat Pongrue, Nicole Theriault

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fear Street: 1666

Vampire Owl: And now we have to go back to the year 1666.

Vampire Bat: It is a little too long backwards, don’t you think?

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein is preparing a time machine. So, we can actually do it ourselves now.

Vampire Bat: So, you believe that he is finally going to invent something useful.

Vampire Owl: He is the best scientist the vampire world could ever find.

Vampire Bat: He is not a scientist, but an alchemist. There is a difference.

Vampire Owl: Yet, he has invented so many useful things.

Vampire Bat: These inventions have been useful only to him.

Vampire Owl: What about the portal to different dimensions?

Vampire Bat: The portal could only lead us from one room to the other.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: As the severed hand of Sarah Fier is reunited with the rest of her corpse, Deena is Sarah Fier (Kiana Madeira) now, as she sees things from her perspective, slowly finding the past revealed to her. She lived with her brother Henry Fier (Benjamin Flores Jr) and father George Fier (Randy Havens) in 1666. Things seem to go well in the original settlement before it was divided into Sunnyvale and Shadyside. Soon, things seem different, as Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch) falls in love with Sarah, something which is discovered by Mad Thomas (McCabe Slye). When Sarah and her friends meet a reclusive widow to gather berries for a party, she also comes against a book of black magic. She witnesses that the world around her does change, with strange things happening. Cyrus Miller (Michael Chandler) who is Hannah’s father, begins to act strange, while the town’s food and water supply are poisoned. The people of town are suspicious about almost everything, especially Sarah.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sarah talks to Solomon Goode (Ashley Zukerman) in person as she wonders if she is responsible for the town’s newly found bad luck. Soon, they discover that Pastor Miller has murdered twelve children in the chapel, after taking their eyes out, and that includes Henry. The town is very much frightened because a man of God himself was responsible for this terrible act. They hope to get rid of the evil, but none of them knows where to find the same. Soon, with a number of witnesses, Hannah Miller and Sarah Fier are considered responsible for what is now happening, and even though they find and decide to execute the former, the latter couldn’t be found. Sarah decides to find the widow’s book of black magic and use it to make a deal with the devil so that she can somehow save Hannah, with whom she declares her love, and begins a lesbian relationship which reflects what happens later in 1994. But while trying to find the devil, she only finds the book missing and the widow murdered. What could be really happening out there now?

The defence of Fear Street: 1666 :: There is an interesting backstory to the origins of the movie, and also a grand return to the present to make sure that things end pretty well. The film does have a pretty good twist coming in between, and has its own interesting surprises as we look at them. The world of 1666 has also been nicely created, not just with the surroundings, but also with the people. There is something about the colonial world as much as the European Middle Ages when it is created well enough. The addition of a deal with the devil element also works in favour of the movie. One would feel that there is a certain amount of confidence running through this movie, which is reflected in the characters, as we quickly move towards the final showdown – it does have a better pace in comparison to the previous movies, as the focus is less in relationships in comparison to the others. The final fight scene has a lot of interesting moments, and as we see all those serial killers out there, we keep asking for a film for each of them.

The claws of flaw :: The romantic nonsense elements continue to haunt this last part of the movie, as it was one thing which didn’t work in the first part either. It also seems that the best villains of the movie seems to be from those time periods of the franchise which didn’t really have a movie to support it. Despite all the elements that it puts in here, the other two movies of the franchise seems to be better than this one – the first one did a fine job in establishing the world, while the second one was the best of the franchise as it felt like a typical slasher with quality. This one lags in comparison, but not by much, as it is saved by the settings in two time periods and with some fine surprises as well as bringing everything together in the end. The romantic side continues to be nonsense, and using that between fight feels even more stupid. This shouldn’t have been about love, for it is not really difficult to know what matters these days. We cannot let some silly teenage love ruin a slasher horror movie which was rising otherwise.

Performers of the soul :: Kiana Madeira has more to do in this film, going through two different timelines, and there is something about her in the seventeenth century that keeps us more interested. She seems to suit in that time period better than the 1990s. This film seems to show her evolution to suit slasher horror films better. Darrell Britt-Gibson as Martin does add some interesting and funny moments in here, while he had only a few moments in the first flick. Ashley Zukerman stays strong, not just in one avatar, but in different forms. Olivia Scott Welch is also better in the seventeenth century, and we see her blending in there well. One would feel that she is also slowly moving towards becoming a scream queen at some point, as horror films becomes the strong point of actors and actresses when least expected. Benjamin Flores Jr adds more in this film, and he is also a memorable person of two different centuries. McCabe Slye adds the much needed creepiness to the past for the film. There are many actors and actresses who play different roles in multiple centuries, which does bring some confusion here though.

How it finishes :: The final movie of the trilogy seems to have ended the film well enough, even though it doesn’t hesitate in leaving the scope for another movie in the series in the final stages of the credits. If you ask me, I would like to see a film which comes in between all these movies instead of having a sequel belonging to the early 2000s or the contemporary world. We have all been looking for some horror, and just like we had expected, the villain here is actually human rather than the supernatural – it is a fine end when we look at it, as it has always been clear that humans are the most evil creatures to walk on Earth. As I have mentioned before, even after facing so many natural disasters and the Corona virus itself, humans of our times haven’t changed either. They are all going for wealth and influence, while considering the others of their species as not worthy, and won’t hesitate to murder them – the killers of slasher horror movies are always better than humans of reality, aren’t they? Well, you never know.

Release date: 16th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Kiana Madeira, Ashley Zukerman, Gillian Jacobs, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr, Darrell Britt-Gibson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rogue City

Vampire Owl: A rogue city is what we can call a city belonging to the werewolves.

Vampire Bat: You are classifying a whole species into rogues.

Vampire Owl: I think that this should have been done as a declaration a long time ago.

Vampire Bat: Vampire Elders have been against the same since last war.

Vampire Owl: They can say anything, as they are too old to take a strong stand.

Vampire Bat: We cannot devalue the werewolves that much.

Vampire Owl: We have done that for zombies, and so we can do the same everyone.

Vampire Bat: Well, not for the witches, for we can never do that.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I know. It is never the good time to blame a witch.

Vampire Bat: At least we get to agree on one thing in the end.

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

What is the movie about? :: Marseille is caught in the middle of gang wars, as there is something dreadful happening at all times. There are drug deals, smuggling, murders and robberies related to these gangs, which has put a lot of pressure on the police force. A new police chief arrives, and the risk for the police force has never been this high in an already dangerous city which cannot afford mistakes from the side of cops. There are always talks about honour, honesty, courage and other qualities along with quotes from the Holy Bible and other literature, but none of these matters as there seems to be a war going on at all times, sometimes directly, and at other times, hidden for normal view. There is no love, but there is war, and everything seems to be fair in that, and one often wonders which side a person is on, or who is at risk of being killed by which gang. To this uncertain future of violence, a few people seems to be able to make some changes.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, there is a shoot-out at a party, and Mario Costa (Moussa Maaskri) who is in charge of the investigation fakes a report that the man whom they got in custody attacked him, and was shot dead in the process. At the same time, there are rumours about top secret information being provided to the gangsters by some corrupt police officers. The people who were killed in the shoot-out were part of an Arab gang who were trying to increase their influence among the territories of other gangs. They hope to find out what the dead man was doing in the club, and a determined officer Richard Vronski (Lannick Gautry) is determined to find out what really happened with the shooting, and he also hopes to find the rat in the police force and deal with it himself rather than waiting for the superior officers to make a move. But it seems that all of these is bigger than them, and they might be fighting something which they don’t really know that well.

The defence of Rogue City :: There seems to somewhat a realistic mode being followed in this particular movie. We have a city in France that has gangster infestation, and some of the police also takes sides, leading to so many gunfights between the sides. There is a lot of action that goes on here, and most of it is related to gunshots between police and gangsters, as well as in between them. There are also some twists related to the same being added here. It also maintains a certain amount of the dark mood here, as almost everything about this movie is grim, and that close to reality. The visuals of the city are beautiful, and even in the darker shades of the nights, they have our attention. It does remind one of some of the films set in other parts of Europe with terror awaiting in the streets. The melancholy feeling runs through here, and the same never leaves the film behind. The actors and actresses nicely get into the scheme of things.

The claws of flaw :: The film does provide the feeling of not being polished enough, and it moves on in a rather raw state. It doesn’t provide that much focus towards the thrills and twists when there was so much of chance. The film also moves in a slower pace than one would expect it to. With a shorter run-time, maybe it would have worked better, as some of the scenes and dialogues pass on as the extra thing rather than anything else. The characters that we have here are also not given that much of a depth, and some of them seems to be there to fill up the spaces more than anything else. There is surely more talent and more opportunities here to be explored. The ending is also not that satisfactory, as if all these had to come to this for no real reason. This film really needed to know where to stop, but it goes on adding something or the other, seemingly because there was the feeling that a little more is needed.

Performers of the soul :: Lannick Gautry plays the main character, and indeed the most solid one among the police officers as well as the gangsters. This is the one character who has that kind of a determination which we associate with some of the tragic heroes we have come across in our own films here too. David Belle is the most noticeable actor here, and we remember him the most in Brick Mansions where he combined forces with Paul Walker. But for some reason, his special physical discipline and fight technique of parkour is not used here – the same could have added a lot to the film, and changed the action scenes completely in a stylish manner. Barbara Opsomer is the next person to catch our attention – she is there in the background for most of the time, but has a big influence on the scheme of things as it nears the end. We remember Jean Reno the most for that funny role in The Pink Panther, and he has a solid presence here, and so does Moussa Maaskri. Jeanne Bournaud, Stanislas Merhar and Kaaris, all has something notable to leave for us.

How it finishes :: Rogue City, also known as Bronx has another crime thriller drama going on well with it possesses. It could have used its elements to create a better effect, which it doesn’t, but it remains pretty much solid and realistic during most of its run-time. For those who are interested in this genre, this will something of higher significance. After all, these are the days in which the value of human life is priced at a much lesser amount. With Corona virus on one side, and the even more lethal humans with no remorse on the other, we need movies like this one as a reminder. We had seen a different version of younger gangsters in the Italian film Piranhas, and this one is the more advanced, darker version, also resembling the Spanish film, Adios. There is no change in the basic idea that Lord of the Flies had provided us long ago though, for the inherent evil always has a big enough role to play, and people tend to move too much into the dark grey area.

Release date: 30th October 2020
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Olivier Marchal
Starring: Lannick Gautry, Stanislas Merhar, Kaaris, David Belle, Patrick Catalifo, Jean Reno, Claudia Cardinale, Catherine Marchal, Erika Sainte, Barbara Opsomer, Ambre Pietri, Jeanne Bournaud, Moussa Maaskri, Francis Renaud, Gerard Lanvin, Eriq Ebouaney

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Vampire Owl: Can someone wish that the undead be dead?

Vampire Bat: Well, that would be something the werewolves would do.

Vampire Owl: Do they still try to make sure about it?

Vampire Bat: They haven’t been that dumb for some time.

Vampire Owl: You mean that werewolves are no longer dumb.

Vampire Bat: Let them make a claim related to that.

Vampire Owl: Well, zombies did make such a claim, and they are surely dumb.

Vampire Bat: Zombies never get to eat enough brains. You can’t blame them.

Vampire Owl: Werewolves don’t get enough of full moon either.

Vampire Bat: Let us not blame them for wishing us dead, at least for now.

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

What is the movie about? :: Hannah Faber (Angelina Jolie) who used to be smokejumper is struggling with her past after facing a forest fire and failing to prevent the deaths of three young campers and another smokejumper. She ends up being posted at a fire lookout tower in pretty much a remote location. At the same time, Owen Casserly (Jake Weber), who works as a forensic accountant, watches the news about the death of his boss and family in what seems to be a gas explosion, and panics, ending up leaving his city with his son, Connor (Finn Little) who is confused about is happening. The house was originally destroyed by assassins Jack (Aidan Gillen) and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) who were sent by highly influential people who wants to destroy the evidence of what Owen knew and had informed his boss. As they come to know that Owen had left his home with his son, they start another hunt with the clues which they were able to find at his house.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Owen hoped to find refuge with the one man whom he hopes that he can trust, his brother-in-law, Ethan Sawyer (Jon Bernthal), a Deputy Sheriff, who used to be Hannah’s ex-boyfriend. As they are attacked by the assassins, they are forced to drive down the cliff, leading to the death of Owen. Now, only Connor has the much valued evidence against the gangster Arthur Phillip (Tyler Perry). Connor who keeps on running ends up meeting Hannah, who he doesn’t really trust in the beginning, but decides to go with her anyway, as he runs out of options. It turns out that her tower was just hit by a lightning, and they no longer have any option for communication. At the same time, the assassins get another warning from their boss, and as they need to finish what they started as soon as possible, they set fire in the forest as a distraction and goes on looking for the boy at all possible locations, with time running out.

The defence of Those Who Wish Me Dead :: There is always chance for having more and more thrillers which are lesser known, but has enough strength inside to make an impact, thus keeping us interested. This film tries to be one of them, and succeeds up to an extent. This is also a film which we never knew that it had released, but thanks to Amazon Prime Video, we know. The film has engaging moments, as there is the boy being hunted, and we also have a protagonist with a troubled past who is trying to save him as well as others who also comes in. The setting used here is really good, as we have a huge forest area, a small town, and fire that burns them all. The situation has been nicely managed around here, as far as the environment is concerned. It also manages to have an emotional side to go with things. It could have also suited a slasher horror film well too – we have watched films like Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight and Hoax a few months ago.

The claws of flaw :: Those Who Wish Me Dead doesn’t make full use of what it has in the hands. It also stays rather slow during most of its time, and it doesn’t seem to be in a hurry at any moment. It also misses the opportunity to bring some horror in between, and with a quicker pace, it could have achieved much more, after all, we have people who are supposed to be expert assassins fighting some local people. The slasher elements could have also made some impact around here. The intensity could have been much higher as we see how things are progressing around here. Angelina Jolie still has what it takes, but we do feel that she wants to let it go, and Nicholas Hoult, if used as the sole assassin, could have scored much more here. We do miss those days when these two people could have done things which nobody else could do, and that reminds us that we are also getting older – how has the world changed in more than one way, right? Well, all these do make the film feel much longer, even as it is not that long.

Performers of the soul :: Angelina Jolie is the name which makes you watch films during these days too. If there was no COVID-19 pandemic, and if this had released in the theatres here, just her name would have brought the audience to the multiplexes, that much has been her star value around here. She continues to come up with the fine performances, even though there is that tired look which seems to be that much associated with her as much as the character with which it connects really well. Nicholas Hoult who is the next best known name with films including X-Men franchise, Jack the Giant Slayer, Warm Bodies and Mad Max: Fury Road to his name, surprisingly doesn’t get a boost to his role, and is limited to the usual assassin that we see – well, that much is done pretty well. Aidan Gillen plays the other assassin well enough too. Medina Senghore as Allison is the strongest character around here, and Jon Bernthal as Ethan has his moments here too. Finn Little has some good moments as the child actor.

How it finishes :: Those Who Wish Me Dead adds to the list of the usual thrillers with some fine setting to go with it. It had the scope to be more, but that chance is not taken. It would have made more impact if the theatres were open around here, even though one can’t be sure if it is to get a chance for a release here with so many Malayalam films getting ready for release as soon as the COVID-19 numbers get lower. We do have to appreciate the fact that they are indeed releasing these movies on Amazon Prime Video which most of us have better access, as there is almost nobody who doesn’t order from Amazon these days and most of the people do have the Prime account. After all, these are the days when we are hoping for better times, and some good movies can help us to keep life going better. There is nothing like a tale of survival against all odds that can keep us going during these days. So, until things get better, we still have these around.

Release date: 14th May 2021 (USA), 17th September 2021 (Amazon)
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Finn Little, Aidan Gillen, Jake Weber, Medina Senghore, Jon Bernthal

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Intuition

Vampire Owl: I remember having an intuition myself.

Vampire Bat: Vampires don’t have intuitions, for we have the vampire sense.

Vampire Owl: I thought that it was called the vampire instinct.

Vampire Bat: It was changed after the film, Basic Instinct released.

Vampire Owl: I didn’t find anything wrong about that movie.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but vampires used to be very prude at that time.

Vampire Owl: It was because of Doctor Frankenstein. He had his strange habits.

Vampire Bat: Well, he is creating a COVID-19 vaccine with zero side effects.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that there can be a vaccine which works with vampires.

Vampire Bat: A vaccine among the undead has its own possibilities. We are forever, and there won’t be the need for a second dose.

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

What is the movie about? :: Francisco Juanez (Joaquin Furriel) had solved a case involving a serial killer who murdered young girls just recently. The murderer had killed himself before being caught. Due to an injury caused to a police officer on duty, a new recruit, Manuela Pelari (Luisana Lopilato) is assigned to investigate the murder of a woman who was assaulted with a sharp weapon. She is considered to be a VIP case, and the police are not able to find the weapon, as Francisco joins the team. The dead woman is Gloriana Marquez (Delfina Chaves), the daughter of a business magnate with many media connections, political contacts and the support of many big businessmen, and the police needs to be very careful about this case, or things could go out of control for the department whose reputation is at stake. Their first suspect is her boyfriend who has been in a relationship with her for two years, and was also the first person to find her body. Then her best friend is also added to that list.

So, what happens with the events here? :: At the same time, the head of the police department asks Manuela to keep an eye on Francisco who hasn’t been himself since his wife died, and it seems that the man who murdered her was killed earlier, and they suspect Francisco on that particular case. Manuela doesn’t believe that he might have committed the murder, but decides to investigate anyway. At the same time, the investigation on Gloriana’s death seems to go in a complex path. More information is added to Gloriana’s life is revealed by talking to her close contacts. Manuela tries to find where Francisco happened to be, at the time when the man’s murder had taken place. At the same time, the dead man’s family hopes to have vengeance, as they are sure that it was Francisco who murdered him. They are just waiting to pounce on the police officer as soon as there is clarity on who was really responsible for the death. El Zorro (Abel Ayala), his brother is ready for blood. Minerva del Valle (Maite Lanata) confesses to the murder of Gloriana, but Francisco is not convinced, or is he?

The defence of Intuition :: This one works as an interesting investigative thriller, without any doubt at all. Everything here seems to be perfectly arranged, and there is fine quality about how things go forward. There is no exaggeration being added here, and even if this is about a strange investigation, there is so much that we feel is close to reality around here. With two murders being investigated at the same time, and with the police officer also being a suspect, this one has more to guess than what originally meets the eye. The main character also serves as a mystery all by himself. The visuals are really good, and we see the beauty of the Argentine city with some good shots, just as it shows the area outside the urban area. The background score is also very much suitable and keeps us interested. There is also more about the murders than what meets the eye, and twists are there while suspense is maintained throughout the film, making one wonder who is one which side, and how all these would be coming together. It keeps you interested in what is happening, even when things get slow.

The claws of flaw :: There are moments when it seem a little confusing, and there are more dialogues than it was needed. There was no need to complicate things beyond the need for the case itself. The pace keeps getting higher and lower, even though the pace is mostly slow. The beginning stages are also badly used, and it doesn’t have much to do with the later case, and if they couldn’t use that to their advantage, it could have been removed – a serial killer would have suited this film really well too. This kind of initial cases not that useful for plot has been seen in different movies all around the world, for example, the Malayalam film, Abrahaminte Santhathikal. All these distractions occur when the better thrillers like Memories, Forensic and Anjaam Pathira focuses on what is to follow rather than providing an introduction which seems to be of grand focus, but doesn’t come into the picture after that except for some mentions. In the end, one feels that there is some missing out on the thrilling elements which should have been there in the film.

Performances of the soul :: The performances here and very good, and that includes so many of them who are involved. Joaquin Furriel whom we know for his film, The Son, leads the way as a police officer with a mystery surrounding him, and at the same time, also makes a perfect and determined cop. There are some nice dialogues to add to the same too. Luisana Lopilato matches the same in skills, and she remains solid as the rookie police officer too. She could have been parts of similar Hollywood films at some point of time, because she has that kind of a performance delivered throughout the film. Their moments together are really good, with some moments as well as dialogues to remember. Maite Lanata plays another character who is connected to the crime, and she plays well into the mystery of the whole thing. Her interrogations have more than what seems when we look forward to find more than what meets the eye. Rafael Ferro plays the cop with his own secrets very well. Abel Ayala’s character has short stay, and so does Delfina Chaves, whose death sets things in motion here.

How it finishes :: Intuition makes it to list of interesting Spanish films to watch, especially those thrillers that we would like to watch carefully. These are the kind of thrillers which have something special about them for everyone if we look at them closer. Even with its slower pace, and some complications, it manages to be another thriller with more than one mystery to be solved. As the first Argentine original Netflix film, it does have the quality to go to the international audience. Based on the novel called La Virgen en tus Ojos in Spanish and translated as The Virgin in your Eyes, written by Florencia Etcheves, it also works as a prequel to the 2018 thriller Perdida a.k.a. Missing. As the original novel is in Spanish, the idea about the book that we can have here is minimum, but without that, we can surely enjoy the movie, and can see how it has managed to work here. When we think about Argentina, the first thing that comes to our mind is surely the Argentinian football team with Lionel Messi, and Maradona from the past, and maybe the fans should also have a look into the Spanish films from Argentina and enjoy them.

Release date: 28th May 2020
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Alejandro Montiel
Starring: Luisana Lopilato, Joaquin Furriel, Rafael Ferro, Delfina Chaves, Maite Lanata, Marita Ballesteros, Juan Manuel Guilera, Sebastian Mogordo, Abel Ayala

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aarkkariyam

What is the movie about? :: Ittyavira (Biju Menon) is a retired mathematics teacher who is spending his time alone in a village in the district of Kottayam. At the same time, his daughter Shirley (Parvathy Thiruvothu) and her second husband Roy (Sharafudheen) are living in Andheri, Mumbai, and are planning to come back to Kerala after some time, despite the COVID-19 restrictions being further imposed everywhere. The coming of Corona has kept all of them in their own space, without much contact with outside world, and the spread of Corona virus had also brought some financial crisis to Roy and Shirley. The former’s business was already failing and there is no success in mutual fund either. The two manage to come all the way to Kerala to Shirley’s hometown and meet Ittyvira, who is really happy to see them. But they are also not able to meet their daughter, as the borders are closed. They apply for permission, but soon, a nation-wide lock-down is imposed, and they are all stuck there in their home in the village.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The lock-down changes their lives by a long way, and the restrictions reach their place too. The already interior home now feels even more away from civilization. This is the time when people were only beginning to understand the COVID-19 situation, and everyone was expecting all these problems to be solved as the virus would eradicated in the end of lock-down. One of the consignments of Roy is now stuck with the customs, and without that, there is nothing much that can be done. Now, the only way to get some quick money so that they can pay back Vyshak (Saiju Kurup) is by selling the ancestral lands, and it is Ittyvira who provides them that idea. But there are some complications related to the same, as there seems to be some secrets from the past which need to be taken care of. Roy begins to feel uncomfortable about the same, but there is nothing that he can do, other than worry about the same.

The defence of Aarkkariyam :: Aarkkariyam would seem to be a usual film in a village setting, but it is surely more than that – we get the idea only later though. Every moment in this movie nicely contributes to keep it going, and it is not that long either with each second in there used in an interesting manner. It does have that fine punch at the interval, something that makes the film take another route from the second half. The title itself is a worthy one here, as we keep wondering who all knows about a number of things including a sinister event and a person who was involved in the same. The performance of the three main characters elevates the film further, and the supporting cast is also interesting. The surroundings are nicely created, and the feeling of Pala-Kanjirappilly area is given with the rural touch everywhere, from the people to the environment. The film also focuses on the different opinions that different people would have about one person, and how polarized the same happens to be – how one can pretend to be good among the common people.

The claws of flaw :: Aarkkariyam is not the kind of movie which you would expect, as it has a certain deviation in store there. It is also slow at times, and there are lots of moments when nothing happens, even though they do contribute to the mood. There is also the presence of some usual cliché stuff here, but the same will go on and pass. Even if it feels like family drama, it doesn’t suit into that genre completely, and one would have doubt about the kind of audience it is actually looking for – even though we can keep it for the common audience in general. A little bit more of the moments in Mumbai and their return to hometown as well as a few twists in between would have helped more, even if it would deviate further away from the genre. It was an opportunity for something more, and there was the chance to be a classic, but the film manages to keep it going straight and without adding any special ingredient into it – maybe because there was the feeling that it was not needed, like Kungfu Panda would agree.

The performers of the soul :: This movie, as expected has Biju Menon with a performance to remember, and that too with a different kind of work. He has embraced this role like Vijayaraghavan did, as he moved from the usual kind of hero to the senior roles. Much elder to Biju Menon, he would be the one we would expect in a role like this, something which he has done in earlier films, but not as the protagonist like we see here. We know that other older superstars are still playing the characters of lower age group, but Biju Menon has had the courage to take it to the next level. If we remember his last few films, we will see that this difference in looks has come unexpected, and by a long way. Even as everything is kept simple about the character, there is always something to remember with this act. There are also those simple dialogues will stay, and sometimes come back – it is one realistic performance to remember as we look at it.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is indeed about Biju Menon, but others do play their part too. Parvathy Thiruvothu once again has a role to remember, as she blends in here nicely, just like she has done so many times with ease not limited to her most appreciated performances in Uyare, Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. She does get pushed to the background though, as the film progresses. It is also nice to see Sharafudheen in a serious role this time. We have been so much used to see him in those comic roles, except for that villainy in Varathan and the psychotic side in Anjaam Pathira, but those were kind of exaggerated when we have a look back – this is really a fine change here from the early comic side in Premam and the same later in Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela. The two match with their performances, and the cast has worked really well. Saiju Kurup plays the supporting role in the usual kind of way, but could have been part of more of the action too. Shoba Mohan is the only person here who gives the feeling that we have seen the person before.

How it finishes :: The first movie directed by cinematographer Sanu John Varghese is not something that we can leave behind. This is the kind of movie which I would have surely watched in the theatre early enough, if there was no COVID-19. It was a good decision to release this one on Amazon Prime Video along with Neestream, Roots Video and Cave OTT platforms because most of us were always going to watch it on Prime Video only – it is still difficult to find the movie there because of the spelling required to be exactly as it is when searching, and surprisingly it is also not on the list of the new film releases on Amazon. But we do get to it anyway, and during this time of lock-down and triple lock-down in Kerala, this is the kind of movie that reminds us of last year’s lock-down exactly as it is, and it is more or less a realistic experience that we go through – the kind which we had seen in Joji, and also in Nayattu even though this one keeps the thriller side at a distance.

Release date: 1st April 2021 (Theatre), 19th May 2021 (Amazon Prime Video, Neestream, Roots Video, Cave)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Sanu John Varghese
Starring: Biju Menon, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Sharafudheen, Arya Salim, Ganga G Nair, Saiju Kurup, Thejaswi Praveen, Shoba Mohan, Jacob George, Pramod Veliyanad

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nizhal

What is the movie about? :: John Baby (Kunchacko Boban), a district court judge gets into a car accident after being in a fight with rash bike rider. After the accident, he begins to see things, and when there is sunshine, he keeps seeing dark clouds and rain. His psychatrist Dr TP Basheer (Rajesh Hebbar) tells him that it is just post-traumatic stress which will be over in a few days. He is also forced to wear a mask to make sure his damaged nose wouldn’t suffer any more damage, and will stay stable. He is not able to continue with his job as he used to, and his senior, Ajith Kumar (Saiju Kurup) is doubtful about his mental status. His best friend Rajan (Rony David) and wife Shalini (Divya Prabha) helps him, as latter is also a psychologist. From Shalini, he gets to know about a boy named Nitin (Izin Hash) who had written a story of murder when teachers had told the students to do some creative writing exercise. The teachers are concerned because as a child, he was supposed to write about things less terrifying by a long way.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As this has him interested, he meets Sharmila (Nayanthara) the boy’s mother with the help of Shalini so that he could get rid of the feeling that something is wrong. Even though she doesn’t agree in the beginning, she lets them into their home fearing the police getting into the act. Nitin seems to be a happy little boy who lives with his mother in a luxurious flat in the middle of the city, and his only contact is Megha (Aadya Prasad), a college student who comes regularly to teach him, and is his only real friend. Nitin gets close to John easily, especially due to his mask which reminded him about Batman and Robin. Soon, things take a turn, as they understand that the murder which the boy had talked about, is something which had really happened. The body which was supposed to be hidden in the area which he mentioned actually existed, as they fnd a skeleton which was about thirty years old. Now, the boy has another story, and things begin to get serious with police involved.

The defence of Nizhal :: There is a certain amount of quality that we can witness as far as b is considered as a mystery thriller – this is the style which some of the Prithviraj movies had possessed, those belonging to the same genre. The technical department is quite strong here, and we see some fine visuals and the background score as well as the other sound effects are of top quality. The mystery is well maintained throughout the film, and there is the suspense which is not revealed that easily. The movie, as a thing of mystery has that Hollywood touch in different areas. It never lets the slowing down of the tale to hurt it, because there is the artistic quality which makes everything feel relevant and running. The first half is surely better than the second, and the interval punch is of top quality, as it is where you get your expectations to the highest point. From there, the movie travels through the safer zone in comparison.

The claws of flaw :: The climax could have surely been better, instead of seemingly taking everything towards what seemed to be a rather convenient ending – not really appropriate for a movie which had taken itself out of the comfort zone in the early stages making one feel that this was going to be something divergent beyond expectations. There are also those situations which could have been more twisted than what is seen on the screen, and moments when it could have taken a big leap. We could have also seen better reasons for what has happened on the screen, but that is also not here to be taken. The comic relief, even though is pretty good, disappears too soon, and the seriousness is not transformed into that next level as it was needed, when we see the final moments of the film. One can’t really blame that as the biggest mystery and fear has been about the Corona virus for some time now. The movie also needed better advertising because there are still people who don’t know about this one.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchako Boban has been winning with his thriller movies, from Anjaam Pathiraa to Nayattu, the first one being an investigation thriller and the second one being a survival thriller against all odds. With all these movies, it is clear that he is getting rid of that romantic hero image once again, as this works really well for him. I would expect to find many more of similar movies with him in the lead, as we see how well this has suited him. After Love Action Drama, Nayanthara makes another return to Malayalam cinema, and this time it is into another genre, even though this time, we don’t have the whole thing centered around her – there is no real romantic side to this tale, and it is indeed a positive thing in a mystery thriller based on murders. Her character is also limited in comparison, and maybe it could have had more dimensions rather than being important as the mother of child causing trouble.

Further performers of the soul :: Izin Hash who plays the kid does the usual job quite well too. Saiju Kurup does things well in a role which suits him. Lal makes an appearance in the end, and it is the kind of role, though significant, stays on for the last fifteen minutes or so. Maybe, he could have had something to do earlier in the film too, and that would have made the whole thing better. Rony David who is best remembered for Aanandam, plays a significant role here too, and Divya Prabha who were among the nurse characters in Take Off has a nice role here, as a child psychologist, which she does to perfection – another case of finding the right support cast. We also see Marimayam‘s Vinod Kovoor and Star Magic‘s Kollam Sudhi in smaller roles, and we can hope for more of them later too. Among others, Aadhya Prasad seemed to be a notable newcomer, and we can find out that the lesser roles are given to those who are suitable for the job.

How it finishes :: Nizhal is the latest in the list of those Malayalam movies which were forced out of the theatres due to the COVID-19 complete lock-down being brought on the state. It is a fine choice, as nothing reaches viewers like Amazon Prime. After Drishyam 2 became a huge success and Joji received some high level critical opinion, it was already too late for a movie like this to have its release in the OTT platform. So, finally it arrived, and one can be sure not to be disappointed with this mystery thriller, as it is more than the usual mysteries which you see everywhere. It was also nice to see parts of UC College, Aluva being included in parts of the movie – the college had its biggest appearance in Premam, but here also, we are happy to see that grand educational institution which only recently completed one hundred years since its beginning. Nizhal, as a mystery thriller wins its battle, and lets hope that we win ours against COVID-19 too. Stay safe, everyone.

Release date: 9th April 2021 (Theatre), 11th May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Appu N Bhattathiri
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Nayanthara, Lal, Rony David, Saiju Kurup, Izin Hash, Divya Prabha, Vinod Kovoor, Aneesh Gopal, Siyad Yadu, Sadiq, Aadhya Prasad, Rajesh Hebbar, Kollam Sudhi, Sreelatha Namboothiri

<— If looking for horror genre in Amazon Prime, read this review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Charlie’s Angels

Vampire Owl: I remember having watched those two older versions.

Vampire Bat: You mean the movies with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu.

Vampire Owl: Yes, during those times, it was a change from the usual action movies which we managed to get locally.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I watched the movie at a time when the CD versions were just getting to be popular, replacing the video cassettes.

Vampire Owl: We have to go, like twenty years backwards. We are really old, aren’t we?

Vampire Bat: It is still a very small number of years in vampire time.

Vampire Owl: That is true, but when we look at the actresses involved here, we know that there is more to it than just vampire time.

Vampire Bat: Unless they come with something like Charlie’s Vampires.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that they would want vampires doing this job.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why not, especially if they start running out of the usual options.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: John Bosley (Patrick Stewart), a senior operative, plans and executes a mission with his angels perfectly, and soon, enters retirement, with a programme which appreciates what he had done for a long time during his stay in the organization. Meanhile, Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott), an engineer working under the millionaire Alexander Brok (Sam Claflin), wants to take a secret out regarding their new project Callisto, and their head of development, Peter Fleming (Nat Faxon) who is planning something sinister. She understands that the device which was supposed to be used for clean and cheap energy, has potential to be weaponized, and some people already have eyes on that. She has a meeting with Edgar Dessange (Djimon Hounsou), and the two angels operatives Jane Kano (Ella Balinska) and Sabina Wilson (Kristen Stewart) has an eye on them in case something happens.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But, they are attacked by an assassin known only as Hodak (Jonathan Tucker), and are chased all around the city by him, until they end up in a river, and Edgar is dead. Rebekah Bosley (Elizabeth Banks) who is in charge, gets them together, and their injuries and troubles are taken care of by the person whom they referred to as the Saint (Luis Gerardo Mendez). They decide to sneak into Brok’s corporate headquarters so that they can steal the remaining Calisto prototypes before someone manage to use it, and make copies of it. Along with Elena, the other two angels also gets in using different ids, but despite their best efforts, they fail. Fleming has the only existing Callisto models, and they find him traveling to Istanbul, Turkey – they decide to follow them, with Elena also given the angel equipments, to serve as the electronics and computer expert, or rather the hacker. But can they find out the real villain here?

The defence of Charlie’s Angels :: Elizabeth Banks not only acts in this movie, but is also the director, and she has nicely managed to make this version of the angels a very entertaining one. There are some nicely managed action sequences, as heists, explosions and chases become just part of this movie which also manages to have a certain amount of humour maintained throughout its run, and its two hours of run-time ends quickly enough. Most of the credit for the same goes to Naomi Scott, both directly and indirectly. The visuals are good, with some interesting locations being explored by the camera along with the angels. It has to be said that was high time they had another movie in this franchise, as we always have space for films like these which takes things lightly, along with the serious ones which get all the sequels – Mission Impossible kind of stuff. This one is sure to make you ask for a sequel, not making one waiting too long.

The claws of flaw :: Considering the fact that this is a movie which has arrived years after the earlier version, there was a lot of time to bring some innovation, but there is no such thing being attempted here. The movie focuses more on action thriller cliches to make the best out of its material, but it should have opted for changes. The plot also has its own predictable elements, and the twist that it has is rather minute, and is not there to stay. As usual, there is the new recruit, the rookie who will learn things, and finally join the team, as beating up some evil men becomes a reason for them travel all around the world at a time when there was no COVID-19 – maybe they wouldn’t do that these days. You might also miss the great popularity of Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu, the three leads of the original version, as the actresses who play the same roles in this movie are those whom most of the film lovers of this part of the world might not be familiar with, except for Kristen Stewart.

Performers of the soul :: Elizabeth Banks, the director plays a major role in this movie, and does that well, and most people will always remember her for the role in the dystopian science fiction thriller, The Hunger Games, and its sequels. But the one who catches our attention the most is Naomi Scott, who plays the girl who changes from being clueless to becoming the angel. She was recently seen in Aladdin, and she was there in Power Rangers with Elizabeth Banks, playing one of the protagonists and the antagonist respectively. Ella Balinska is the next one to catch our attention, a relatively new face to most of us, who hasn’t really watched the movies in which she acted, and she makes one fine angel. Kristen Stewart was the one person whom I doubted when playing an angel because I had only seen her in the Twilight series and Snow White and the Huntsman, but she is surprisingly good here, and along with the other angels, she brings a lot of the funny side into action. Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Tucker are the appreciable male members of the cast.

How it finishes :: When we compare this new version of Charlie’s Angels to the old ones, this one seems to have a certain advantage with what seems to be a very energetic young cast and more fun than those which we had watched a long time ago, but we remember that we also loved them, and had that novelty with bigger names related to it. Not many movies which come back after a long time makes an impact, unless you have a Stephen King novel for support like Doctor Sleep. The movie is one light-hearted, quick, smart and humorous adventure which you will remember for long, and even bring a certain amount of nostalgia related to those older versions. There are only a few movies like Jumanji which can effectively use action and comedy, and Charlie’s Angels is a movie which has risen again to try and do that, and even though not as good as that movie on a game, this one is also a lot of fun to watch.

Release date: 15th November 2019
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo, Nat Faxon, Patrick Stewart

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Courier

Vampire Owl: Did you collect your parcel from the Vampire Courier Service?

Vampire Bat: No, I didn’t. What did it have?

Vampire Owl: How can I know? I was just notified that you had a courier.

Vampire Bat: Okay, so they don’t deliver at the vampire castle.

Vampire Owl: No, not after the Corona Virus crisis.

Vampire Bat: So, they think that the vampire castle is infected beyond redemption.

Vampire Owl: Yes, they think so because of the large number of human visitors who were at the castle last month.

Vampire Bat: Well, nobody trusts the humans these days.

Vampire Owl: I don’t remember the last time any of our people trusted them.

Vampire Bat: When we keep them away, things will get better, and the couriers will be delivering at home.

[Gets a chicken puffs and three cups of mixed tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young woman is tied to a chair at the middle of a parking lot and from the blood on her body, it seems that she was brutally tortured. As she struggles to breathe, she is about to be run down by an accelerating car when it goes to a flashback. Gary Oldman (Ezekiel Mannings) is one of the most powerful crime lords who has his business running in the United States of America and Europe, someone whom nobody dares to question or testify against, until Nick Murch (Amit Shah) makes the decision to go to the police, after witnessing a murder committed by him. For the interpol and the FBI, this is the first time that someone came forward to testify against the much feared crime lord, as usually only the dead bodies remain whenever someone tries to do something like that. The crime lord’s seductive, psychotic and manipulative daughter Alys Mannings (Calli Taylor) would not tolerate the fact that her father was arrested from a church, and was put on house arrest while he awaited trial.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The interpol officers lead by Agent Simmonds (Alicia Agneson) takes Nick to a safe house where they are supposed to stay and contact the court using the live stream video, but when a courier (Olga Kurylenko) rings a bell to deliver a package, things begin to go differently. The courier is the same lady who was tortured in the beginning of the movie, and it turns out that the parcel which she brought with her was something which would mean death. Simmonds shoots her, and turns rogue, trying to kill Nick, and blame it on the courier, who manages to attack her back, and almost kill the agent. Nick escapes from the floor with the help of the courier who seems to have some skill in fighting, but they are caught in the underground parking lot, surrounded by men who wants to kill them. They keep on running through different levels of the parking lot, as more and more men who seems to be mercenaries keep coming. Can Nick somehow manage to testify at the court with the help of the stranger?

The defence of The Courier :: A fine package of action can be seen in the form of The Courier which has all its fights set in just one place where the two protagonists as well as those who are trying to kill them are set – the movie keeps the three classical unities of place, time and action, with everything happening at the same place, and ending, with only one mission to save the witness. Olga Kurylenko is the one person who keeps the action at top level, and even after these many years, she remains a level apart from the other actresses, except for Rebecca Ferguson who is the perfect action impossible girl who also was the psychic vampire in Doctor Sleep. The action sequences are all made in a believable style, as we see her fighting – landing the punches, kicks, gunshots and bike stunts in a parking lot so well in this ride full of thrills. The stunts are all stylish and believable here, with no exaggeration at all.

The claws of flaw :: The Courier is a movie which always had a lot of scope, and could have had a better background tale for it too. There could have been more use of the motor-bike, and also something more about her past and her new life as a courier, which can be linked to The Transporter considering what she does, and to Die Hard considering the fact that they are locked in a building, and has to survive – Olga Kurylenko is Jason Statham, Bruce Willis and even Tom Cruise at some points, but it is good to see the lady action star coming up with more in a realistic way, as you are not supposed to look for something exaggerated around here, for that is not the kind of action which we have here. The dialogues could have been better, and with one of them, they could have explained the Kevlar jacket and a little more. Maybe it could have also had its antagonist to do more, and as it was quite a big building, possibilities were endless.

Performers of the soul :: Olga Kurylenko is a name not unknown to us, as we have seen her in a lot of movies, and she has handled the action genre really well throughout the years – she is someone who means business as far as fighting is concerned. The last one of them was on the funny side with Johnny English Strikes Again, but she had movies like Hitman, Max Payne, Oblivion, November Man, Centurion and the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. Age is showing on the Bond girl, and she is not that lean figure anymore, but her skills with action sequences have only gotten better here. Alicia Agneson looks fine as the special agent when she is there, but her stay is limited, leaving us with hope to see more of her another day. Meanwhile, Calli Taylor has some nice moments, and you cannot doubt her about not being a crime lord’s daughter here. Gary Oldman makes a solid crime lord, and we feel that he is capable of lots of evil, and can always find opportunities for evil with him around. Amit Shah also does a fine job, and adds some humour too, and nobody should be confused about the name.

How it finishes :: Happening at a place within a limited time with one motive, this movie which would make Aristotle happy with its unities, manages to be higher than the level of many other action movies of the same kind. The reviews about this movie hasn’t been that good, but after you watch this movie, you will understand that there is not much that this movie could have done to make them feel better, as this is one wonderful action fest full of thrills, and Olga Kurylenko is the one lady action star who could pull this off so easily. You can always trust Olga to do that, and for the same reason, you can go for this one without second thoughts like I did. I am sure that the audience from this part of the world would like it even more. Just forget those reviews, some of which are not even explaining why they didn’t like this flick, and enjoy The Courier like you would have enjoyed most of those action movies with a male lead.

Release date: 22nd November 2019
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Zackary Adler
Starring: Olga Kurylenko, Alicia Agneson, Gary Oldman, Amit Shah, Greg Orvis, Craig Conway, William Moseley, Dermot Mulroney

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lake of Death

Vampire Owl: I thought that it was originally the river of death.

Vampire Bat: The river of death has already gone dry.

Vampire Owl: What about the pond of death behind the castle then?

Vampire Bat: That pond is originally something related to life and not death.

Vampire Owl: Yet, it is named the pond of death.

Vampire Bat: So, you feel that this lake might not be about death?

Vampire Owl: There is surely something strange about this movie.

Vampire Bat: This is a Norwegian movie, and the first one of the kind we are watching.

Vampire Owl: Well, the idea does seem to be pretty good when we have look from a distance.

Vampire Bat: The first movie which we watch is often too good, no matter what the language happens to be.

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

What is the movie about? :: Lillian (Iben Akerlie) had lived the early parts of her life with her brother Bjorn (Patrick Walshe McBride), who had lost his ability to talk in the later stages of his childhood, after former had left him with nobody to take care of, as they were both orphans, The two only had a cabin in the woods for them to live, and Bjorn had lived there beside the lake for most of his life, which Lillian had left the place for the city. Bjorn had no friends in the isolated place, and used to sit near the lake doing nothing for most of his life. One day, she gets the news that her brother had drowned in the same lake, and that was shocking and depressing for her, as it was her who left him behind, deciding not to spend much time with him. Seeing her depressed state, her friends decide to accompany her to the cabin in the woods beside the lake for the last time she is going there, as she intends to sell it, and get rid of her memories forever, moving on with her life in the city.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The four friends include the beautiful Sonja (Sophia Lie) and three men, Gabriel (Jonathan Harboe), Harald ( Elias Munk) and Bernhard (Jakob Schoyen Andersen), who feels that along with helping Lillian in getting rid of her depression and the memories of the cabin, they can also have some fun in the woods, as they had heard about the beautiful lake and the lovely setting of the cabin. They reach the place and meet Kai (Ulric von der Esch), Lillian’s former lover and friend, a local guy who arranges everything for her. Sonja is quick to turn into the party mood and get into her bikini for the much needed cooling time in the lake, but with people seemingly pulled down under water and the dog going missing, something is wrong, and spoils the holiday mood for all of them. They also find breakfast already there when they wake up, and Lillian has some strange visions, as she begind sleepwalking. The five of them begin to doubt each other as well as another presence which they wonder whether is supernatural in nature.

The defence of Lake of Death :: The movie has a beautiful setting indeed, and the advantage of having such a cabin in the woods setting is that along with that natural beauty which we see at almost every point, we can also find the scope for the creepy effects, for the lake itself has a well-known history of violence happening around it as well as the cabin. There are also some fine scares to go with, and we are left with what is to happen next, even though in the beginning, the horror is not really that direct. The feeling is always there, as horror is present with creepiness wherever you look at it. We do have a few final moments under the lake, and it is beautifully shot, with the protagonist moving underneath like a fish or rather a mermaid, escaping the evil – a site to behold, just like the beauty of nature surely requiring a nymph or a wood elf of its own. There are some other interesting moments of terror which had come earlier – those which we remember include the protagonist sleepwalking through the room, her trying to get away from the bathtub, her awakening beside the lake, as well as the way she looks at other on different occasions.

The claws of flaw :: This is indeed a slow moving movie, and the lack of pace can be seen from the beginning itself. There is some inconsistency in the characters too, except for the two girls who remain the same, and they are well-defined. It does go into the usual traps, with elements which we have seen in other movies, and even those things which didn’t work in those films either. The cliches are indeed there, and most of them work as red herrings, as we move away from what we should focus on, but that too, when it comes in the end, fades away too easily – it could have been longer, especially the moments under the lake which are beautiful, but are over as we begin to get a touch of the same. The movie could have actually been more like The Cabin in the Woods, one of the best horror movies of all-time, which didn’t really get a screen in the malls around here. This Norwegian movie, for some reason, decides not to be that, or even Evil Dead – the scope was really there, as elements of old horror sneaks in so well around here.

Performers of the soul :: The movie’s spirit is entangled into Iben Akerlie who actually becomes a reflection of the atmosphere itself, and she perfectly fits into the role and setting with ease. There is something about her at all times, and we are drawn to the way she looks and acts throughout the movie, like that fairy-tale nymph who reached the world of humans all of a sudden. The way she looks at everything, from the cabin and the woods to people, as well as her simple actions give us a feeling that she is not of this world. She nicely blends into that strange girl whom nobody can easily figure out. Patrick Walshe McBride’s brotherly figure is even more weird, but we don’t really see much of him around here. Then, it is Sophia Lie who has our attention as one of those characters who are better defined than the others. As the only other female character in the movie, she is the one whom we can consider to be the sane one among the other unpredictable ones. The other actors do just the usual in a horror movie as we look at them.

How it finishes :: Lake of Death, the first Norwegian movie which I have watched, has managed to be an interesting horror movie, even though moving on at quite slow pace from the beginning itself. This could have actually worked better as a usual horror movie with this kind of an atmosphere without complicating things too much or lowering the pace rather too much. We could have had the feeling of terror always being there directly rather than bringing them in the form of strange events which don’t seem to be that much dangerous, or through those hallucinations which makes us feel not to be considered serious. Yet, this can begin your movie watching procedure in style as far as Norwegian movies are concerned, because a horror flick with such a setting is always the best option to begin with. You can go through this world of creepiness, beauty and fear, all mingled into one, and then follow up with more Norwegian horror at some other point. After all, horror is the most real thing that you can ever experience in life.

Release date: 1st November 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Nini Bull Robsahm
Starring: Patrick Walshe McBride, Ulric von der Esch, Iben Akerlie, Sophia Lie, Elias Munk, Jonathan Harboe, Jakob Schoyen Andersen

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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.

Anveshanam

What is the movie about? :: Aravind (Jayasurya) and Kavitha (Sruthy Ramachandran) are living a happy life in one of those skyscrapers of the city with their two children. Their family seems to be the one perfect world, as their neighbour and close family friend Dr. Gowtham (Vijay Babu) says. There is the smell of a fairy-tale happily ever after, all around there. But one day, their son, Ashwin is hospitalized, and he is supposed to have fallen off the stairs of the apartment. It is Gowtham and Kavitha who brings him to the hospital, while Aravind was spending his time alone after a fight in the television channel where he was working. Dr. Ashok (Srikanth Murali) makes no delay in admitting the boy and trying to save his life, but the head nurse, Sony (Lena) has a doubt regarding the marks found on the boy’s body, and she couldn’t stop herself from informing the police.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sony suspects that the boy was brutally beaten, and it was a case of child abuse. As she herself was a victim of abuse as a child, she wastes no time in labeling this one in the same way. Latha (Leona Lishoy) and Alphonse (Nandhu) are the police officers on the case, with the former into a few months of pregnancy. They have a list of suspects starting with Aravind who had left office early without telling anyone, and had also visited his apartment. The descriptions provided by Kavitha and Gowtham also do not match one another. The hospital also seems to neglecting some facts, as the boy finally dies, things get even more complicated. The Dr. Faris (Lal) enters the scene from the side of the police to examine things further, and this complex sequence of events need an explanation before next morning – can it be done?

The defence of Anveshanam :: The movie, as expected, begins well, and brings the idea into focus very soon. There are many chances of interesting guesses to be made, as we know the main characters who are put into a situation in a hospital. We are beginning to suspect too many people, from the father and mother, to the neighbour, from the nurse to the doctor, who are all acting strange, and something fishy is going on there, as the police also begins to suspect. As the unsettling atmosphere is built early, and things begin quickly, there is an interesting journey here towards the interval, from where everything slows down and drags. It is only then that we realize that the movie could have risen further with its theme, but stays with a safe zone to which not many people can connect in the right way. But the performances eclipse the same at most parts.

The claws of flaw :: The movie losses its strength in the second half, as it moves from the investigative suspense thriller to a melodramatic and preachy family piece. It struggles to focus on what could have been its strengths, and ends with confusion, as its final moments did show signs of weariness. The movie had the premise and the idea, while the trailer could nicely create interest in the mind of audience. It is when the idea came on the screen, that it never really got its characters going well enough, even though there are many interesting ones. It couldn’t prove its point either, despite trying to go preachy – it could have at least justified its title and went on with the investigation to find what exactly they were searching for. But the movie by the end, decides to go to the middle of nowhere, and declares it fit to sit in no man’s land with some verbal gun shots all around.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya once again leads the way, and here we have his presence in a thriller, and as a father figure, this calls for a different approach with a mystery needed to be brought to light. He is not The Great Father kind of father who spends time in wearing fancy jackets and beating up people, and we don’t have that kind of an irritating gun loving strange character of a girl here, and that is the first case of relief which we have here. We have loved his ways of solving mysteries in Pretham and Pretham 2, but this one has his character in a crisis rather than the one solving it. The man who is still best remembered for Aadu has one more serious flick for which he will be remembered as the sole lead – other than Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam and a few others. Anjaam Pathiraa had Kunchacko Boban bringing one thing, and Jayasurya here continues that journey through the drama, but at the receiving end.

Further performers of the soul :: Shruti Ramachandran was seen in Sunday Holiday as the earlier love interest of the main character, and also in Pretham where she played ghost who was haunting a beach side resort and looking for revenge. Here, she has a bigger and stronger role to perform and one would remember this even more. Lena also remains strong, but her character stays underdeveloped despite supposed to be having such a trouble past and childhood. Vijay Babu is very good in the emotional sequences, and Leona Lishoy goes through a pretty good run. Lal is there only for what can be termed as an extended cameo. Nandhu also adds well in a pretty good police role. Srikanth Murali plays the doctor well, as he is the one who becomes the centre of attraction as he treats the boy who is supposed to have fallen from the stairs, a case which leads to all the drama.

How it finishes :: After Anjaam Pathiraa, the audience was expecting another top level investigation thriller, but what we see here is an investigation drama, which seems to have some nice ideas, but is not displayed that well on the screen – this could have become better as a short story, like Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter, something which had a crime and what followed with the weapon used for murder. But instead, Anveshanam tries to be many things at ones, and also tries to be too preachy in the end – it is what makes this interesting premise struggle as it moves towards the end. Still, the movie is to be watched for how it builds the tension and suspense within limited space, and while being set in a few hours of time, almost sticking to the Aristotlean Unities except for those multiple flashbacks which keep coming.

Release date: 31st January 2020
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Prasobh Vijayan
Starring: Jayasurya, Leona Lishoy, Shruti Ramachandran, Vijay Babu, Lal, Lena, Nandhu, Jai Vishnu, Shaju K S, Srikanth Murali

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Anjaam Pathiraa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Helen

What is the movie about? :: Helen (Anna Ben), a BSc Nursing graduate from Cochin hopes to work and settle in Canada some day. As she attends her English classes during the day, she also works at a fast-food restaurant, Chicken Hub, at Grand Centre Mall. Her father Paul (Lal) is an LIC agent, who doesn’t have much of earnings, and their home itself might be taken over by the bank some day. Even though Paul worked in the Middle East for most of his youth, most of their money was spent for the medical treatment of late Mrs. Paul. Helen hopes to solve all problems by going to Canada and work as a nurse. Until then, she is living a busy life, balancing studies and work. At the same time, he is in love with Azhar (Noble Babu Thomas), a local boy whom she treated when she was working at hospital. She keeps the relationship a secret from most of the people including her father.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: One night, as she lands in the police station, as Azhar who was driving was drunk, Paul comes to know about her daughter’s relationship with the person. SI Ratheesh Kumar (Aju Varghese) of the nearby police station is not someone who is fond of such relationships. The very next day, Azhar has to leave for Chennai to join a new job, and Helen is not ready to talk to him due to the previous night’s incident. Paul is also not talking to her due to the same problem. On the same day, she works longer than usual time, but ends up in the cold storage vault of the shop after the manager Jayashankar (Rony David) locks Chicken Hub. As she had checked out earlier from the shop, everyone thinks that she is no longer there, but she is caught in there at below zero degree celcius with no mobile phone and no way to contact anyone. Now, its all about survival.

The defence of Helen :: Choosing to be among the best movies of the year along with Kumbalangi Nights, Finals, Unda, Virus and Uyare, Helen is one movie that you will love from the beginning to the end. The thrilling moments are created smartly, and the emotional scenes are right up there with the grand impact. The two hour movie never feels long, and we are there to love each and every moment of it. Debutante director Mathukutty Xavier makes sure that everything is impressive about this movie. This fine package also has some nice foreshadowing to go with it – even though the idea was already given in the trailer, in the beginning of the movie, we see an ant falling into an ice cube tray, and getting frozen in water, a situation symbolic of what is to happen to the titular character, as well as a mouse which also gets trapped inside the cold storage.

Positives and negatives :: It can be safely said that nobody has come up with a negative opinion on the movie, and there is nothing in there to inspire one. We see the thrills and the emotions, but what we take home is the feel-good factor, the idea of a beautiful smile for a stranger that we take home. We have watched Hollywood survival thrillers like The Shallows with one lady caught in the sea hunted by a shark and Bollywood survival thrillers like Trapped with one man caught in a partially completed flat with no water, food, electricity or means for communication. The truth that this movie could stand tall at the same level is something that all of us can be proud of. Driven by multiple performances other than focusing only on one person who is in peril, this one makes things even better – the movie is also the most realistic among the flicks of the same type.

The performers of the soul :: Anna Ben, in her second movie after Kumbalangi Nights, come up with a performance that can’t be easily matched by anyone. She shines as the lovable girl next door, father’s sweet child, responsible adult as well as the determined survivor who refuses to give up, despite even the mouse who was with her in the cold storage room deciding not to fight anymore. The way in which she adapts to each and every moment, will have our attention. She is very much believable as the girl who is trying to survive, and the terror of the situation is reflected on her face as her expressions catch our attention. From Babymol of Kumbalangi Nights to Helen, her work has been worth more appreciation than what most of the newcomers gain with many movies, and this seems to be a case of perfect choice of scripts.

Further performers of the soul :: Lal is perfectly suited for the role of the old-fashioned, loving father, the kind of character which seems to suit him more and more every time – remember Njanundukalude Naattil Oru Idavela. Aju Varghese plays a negative character here, and his police officer might be the beginning of more of similar dark shaded characters to come. He was into full comedy in Adhyarathri, Ittymaani: Made in China and Love Action Drama, and all of a sudden, we seem doing a wonderful job in a different role. Noble Babu Thomas who wrote the script also plays the male lead, and leaves a fine mark. He can move into more roles quick enough. Rony David has a role which has him doing very nicely. Vineeth Sreenivasan who is producing a movie a long time after Aanandam can be seen in a cameo which is a nice one.

How it finishes :: Helen is a well-made survival thriller, maybe the best of its kind not just in Malayalam, but also in any Indian language. With limited resources, the movie provides a fine experience, an emotional and thrilling ride, with a strong feel-good factor. Christopher Marlowe in Doctor Faustus called Helen of Troy from Illiad as the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium. Helen of Sparta and later Troy, was someone who started a war with her newfound choice, and here, Helen is someone who would wage a war against a frozen world, not causing one between a city on the northwest coast of Turkey and the allied Greek states. Helen of Troy was someone who did the unthinkable with her elopement, but here, she chooses not to go with her lover, but becomes the epitome of will-power and not beauty. There is that unparalleled charm in this movie which you shouldn’t miss. Watch a beautiful song from the movie below.

Release date: 15th November 2019
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Mathukutty Xavier
Starring: Anna Ben, Noble Babu Thomas, Lal, Aju Varghese, Rony David, Bonny Mary Mathew, Binu Pappu, Jayaraj, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Kookal Raghavan, Lakshmi Marikar, Lali Marikar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.