Fear Street: 1994

Vampire Owl: A slasher from Hollywood with three parts on Netflix. How interesting is that?

Vampire Bat: It is surely what the vampires ordered.

Vampire Owl: We can always take a lot of horror, especially through OTT.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is always nice to take some horror home.

Vampire Owl: Unless we can get some home made horror here.

Vampire Bat: We don’t really come up with horror anymore. Humans do.

Vampire Owl: Well, human horror is out of evil, Ours have been just natural reaction.

Vampire Bat: End of mankind is surely the end of nonsensical evil.

Vampire Owl: Mankind won’t end, for even the virus couldn’t do the job.

Vampire Bat: Corona virus has been just too mild and decent in nature.

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

What is the movie about? :: Heather (Maya Hawke) who works at a bookstore in a mall is brutally stabbed and murdered by her friend Ryan (David W Thompson) who also works in the same mall. After he had murdered many other employees in the mall, he is shot dead by a police officer Nick (Ashley Zukerman). It is said that the eighteen year old graduate just lost his mind and murdered all these victims for absolutely no reason. But this only one of the many murders which happen in the town, as it is more less referred to as the murder capital of the country. There are multiple murders being committed at different areas, mostly for no real reason at all. This cycle of violence seems to have no end at all, and even in the year 1994, people seem to point to a witch named Sarah Fier, who placed a terrible curse on the town before being executed for witchcraft in 1666. It is also the early days of AOL and internet in USA, with people still spreading conspiracy theories online, as World Wide Web does have its own addicted youngsters. The murders have been going as the hot topic in the internet for too long.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Deena (Kiana Madeira) doesn’t believe in all of these though, as she feels that everyone in the city of Shadyside is so miserable that killing others and committing suicide comes naturally to people. Simon (Fred Hechinger) and Kate (Julia Rehwald) are her best friends, while she is still addicted to Samantha Fraser (Olivia Scott Welch), but had kept her lesbian relationship a secret to most people. Deena’s brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr) spends his time to solving the mysteries behind the murders online, while Kate and Simon tries to get out of the city by selling drugs and making more money. Samantha is now with Peter (Jeremy Ford), and both are now part of the city of Sunnyville, which is a richer place with more opportunities and less murders and other crimes happening around. A romantically, emotionally and sexually frustrated Deena has a fight with Samantha as latter decides to go for a straight relationship instead of the lesbian one. The students of Sunnyville and Shadyside starts fighting each other at the same time, and things only get worse for everyone at both side.

The defence of Fear Street: 1994 :: The film is indeed beautifully shot, and there are some colours and beautiful reflections of the world which we are meant to witness with horror. The darkness and the lights contribute nicely too. The 1990s setting works well here. It lets us feel the need to watch the rest of the movies of the trilogy too, and in the end, has put something in there to bring the interest. Movies like these are reminders of a past, a world where we were afraid of monsters – these creatures are now replaced by humans who are much more evil in comparison. With a near unstoppable evil thing at the centre, we are glad to have a witch dealing with things. The film also provides a case for nostalgia, as we are all those kids who grew up in the 1990s, and were introduced to that early stage of internet – we were among the very few people who got to use it then, and can actually feel the memories again. Fear here is powerful within, and it is as close to reality than never ending human nature that inclines towards pure evil.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have had more of the slasher elements than it has as of now. We know what all a typical slasher flick should have as natural part of it. The romantic side is absolute nonsense, and it could have had a happy ending with the appropriate deaths, but that doesn’t happen. The final moments are also not that effective enough, but how they leave scope for a sequel is to be appreciated – the final possession has you asking for more indeed. As of now, most of us only know about Goosebumps from the authors of the books on which this is based – RL Stine. So, we don’t really know how much this one does justice to the original work. There are similarities to the divergent horror films like It Follows, even though this one is not that different in content. The serial killers who come back as monsters and the witch could have also been shown in a better and scarier manner, as we know how the undead can be captivating in terror. The feeling a slasher parody also comes in between, but nothing can have the fun of The Cabin in the Woods in the case too.

Performers of the soul :: This is the kind of the movie where almost everyone seems to contribute equally, and even though there seems to be one main character who comes as close to a protagonist as one can get, she is not the one in control, and also not the one whom the movie fully depend on – it is not really all about her. Kiana Madeira who is seemingly the protagonist, is a selfish character, and that she does well. Olivia Scott Welch serves the requirement as the beautiful girl to be loved, and the typical damsel in distress, nothing more as we look at her. The two characters are very much unlikable by all means, thinking only about themselves. It would have been more suitable for a slasher to have them dead, but unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger and Benjamin Flores Jr are more likable characters, and they are all part of this equally. The monsters which come back to life here also could have had their own flashbacks.

How it finishes :: We have been in short of some good slasher horror for a long time. This first part of a trilogy makes sure that there is something for us to cherish in a world of terror and chaos. There are enough serial killers in this particular film to keep us interested, and as they don’t really have a motive, going on slashing, it is that quality which was seen rarely in films around here – Tovino Thomas’ Forensic was one grand expectation. This is one slasher film with its own quick scares that work well, even though it does misses some points in between. Well, it does take some skill to get the slasher horror right, and there is often the sequel weakness that comes unto the picture, even though we do have enough from Friday the 13th, The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn and A Nightmare on Elm Street to keep us interested in the slasher genre, maybe forever. Even though the quick release of Madres and The Manor were what Amazon Prime Video did in quick succession, Netflix seems to be one step forward with its collection of good horror.

Release date: 2nd July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr, Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Maya Hawke

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

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

<<< Click here to go to the previous film review out of Netflix.

<<< Click here to go to the previous film review of a direct Netflix release.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Black as Night

Vampire Owl: I thought this would be dark as night.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that they meant the exact same thing.

Vampire Owl: Yet, night is not black. It is just dark due to the absence of light.

Vampire Bat: I didn’t know that you were that interested in being exact.

Vampire Owl: Well, the are going to deal with the vampires. So they better be.

Vampire Bat: These are not really our type of vampires.

Vampire Owl: When they talk about real vampires, it has to be about us.

Vampire Bat: They are preferring variations these days.

Vampire Owl: Such a ridiculous human world. No wonder they have the virus.

Vampire Bat: Maybe they did create the virus. We cannot be sure.

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

What is the movie about? :: In the beginning, it is seen that a homeless man who is searching for cans is attacked by a group of three vampires who show no mercy. At the same time, in the same city of New Orleans, Shawna (Asjha Cooper), a teenage girl lives with her father Steven (Derek Roberts) and her big brother Jamal (Frankie Smith) as the mother Denise (Kenneisha Thompson) is living apart after becoming a drug addict. At the same time, there are many things going on the streets, including protests, with the distant possibility of riots too. Pedro (Frabizio Guido) who is her best friend forces her to be close to Chris (Mason Beauchamp) on whom she has a big crush, but that doesn’t seem to be a good idea, with her not being of his interest, and she also coming up against vampires who attacks her, but leaves when a car comes to the area. That leaves her scared as she feels that she would turn into a bat or a vampire. Along with the disappointment of not getting the attention of Chris after a talk, she is not afraid of noy being human anymore.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: In the morning, she sees that she is not affected by sunlight, unlike what she had read about. She feels that there is something vampiric about the place where her mother was staying, and when she reaches there with a doubting Pedro, they find out that Denise was bitten too. But unlike her, Denise is quick to transform into a vampire, leading to the curtains being taken off, only to have her burnt till death. As New Orleans is full of strange beliefs, and a lot of spiritual and magical stuff, she decides to get the help of some people who have some expertise in the same – the police have no idea about what has happened. Instead of going to the usual voodoo and hoodoo practitioners, they go to Granya (Abbie Gayle) who is supposed to be the great vampire expert. They still base their assumptions on vampire fiction, but they do feel that there is some idea about the same, and a sympathetic Chris also joins the team. But are they enough?

The defence of Black as Night :: We do have another addition to the vampire tales, and this does add up when we look at it that way. The first scene does add some power, and that adds the scary feeling that something interesting is surely going to happen soon enough – the film’s strength seems to be the beginning rather than the rest. The setting of New Orleans is all very good, and it keeps us interested enough, with the feeling that something could happen at any particular point. It could be suitable for the teenage audience more, like Twilight was largely successful with them, even though not with those who have traditionally liked the vampires through great works of fiction brought to us as classics from history. The ending provides us with a chance to have another sequel, and the same can keep us hoping for a better film to come later, without the extra nonsense social commentary added in between. If you are looking for one more vampire film in a world which seems to have moved away from the earlier vampire interest, this one will be a reminder.

The claws of flaw :: The emotional side is rather too weak, and we often have nothing to care about here, not just the protagonist, but also the remaining ones. There is also a lot more to care about when you are making a vampire movie – it is not like coming up with a creature movie with demons or aliens. It doesn’t have that vampire power which a movie like this should have possessed. When vampire terror should have been effectively, it does struggle to do the same, and often holds back without any particular reason. The opportunity to make this a horror comedy is not used well enough either. The movie is indeed a master in making the opportunities go missing. The chance to add some message about inequality and race in there also goes missing, and the usual good use of history in vampire works also falls flat. You cannot use social commentary where it doesn’t fit, and this one keeps pouring that at all places without success. It is also very quick to have us tired of all these things repeating, and has no big action happen unlike expectations.

Performers of the soul :: Asjha Cooper leads the way here as the leading lady, and happens to be okay in her work. Then there is also Mason Beauchamp and Frabizio Guido who seems to be leading the film together. But the one who seems to be more suitable to this situation is Abbie Gayle, with a character who is very much into the vampires. The others do have more screen time, but she seems to play the role of more relevance in comparison. The one face which seems to be somewhat familiar might be that of Keith David, who plays one of the major character really well, and so does Craig Tate, both of them being memorable people of darkness in the film. Sammy Nagi Njuguna and Tunde Laleye also have some notable roles around here, even though they are of significance only in the last moments of the film. Frankie Smith and Derek Roberts adds on with some less utilized characters, all of them seemingly reduced as the movie lasts less than one and half hours, rather too less for a film which seems to try to look back into some turbulent history – it is a shame.

How it finishes :: Here we have another vampire tale, even though the focus here is not that strong, and it is not the regular vampire thing as we usually know it. If there was better innovation, this could have been one fine vampire movie. Throughout the film, you know that vampires deserve better – films like Interview with the Vampire and Byzantium has already gone through the vampire world with class, and the Underworld series had the right vampire action. This one never really gets strong enough. Black as Night, despite seemingly having something in store, doesn’t really have the same. As we are going through the Corona virus pandemic which never seems to end, and all the natural disasters which never seems to move way, we do need some movies to fill up, and this one might do just fine for some people. After all, theatres have not opened in this part of the world yet, and you know that all the things that we are to fear will stay long enough, we have the intuition.

Release date: 1st October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Maritte Lee Go
Starring: Mason Beauchamp, Asjha Cooper, Theodus Crane, Keith David, Abbie Gayle, Frabizio Guido, Tunde Laleye, Al Mitchell, Sammy Nagi Njuguna, Andrew Penrow, Nicole Barre, Derek Roberts, Joseph Singletary, Frankie Smith, Tim J Smith, Craig Tate, Kenneisha Thompson

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

<— Click here to go to the previous Amazon Prime horror release.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

What is the movie about? :: In the Mexican city of San Juan Ixtenco, there was unnatural storm which devastated most of the place – people are known to have said that there was a face in the storm, and Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) investigate the case while coming across a creature, an Earth Elemental, which derives its powers from Earth. At the same time, a super-powered man Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), arrives to fight the creature. In New York City, the Midtown School of Science and Technology restarts its academic year to take in those students who were affected by the events of Avengers: Infinity War. There is a two-week summer field trip to Europe, starting at Venice, Italy. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) plans to confess his love for classmate MJ (Zendaya) there. Meanwhile, Harold Hogan (Jon Favreau) contacts him to provide the news that Nick Fury is looking for him, and will give a call soon, regarding a mission.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Peter is forced to carry the Spider-Man costume by his aunt May Parker (Marisa Tomei) despite trying to keep away from superhero deeds post the death of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr). He even ignores the calls of Nick Fury, who finds him at the hotel in Venice, after escaping the attacks of the Water Elemental which almost destroys the major tourist areas of the city. The students including Peter’s best friend Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) and Betty Brant (Angourie Rice) along with the teachers, Roger Harrington (Martin Starr) and Julius Dell (JB Smoove) are terrorized by the unexpected attacks. After tranquilizing Ned, Fury gives him Stark’s glasses equipped with the artificial intelligence EDITH, providing access to all databases of Stark Industries and with command over large weapon supply. He also introduces him to Quentin Beck, a man with magic powers.

And what more is to happen? :: Even though mistaken by many as Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), this new hero is known to people as Mysterio, a man who is supposed to be from another Earth, which was consumed by the Elementals. He hopes to avenge his family, and destroy the Elementals, and Fury hopes that Peter would be part of the mission at Prague, but he declines saying that his school team is going to Paris and he can’t be seen in the Spider-Man costume when he is in Europe, as it would lead to doubts that he is Spider-Man, revealing his identity. But as their trip itself is re-routed to Prague, Peter is left with no option, but to fight the most powerful of the Elementals, the Fire Elemental. To add to it, he has to fight it in the middle of an on-going carnival, and his friends are also around. Can the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man live up to the legacy that the Avengers lead by Iron Man, Captain America and Thor has left?

The defence of Spider-Man: Far From Home :: It is a difficult task for another Spider-Man movie to stand strong in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, considering the fact that the greatest film of the franchise, Avengers: Endgame has finished strong, and is looking forward to become the highest grossing flick of all-time. Spider-Man: Far From Home has managed to do that well enough, and has also improved its status from Spider-Man Homecoming – this one is bigger in scope and impact, and we also have the superheroes doing better, in the presence of better villainy. The action sequences continue to impress, and the perfect settings are used, which makes things even better – the visuals and the special effects with illusions play a major role in making the fights more interesting. The movie also maintains a certain amount of humour, and it remains light-hearted, as a friendly neighbourhood movie. There is also something in the end to make sure that we have something to look forward to, after the movie.

The claws of flaw :: The emotional strength of the earlier Spider-Man movies continues to be absent in this version, and this comes too late after all the superhero overdose. We have had only one Spider-Man movie before Avengers: Endgame, and that is too little – now, this one requires a lot more sequels, but they will be too late. Also, the movie’s twist is rather predictable for those who are familiar with the tales of Spider-Man, and something more could have been added to get it deeper. Some of the jokes in the movie also go some other way, and fail to create any impact – there is the case of things getting repetitive here. The superhero himself hasn’t learned much after going through all the fading away, and losing his mentor – there is no realization that is added here. Being a better hero doesn’t seem to be an option here. Spider-Man won’t get to that level of The Amazing Spider-Man or The Amazing Spider-Man 2 here either, and we have to wait for the sequels to hope for that.

The performers of the soul :: Jake Gyllenhaal is the one who stands apart in this movie, and we know what he has been capable of with the psychological thriller movies like Enemy and Nocturnal Animals. The role of Mysterio stays safe with him, and we see how well he can handle the two sides of a character. Tom Holland continues to play Spider-Man as he used to, and it gets better than the previous movies in totality. Zendaya playing his love interest makes one interesting character from the beginning itself – she is indeed the most interesting character in the whole team of school children, and lets hope that the character is not replaced by other love interests of Spider-Man in any later movies. Cobie Smulders is there doing what she has been doing well. The others in high school team do a pretty good job including both the teachers and students.

How it finishes :: We have finished most of the main part of the Marvel superheroes, and Spider-Man: Far From Home seems to come as a bonus or an add-on post that biggest battle that happened in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Spider-Man is the hero whom we have always loved, he has been there with Superman and Batman at this part of the world even before the rest of the superheroes like Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Aquaman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Arrow – all of them came later. Therefore, it is only fair that we hope for an even better movie. But this one also keeps us interested and entertained, and Marvel once again has everything working in its favour, even after its best movie done.

Release date: 5th July 2019 (India); 2nd July 2019 (USA)
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L Jackson, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal, Martin Starr

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Shut In

Vampire Owl: I am used to hearing a part of this title.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that you have heard of this movie title?

Vampire Owl: No, I am used to listening to “shut up”.

Vampire Bat: That should happen naturally to you in a growing vampire community which is building a new code of conduct.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that the critics don’t like this movie?

Vampire Bat: Is that a reason why we shouldn’t like them?

Vampire Owl: Well, they liked I Am Not a Serial Killer.

Vampire Bat: That is absolutely ridiculous. They really need the word “shut up” instead of “shut in”.

Vampire Owl: It is time for us to bring the balance by supporting the correct movie.

Vampire Bat: This is indeed that movie to support!

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

What is the movie about? :: Richard Portman (Peter Outerbridge) and his son Steven Portman (Charlie Heaton) meets an accident while leaving home after a fight between the two – their car crashes into a truck as the differences between the two continue even inside the vehicle on the road. After the accident takes the life of her husband and leaves the son paralysed, Richard’s second wife and Steven’s step-mother, a psychologist by profession, Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) decides to care of the boy, even though it means being isolated from her own friend circle and spending most of her time with him. Separated from her own people, and often questioning her own decisions, she keeps herself going against all odds. But there is one thing that she is sure about, and it is that she has to take care of the boy.

So, what happens next? :: There is also a young kid Tom Patterson (Jacob Tremblay) who was her patient, but has gone missing. This ten year old child is deaf, and she had seen him for the last time at her own home. She does hear strange noises in her home, and there are also stranger happenings around, for which she can find no explanation. She also has her own nightmares, and the only rational explanation seems to be her inability to sleep during nights, which is bringing these hallucinations to her – but she is not satisfied with the same. Then, later, during a storm, on a strange dark night, she begins to believe that someone else is inside the house trying to harm her and Steven. Who or what is this that has come to her home without an invitation? Why does it/him/her want to haunt her and her paralysed son? Then the bigger question is about the missing child!

The defence of Shut In :: There is a strong line of mystery going right through Shut In, as it keeps us guessing from the very early stages itself. There are those moments of scare and there is suspense, as we get to that twist in the end. If you are going to ask why the protagonist didn’t figure out this or why she didn’t act like that, I am sure that I can ask why the protagonist in your favourite movie acts in such an unbelievable manner – well, it is different for each person, and being a psychologist like the main character of this movie won’t help at all; for you will never become the master of others’ minds, as each person is different as an individual and not as a robot whose “metallic emotions” could be treated by science. It is also the message of this movie – it doesn’t matter how much you think you know about others and their minds, and there is no point about claiming that you have studied it scientifically: you just can’t predict human nature.

The claws of flaw :: There are similarities to another movie which released in the same year, The Boy which also had problems with the critics, who might have decided that these movies were bad even before watching them – it is a clear reflection of the fact that some people are not qualified enough to judge horror movies, for such flicks surely need separate reviewers who understand the soul of horror, hopefully none of them includes those who reviews Bollywood drama. There is something strange going on with these people who keep rating the scarier horror movies low, and give a better score to horror movies which are not horror at all – even the thriller genre suffers from the same. This movie surely had the potential to develop better with its basic idea, and there are some points when things are not that smooth, but the shorter length makes sure that the movie survives that.

Performers of the soul :: From the beginning to the end, Naomi Watts remains the heart and soul of this movie. Seemingly getting younger every time, she is the kind of actress that everyone would love to have a in a horror movie or a mysterious thriller. You remember watching her in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering a long time ago, but we all better recognise her from the much loved horror movie The Ring and its less acclaimed sequel, The Ring Two. But the best of her for me is the 2007 version of Funny Games – she has been perfectly suited to this genre which has the thrills and scares in store. It is the same that she makes sure in this movie, as once again does her job in the perfect way – we appreciate seeing her on the screen in this flick too. Charlie Heaton and Oliver Platt also scores in between, but Jacob Tremblay only gets less to do unlike in that nice horror movie named Before I Wake.

How it finishes :: This is another nice thriller movie which has been wronged by the critics. It is a thing about them to combine and build flaws on some movies, and the critics in India usually have the tendency to copy those in the United States without shame, unless there is someone from Bollywood performing in that movie [then it will be, watch the movie for him or her]. Some people really needs to know what “bad” and “terrible” movie means, and some of those flicks include those which they have been praising so much in the last few years. Maybe they were watching another movie instead of this one – who knows? Or they do judge in a way that only their group of people understands. Shut In is worth a watch; it is no big horror thriller, but it is surely something in which you can try and spend your time – it has enough in store.

Release date: 11th November 2016
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Farren Blackburn
Starring: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay, David Cubitt, Clémentine Poidatz, Crystal Balint, Alex Braunstein, Peter Outerbridge

shutin

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.