Heaven

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Uncle Dracula is going to heaven?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that vampires have a different afterlife.

Vampire Owl: You mean beyond heaven and hell?

Vampire Bat: Somewhere in between, to be exact.

Vampire Owl: Are you talking about the purgatory?

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t know before death, but there would surely be blood.

Vampire Owl: Well, as long as there is blood, I am okay with it.

Vampire Bat: You don’t really take the blood substitute anymore?

Vampire Owl: Until Doctor Frankenstein invents the perfect substitute, I won’t.

Vampire Bat: Then, be assured that it will a long wait, because that pseudo-doctor and scientist with fake degree is involved.

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

What is the movie about? :: A group of NCC cadets discover a dead body in the forest area where they were camping for the holidays from their school. The first police officer to the scene is Bijoy Kuruvilla (Sudev Nair), and the dead person is identified to be Fabian John (Deepak Parambol), with the help of the forensic experts who are led by Narayana Swami (Joy Mathew). According to the descriptions from the witnesses and circumstancial evidences, the police discover the murderer to be none other than Peter Kurishingal (Suraj Venjaramoodu), another police officer. Then, the movie gets a flashback when Peter is in charge of a police station in a village. He had only recently lost his wife, and has a number of cases for investigation, which he takes very seriously so that he can use them to forget the grief of loss. His mother Mariyam Kurisingal (Vinaya Prasad) takes care of his only son, as he remains mostly busy as a strict police officer. But things get worse as he comes up against a case which would prove to be personal for him, as a family is murdered, and along with them, he also find his son’s dead body, much to his shock.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Peter’s subordinate Sukumara Pillai (Alencier Ley Lopez) is posted in the case with the new officer in charge of the investigation, Inspector Kishore (Padmaraj Ratheesh) who seems to be solving the case rather quickly, and a man named Stephen (Jaffar Idukki) confesses to have committed the crime with an immigrant labourer from West Bengal, as part of an attempted robbery. Peter has his doubts, but as one of the victims is his son, his superior officer Revathi Subramaniam (Abhija Sivakala) declines him an opportunity to be part of the investigation team, but lets him have a look at it as part of a parallel investigation for which he would be solely responsible. Soon, he discovers that the man who is accused of murder, Stephen actually had nothing to do with it. This home named Heaven, where the murders took place, seem to have more than one secrets to be discovered. His discoveries soon lead to him taking over the case after joining back on duty. But it remains to be seen if he will like what he would discover.

The defence of Heaven :: Here is one more addition to the smart thrillers of our times with some fine red herrings. The investigation shown in the movie feels solid, and so does the emotional side. The movie achieves its motives without exaggerating anything at any moment. There are twists till the end of the movie, and we see that it has nicely solved the puzzles to come strong in the end with enough strength. The realistic mode is maintained while bringing up the thrills and twists, and it surely feels like something which could happen during these days when different crimes are part of the news more than ever. Even the police procedures seem to be much accurate, and it doesn’t seem to venture into those areas where the smartness of the audience is questioned; maybe it is because the film chooses to have no such superstars who have so many fans wishing for their favourite actor to destroy evil like a fallen angel. Well, this movie is also something with fallen angels, but it knows how to keep it realistic. This is the kind of film that can teach valuable lessons for Bollywood which has its non-performers coming out of nepotism, not able to emote.

The positives and negatives :: The visuals are really good, and the camera is particularly good in capturing the emotions of Suraj Venjaramoodu, with all the grief which is part of the character’s life. The moments after the son’s death is as emotional as it can get, and it is only matched by the determination in his face that comes up later. There are the inner and outer battle shown here are with their own relevance. Heaven does not hesitate in going through the emotional path of the police officer and his investigation, just like it was seen in the movie Memories which had that abiding sadness in it which would return to haunt the viewer. The movie could have actually focused on the darker side even more. The return to the initial moments come rather too late, and due to the same, people might have actually forgotten the events which had happened earlier. The movie does slow down after the deaths and following emotional troubles, and it could have used a serial killer instead of the usual vengeance ideas being repeated. The music doesn’t feel as that great in comparison to some of the other thrillers which dealt with similar themes.

The performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu handles the regretful cop role really well, and it reminds us of his earlier movie Pathaam Valavu, where he had also lost his child. The helpless and lack of hope can be seen on one side, while there is smartness on the other. He is the police officer and father to remember. The emotional struggle which was best displayed in Kaanekkaane, and added with mass in Jana Gana Mana and Driving License works really well here too, as he is indeed one of the best actors to go through a strong emotional side. The biggest support to him is provided by Alencier Ley Lopez who makes a fine cop in a supporting role; I had felt that John Luther could have really used him as a police officer too. The actors like Sudheesh and Jaffer Idukki add more of an emotional side to the film with their shorter presence. Vinaya Prasad also has the emotional grandmother role. Padmaraj Ratheesh and Sudev Nair also makes some fine police officers. Abhija Sivakala as the superior police officer is also solid. Deepak Parambol’s as well Nimisha Sajayan’s smaller roles are effective too. The collection of performers here makes sure that there is something interesting about all of them.

How it finishes :: Heaven gets into the list of interesting thrillers including the recently released Twenty One Grams and Solamante Theneechakal, as well as many others which came earlier. After all, the thrillers of this world mean more than just Drishyam. The movie working a lot better than the heavily hyped movies like CBI 5: The Brain is a reminder that we have some new names who can do the same thing better. Well, this is the kind of film which can never work for Bollywood as the sons and daughters of superstars would not agree to act in movies which cannot progress without throwing hundreds of villains around. Movies like this should open their eyes to the idea that there is the need for more thinking differently, or the drought in Bollywood of blockbusters is going to continue forever. Bollywood’s fight with its own incompetence might be forever, but during those times, Malayalam movie industry, just like the other South Indian film industries, is coming up with some fine works of quality which are to be remembered.

Release date: 19th August 2022 (Hotstar); 17th June 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Unni Govindraj
Starring: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Sudev Nair, Sminu Sijo, Sudheesh, Joy Mathew, Alencier Ley Lopez, Jaffer Idukki, Vinaya Prasad, Abhija Sivakala, Deepak Parambol

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Solamante Theneechakal

Vampire Owl: Do you think that there could be honeybees in this movie?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the bees are different in this case.

Vampire Owl: I was looking forward to see a vampire bee.

Vampire Bat: There has been no bee which has been turned into a vampire.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has transformed a few.

Vampire Bat: They are pseudo vampires. They won’t count.

Vampire Owl: You continue to show your prejudice against Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: I have never shown love for dumb experiments.

Vampire Owl: You will surely love the vampire bee though.

Vampire Bat: You should see how the human bees turn out here in this movie which is noted as a romantic thriller.

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

What is the movie about? :: Glyna Thomas (Vincy Aloshious) and Suja S (Darshana S. Nair) are police constables who are also best friends – they have also rented a place together in Cochin. While Suja is posted in traffic duty, Glyna is assigned the duties at the police station itself. CI Binu Alex (Addis Antony Akkara) is in the charge of the station, and Suja hopes to get rid of the traffic duty and somehow be part of the station duties. For the same, Suja tries to portray Sharath Balakrishnan (Shambhu Menon) as a nuisance for women, but fails miserably. She even falls in love with him later. Sharath works for Nikhil Davis (Sunil Sukhada) who runs a rent-a-car business, but also has other motives. Their love story continues well until one day Binu and Sharath comes across each other, leading to a fight. Binu vows to make Sharath suffer for laying his hands on a police officer, but it is then that a criminal named Arumughan (Manikandan Achari) makes an entry with a grudge against Binu. Then, on an eventful night, things go out of control, and Suja might be the one to suffer for it. Will at least Glyna stand with her during the crisis?

The defence of Solamante Theneechakal :: It is to be noted that Solamante Theneechakal is a movie that has been much awaited by people who had watched at least one episode of the talent hunt show from where the leading actors of the movie where selected. But considering the performances which we come across here, this is more than that – none of the leading performers show any signs of acting in their first movie. They cast indeed is the biggest strength of the movie, as the newcomers score so well with the elder stars like Joju George and Johny Antony. The thrills remain strong, right after the defining incident. The twists are also there to be taken, and the red herrings are very much effective, to make us wonder about them. The early scenes also remain cute, and the friendship is effectively portrayed, with romance almost having a role to be added. There is also a certain amount of realism in the way the life of the leading ladies are portrayed, as both Vincy and Darshana make everything feel so real. Until the life turns around, everything that they do is so natural and without hesitations – the audience falls in love with such portrayal without exaggerations or pretensions.

The claws of flaw :: The absence of the big stars might make this movie’s collections and early appreciation struggle a bit – most people are still slaves to the superstars, and there are other three already established success stories in the form of crowd favourite movies already running in the theatres, which could make this particular movie take a hit. The dark side that the movie adds, do not get that much of a strength as it was expected, and there is some predictability about a few things, even though not with the grand scheme of things. The songs are not that great, and none of them provides the feeling of romance or terror, two elements which seemed to rise above the others – one or two still provide the feel-good feeling though. The first fight scene might be the only exaggerated moment, but there is no following it up well enough. The investigating officer does seem to deviate from the main concerns in the case, but it is justified in the end. Some of the supporting cast members don’t seem to have been used with the effectiveness that they might have deserved – it is still understandable, as the focus is on establishing the new talent which did such a fantastic job on television and deserves to be in the focus throughout the film. Yet, at times it chooses to defy logic by a little bit

The performers of the soul :: It was news then that the main performers for Lal Jose’s new movie were to be selected through a talent hunt show called Nayika Nayakan which aired on Mazhavil Manorama. Darshana S Nair and Shambhu Menon were the winners of the show, and they play the lead with the romantic side in this movie. Vincy Aloshious and Addis Antony Akkara who were the runner-ups in the show also play the next important roles in the movie as expected. They were selected from sixteen contestants going through multiple rounds, and it was one of the high quality shows from which these people were selected, and they have shown the same set of skills reflected around here too. Along with Vincy, some other participants like Meenakshi Raveendran, Ann Jameela Saleem, Venkitesh VP, Amina Nijam and Malavika Krishnadas were already seen in small roles in movies. Thattumpurath Achuthan had served as a vehicle for most of them to make some relatively small appearances which would not be memorized, and this one was to become the bigger space for these four to perform in a memorable way.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is supposed to be the next big platform for these performers to show their skills, even though their talent hunt show was something which was a memorable experience for the audience. Even the participants in that show who were eliminated earlier, like Ann Paul were enormously skilled – that left no doubt about what these people could achieve. To support them, as the centre of everything, there is also Joju George, who had his best performance in Madhuram last year along with that memorable journey through Pada this year. He feels very natural as the police officer whose portrait never gets exaggerated – we know what he can do with this from Joseph itself. The performers from the talent show makes us feel the professionalism and not the reluctance of the newcomers. Among them, Vincy Aloshious stands out as the star performer, and her moments with Addis are too good. Darshana gets into make things even better – her moments with Vincy are among the best, whether with a funny side or the emotional one, and the two make things work so well. Addis’ villainous side is a strong one, and a lot realistic, but could have used better voice. Shambhu feels perfectly suitable for this role.

How it finishes :: This seems to be a movie which should have released much earlier, if it was not for the corona virus spreading through the world. As it was intended, the movie serves as the fine platform to show the abilities of the performers selected from the talent hunt show, which would reach the bigger audience. I was still surprised to see the less number of audience for this movie, and I would hope for the numbers to increase as it has the quality – we are all admirers of good movies, as far as I know. The other successful movies at the theatre might be a reason, but this need to pick up the pace, and with some good opinions, it should surely do that – this would be one of the first such opinions. The movie has to depend on the content more than anything else with the big names being absent, and it does exactly that, with the thrilling moments and the twists that are added to the tale. With no exaggeration of action or life itself, the movie is something that has the special ingredient, which is the new young cast itself. Seeing them would make us believe that Lal Jose has indeed made the right decision once more.

Release date: 18th August 2022
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Joju George, Darshana S Nair, Vincy Aloshious, Addis Antony Akkara, Shambhu Menon, Shiva Parvathy, Johny Antony, Manikandan Achari, Shaju Sreedhar, Binu Pappu, Sunil Sukhada, Sivaji Guruvayoor, Abhinav Manikantan, Aurora Adya

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Twenty One Grams

Vampire Owl: I am sure that most of the coffins weigh more than that.

Vampire Bat: I doubt if this a movie about coffins.

Vampire Owl: I have only recently discovered that the coffins weight so less.

Vampire Bat: Why did you lift the coffins all by yourself?

Vampire Owl: There were no vampire apprentices available.

Vampire Bat: You should understand that the coffins feel like having less weight just for us.

Vampire Owl: Yet we have vampire apprentices carrying them for us.

Vampire Bat: They have to be trained in carrying the vampire elders.

Vampire Owl: But I have known that vampire elders can float.

Vampire Bat: They are too old to stay awake for more than five or six hours – coffins are important for transportation.

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

What is the movie about? :: DYSP Nandakishore (Anoop Menon) is assisted by CI Sunny (Anu Mohan) as they go after a series of murders which happened in the city within a small period of time. Anjali (Manasa Radhakrishnan) is the first one to be murdered, and it brought her brother Martin (Chandunath G Nair) back home after spending years abroad, as Father Joseph (Nandu) was the only person who was there to take care of her. But soon, Martin is also murdered, and his body was burnt really bad. CI Sreenivasan (Prasanth Alexander) who was in charge of the investigation had felt that Jimmy (Aji John) might be the one behind these murders as he was a former business partner of Martin, and wanted to settle terms after Martin came back to India. There was a problem between Jimmy and Martin related to a restaurant chains which they owned, and the police wonders if the former tried to bring latter back home and finish the problem forever. But Sreenivasan was not really that much interested in taking the risk against the rich and influential, and was only happy to hand over the case without being a target.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: SP Rachel (Lena) is confident that Nandakishore is the right person to solve this case which has no clues, especially as Srenivasan had kept himself too worried. A new recruit Abhirami (Mareena Michael Kurisingal) also joins the team. As the police check for the goons who were working for Jimmy, they reach a name – Tony (Bineesh Bastin) who seems to be connected. His wife confirms the fact that Tony and Jimmy had seen each other, and an amount of money was provided for some work of eerie nature. But even then, Anjali is understood to have been very much afraid of an unknown person, and there is no clue about who that one was. If the two murders are not related, they would be facing two different killers at the same time or even more. There is also an old contessa car which is seen on different occasions near the spots where the murders had occurred. Is there something more sinister at work? Are there other interesting games of murders happening around here? Can there be a psychotic serial killer at work?

The defence of Twenty One Grams :: We have another interesting crime thriller in store here, with its own fine twists. Providing twists over other twists is quite a difficult job, and this one does the same well, until things come together really well in the end. There seems to be a fine line of events being drawn here so that things could come to that end after drawing a good number of red herrings in between. There are so many characters whom we doubt as being the killer, and we also have so many motives – with the possibility of suspecting being endless, the guesses are to be mostly wrong; the movie seals some ideas in those dialogues which feels to be less relevant when spoken, but through flashbacks, we know that these things were basically clues. Predictability will not be an element here even though the film can trick you into believing that you know things better than the cops here. The movie is very well shot too, and the visuals, especially that of the city is impressive – it suits the movie’s mood really well too. The music used in the background here is really good and some effects nicely contribute to the totality.

Positives and negatives :: The pace at which the movie progress is very good, even though at times, it seems to talk more and do less – it still works as we look closer. Some background is predictable. You ability to guess the killer is so continuously tested that there are so many people you will note down as killers. A quality that this movie has, is to know how, when and where to hide, and how to reveal them all when least expected – it never uses the mass style to do that, and that makes this one a movie more for the OTT rather than for those theatres infested with mindless fans. This is certainly not a one killer or a killer with a helper movie like Forensic, John Luther, Anjaam Pathira or Antakshari. Here, we don’t have the star power of Drishyam, Cold Case or Memories, but the effectiveness makes sure that it won’t need that. The movie also has a conspiracy which needs to be brought to light, and we see that there is more than what meets the eye. This is one of those movie releases which I had actually missed – there were so many shots of this movie which could have made the film feel effective in the trailer; unlike those overhyped films, this one could have used more initial hype.

The performers of the soul :: Anoop Menon always feels like the right choice for a police officer like this – the intellectual non-CBI police officer works like a dream for him. He did play the role of superstar in Home, and there is a fine presence that he has at all times. One strong performance that we here is that of Leona Lishoy though, as the lady left in sadness due to multiple reasons. Anu Mohan provides some fine support as police inspector aiding in the case. Manasa Radhakrishnan, despite playing the character who is killed early, remains central to the plot, just like Chandunath G Nair who plays her brother here. Nandu has the role of a priest which comes well for him. Mareena Michael Kurisingal of Mumbai Taxi and Aby fame only gets a few moments to shine though. Shanker Ramakrishnan and Renji Panicker got some smaller roles, which won’t be remembered much. Bineesh Bastin has a little bit of work to do, but not for long. Aji John and Jeeva Joseph plays two characters who are part of the schemes well. Ranjith who appears only in the later half of the movie, also brings some moments of glory.

How it finishes :: Twenty One Grams might be a lesser known movie, but it manages to be a lot better than most of those higher budget films made with the bigger superstars and having those dumb mass elements for the fans. There are so many moments that keep us guessing, and after all those guesses, we feel that we had gone the wrong direction – there is a lot of skill being used here in bringing things together in the end. Maybe, one of those superstar movies can take some of those superior ideas out of this one. It seems that the movies that we less expect to be the big mystery is actually the smarter one – the best minds behind making thrillers are often hidden in the background, and to know them, we have to travel beyond the usual. There are so many movies which have gone rather unknown because they couldn’t marketed well, or the names of the actors were not part of any fan club – this one shouldn’t go lost in that manner. This is another thriller which needs to be celebrated for its smartness, and let it not fall into the deep abyss of avoidance – watch it and see how well it uses the puzzles.

Release date: 10th June 2022 (Hotstar); 18th March 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Bibin Krishna
Starring: Anoop Menon, Leona Lishoy, Renji Panicker, Prasanth Alexander, Anu Mohan, Ranjith, Vivek Anirudh, Lena, Chandunath G Nair, Aji John, Jeeva Joseph, Bineesh Bastin, Manasa Radhakrishnan, Nandu, Mareena Michael Kurisingal, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Rajeesh Kartha

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Innale Vare

Vampire Owl: Is this movie about yesterdays?

Vampire Bat: From the title, it seems that yesterdays are important.

Vampire Owl: Our yesterdays are pretty much far away.

Vampire Bat: The vampire yesterdays have always been centuries away.

Vampire Owl: Not all centuries are the same.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but they are all short for us.

Vampire Owl: Not just for us, but for all immortals.

Vampire Bat: Depends on how we will take the immortality.

Vampire Owl: Does this movie fit into our immortal calendar?

Vampire Bat: It is something which is yet to be seen.

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

What is the movie about? :: Adhi (Asif Ali) is a superstar who is now going through a struggling phase as an actor. His movies haven’t been getting the success that they used to have, and he no longer remains the crowd-puller despite having so many fans and fan clubs. Due to his lavish lifestyle, he also has a lot of debts to be paid. Due to the same reason, he is forced to act in many advertisements, most of them which he doesn’t like at all. He is in love with Aishu (Reba Monica John), whose family doesn’t approve of such a relationship, as Adhi does have other affairs too – he is almost living together with a married actress named Karthika (Athulya Chandra), and he successfully keeps that a secret. Jomi (Rony David) handles things for him as the efficient manager, but the debts seem to get worse, as money lenders even reach his home and take away his cars. Both Aishu and Karthika are infatuated with him, and is not ready to leave him at any cost. Karthika knows that she is not the only one for him, but finds comfort with him in the absence of her husband who never bothers to call her or come home.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: At the same time, a stranger who identifies himself as Sharath (Antony Varghese) is following him. He seems to collect information about him through cameras and hidden voice recorders. Aadhi who one day comes to know that Karthika is carrying his child, tries to get there as soon as possible, and finds a lady who calls herself Shaani (Nimisha Sajayan), and she offers him a lift. She asks him to come to her home and see her husband once, and adds that she is ready to give him the car so that he can go wherever he wants to. Finding this to be a comfortable option, he gets to her apartment, only to find himself locked inside one of the rooms. It is later revealed that Sharath and Shaani has other plans for him. It seems to be motivated by money in the beginning, but there seems to be something different about these two. Yet, the need to save a house from being taken away by the bank seems to be a priority. But they don’t seem to know that Adhi has no money. How can any of them get what they want at this stage?

The defence of Innale Vare :: The movie doesn’t exaggerate things, and seems to go on without adding the unnecessary things including those highly emotional and romantic songs which would have been there for the taking. The tension and anxiety are maintained most of the time, and there are enough twists to keep things going around here. There is a certain amount of mystery about a lot of things around here, and the same is solved in the end, as different sides seem to come together. The idea about how technology can be used to make a person disappear by impersonating him or her will also keep us interested – Cold Case had also dealt with some part of the same, and this one takes it to another level. The messages from this type of movies might to be more careful about what we choose to do, no matter which side we are on, for even the most social ones can suffer – it is also easy to misunderstand someone. Yet, the movie’s main message seems to be that if we try to know people, everyone is good, as it seemed to be in most of the movies of the same director that came much earlier.

The claws of flaw :: The movie surely had a lot to do with its premise, and it doesn’t manage to come up with enough on most occasions. It seems to have struggled hard to make it a feel-good movie, wandering a long way away from where it seemed to be heading in the earlier stages. For an effective thriller, this one needed to keep a certain amount of its darkness as an interesting element which contributes throughout its run. There is almost no intensity with this thriller, and the characters seem to be not motivated enough to do most of the things – they seem to let things go on without trying hard. It is also too long with its content which is not strong enough to withstand time. The final twist and ending could have used some polishing, even if the purpose was to leave with a happy finish. There are too many repetitions around here too, and predictability also has a role to play. Some of the moments are shown just for the sake of being there, and in the process, it elongates the movie to a length that would have been stronger for more content.

The performers of the soul :: Asif Ali who finally has his first direct OTT release, does a good job, as things happen around his character. It is not that much of a big or challenging role though. It is good to see Antony Varghese in a role with a difference, which he seems to find okay. Nimisha Sajayan disappoints for most part of the movie though, in a work which seems to be unnatural. Even for the audience, she seems to be overacting in front of the police in scenes, but the cops within the film don’t seem to find it so – there is also that certain expression she seems to maintain, which doesn’t suit here, as much as in her earlier movies. Rony David is really good in another supporting role, and Irshad does the police job well again. Reba Monica John’s role is unfortunately a little bit too small, but she proves to be suitable in that one. Athulya Chandra does job well, as she seems to reflect the character in concern really well. Nandu is there in a small role, and so are a number of performers who make the smaller contributions.

How it finishes :: The fact that the director switches from feel-good movies like Sunday Holiday, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Mohan Kumar Fans, the effect seems to be lesser than what the genre deserved. His first movie and the only thriller, Bicycle Thieves was one of the worst thrillers which graced Malayalam movie industry with a twist which was as dumb as it could get. This one is surely much better than that, but one has to wonder about the purpose of making feel-good thrillers – most of the time, such combinations form a strange paradox which is not acceptable. When actors play actors, there seems to be something lacking too, and the same was seen in movies like Driving Licence too. But the makers do manage to bring things together as the movie nears the end, and this seems to be the kind of thriller which would also make the family audience happy, as such light thrillers are not easy to find. Well, if this kind of thrills happen in real life, there would be terror guaranteed, but not that much in this case.

Release date: 8th June 2022 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Antony Varghese, Asif Ali, Nimisha Sajayan, Reba Monica John, Rony David, Nandu, Irshad, Athulya Chandra, Anand Bal, Siddique Ismail

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Luther

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: The last one we watched was Forensic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Black Island

Vampire Owl: Are we talking about the island near the Northern Witches territory?

Vampire Bat: That one is called the Dark Island of Magic.

Vampire Owl: Well, that depends on the translation.

Vampire Bat: Let the vampire elders deal with the translation of ancient languages.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein is good with languages.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr Frankenstein was talking about computer languages.

Vampire Owl: He has worked with the Northern Witches in relation to creating new magic potions through scientific experiments.

Vampire Bat: This is why I told you that he is a pseudo-scientist of no real value.

Vampire Owl: You should say the same thing when he wins the Vampire Nobel Prize,  and gets elected to the Vampire Science Academy.

Vampire Bat: There is no Vampire Nobel Prize for pure nonsense.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jonas Hansen (Philip Froissant) is an orphan who lives under the sponsorship of the last member of his family. He recently lost his grandmother to the attack of a dog on a beach, while his parents had died in a car crash caused by another driver, both incidents seemingly having something strange about it. Nina Cohrs (Mercedes Muller) who lives in the island is instantly attracted to Jonas, and they become good friends. Most of the girls of the island do have some attraction towards him. It is that kind of a place where there is not that much of a modernity – beautiful scenery seems to make the best out of tourism, but even then, not many tourists visit the area. The place doesn’t have a lot of things happening around there either, and it remains a place of serenity throughout the year. Helena Jung (Alice Dwyer) takes over the German classes in an island which is located far away from the mainland in Europe. She is the replacement for a teacher who just had an accident, and would take a lot of time to make a return.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The new teacher feels like someone whom everyone would like, and she remains friendly with almost every student. She asks the students to call her by her first name when they are not at the educational institution, or when nobody else is listening. She also shows great interest in making the students write poetry and improve their creative writing skills, and with the friendly attitude, becomes a favourite of almost all the students. Soon, Helena seems to get really close to Jonas, or rather too close for a teacher and student, while Nina maintains a certain amount of dislike for her. Nina’s suspicions are at place, but the relationship between the teacher and the student only becomes more intimate. There are too many secrets related to the new teacher, and any attempt to venture any deeper into it will put Nina in peril. But can she stay away from this mystery as she cares too much about Jonas? Will Jonas really understand what is going on here? What is the motive of Helena, and why would she choose to be in a remote island instead of the city from where she arrived?

The defence of Black Island :: The movie does work as a mystery thriller a few minutes into action itself. There is the eerie feeling that spreads through the movie especially due to the setting on an island which reminds one of that strange world surrounded by water shown in Sacrifice. The twists await us, and the movement forward, even though slow, is rather smooth. It also makes sure that there is no falling into that usual pit of nonsense with the relationship at the centre. The visuals are really good, as we are introduced into a world with natural beauty within, and surrounded by beaches and crystal clear ocean water, reminding us to go for a journey soon enough. Well, after that COVID-19 scenario, travel hasn’t really opened up for most of us, and it is nice to see this world of beauty at least on the screen. The atmosphere does suit the thirst for revenge, and we know that this kind of a world can have even a serial killer on the loose with maximum effect. There will be the moments to cherish right in between.

The claws of flaw :: This is not the kind of idea that one would need to appreciate for theme – elder teachers falling in love with too young a student is not something that should be encouraged, even with seemingly decent movies like Premam which would use pretensions to play with the minds of the unsuspecting people – as part of a plan of vengeance, that wouldn’t look that bad in this case; there is enough of a past around here. Still, the relationship should have looked more convincing, and the things around here looks rather too easy. These are the kind of things which are to be dealt with more intensity. The movie also kills off one of the most interesting characters in there rather too early. The investigation into all of these should have also been stronger, and people in this movie are not as smart as they should have been. The moments which are of importance here should have also been edited better, showing them as the parts which shouldn’t be missed. The movie could have also picked up pace too.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is mostly an Alice Dwyer work, with her as the centre of attraction. There are still moments when one would feel that she could have been completely into this case of revenge, but at times, she seems be not in focus at more than one thing. It could be more because of her character not being written with that vision that a revenge-seeker should have. A stronger character would have been better for our eyes and the rest of the senses. Yet, she maintains that mystery about her well, especially during the first half of the flick. Mercedes Muller plays a strong role, and she is lovely in her infatuation towards her long-time friend. She seems to be the one intelligent and determined person like nobody else in the movie, and she surely required a screen presence throughout the movie. Philip Froissant plays a usual character who surprisingly has too less to do other than listening to his teacher who became the lover and the friends around him – he is reduced into a person of not that much of importance. The other performers are of not that importance in this small world.

How it finishes :: I have come across some of the interesting German movies in the last few years, and they seem to keep a certain level with the thrillers. Whether it was Blood Red Sky, Freaks or Breakdown Forest, there is some attempt at thinking differently instead of going with the usual things. Well, horror movies and thrillers are the only things which seem to keep me going in this world of chaos and hopelessness. There has been the down-feeling which came with the Corona virus which doesn’t seem to leave, and it feels worse as we are going back to the society. Still, when we see the hatred that is seen in movies like these, we feel that this is real, a reflection of the society that we know, the one full of liars and cheaters. We have to accept horror as a normal part of life, more real than romance and drama which are considered too real. With some more focus, this movie could have done better, and as of now, it goes on as a thriller which also a work of drama and mystery that takes over on many occasions. The movie works better than what some of the reviews had talked about.

Release date: 18th August 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Miguel Alexandre
Starring: Jolene Andersen, Alice Dwyer, Susan Angelo, Hanns Zischler, Mercedes Muller, Jonas Hansen

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

<<< Click here to go to the first German film reviewed here.

<<< Click here to go to the first full-length German film reviewed here.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Photocopier

Vampire Owl: I remember taking the photocopy of the Vampire Deed of Blood.

Vampire Bat: It is originally called the Nocturnal Crimson Deed.

Vampire Owl: That reminds me of the movie, Nocturnal Animals.

Vampire Bat: Do you remember the other Indonesian movies we had watched?

Vampire Owl: Yes, two of them – Impetigore and Gundala.

Vampire Bat: They were some very interesting flicks with a divergence.

Vampire Owl: Yes, one horror film and a superhero flick.

Vampire Bat: It took us some time to watch another Indonesian movie.

Vampire Owl: Well, we can’t watch them all, right?

Vampire Bat: We never get to watch enough of them after the arrival of corona virus and the following warning.

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

What is the movie about? :: Suryani (Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon) is a college student who is also part of the theatre group at the campus, named Mata Hari. After the performance, she returns home to a very strict father and a mother who is always working, far away from the city. At home, she finds out that their performance called Medusa et Perseus in the Student Theatre Festical was accepted for the Asian Student Festival in Kyoto, Japan; her father asks her to focus on her studies. There is a party at the house of their leader Rama Soemarno (Giulio Parengkuan) to celebrate the triumph, but her father does warn her against it, especially related to consuming alcohol and wearing revealing dress. Another girl, a senior named Farah (Lutesha) also asks her not to go to the party, and advices her to instead focus on getting the scholarship that she had always wanted. She feels that Farah is saying so because he was kicked out of the theatre group. The group also finds the suitable sponsors for their flight tickets to Japan.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The party feels more wild than she had expected, and forgetting what her father had told her, she decides to have the alcohol, even though not without difficulty in drinking it for the first time. She also forgets the earlier decision to leave the party before it gets too late, as she enjoys a lot under the influence of the alcoholic drinks. In the morning, she wakes up very late, and arrives for the scholarship interview on the next day just in time. But she is embarrassed in front of the interviewers who had checked her social media, which had her pictures of drinking alcohol and enjoying the party. Even though she has good scores and attendance, they reiterate to her that drinking alcohol and attending late night parties are not Indonesian culture; they are looking forward to give scholarships to students who set good examples and not those who could go on to become nuisance for the society in the future. They also added that instead of doing work within her department which was Computer Science, she was wasting time with theatre. She had also attended the interview in party wear, and has to walk out of the room humiliated.

And what more is there for the girl in trouble right now? :: The teacher asks her to join the class only after paying her fees, which she can only do with the scholarship. Back at home, she comes to know that her parents had received the message that her scholarship was terminated due to inappropriate conduct. Her father throws her out of the house for breaking the religious laws by drinking alcohol, and tells her that everybody knows about it now, as some guy was carrying her back home, knocking on each door on the way to know her residence. That had caused a big mess in the neighbourhood as it was three in the morning, causing humiliation to the whole family. He asks her to leave and spend time in repentence. The leading performer of the theatre, Anggun (Dea Panendra), the party host Rama (Giulio Parengkuan) and the group leader Tariq (Jerome Kurnia), are all ready to help her, but nobody knows what exactly happened in the drunken state and who uploaded those pictures of her being drunk at the party. Now, she has to find it out herself, can she?

The defence of Photocopier a.k.a. Penyalin Cahaya :: Photocopier nicely goes through the adventure from the beginning to end, keeping us curious, and as a part of the whole mystery that is happening around here. Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon nicely goes through the role of the desperate student hoping to prove to everyone that she didn’t do what she was accused of doing, also desperate to get her scholarship back. The feeling of a curious as well as a sad and depressed girl is always there. Lutesha plays the next person to be of interest here, and her role is also worked out with quality. Dea Panendra as Anggun and Jerome Kurnia as Tariq remain strong parts of the work too. Ruth Marini and Lukman Sardi who plays the protagonist’s father are strong with the emotional side. There is no questioning the movie’s emotional strength as much as its strong elements of mystery, which seems to be almost impossible to solve, unless passed on as hallucinations or with a high dose of luck added here and there. Giulio Parengkuan and Chicco Kurniawan also have their moments.

Positives and negatives :: This is one of those movies which could have actually gone darker with its contents – instead it chooses the safe path. It still has its dark side hiding in plain sight, but strong enough. There seems to be a certain amount of hesitation in taking the risks with this film too. The movie has its fine setting in different parts of Indonesia, and this is a tale which could be put in the worlds of a few other nations too. With a few red herrings, it makes one feel that the innocents and the culprits and vice versa, while also making one wonder if there is actually any mystery about all of these or if it is already in the head. In a movie which feels close enough to reality, you won’t expect this many twists and turns, but there are many, and most of the characters here are not really what they seem. The movie talks about privacy in a world of mobile, CCTV and hidden cameras as well as the factors working on physical and mental health. The movie ponders on life, friendships, trust and betrayal at the same time. Still, there is the question about the uploading of the photos in social media that remains – the film seems to be too abstract about that.

How it finishes :: This is the third Indonesian movie that I am watching, and there was a certain interest in watching such a movie during our earlier trip to Bali too. This is that kind of a movie which doesn’t want us to skip forward even if it is not that quick – we do feel the need to be part of it. The negative effects of social media and lack of safety during night parties are the two things that this movie adds along with the interesting investigation that goes on here with the thrills and twists. It is also a reminder that people and things around are not the same as what we think they are. The movie reminds us that nobody is safe, and not everything that you hear from the most trusted people are true. Well, we know that those who are too rich and influential always gets away unless facing someone of a similar or higher status – in the case of celebrities, we have seen how people get away with everything. Well, not with Photocopier, as it does have the power of many. As it follows a realistic route, there is no stopping it from being something we can connect at points.

Release date: 8th October 2021 (Indonesia); 13th January 2022 (Netflix)
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Wregas Bhanuteja
Starring: Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon, Lutesha, Chicco Kurniawan, Dea Panendra, Jerome Kurnia, Giulio Parengkuan, Lukman Sardi, Ruth Marini, Mian Tiara, Yayan Ruhian, Landung Simatupang, Rukman Rosadi

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

12th Man

What is the movie about? :: A few friends from college come together at a resort far away from civilization – Zacharia (Unni Mukundan), Mathew (Saiju Kurup), Nayana (Sshivada) Shiny (Anusree), Merin (Anu Sithara), Sidharth (Anu Mohan), Jithesh (Chandhunath), Sam (Rahul Madhav), Fida (Leona Lishoy), Aarathy (Aditi Ravi) and Annie (Priyanka Nair) come together with their families after a very long time. Zacharia and Annie had just found out that they are going to be parents. Sidharth and Aarathy are going to get married soon, and this particular party is on them. The resort is fully booked only for them, and a lot of facilities are available for them. As they play cricket, Siddharth’s big shot ends up hitting Chandrashekhar (Mohanlal), who is angry that he lost his bottle of liquor when the ball hit him. He asks for a replacement, but there are not bars or beverage shops nearby. To avoid him, the resort arranges some local toddy, but in the final stages, that also becomes becomes unavailable, and the group has to provide him with the alcohol. He accepts it and leaves.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: After Chandrasekhar leaves, the group decides to take it to the next level. There are too many calls attended by the participants of the programme, and they decide to make all calls and messages which reach their mobile phones during the time period public, in a game of trust. But it is not that simple a game as they had thought, despite Nayana and Fida supporting the same very much. In the first phone call itself, the problems between Zacharia’s mother and wife is revealed, as the former talks about latter’s pregnancy and related issues. Now, Zacharia is in support of the game, saying that let everyone go through the same situation. Two phone calls go on without creating much of a problem, but soon, Mathew’s financial problems are revealed to everyone. But that will not be the biggest revelation, and soon, there would be a revelation that would affect their friendship. Then, soon enough, there is a murder in the premises. Now, the question remains about what can happen next in this small world in the middle of nowhere? Who is the trouble maker here?

The defence of 12th Man :: What interests us the most here is the visual setting, and the atmosphere that it provides the catalyst to help the whole story. This is the kind of world where murders could happen without a trace. The beauty of the place is another thing, and that would surely make one want to visit the area, The twists are really well built in the movie after the death happens. There are different viewpoints being nicely explored around here. Most of the film keeps close to the three classical unities, and maintains its effectiveness using the short time period of the tale. The voice cast is also strong around here – Mallika Sukumaran, Kottayam Pradeep, Soubin Shahir, Aju Varghese and Murali Gopy. Mohanlal can be seen as nicely taking over control here from an environment in which there was nothing like that. He has played a different police officer, and excels in the second half. The movie does a fine job in exposing the fake friendships going on with masks always present there. It reflects how friendships over drinks are the quickest to break apart, and that those built on lies have no existence at all.

The claws of flaw :: Playing games in a building was earlier seen in the Bollywood movie Chehre. This movie takes a lot of times to get there. The final conclusion with the killer is not that conclusive. Some of the revelations are rather too predictable, and with a setting like this, they could have tried more to keep things smarter – this is not the same audience that the makers are facing, or OTT has changed their world by a long way, and the expectations won’t be the same. The initial moments with silly jokes based on the protagonist surely feels more dumb than ever; maybe it would have worked in the theatres with the fans sitting all around. The fans are known for making the nonsense a case of brilliance, but when a movie is releasing on OTT, it has to be smart, as the fans can’t create that kind of an influence, and there are people around the world who are judging this. The movie could have also used the environment in an even better way. Each character could have also been explored further, for there was a lot of talent out there. The film is also too long.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal is not present on the screen when a lot of interesting things happen around here. He has a terrible, mostly dumb entry in the beginning, which falls flat on its face, while going on becoming more and more irritating. It seems to be fashion to show drunk people becoming heroes. But later, after a murder happens, things only get better, and the character is finally given a true existence outside alcohol and talking nonsense. Mohanlal is completely in control of things in the later stages, as he leads the journey with efficiency. It is always nice to see the two sides of him – Bro Daddy was there on the other side. The next person to catch our attention is Leona Lishoy, the actress who has been seen as someone with different dimensions, always notable in any role that she plays, whether it is the mother in Annmariya Kalippilaanu, sister in Maradona or the investigator in Anveshanam; often rising above the movie itself. We knew how she fared in Mayaanadhi, and she comes up with the divergence here too. Some people do their roles rather too perfectly and she is one of them.

Further performers of the soul :: The next person who catches our attention is Anu Sithara, and she has played the good girl image really well – she does look different around here, and that also suits her. Anusree does the job of the most irritating female character of last few years after Srindha in Sherlock Toms. It does feel like a little too much at times. Priyanka Nair and Saiju Kurup are here after that interesting thriller called Antakshari, and both of them once again proves to be solid performers, even though not seen as a pair this time. Unni Mukundan does nothing heroic like in Meppadiyan, and has only a role which is at par or at times, a little below most of the others. Sshivada seems to be playing the one respectable character out there, who doesn’t keep secrets to save herself. Anu Mohan and Chandhunath comes into the picture strong enough. Rahul Madhav plays another character with more than what meets eye well, and that actually applies to all of them. Nandhu and Siddique gets rather smaller roles which they go through with ease. Aditi Ravi supports well within the group.

How it finishes :: When the name Jeethu Joseph is associated with any movie, we know that it will have something of relevance as far as the thrills are concerned. Even though Oozham did have a struggle to go through its nonsensical world, Memories and Drishyam were the biggest thrillers of the industry at that time. This movie attempts to get into that particular group of greatness too. Yet, the journey is not of that high quality, and never does it provide the innovation to feel that this is not something we haven’t seen before. The best movies are indeed the ones which have Jeethu Joseph writing and directing all by himself, but this one doesn’t have the script from him. Yet, this one surely goes on an interesting journey, with its own twists and turns in a setting which adds to the overall mood. I am always in support of a murder investigation mystery in which everyone is a suspect – with the perfect surroundings, things have a minimum guarantee.

Release date: 20th May 2022 (Hotstar)
Running time: 163 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Mohanlal, Unni Mukundan, Saiju Kurup, Anu Sithara, Leona Lishoy, Sshivada, Aditi Ravi, Priyanka Nair, Anusree, Anu Mohan, Rahul Madhav, Chaghunath, Nandhu, Pradeep Chandran, Chali Pala, Siddique

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Antakshari

Vampire Owl: This reminds us of the great game that we had in the castle.

Vampire Bat: The human game was indeed interesting.

Vampire Owl: Yet, humans play more of the evil games.

Vampire Bat: It is just a part of their evil nature.

Vampire Owl: Evil is part of their nature more than ever these days.

Vampire Bat: Can you guess how many evil humans are in this movie?

Vampire Owl: I am guessing that at least ninety five percent of them will be evil.

Vampire Bat: It is not really a big percentage for any group of humans.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has determined it be as high as ninety nine most of the time.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that this has anything to do with Mr Frankenstein and his fake experiments of no meaning.

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

What is the movie about? :: Circle Inspector Das (Saiju Kurup) is the officer in charge of a police station in the remote area of a hilly terrain, where Srinivas (Sudhi Koppa) joins as a probationary officer while hoping to solve a big case as soon as possible. Das gets into a fight with Vasudevan (Vijay Babu), who is a local leader of a prominent party, and also has multiple business interests. On the very next day, Das’ daughter is almost strangled to death by a man wearing a paper mask, saved only because of his wife Chitra (Priyanka Nair) noticing it at the right time. Despite threatening Das and his family before, Vasudevan denies any kind of involvement in the act, affirming that his problems are solved face to face, and there will be no hiding. Das has the habit of playing antakshari where each person sings a song, and the next person begins with the letter on which the previous person’s song ended. On the day on which his daughter was attacked, he had also received a call from an unknown number asking him to sing a song, or his daughter will be singing instead.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Their senior officer Jayachandran (Binu Pappu) and the local head constable Hariharan (Kottayam Ramesh) are not really fond of Das, as they are on the side of Vasudevan, and do not want him to solve too mysterious a case. He also comes against a strange, mute girl named Nayana (Ishita Singh) who has come to her grandparents’ home from Delhi. There is something about her, as she also seems to be hiding some secrets which nobody would want to know. Das and Srinivas slowly, but effectively connects the dots and finds out that similar murders have happened before, but police had closed the cases. Some of those murders were also considered to be accidents, and the deaths of the fathers after the murders of their children were considered to be accidents or suicides as a result of alcoholism and depression. The two officers end up finding a chain of events which lead a long way back, but will they be able to find the person behind it in time or is there another murder on the path?

The defence of Antakshari :: The movie has a police officer who is rather ordinary, and it has his struggles in finding the psychotic murderer, who is really that crazy as in Forensic, and very unlike the non-psychotic revenge seeker in Anjaam Pathira. The cop doesn’t have that much of a flaw as the protagonist of Memories, but is very much relatable with a usual kind of family and personal problems. The movie is shot nicely, and with some fine performances, leaves scope for a possible sequel – despite the low chances, we hope that such an attempt is made; there are also other similar trials of investigation which can be combined with this one to create a shared universe. Such a sequel can also talk about those elements of this movie which seems lost, and maybe, it can be a serial killer universe instead of a cop universe. This is the kind of movie which Bollywood would use to make a super-cop, but thankfully, we don’t leave it in their hands. The movie doesn’t take the predictable path either, as there seems to be the possibility of fun discovered in taking the road less taken, on the lines of Robert Frost.

The claws of flaw :: Antakshari is quite slow in its progression, and there are characters who don’t really play much of a role in moving the tale forward. A few things also go without explanations. The whole saga of one family with an abusive father, frustrated mother, music-playing son and cat-loving daughter facing a mysterious girl don’t fit in here at all – neither do the broken guitar and dead cat. This is that kind of a family which could have been there for namesake, but so much of time is wasted on them. If a red herring was intended, that should have been a part of the storyline – there was another villain out there who could have served the same. The young engineering student who is in love with a mysterious mute girl makes no sense, even if the vampires were to turn cent percent vegetarian. Without these moments, the movie could have been shorter, and the pacing could have surely been better. This one lets the lost moments go lost rather than get it back and link them. There were so many paths that this film could have taken, that is for sure.

The performers of the soul :: Saiju Kurup shines really well as the police inspector who has this investigation on a personal level rather than anything else, like Joju George of Joseph. He has been one actor who didn’t get enough opportunities to lead, but this is one chance which he holds on to. He is someone who suits this kind of a police officer really well. Sudhi Koppa plays the role of the supporting officer well, and it is also not a role he is stranger to. He is another performer whom we need to see very often, as there seems to be a lot of requirements for quality actors rather than entertainers. Binu Pappu doesn’t have that good and understanding police officer role here, but does this shade with ease. Priyanka Nair who did have some fine roles years ago has another one to remember here. Among all the roles being performed here, Ishita Singh’s role remains the one which doesn’t seem to give us any idea of its purpose of existence – feels like an absurd side around here, even though she suits the character. The rest of the characters mostly just have to play along here, but more notable are the woman and child from the flashback. Vijay Babu has a small role.

How it finishes :: Like Salute, Antakshari is another movie which doesn’t depend on the foolish mass masala to go through investigations by police officers. It is very good and effective because it doesn’t cater to those brainless fans who visit the theatres and get a movie crores of business while losing all their money to petrol, parking fees, highly expensive food and others. This movie is for the others, who look out for the new releases on OTT platforms, as the Corona virus pandemic has shown us that it is indeed the right thing to do. Well, you have the choice not to go to the theatre and watch those foolish dance and music to which insanity is unleashed in between a story – I would call for the lack of the same every time. The mass masala genre itself is a fake thing created for the superstars and their children to call their fans to the theatres and by creating the fake vibes, they make the rest of the audience feel that the movie is fantastic – lets see how long these star kids who fly around beating people and doing dumb romance will go. After that, you can come back to good movies like this one.

Release date: 22nd April 2022 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Vipin Das
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Priyanka Nair, Sudhi Koppa, Vijay Babu, Binu Pappu, Thomas Kunnampuzha, Shabareesh Varma, Sruthy Suresh, Kottayam Ramesh, Boban Samuel, Sandeep Pradeep, Ishita Singh

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Night Drive

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time when the vampire team was on a night drive?

Vampire Bat: We only have night drives around here. We don’t go for morning drives.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the night drives have been rare too.

Vampire Bat: That is because we don’t drive, but fly.

Vampire Owl: Not all vampires can fly, or even glide.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we bats and owls do.

Vampire Owl: Yet, we can go for a drive in the vampire-mobile.

Vampire Bat: It is a bat-mobile, and it is my private property.

Vampire Owl: You don’t use it as you can fly.

Vampire Bat: It will not be used for night drives, and that is final.

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

What is the movie about? :: Georgy Jacob (Roshan Mathew) works as an Uber driver and hopes to migrate to the Middle Easy for a better future. He is in love with Riya Roy (Anna Ben), a very popular news reporter, and they used to be childhood friends for a very long time. They do keep a certain amount of distance between them, as Riya’s father, Roy Mathew (Renju Panicker) who has retired from the military forces is not fond of Georgy. For Riya’s birthday which is also the Christmas evening, they decide to go on a night drive without her father knowing anything about it. At the same time, Rajan Kurup (Siddique) is caught in a gold smuggling scandal which was discovered by Riya and her channel, a case which has been transferred to NIA. He expects to be arrested by the squad on the very next day, and asks Chacko Cherian (Kalabhavan Shajohn) to find a way to get rid of the gold in his home before NIA comes for the raid. Rajan’s trusted aid Jaleel (Sudheer Karamana) assigns the minister’s personal assistant Balu (Kaliash) to get the gold to a safe house.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Meanwhile, Riya who was driving the car gets into a fight with Circle Inspector Benny Moopen (Indrajith Sukumaran) who was doing routine vehicle checking. Benny lets them go so that he can avoid any of the people there spreading the news about him bothering a lady in the middle of the night, but is clearly angry about the incident. Riya who keeps arguing with Georgy over the earlier incident suddenly spots someone in front of their car, and the vehicle seems to have hit that person, who is revealed to be Balu with a bag full of gold. The two manages to take him to the hospital, which brings Francis (Prasanth Alexander) who owns the car they were driving and Ammini (Sreevidya Mullachery) handles that particular Uber fleet operations to the hospital too. The police officer in charge of the case is Benny, who is only happy to torment Riya and Georgy over the incident. He decides to keep them in the hospital, but the arrival of Chacko at the hospital with other motives complicates things.

The defence of Night Drive :: The movie seems to move forward naturally in the beginning stages, with likable characters and the incidents which can be related by different people from various stage of their lives. The beginning stages go on with the usual, and feels like the natural order of things. It does have some fine twists, and a few red herrings are also there to make sure that one doesn’t guess it the right way. The different characters in the movie are not really what they seem to be, as the visages tend to show differently on diferent occasions. There are moments which keep you at the edge of the seat, as these are characters whom you like. The cast has been chosen well here, as you feel that there would have been tendency to go for a few others, but here we have characters getting equal importance instead of the focus shifting to one person. The visuals of Cochin are really good around here. This is the kind of movie which should have released directly on OTT, as there is a certain possibility of this going popular among the audience outside Kerala if it was first released online.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie had built up so well, the final scenes are not that much up to the mark. There is the plan to bring some mass action in the end, but it doesn’t suit the overall mood of the film – a darker version of the final moments would have done better for this particular movie. Let the outdated superstars do the mass action for their brainless fans, and the new generation of actors should go for class and perfection. These are not the times of such fan nonsense in the theatres, as we have the post-corona virus OTT loving audience as a strong force, and this is the flick which will be watch more on such platforms rather than anywhere else. It had a certain realistic side to the proceedings until the makers decided to go full action in the last few minutes with a specific background story added to the main characters. The first few minutes could have been shortened too, as there seems to be an extension of the less important happenings then. The conclusion could have also been kept at a higher level.

The performers of the soul :: Roshan Mathew has been continuously working hard to come up with some memorable performances, last seen in the Amazon Prime Video release, Kuruthi, a thriller with many messages. Coming out of the first big role in Aanandam and the earlier smaller ones in Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Puthiya Niyamam, he has evolved a lot to reach this higher level. His performance in this movie is realistic for most of the time, and something to be appreciated, until the mass moments come in the end. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen has already let Anna Ben set a bar which is difficult for her to overcome – even with a film like Sara’s having her as the life and soul. Indrajith Sukumaran is solid as the police officer who seems strict as well as menacing, and at the same time, likes to have a strong grip on his investigation. Siddique once again plays the corrupt politician with sinister motives well, and reminds one of Jagathy Sreekumar of Passenger. Kaliash once again has a good supporting role and so is Kalabhavan Shajohn, while it is nice to see Sreevidya Mullachery of Star Magic fame playing a memorable role here – she is indeed a lovely talent, and the fair reason for anyone to watch the popular show in Flowers television channel.

How it finishes :: Night Drive becomes a movie of interest without that much of a hype associated with it. It has some fine moments of interest, and successfully deviates from the tendency to go full nonsense like in that Shane Nigam – Shine Tom Chacko film of misery and shame, the pariah of a movie called Ishq. When two lovers are on a night drive, the situation can be tackled well to make a thriller of quality beyond the usual and the expected, as shown around here. This movie seemed to have Roshan instead of Shane, Indrajith instead of Shine and Anna instead of Ann, with the main characters going for a night ride as part of celebrating the lady love’s birthday, and in the process being stopped by the man claiming to be the police officer – seems so familiar for those who have watched that movie, but this one takes a completely different route, and also involves other characters in a journey of twists which are not about just two, three or four people. Night Drive is successful and delivers nicely when we take a fine look.

Release date: 11th March 2022 (Theatre); 10th April 2022 (Netflix/Manorama Max)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Vysakh
Starring: Roshan Mathew, Anna Ben, Indrajith Sukumaran, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Sreevidya Mullachery, Kailash, Muthumani, Prasanth Alexander, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Siddique

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Seance

Vampire Owl: So, more youngsters are trying to make contact with the dead.

Vampire Bat: Yes, you needn’t be bothered as this is not about the undead.

Vampire Owl: Nobody can contact us through the portal. It has natural resistance.

Vampire Bat: There is absolutely nothing natural about the portal.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has arranged for the natural resistance.

Vampire Bat: If the crazy scientist is involved, it is is surely not natural.

Vampire Owl: You continue to underestimate the doctor.

Vampire Bat: I make no estimate of such a pseudo-scientist.

Vampire Owl: You know that the Frankenstein monster is real.

Vampire Bat: So are his 2897 accidental creations, which are of no use.

[Gets a vancho cake and three glasses of strawberry shake].

What is the movie about? :: At Edelvine Academy for Girls, Alice (Inanna Sarkis), Bethany (Madisen Beaty) and other girls play a prank on their friends by faking the appearance of the Edelvine Ghost, an urban legend about a student who killed herself – soon, one of their friends, Kerrie (Megan Best), is found dead in the academy hostel, having fallen from her window. A new student Camille (Suki Waterhouse) who has been on the waiting list for the academy admission for a long time, gets the seat which has been left vacant by the death of Kerrie. The headmistress, Mrs Landry (Marina Stephenson Kerr) considers the death as an unfortunate accident, and is happy to have her there. Camille does feel that there is something wrong with the room. She becomes friends with Helina (Ella-Rae Smith), but gets in a fight with Alice and Bethany’s gang including Yvonne (Stephanie Sy), Rosalind (Djouliet Amara) and Lenora (Jade Michael), and gets beaten up by Alice with the help of her friends. The headmistress sends them to detention in the library until a certain amount of archiving is complete.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The girls, despite their differences, decide to work together for the time being to finish the job as soon as possible and get out of there. It is during the detention that Alice convinces the group including Carmille and Helina to join her in a seance meant to contact Kerrie’s spirit and what actually happened. The two get the feeling that this is only a prank, but everyone finds things go out of control as they really seems to make contact with a spirit which tells them that they are going to be murdered by someone only mentioned as “her”. They are not sure if the spirit belongs to Kerrie or the original spirt which is part of the urban legend. Later in the night, Lenora moves away from the others to a lonely area to text a possible future boyfriend, but ends up seeing a masked figure. Soon, she is attacked and killed by the same strange figure. Mrs Landry feels that Lenora had run away as her personal items are missing along with her. Camille feels that her room might still be haunted by Kerrie, and there are enough dark spaces in the building for them to be scared.

And what more is with the girls and the ghosts around here in a world of chaos? :: The police and the parents feels that Lenora might have run away with the man with whom she became acquainted online. With the help of the man in charge of the rooms, Trevor (Seamus Patterson) who also happens to be the son of the headmistress, they get into Lenora’s room and find a strange cross made out of blood on the bed. They identify the symbol as part of the pendant worn by the girl who had killed herself and became Edelvine Ghost. Soon enough, Rosalind would be next person to be murdered by the unknown figure. Her death is considered to be an accident, but has the girls very much worried about what might happen next. Another one of the girls also notice a masked figure in the room, but the headmistress still dismisses it as a strange dream. The girls feel that time is running out for them, and if a solution is not found out soon enough, they are all going to disappear or die soon enough. Yet, it doesn’t make much of sense.

The defence of Seance :: The effects that this movie seems to use for horror seems to be of great quality. There is a fine atmosphere for the horror to grow at all times. The sound effects also nicely contribute to the same. The music is also very nice, and contributes well to the overall atmosphere of the movie – we do feel that it makes us feel more engaged with the whole thing. You think that this is going in one direction, and then there is another dimension to the whole thing – we notice the music changing accordingly, and there are always some fine settings to contribute to the horror. The presence of something sinister is also there, and with the fine use of darkness, the movie assures one of the same. The makers surely know how to get the best ingredients, and arrange them. There are some dialogues which seem to be coming randomly, but they are all of some significance. There are so many directions which this movie could choose, and we can see that it doesn’t try to go for the usual, which has served right – as Robert Frost would say about the road not that much taken making the difference.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has one nice twist to the killings which is pretty much an interesting surprise as the clues wouldn’t lead to the killings that easily. There are many red herrings present in here, as a ghost isn’t everything that we need to suspect around here. They mystery is strong, and there are enough suspects around here for one to await more deaths to happen. It is strange that there are many negative reviews to keep this one down, as we come to know that there is more to this than what can be seen after the first few minutes itself. You have the feeling that this could be Ouija and its sequels or I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequels – this one has the killer and the ghostly presence, which means that your guess can most probably just go wrong. It could have still made the murders look better – even the shower murder scene goes wasted in here. Yet, the girls are too good, especially Suki Waterhouse, Inanna Sarkis and Madisen Beaty who blends in nicely with a possibility to become bigger scream queens of future, Suki also having some fine action sequences – reminds one of The Hunt fights.

How it finishes :: Seance is one find surprise horror movie that seems to have made an impact out of nowhere. We often have the tendency to underestimate movies like these, but some horror films have the skills to lift themselves up despite what you think, especially with so many negative reviews around. There is more than what meets the eye here, and there is the mixture of more than one genre as things come together. Well, horror is rarely one thing – even in real life, there is more than one kind of terror – we had different ones here, from nipah virus to corona virus, excess rainfall leading to floods, rising prices of fuel and the possibility of descending into chaos from what seemed to be good order. The reality of horror which prevails in this thankless world where evil people get the best results can be often more terrifying for people. Otherwise, we will always have movies like this one. Amazon Prime Video has the right horror movie this time, rising very high above last year’s Madres, The Manor and Black as Night.

Release date: 21st May 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Simon Barrett
Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith Inanna Sarkis, Marina Stephenson-Kerr, Seamus Patterson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Salute

Vampire Owl: This movie surely had our attention early enough.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we noticed something about this one quite long ago.

Vampire Owl: We have all been fond of such thrillers.

Vampire Bat: This seems to be something on the lines of Meppadiyan.

Vampire Owl: Yes, a thriller which seems to reflect the usual happenings.

Vampire Bat: A thriller that makes us more conscious then!

Vampire Owl: We should be better aware of the human world for sure.

Vampire Bat: We can never be aware enough about human evil.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but it is always better to be prepared.

Vampire Bat: Well, you will know that you can never be enough prepared for anything what the humans can offer.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: SI Aravind Karunakaran (Dulquer Salmaan) was one of the investigating officers on a murder case which was investigated by him and his brother who is also in the police force, DySP Ajith Karunakaran (Manoj K Jayan) along with a few others. They find the only person who holds a definite grudge against the murder victim and had also spoken against him – the same person had so many motives to commit the murder. The police feels cent percent sure that he was the one who committed the murder, and plants evidence against him, leading to his arrest. It is at the same time that another person seems to be linked to the murder, but the same police officers decide not to investigate on the case any more as it is closed, leaving everything to the court. Aravind is not happy about it though, and wishes to make a difference. But his brother and other senior police officers make sure that he won’t have any access to any clues, and keeps him busy with other work.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Aravind is fed up with the situation and decides to take five years leave without salary. He pursues a course in the North, and in the process meets Dia (Diana Penty) with whom he falls in love. She is the daughter of a military officer, and they start a live-in relationship. Things seem to go on in a usual manner, and then his niece Malavika Ajith (Saniya Iyappan) invites him to her wedding which is to happen soon. Ajith also asks him to come home early and be part of the preparations. He decides to return home, even though he had decided to leave his past behind. When he gets back to his hometown, he takes Dia with him, and the family members except Malavika are not pleased about the same. There, he gets the news that the man who was framed in the murder is now convicted in the case. He decides to cancel his leave and ho after it once again. But can he solve the case better this time, after so many years?

The defence of Salute :: It can be seen that Salute keeps the whole thing procedural, and there is no masala which is often added with the usual police movies which are more categorized to action rather than anything else. Some of the Bollywood movies have brought us shame in the recent years with their depiction of police officers, and I am sure that most of the sensible people wished for a change – mass masala is indeed not a genre, and is the lack of creative imagination and skills. Even for those films without much of action added, this remains very realistic in comparison. The emotional side also remains strong throughout the movie, as not all battles here are meant to hurt the others, and yet requires to serve justice. The way in which the story is told, as it moves from one point to the other, is to be applauded. It also have very less predictability in its working. There is the reflection of the intelligence of the writers and director displayed at regular intervals though the progression of the tale.

Positives and negatives :: The movie talks about impersonation, which happens rather too often than one would think about. It is something which can easily happen in our world, as people tend to believe others rather too easily. Some people have the skills to talk very well, and in the end, the common man will only end up believing the person and as a result, is cheated. The movie is still slow, and it has a little too much of a length than what was needed – maybe it could have been shortened by removing a few moments with the romantic side or family drama. This is also not the movie for everyone, as some people will be looking for a much different thing. You don’t get an invincible hero here, but you do get the faceless villain, and there is a certain amount of beauty related to it. Along with the same, there are many red herrings, and as we move from one clue to the other, we feel that we are so close to finding the person responsible for all of these, but the slip is so nicely orchestrated around here.

The performers of the soul :: This indeed among Dulquer Salmaan’s best movies in some time, and he has given the right controlled performance required for this particular role. There is no beating up the villains or taking the extreme measure to catch one of them – he is a flawed character like the one Prithviraj Sukumaran played in Memories or Joju George played in Joseph, even though much younger and more energetic. Dulquer plays the police officer who is held between the requirements of duty and family really well, and in between all of these, romance was indeed unnecessary. I am not fond of people who remember Dulquer for movies like Bangalore Days – he needs to come the mind for works like this one! On the other side, there is Manoj K Jayan, and the tension between the two brothers are shown very nicely, as the veteran actor also comes in strong as the elder brother and superior police officer. Diana Penty’s Malayalam debut is good to watch, but nothing much is added by the character. Saniya Iyappan plays the happy and cheerful niece well. There are a good number of people who play the police officers well here too.

How it finishes :: Salute is not your conventional police investigation thriller, as it follows a path which is much better, even though not for the taste of the typical fan boys. This is also a good reason for the movie to release on the OTT platform rather than the theatre. Movies like this one will not have that much of an appreciation from the usual crowd of the theatres, but with the release on SonyLIV, it has reached a bigger audience all around India – it is the kind of crowd that would be happy with divergent movies like this. With a fine narrative style, and having no police officer who throws people around, we are into the realistic mode – the cop here is not perfect, and neither is the world around him. We see the reflection of our own universe, for the usual police movies with throwing people around seem to belong to another multiverse, a parallel universe where the protagonists are superheroes with special powers which will bring the DC and Marvel metahumans to shame. We are real, and so is this movie – there is no wrong turn.

Release date: 17th March 2022 (SonyLIV)
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Diana Penty, Saniya Iyappan, Manoj K Jayan, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Saikumar, Binu Pappu, Alencier Ley Lopez, Sudheer Karamana, Deepak Parambol, Irshad, Rajesh Sharma, Boban Alummoodan, Ganapathi S Poduval, Indrans, Vijilesh Karayad, Maala Parvathi, Nitin Thomas

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Wrong Turn

Vampire Owl: I have always taken the wrong turn intentionally.

Vampire Bat: Why would you do that?

Vampire Owl: Because it has made all the difference in my life.

Vampire Bat: Your life is not that different from anyone else.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why you are not able to find the difference.

Vampire Bat: You are actually supposed to take the road less travelled.

Vampire Owl: The wrong turn can also lead to such a road.

Vampire Bat: It is only a distant possibility. It can also lead to nowhere.

Vampire Owl: There is no nowhere for a vampire. There is a place everywhere.

Vampire Bat: Well, you can make the claim, but achieve nothing.

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

What is the movie about? :: Scott Shaw (Matthew Modine) travels to the countryside to search for his missing daughter, Jennifer Shaw (Charlotte Vega) who had promised to text him regularly, but he hasn’t heard from her or the others who were with him. The locals are not really helpful, and some of them feel that there is no use in searching for them, as the forest is very deep, and so many days have passed after the last information was provided about them. But he decides to keep looking, with some hope. Then, it goes to a flashback. Accompanying Jennifer, there were her friends as well as her boyfriend, Darius Clemons (Adain Bradley) and friends from college, Milla D’Angelo (Emma Dumont), Adam Lucas (Dylan McTee), Luis Ortiz (Adrian Favela) and Gary Amaan (Vardaan Arora). They only have hostility from local people in the bar, especially from a man named Nate Roades (Tim de Zarn), who asks if they need a guide, but the boys make fun of him. The whole bar seems to be not happy about their presence now and the encounter.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Jennifer also meets a strange woman called Edith (Daisy Head) who has a young mute girl, Ruthie (Rhyan Elizabeth Hanavan). At night, they also see a strange figure standing and looking inside their car, only to see the person quickly disappear. The woman at the hotel where they are staying tells the group to stay close to trail, as nature can be very unforgiving. There are also shadows moving near their hotel rooms at night. They do find some beautiful scenery, cliffs and waterfalls, and the trek surely begins very well. They decide to take a few steps away from the usual trail to find a historical fort along with more of the scenery. But on the way, a tree falls, and despite everyone trying their best to move away from it, Gary is killed in the most brutal fashion. Jennifer tells the group that she had seen a person out there, but nobody really believes her. It starts raining, and the group feels that they are lost, as it is night, and there is no mobile phone network available for any of them.

And what is to follow with the horror that awaits them in the forest? :: They decide to set a camp out there, and wait till the climate gets better or at least until there is light. Jennifer once again feels that there is someone walking near the camp, but doesn’t tell anyone because she feels that nobody would believe her, and it could have also been the shadow of a tree in the wind. But the very next day morning, they find out that Milla is missing, and so are their mobile phones, and any gadget they possessed. They realize that they were sleeping in a graveyard. They also find a foundation being laid for the true and blessed America. They also come up against Ruthie in the forest, and as Adam tries to chase her, he is caught in a trap, and is dragged underground. They try to look for him, only to find him being blindfolded and taken away by two people in deer skull masks. They feel that there are many other people in similar masks walking around them, and there are also a good number of traps being set at different parts of the forest. Can they survive this, or are they walking directly into a massacre?

The defence of Wrong Turn :: Wrong Turn manages to be an interesting reboot of a franchise which has run strong for quite a long time, even though it did lose some of the way with the later titles. The franchise has never stepped back in being the model slasher horror, even though there were setbacks with the story and characters in the later movies. Here, even though the movie begins in quite the usual manner, it gets better with progression, and the second half of the film is a thing of quality, raising itself to a reboot to look out for. The trial scene is among the best that a movie of this kind can offer. Charlotte Vega as the scream queen does own the movie, and is at her best during the sequences of fear within the forest and the later trial. Unlike how it looks in the beginning, the character does undergo a fine transformation in the middle and later stages of the movie. We are yet to see how she would in other horror films, but we are hopeful about that. Overall, the movie is successful in seemingly creating a world from where nobody seems to be able to even think about escaping in one piece.

The claws of flaw :: The ending is not that effective though, with the shots during the credits. The movie should have just ended just before the credits started rolling – maybe, they can have a black screen added there so that there can be a better setup for a sequel, which should be there without fail. The main performers other than the leading lady are not that effective around here, maybe because their characters had to be dumb to suit a slasher horror movie’s killers and their work. It is after at least two of the trekkers die, that things get more interesting. The movie, even though not that long, does take some time to get things quicker and sharper. It could have also used some of the common elements from the previous movies, but this one seems to play nice on many occasions without taking the risk that the earlier films had taken. It is their lack of understanding about what people want to see in a slasher horror classic which is Wrong Turn, as much as The Hills Have Eyes. Well, this is a slasher film with a fine premise, I would leave the advice to use the creative imagination and make it rise above the rest instead of leaving its own message messed up.

How it finishes :: This is my first review of any Wrong Turn movie because there has been only one film in the franchise releasing after this blog started, and that one movie never really came to the theatres here even in a highly censored form, and there was never really any chance to get it in electronic format here, without OTT platforms or with people finding interest in slasher horror. Therefore, this one is basically a requirement for me as a movie reviewer, a title which I have held since the early 2000s, even though this blog started only in 2013. I had to remove my earlier writings in blogs as I couldn’t find them worthy enough after starting this one after finishing my MA English Language and Literature. Well, this blog or web site was started to prove a few people wrong, and it doesn’t matter what I gained or lost with it, as I am glad to have this running. I am also happy to watch this reboot which maintain a lot from the original series, even though the main elements of those movies could have been here for more. This is above many horror movies of the time, that is for sure.

Release date: 26th January 2021
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Mike P Nelson
Starring: Charlotte Vega, Emma Dumont, Daisy Head, Adain Bradley, Bill Sage, Dylan McTee, Matthew Modine, Vardaan Arora, Tim de Zarn, Rhyan Elizabeth Hanavan, Chaney Morrow, Damian Maffei, Mark Mench, David Hutchison, Chris Hahn, Valerie Jane Parker, Daniel R Hill

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Intrusion

Vampire Owl: So, who is the real intruder around here?

Vampire Bat: Freida Pinto plays the one who goes through the intrusion.

Vampire Owl: I remember her from some of the interesting films of past.

Vampire Bat: Freida is indeed better than almost every Bollywood actress here.

Vampire Owl: Bollywood has never been known for quality in acting.

Vampire Bat: It has never been known much for the plot either.

Vampire Owl: There is nothing that I want in a movie than a good plot.

Vampire Bat: Well, they can give a good story, but not a good plot.

Vampire Owl: Well, they are limited in talent due to acting being family business.

Vampire Bat: You don’t inherit all skills just like that.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Breast cancer survivor and immigrant from India, Meera Parsons (Freida Pinto) and her husband, architect Henry Parsons (Logan Marshall-Green) have moved from Boston to an isolated area of New Mexico, as latter had designed a new house using all her skills. Meera continues to be concerned about the possibilities of cancer returning, as she finds something near her breast while showering. She tries to keep things secret from her husband, even though he has been very supportive and has made sacrifices throughout his career in the past. At night, after having dinner outside, they return only to find their home being broken into. Detective Stephen Morse (Robert John Burke) suspects that it is someone they knew as the laptops and mobile phones are the only things which are missing from the house. As they are basically in the middle of nowhere, there is nobody to call for some quick help, and he finally installs some security cameras to be sure.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Meera has another check-up and finds out that there is no signs of cancer returning, much to relief of both of them. But they wake up at night due to some strange noise, but they are not able to turn on the lights. He goes to check on the generator and finds out that it has been smashed. He finds out that there are intruders in the house, while Meera is tied up and gagged. They manage to escape with the men being shot down, while the intruders are also supposed to be responsible for the disappearance of a girl named Christine Cobb (Megan Elisabeth Kelly), all of them coming from the same family which lives in a poor neighborhood. Two of them died in the spot while the remaining person died later in the hospital. Meera remains in trauma after the incident, but Henry asks him to move on, as the last person also dies in the hospital. Meera wonders if there is something wrong, considering the way Henry was dealing with the situation, but there might be more than what meets the eye about the same. Will the two stay together after knowing the whole truth?

The defence of Intrusion :: The movie works as an effective mystery work rather than going the full thriller mode. There are secrets in here, and they are revealed as the movies progresses firmly. The location is really good, and we have the feeling of that this could be a perfect place for some strange and mysterious things to happen. We keep wondering if something is behind all of these, at all times, as clues are given to us at regular intervals. There is also the reflection of human inherent evil, even on people who are supposed to be not the bad guys. The tendency to be evil is shown as always there. The human mind is a paradise for evil, and as one goes through different situations, divergent ways of evil are released, as seen in this movie through seemingly perfect people. Most of the times, it looks like a standard, decent effect, even though it wouldn’t claim for a lot, with enough awareness on its own existence, and where the strengths lie. It goes on in a straight forward manner, with out ups and downs.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have been made in a more thrilling way in comparison to how it has progressed as of now. We do have a guess about the twists which are to come in the end, and there are clues which we can understand better than the main character can. Even with its shorter run-time, the movie still feels long, as things do not pick up the pace at any moment, until the final revelation and realization. It doesn’t use the home invasion elements to advantage either, and the surprise element could have been strengthened, maybe with the use of better elements of shock. There could have been those moments which raised the level of the movie, but this one just manages to go on at the same level at all times. The movie doesn’t have enough to go this long, and one and a quarter minutes would have been enough for this one. One would wonder how this one would work if some more effects were added here, with lighting or with the sounds at night. There was chance for some horror elements, especially as this has the psychological elements – the home invasion could have easily been scary enough to make an impact.

The performers of the soul :: Freida Pinto has things in control here, and we know that she is capable of more than the usual Bollywood actors and actresses, most of them being there just because of their parents, uncles, aunties and grandparents. It is nice to be in quality movies and come up with a role of relevance every time, she seems to continue to do the same again and again. This movie is completely about her, as it is up to her to discover the secrets about what has been happening around here, especially a few things which are not going to make her happy in any way. This is something that good actresses rarely get in Bollywood, and she has another work to remember, rising above the overall strength of the movie itself. Logan Marshall-Green plays the next important role, and it is the one other role of significance that is there throughout the movie. The other characters are of very low significance, and one person who becomes important in the end is Megan Elisabeth Kelly, played well for a very short period of time.

How it finishes :: Intrusion manages to be interesting enough with Freida Pinto at the centre. There is no questioning her skills at any moment, but some opportunities are being missed out, as you look around here. Not to be confused with Intuition, which is a Spanish thriller, this one would focus on the location more than anything else to gain what it wants. It also provides the much known idea again, that things are not really what they seem, especially with the rich and influential people who wear the masks. Even though engaging in its own slower path, one has to remember that this is not exactly the home invasion movie or psychological thriller that you would expect, as this one has its own deviations. The short description and divisions into categories won’t do this one complete justice, as categorization needn’t be that exact. But you watch this one for Freida, and enjoy another ride which brings the surprise. After all, different tastes call for different kinds of surprises.

Release date: 22nd September 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Adam Salky
Starring: Freida Pinto, Logan Marshall-Green, Sarah Minnich, Robert John Burke, Yvette Fazio-Delaney, Clint Obenchain, Mark Sivertsen, Megan Elisabeth Kelly, Hayes Hargrove, David DeLao, Brandon Root, Bonita King, Josh Horton

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kate

Vampire Owl: I don’t know many Kates from around here.

Vampire Bat: You do know Kate Winslet and Kate Beckinsale.

Vampire Owl: They are certainly not from around here.

Vampire Bat: They are still part of our large film universe.

Vampire Owl: Universe is never that large, as we look at it.

Vampire Bat: Well, this movie and its performers can be part of it.

Vampire Owl: Mary Elizabeth Winstead has always been part of it.

Vampire Bat: Okay, you do remember her movies which suited us vampires’ tastes.

Vampire Owl: Living through so many centuries, tastes do change.

Vampire Bat: The world does change, but do we? In this realm, can we?

[Gets a ghee roast and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is an experienced assassin who has Varrick (Woody Harrelson) as her handler. She is also an expert sniper who has never missed a target in her long career which has focused mostly on the use of sniper gun and long distance shots. Varrick was also the one who trained her, right from childhood itself. Kate has to come to Osaka in Japan to kill a leader within a powerful yakuza mob, but only just manages to hit the target, after a child comes in the way. Even though this hit was also a success, having to kill someone in front of a child bothers here, leading to an emotional turmoil. She intends to go for one final mission, and then begin a new life, as a commoner. But before the final mission, she comes up against Stephen (Michiel Huisman) in bar. They have sex in the room, and she follows up with a sniper shot, and it is the first time that she misses one, that too, with the chance for clear shot.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: She understands that she was poisoned by Stephen under the instructions of the members of a crime family which is headed by Kijima (Jun Kunimura), whom she was planning to assassinate, after having already killed his brother in front of his niece, Ani (Miku Martineau). Having only a day left to live before poison gets her, she decides to kidnap Ani, and bargain with Kijima. Despite using her as a bait in the beginning, she decides to keep her safe during the mission, as the gangsters are also targeting her. Ani is the last in the line of the family, and her death would help an internal power struggle. For getting to the top, she has to get through Renji (Tadanobu Asano) and Jojima (Miyavi), and there is a long way ahead after that too. There are many complications that she has to face on the way too, as many other secrets are revealed, with the unexpected happenings that occur related to the person whom she was trying to assassinate.

The defence of Kate :: Led by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, we have female assassin for a change, instead of the usual, and with her performance in the action scenes, we feel that she makes the exact person who was needed here. The film has so many delightful action sequences, and the one at the top floor of a penthouse, and the final combat are of top quality – the style and the music are nothing less than charming. The world that this movie has created in Japan feels like a classic one, and with all the beautiful violence, you only wants to go there. The fights that we have here, are also never overdone, and would make both John Wick and Hitman: Codename 47 proud. There are also enough emotional sequences to go with it. The lighting, darkness and colours have a different feeling about them, and the we also feel a lot of Japan. After the first few minutes, almost all of the city is set in one city in Japan, and with the main character having less than twenty four hours to live, this one keeps close to the unity of time and place, as well as unity of action, one of the rare action movies to keep it close to the Classical unities of Aristotle.

Positives and negatives :: With its quick action, the movie never drags, even when adding the emotions to it – the emotional side also deserves some applause, even though it could have dealt with the same in different ways which could have appealed more, for options were surely there to be taken. Reminder of other films will also be there, but we can actually see this one as superior in action at times. The violence is there for most of the time, and it has taken with a certain amount of beauty related to it. Some parts of it can feel predictable, but it is with multiple guesses taken – many options were there and therefore one cannot correctly guess the same at all times. Some dialogues are actually there to remembered, and a few of them are like providing some messages about life, revenge and forgiveness. There is strength in the frames, and the way in which this one is taken, will need applause too. Even as you are not part of anything like this, and has never been to the city or been part of any action that comes close, you feel what is happening around, and you are engaged at all times with the assassin’s work.

Performers of the soul :: Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fantastic as the assassin, and it is the one thing that stands apart like no other. We have seen her from Final Destination 3 itself, and after slashers like Black Christmas were there, we saw her 10 Cloverfield Lane and Gemini Man, two others full of action and mystery. Birds of Prey had her as an assassin too, as the Huntress who was supporting Harley Quinn. Action, horror and mystery seems to suit her really well, and thriller seems to be her perfect genre. From 2000s itself, she has held a higher position among the scream queens, a position which Amber Heard also shared during a similar time period. Unfortunately, there is no scope for a sequel to have her back as the assassin, with this being the dead end, but one has to say that she deserved more movies like Hitman, John Wick or The Transporter. You can have her as part of these bloody genres at any moment of time, and she is sure to deliver. Miku Martineau as Ani plays a child in trauma that you are to remember. Woody Harrelson has a solid role to play here too.

How it finishes :: Kate is a strong action film which reminds one mostly of John Wick, and at times of The Equalizer, but also develops a life of its own. With Mary Elizabeth Winstead at the top, you can also feel some shots of Anna, even though the premise and the world itself is very much different. You can watch this particular movie just for the action itself, and she is more or less like a female Keanu Reeves – one would wonder if she could have actually played Matrix‘s Trinity in another parallel universe, because there is the feeling that in those clothes, and in that world, she would look almost the same. Clearly an engaging ride, Kate takes you through a fun-filled action journey which is to be remembered not just for all the melee combat, sword fights and gun shots, but also for the story with its twists, as well as the beautiful world that we see around there in between the combat. It is indeed an all-round action package, and not a movie that depends on mindless action all the time. Choose this one for full-time entertainment.

Release date: 10th September 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Miku Martineau, Woody Harrelson, Tadanobu Asano, Miyavi, Michiel Huisman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.