Ezra

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Vampire Owl: Malayalam movies have always needed more horror movies.

Vampire Bat: This has come after a long wait too.

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time we really loved a Malayalam horror movie?

Vampire Bat: I am not sure about that. We have been loving the Hollywood horror only.

Vampire Owl: I heard that it has a little bit of Jewish culture in Kerala.

Vampire Bat: And that it was also going to be dubbed into more than one other language?

Vampire Owl: I hope one or two vampire languages are added.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that this one will be different. It is evident from the poster and also from what people talk about it.

Vampire Owl: Ghosts need to be shown different, because they are all not the same.

Vampire Bat: Well, maybe this is the answer to the prayers of many such spirits.

[Gets the tickets with masala tea and caramel popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Ranjan Mathew (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is an orphan and a successful professional working in Mumbai. After falling in love with an interior designer Priya Raghunathan (Priya Anand) who is also based in Mumbai, they get married against the wishes of her parents. One and half years later, he gets a transfer to Cochin, and despite Priya’s reluctance to move from the city which had become a part of her, they relocate to the new place, which is a mansion-like old house rented to them upon the recommendation of Father Samuel (Vijayaraghavan) who is not just a priest, but also Ranjan’s uncle. Ranjan’s company is dealing with disposing the nuclear waste from the nuclear reactors in South India, and he is in charge of the operations. Meanwhile, A.C.P. Shafeer Ahammed (Tovino Thomas) is tired of investigating a strange murder in an antique shop which leaves no clue.

So, what happens next? :: As Priya has a lot of free time, she tries to do some interior work for their new house and buys some interesting items from the shop of Moosa (Alencier Ley Lopez) who had managed to bring a few new things of interest from the house of a Jew who died without a heir in the country, as everyone had left for Israel. After getting a box from the shop and opening it, things begin to change, as Priya sees a creepy figure in the mirror as well as the wardrobe, and Ranjan hears footsteps from the roof – and more spooky things follow. As Father Samuel finds Jewish inscriptions on a strange box, he advises Ranjan to consult Rabbi David Benyamin (Babu Antony) who resides in Mumbai. As Ranjan comes to know that Priya is pregnant, he becomes more desperate, but David’s death follows, and now the only hope seems to be in the form of Rabbi Marcus (Sujith Shanker) who has arrived at Cochin.

The defence of Ezra :: There is variety without doubt in Ezra, and the same can be said about the quality displayed in this movie. The visuals are really well-used here to create the advantage, and the darkness as well as some spooky elements are created well with the use of sound effects, and these work really well in the first half to make us interested in the second. There is also a lot in the story told here, unlike the other horror movies, and the creature that this flick chooses here is not among the usual ones, as the myth used is something not many people around here have known before. The use of a perfect setting and antiques happen to be something that works for this flick more than any other horror movie. There is also one twist that happens by the end, even though it is the only big surprise in the movie, and could have been presented in a better way. The songs are good, especially “Lailakame”.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does get a curse, and it happens in the second half, as many other movies – this evil spirit doesn’t really make that much impact as it should in the latter part, and the final exorcism, brings nothing huge. There were so many possibilities with this movie, and the infinite chances are not used at all – it is kind of strange that the movie doesn’t bring the special ingredient; there were so many opportunities and Ezra hesitates to think out of the box, even with a spirit from inside a box. As we see the characters watching The Conjuring 2 on television, one has no doubt about one movie which has inspired this one. But Ezra has so much of hesitation in unleashing the terror – the viewers find so many situations which could have been scarier, but the movie doesn’t seem to find the need to bring huge scares. Also, at one point, you feel that this is the Odette Annable starrer The Unborn, but then it is not; there is just the dybbuk and the pregnancy in common.

Performers of the soul :: In a movie that has Prithviraj as the protagonist, it is him who leads the way – it is the first half that gets the best of him with a simple and rather natural touch to the proceedings – not that much with the final scenes though. Priya Anand makes a Malayalam debut which the Keralites will remember. Sujith Shanker makes a surprising entry here, and in this role, most of us might not even recognise that he is the same person from Njan Steve Lopez and Maheshinte Prathikaram – it is quite solid work. Tovino Thomas, even though he is there for less amount of time, has his moments. Vijayaraghavan is fine there, but Babu Antony’s stay is cut short; the same is the case of Pratap K. Pothen and Alencier Ley Lopez who leaves the proceedings rather too early. Sudev Nair and Ann Sheetal has a nicely created flashback scene which is done fine.

How it finishes :: There is a little shortage of horror movies in Malayalam movie industry, and there is a lot of shortage in the case of good horror movies – the latter is also applicable to the Bollywood film industry too, which is why, for the Indian cinema as a whole, the requirement is for more good horror. There is no need for more drama and more romance – there is too much of the same already, and there is nothing closer to life than horror, in one way or the other. Therefore, Ezra‘s presence is something which has to be appreciated, and despite not using all the possibilities in the scary side, manages to be a horror movie with a difference as far as the Malayalam movie industry is considered. It is evident that the Malayalam movies are back after that break – and each release this year, including Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, Jomonte Suviseshangal, Fukri and Ezra have stayed different from each other.

Release date: 10th February 2016
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Jay K
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Priya Anand, Tovino Thomas, Sudev Nair, Vijayaraghavan, Sujith Shanker, Pratap K. Pothen, Babu Antony, Alencier Ley Lopez, Ann Sheetal

ezra

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ouija: Origin of Evil

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

Vampire Bat: What? Why do you think so?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pretham

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Vampire Owl: So, you are saying that the ghost has finally arrived.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it has come to provide us with its presence.

Vampire Owl: I heard that this one even has a mentalist?

Vampire Bat: Yes, one mentalist played by Jayasurya.

Vampire Owl: The looks do seem very interesting.

Vampire Bat: And when it is from the director who has brought us a number of good movies.

Vampire Owl: It has been a long time since we have seen an interesting ghost. I hope that this one will qualify to be there as a good one.

Vampire Bat: There is no reason to think that a ghost can’t be good. It will hurt the creature’s feelings.

Vampire Owl: Yes, we shouldn’t be judgmental towards the poor creatures from the other world.

Vampire Bat: Exactly. We need them too; they bring the balance in a boring human existence as we can’t always do the same.

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

What is the movie about? :: Three youngsters Denny Kokken (Aju Varghese), Priyalal (Sharafudheen), and Shibu Majeed (Govind Padmasoorya) has begun their own business of a resort after working hard till their thirties. The three are best friends keeps remembering things from the past. They invest most of their money and also what they could manage from their ancestral wealth to buy this resort on which they have placed their hopes. They go through their lives with a crush on Suhanisa (Pearle Maaney) who learns dance at the resort, and doing only those things which are of interest, as they are no longer working under a person as they used to, and are completely out of control of their parents. Living a life full of enjoyment, and doing nothing other than those small things that come upon the resort, the three feels that this could go on forever.

So, what happens next? :: But as strange incidents begin to happen in the resort, they consult John Don Bosco (Jayasurya), a psychic and a mentalist who is referred to them by the local priest (Harish Perady) after failing to bring any change with the use of holy water. After making some attempts, he finds that the person behind all these is the restless spirit of Clara (Sruthi Ramachandran), who has a history that goes back to this resort when she last stayed here. Is John strong enough to get rid of this revenge-seeking ghost? What does she want from the three friends? Are they responsible for her death and the hopeless nature of her spirit? How can a mentalist work with a ghost who is not even interested in contacting and talking with humans? Is there something bigger hidden under the resort that should not be brought out?

The defence of Pretham :: This one successfully gets rid of the white saree idea which was too common in our horror movies – instead it goes for the black churidar which the spirit was wearing while committing suicide, which is fair as there are no shops supplying white sarees in the other world no matter which religious text we look at. The visuals are really good with the resort on the beachside, and we do get the horror comedy as we wanted to. There is just enough of both horror and comedy, not in high doses. The entertainment factor is there, varying for different people according to the tastes. With Jayasurya entering the scene as the mentalist, things get more interesting, and it is from there that the movie gets more engaging as a horror movie. In the end, we also get to see some of the cruel, sadistic face of the new generation youth which looks for success only, as it doesn’t matter for them that whose little dreams are crushed in the process – there is also the social issue.

Claws of flaw :: This one still happens to be predictable, and the message is also not brought to the screen in the best way. It is also not for the people who have watched so many horror movies and are looking for big scares – they are not much there for some reason. There were so many moments which could have had them, and we think that they are going to arrive, but that doesn’t happen at all. This one doesn’t really go on to become a special one with big difference, even with a mentalist as its main character, and that is a disappointment that Pretham doesn’t even try hard enough for the same. The comedy is also flawed at parts, with the adult jokes getting nowhere and some of them won’t connect with anyone at all. With a cast that has full ability to bring the fun, one has to wonder why that was not utilized to the maximum.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, Jayasurya is the pick of them all – it was already clear in the trailer, and it is reiterated very often in this movie from the first moment he shows up on the beach. Just like a wide variety of characters that he has played throughout his career, this one also leaves a mark, and it is due to him that the movie gets to be at a better strength all of a sudden. He comes, and delivers as it was expected of him – there is no question of doubting this man and the character played by him. He is no Sunny Joseph of Manichithrathazu, but a mentalist is indeed something new in a Malayalam movie. Among Aju Varghese, Sharafudheen and Govind Padmasoorya, it is the first two that create the fun here. Pearle Maaney looks strangely uncomfortable with the whole situation. Harish Perady is sadly limited to a smaller existence.

How it finishes :: One can be pretty sure that this won’t get to the level of Su.. Su… Sudhi Vathmeekam which was the last effort from the same director, but I would consider this to be surely better than Punyalan Agarbathis; in these three movies, it was all Jayasurya, and he is the pick yet again. This is surely a big escape from the past this year that had what might be Jayasurya’s worst movie which was IDI – Inspector Dawood Ibrahim. If you are looking for an enjoyable horror comedy, you are sure to have it; but there won’t be anything more than that – there is enough for some fun, and we get to take the messages home. Well, we don’t get many horror movies in Malayalam; and there are surely not enough ghosts. The Prithviraj Sukumaran-Tovino Thomas starrer Ezra might change this in a very different way, but until that, lets watch Pretham as we are not looking for The Conjuring or Insidious here.

Release date: 12th August 2016
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Aju Varghese, Sharafudheen, Sharanya Menon, Govind Padmasoorya, Sruthi Ramachandran, Pearle Maaney, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sunil Sukhada, Sathi Premji, Harish Perady, Devan, Vijay Babu, Nyla Usha, Arya Rohit, Anjana Appukuttan

pretham

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Woman in Black

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✠ A 1983 horror novel by Susan Hill was made into a movie of the same name, last year. But most of the people here haven’t been aware of the same, even as it had mostly positive reviews. That surprises me indeed, as it would have gained a lot if popularized here, thanks to the Harry Potter fans who might have been missing a leading man. There has been a 1989 movie, but we are going to stick to this 2012 version which has our Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe. I didn’t know that he was in it, and that was a pleasant surprise for me. There is no relation with the Men in Black franchise nor the aliens, and no neuralyzer was used in making me say so – you can check the usage records of the device for that. Instead, Woman in Black is a different supernatural story in a different setting, and it is a supernatural movie train which doesn’t run in our modern railroads, and therefore there is a chance that some horror fans might feel some displeasure. Still, my complaint is that there is the absence of something new in horror.

Count Dracula: Woman in Black? If you were looking for a Count in Black, I knew someone who could help you. The clue is that he has nice fangs which he brushes well without fail and lives in an awesome castle. Wait, do you need to talk to Brides in White? I know three, and I am pretty sure that you will love them.

Vampire Bat: And I thought he would confuse it with Men in Black. Do you understand anything I am saying? I am talking about the story of a woman who wears a black dress and if someone sees her, children die. Ever heard about it or something similar, world’s first official vampire Count?

Count Dracula: Are you talking about the lady who comes to clean the castle. I always knew there was something strange about her, and she wears black. My children of the night will be killed? Should I kill her first? Or is she too supernatural for me to get enough from her for my blood shake?

Vampire Bat: Not the cleaning lady. Your vision remains as clouded as the sky. No, not your children of the night. They can howl as much as they want, and you can look at the roof and have that weird expression which zombies have when they see humans with brains. Stop looking at the spider webs while talking. What is wrong with you?

Count Dracula: I am having dreadful visions. I see dead goblins and living halflings. Is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug due to be released soon? Never mind, please continue. I am as interested in that lady in black as I am inspired by that rotten zombie girl in the corner of that graveyard. I have heard about that novel too, not as good as the one written by Bram Stoker, and no good character as me…I mean that Count.

Vampire Bat: Well, a widowed lawyer Arthur Kipps is on a mission to arrange the sale of a house. He has one son whom he leaves at his place with a nanny as he visits the small town where it is located and during his visit to the house, he sees a strange woman wearing black dress. A child dies and the people of the town blames him for seeing that lady.

Count Dracula: Nothing new to me. It happens every time. They blame me all the time just because some random person dies somewhere near my castle. See, I am just a farmer. We are a peaceful farming community with better teeth. What about my rights? I was framed by Bram Stoker. But I have to agree that I liked it.

Vampire Bat: I can’t believe I am hearing this. Just a few days ago, you were playing mist and fog outside the second house on the eighth street. And stop farming skulls – they don’t grow. Pouring blood on them doesn’t create reddish fountains either. I am going to record all these some day. It is not like your case. This is a lady who lost her kid and wishes to take revenge on all the kids of the town, as she makes them do things which lead to their deaths.

Count Dracula: See, she is a hypnotherapist like me. One of my various skills attained due to practice. Am I not the vampire in black? Why not such a title with me as the leading character? There is nothing about that woman, she doesn’t even exist.

Vampire Bat: But you have to think about the environment the movie creates. The local people, legends, strange figures, screaming – the things haven’t been this strange since the last time Jonathan Harker was held captive in your castle. Those were great times, right? Wait, is that a 55 inch 3D LED TV? Where did that come from?

Count Dracula: I didn’t buy it. It was available for free with human Halloween masks in the goblin market. Nobody wanted that stuff as the Witch of the West’s unlimited inches magic TV is the hot item right now, and it has the latest video game “Humans are Evil”. Sounds so awesome, doesn’t it?

Vampire Bat: You are ruining the horror environment with such items. This is why you can’t always blame Twilight for ruining your reputation. Vampires don’t keep 3D TV at home, thats what pseudo-vampires do. You just drink blood in 3D. This is why you need to watch this movie so that you can understand how well the ambiance works.

Count Dracula: You mean to say that the Harry Potter kid has grown up a lot more than his final movie of that franchise? I remember seeing the poster of this movie, and how does he do? I don’t know anyone else from that movie, what about them? The only lady in black that can be scary might be that person from Insidious Part one and two.

Vampire Bat: Yes, he is the centre of attraction, and he might be the reason why the movie has good collection. My first feeling was that he might be having that Harry Potter hangover, but no, there he is away from that franchise, and he is once again taken into a world which asks for willing suspension of disbelief, that fantasy which is rather more of horror rather than simple magic and a little more advanced sorcery. He has survived beyond that magical world which lasted many years, and without a magic wand he takes on both the Woman in Black as well as us skeptics, ending up victorious – yet there is still a lot more to do for him in whatever awaits him next. The world is dark and gloomy, and so is his character, taking us with him as he fits in there, not with perfection, but in the right manner.

Count Dracula: So he is no longer the wizard. I know that he will be killed by that Woman in Black – it is not a guess, as it is something which I can feel. So this is a horror movie, but my doubt is if it does really scare?

Vampire Bat: Yes, it does, and it chooses to use the atmosphere and items for scaring rather than anything else. There are lots of surprise scares coming up, but the problem remains that there is no real explanation for most of the things around. It can only mean one of the two things, either they think that our brains are eaten by zombies, or we have too much of an imagination to find out more. Well, it deals with a big curse, so the things are to be different. It is creepy indeed and full points to the house and its location, but it seems missing out somewhere. I would have also liked another ending, that is for sure.

Count Dracula: So it is scary indeed, and I am going to watch and like it after I get rid of this bloody tv. Its time for me to brush my fangs again. Good bye, and watch movies.

Vampire Bat (to himself): It was quite short a movie. Lasting about one and half hours, the movie could have had more, and it just ended soon when we wanted more of it. Coming from the director of Eden Lake, this is not as good as that movie, but works well with the resources that it has. Yet, this is nothing new for most of us, as we have been provided with similar things a lot. But we can appreciate how it works as another horror movie, and I am always looking for more and more horror.

✠ Its sequel The Woman in Black: Angels of Death is also coming sometime later. Therefore, it is more of a necessity to have watched this movie and be prepared to welcome the Woman in Black into our lives. Watch it for the first true performance from Daniel Radcliffe as a non-wizard civilian of this world and all the creepy things that the movie has to offer. All the atmosphere rather affects the narrative progress, but in a movie like this, it is the creation of that spooky world that we are looking for, but the occasional drag might bing up questions. If you are looking for anything extraordinary or out of the supernatural, you might have to look for another movie. A cup of innovation could have helped. If you don’t like our leading actor, then you can run away too, as there is a lot of Daniel Radcliffe in this one, and he is there more than that lady is black. He might look too young for the role, but when he does well despite the uninterested looks, there is not much there to complain. Darkness and shadows everywhere, not even Dracula can complain.

Release date: 10th February 2012
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Liz White, Roger Allam, Tim McMullan, Jessica Raine

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.