Malignant

Vampire Owl: We are all malignant, aren’t we?

Vampire Bat: Why are you categorizing us as evil again?

Vampire Owl: We cannot be part of the good, can we?

Vampire Bat: We have done more deeds of goodness than any other species.

Vampire Owl: Yes, in comparison to humans, we are not evil at all.

Vampire Bat: Well, we could even be considered good, in that case.

Vampire Owl: I don’t understand why humans consider themselves to be less evil than the undead species.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is mainly because they are not good enough to be undead.

Vampire Owl: Yes, they just go into the grave and won’t rise again these days.

Vampire Bat: Dead humans! Less evil than those alive, aren’t they?

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

What is the movie about? :: In the year 1993, in Simon Research Hospital, Dr Florence Weaver (Jacqueline McKenzie) is treating a strange man with superpowers with the help of her colleagues Dr Victor Fields (Christian Clemenson) and Dr John Gregory (Amir Aboulela). One night this man who seems more like a strange entity escapes and kills a number of people in the research facility. Florence feels that this should end soon enough, as there are messages coming from the entity about killing them all, as he has learnt to broadcast his thoughts through speakers and control electricity. Twenty seven years later, Madison Lake Mitchell (Annabelle Wallis), a pregnant woman who is forced to live with her abusive husband, Derek Mitchell (Jake Abel). She has to spend the whole time in the house, as she keeps getting ill, and so many of her children had died inside the womb. But Derek remains abusive as usual and needs no reason to attack her.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: After Derek smashes her head against a wall, she has a dream, about him being killed by an unknown assailant who had entered the house. The attacker looks less human and more like a supernatural entity. After the brutal murder, she realizes that it was not a dream as Derek is found dead, and the killer also attacks Madison, leading her unconscious. CST Winnie (Ingrid Bisu) who is the first on the scene finds the situation as a case like never before. She is informed by her sister Sydney Lake (Maddie Hasson) that the baby didn’t survive. Detective Kekoa Shaw (George Young) is the officer in charge, and he would be supported by Detective Regina Moss (Michole Briana White). There is no clues being left behind though, with no footprints, fingerprints or signs of forced entry. The police begins to do doubt if she had murdered her abusive husband. She decides to stay in the same house, even though her sister asks her to leave and start again. Now, things change for her.

The defence of Malignant :: It seems that even though Malignant isn’t a well-known movie among the horror of its times, it does manage to come up with something stronger than expected. They mystery that is hidden in here is pretty much strong, and there are secrets which are interesting enough. Its divergence is also something to be appreciated, as we see how interesting the deviation happens to be. The music is nicely suited for the movie, and there are enough sound effects to support the same. The atmosphere related to the killer and his past are also nicely created. There is something to wonder around here for most of the time, and the creepiness never really leaves us completely. There is a lot of skill related to how things have been created here, a world in which something out of this world thrives, and uses the atmosphere to the terror. There is also the beauty in this world of terror, which doesn’t seem to amaze us either. There are some fine effects using the lights, and the movement of the monster is an interesting thing by itself. We also have the interesting twists to add to the same.

Positives and negatives :: The movie should have actually been better marketed to bring more audience to understand it with the right elements. As this movie goes through a different path, it also contributes as a different kind of a scary film. We know that there is something about this horror which is differently scary. This also feels like something which is more possible in this world of chaos than the ghosts, aliens and others. The ending seems to be a little bit forced, but does feel appropriate, and could have worked nicer with a little more care. The messages are also present, related to motherhood and sisterhood here. The movie also has some scope for a future sequel, and this is the kind of idea which can bring more and lead to more of divergence. This is also a reminder to the fact that terror has no limits, and it can return at any time. The psychological elements are also working really well around here. We go through the elements of murder investigation with a supernatural touch, and the twists take this a step further through different genres. Yet, it could felt scarier with the first half, and it had some struggle there.

The performers of the soul :: Annabelle Wallis leads the way in this horror movie as the scream queen in trouble. She has been part of Annabelle and The Mummy, thus being no stranger to all the horror. As she is no stranger to this genre, she manages things really well, never providing the feeling that she doesn’t belong. One also has to appreciate Marina Mazepa who performed as the body double for the monster figure – a work deserving a lot of appreciation as we look at it, with a lot of flexible action to be performed from her side. Maddie Hasson also blends into the horror really well, and could be part of more films belonging to the genre. The two performances playing the sisters are also to be appreciated around here, with an emotional side also getting into the act. George Young as Detective Kekoa Shaw does the job really well, but the police is indeed the clueless team in this particular film. Michole Briana White as Detective Regina Moss serves as the more disbelieving police officer. Jacqueline McKenzie and Jean Louisa Kelly plays interesting characters from the past well.

How it finishes :: Malignant works well, even though it is not that good as some of those nice and interesting horror and slasher movies which Netflix had gained earlier. The movie manages to be a different kind of horror, and has those kind of twists which we don’t usually imagine. As you move towards the end of the movie, the surprise is something that will have our interest. We have had variety in horror with It Follows, Don’t Breathe and Lights Out, and it is time to have one more added to the list. This is also the kind of horror that comes from the inside and the manifestation of the creature is something which you will find terrifying enough, and then you have the gore as well as a lot of action, much to the surprise of all of us who are looking for the horror to come in the usual pattern. You have to love it when divergence is worth it, and when you get the least expected, and in a good way, there is not much to complain around here.

Release date: 10th September 2021
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Jean Louisa Kelly, Susanna Thompson, Jacqueline McKenzie, Jake Abel, Ingrid Bisu, Christian Clemenson, Ruben Pla, Amir Aboulela, Josh Rutgers, Jon Lee Brody, Dan Ramos, Paula Marshall, Zoe Bell, Ray Chase, Marina Mazepa, Andy Bean, Patricia Velasquez, Mckenna Grace, Madison Wolfe

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oblivion

obli

It was about six or seven years ago, that the Vampire Bat landed on a game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and he landed on his broken tooth which made him as addicted to it, as Count Dracula is to his coffin. This sequel to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and the predecessor of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim had shocked him in a good way, like no other game had before, and his wish was to write a review on it, giving it 100/100 along with Mass Effect, for providing him with that world, his second life where he actually lived, died, resurrected and got beheaded/shot on the head – well, he loved these two games so much that he finished it, as he wanted to that right from the beginning with no rest. For years, the Vampire Bat wished for the movie adaptations of these two, especially of the first one which was his mythical/fantasy world of chivalry compared to the inter-star battles and interactions of the second. But he has been disappointed for long, and here what he get is a movie of the same name as the Oblivion game, with a setting similar to the Mass Effect game. No, the movie doesn’t resemble both of these in story or theme; but this coming together of the elements of these two games is what came to the mind of this nocturnal soul when the first time he saw the movie poster, and he wouldn’t have dared not to share it.

The awesomeness of these two games are clearly visible in this movie though, but not in a way which has similarities. In those games, we could travel anywhere, but coming into the movie, it is a limited world which follows an alien invasion which nearly destroyed the Earth. After the devastation of moon which caused horrible natural disasters including earthquakes, tsunamis and terrible climatic variations. The land is left uninhabitable with the mankind being transported to their new habitat. Former Marine commander Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a drone mechanic who repairs flying machines with advanced weaponry used for defence against alien lifeforms, and is also one of the last few humans stationed on the dying planet with his co-worker Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) living in a baseless tower-like structure thousands of feet above the Earth, but she is still no Rapunzel, and neither is he her prince or adventurer, something which shall be revealed later. Most of their memories are erased, and the knowledge about their past stays locked at the moment. For now, their relationship would seem to reveal that they are in love and might have been even married.

They are part of an operation to clean up the remaining forces of the alien invasion who are referred to as scavengers and also extract the planet’s remaining resources and are due to join the rest of humanity on Saturn’s moon Titan. Jack and Victoria maintain contact with civilization through a video link with their commander, whom they recognize as Sally (Melissa Leo) who is their symbol of hope and salvation, an escape from a world which is almost a wasteland and surrounded by radio active areas. Jack suffers from dreams which are more like flashbacks, having images of New York before the alien invasion and an unknown beautiful woman (Olga Kurylenko). Meanwhile, Jack rescues an unknown woman from a crashed spaceship as she was encased in a sleeping capsule, in a state of hibernation/hypersleep, and she turns out as the woman from his dreams. But they are captured by a group of humans led by Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman) who reveals to him that there are no aliens on the planet and it is the humans who are hunted by the drones. He requests Jack to reprogram one of the captured drones. But Jack refuses. Malcolm then tells Jack to visit the radio active areas which are restricted to him, and there all his doubts will be cleared.

With a spoiler alert, this paragraph shall proceed. It is revealed that the mystery woman is Jack’s wife, Julia who was with Jack and Victoria when they approached the alien ship, before Jack sending her and the other crew of the ship who are in hypersleep, into the space by detaching the backside of the ship, keeping them away from the aliens. Later it is found out that Jack and Victoria are cloned and there is a large number of clones of both, and they were not born, but grown – a reminder of The Matrix and The Daybreakers, I guess. Their supposed to be passionate relationship is also a product of these alien method of growth and one photo of them together. The alien shown here is more of a super computer, may be sent by the possible original aliens, masters of technology. This monolithic structure is clearly logical in its talks and even uses the images known to the originals of the clones so that they could be made to believe and obey. It creates a little dystopia to the group of two, or the groups of two to be exact. They are actually oppressed and are made to fight against their own race by naming them scavenger aliens. But, thanks to the imperfection of the humans, the imperfect cloning technology of the aliens and also a possible divine providence, Jack becomes somewhat the original again and leads the fight against his former employers. The solution would surely be much better than using a computer virus in Independence Day style.

The mystery starts and ends with Tom Cruise’s Jack – may be brings something from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall. We have had so many Jacks, from Jack Reacher to Jack the Giant Slayer, Jack Frost, Jack Sparrow, Jack and Jill etc. Here, this one is more of a thinker and a lover of nature, which makes Thomas Babington Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome catch his attention, and he has quite a good collection of books including Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which he has kept in a small house in the middle of greenery unaffected by the destruction that has gone around for years. He is no parrot and this poetic imagination and love for literature makes him different, and may be he evolved thus after his cloning and erasing of memory. How can one not remember what happened in the movie The Island? Such a thing is perfectly applicable to an alien technology. Well, there is no limit for fiction, and if too many limits are placed, it would lose its right to be called fiction. It would become closer to reality, which would still spawn the question, who’s reality? Now that would be something better left untouched. This is another one of Tom Cruise’s memorable characters for sure, even as he may not be the perfect protagonist, and even if he may be many, numbering in millions. He seems to have fitted into the character with ease.

Jack’s should be existential. He should have been that confused in that wasteland, and also when he had realized that he was just a clone or a copy of someone else. There was that redundant identity crisis and those dreams which seemed to perpetuate nothing. His life gets more and more absurd every time he tries to get answers, as all the answers lead to him finally being a random copy. He had waited for salvation, the firmament which awaited him in the moon of Saturn, but that too is crushed. Now what would remain for him to end as a nihilist, but he has the last fight on his list, as he decides to help the human rebels, and in that process, even sacrifice himself. It is through that loss of life, that the Earth could be redeemed. But who needs an alien invasion to destroy the planet, and considering what is done to it, who might be the aliens? Some are alien to the planet and also to their fellow human beings, and in that case, aren’t these aliens with a powerful inverted pyramid computer better as they keep the human race alive? There is the oppression factor, but is that so much of an oppression considering what humans have done to their own kind for centuries and still continue to do the same in a worse manner even while calling themselves modern and technologically advanced?

Morgan Freeman is as solid as ever, and the two women, Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough goes through their sequences as the characters themselves. The former is the emotional lover and the latter the passionate lover. Still, their roles are limited despite the screen presence. Another thing is that the CGI and the special effects out-did the beautiful women. As Jack “wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills” in his mosquito-like helicopter (like that futuristic helicopter they called Raptor in Unreal Tournament 2004), the visually stunning world is brought to light. There is destruction clearly visible, and the signs of the civilization included destroyed buildings, ships and bridges half submerged in sand, never-ceasing smoke from some areas and so on. There are gaps leading to somewhat an abyss between a group of buildings held together by soil or may be in their own centre – a path to Hades and Persephone, half-destroyed structures which look like different things all together, as well as whatever is underground and underwater. To add to it, there is the beautiful area of nature with the small house. Oblivion is an experience, and a lesson to mankind, as well as a reminder of the power of art and literature – rooted on that creativity which is more important than logic, for science can win brutal battles, but to win the war, you need art and literature, as they heal the soul better and people need their wounds to heal and their scars to fade after a major disaster.

Release date: 13th April 2013
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Zoë Bell, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

oblivion copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.