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July 14, 2018

Movie: Hereditary (2018)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:22 am

imageHereditary is a weird movie. First of all, I rely, like most of you probably, on the Wikipedia of movies, Rotten Tomatoes to review ratings as I find that my tastes and generic audience tastes largely coincide. Sometimes it does not. This is one of those times. When I saw the rating at the time of going to the movie it was 98% (and has now slid to a still very respectable 89%). I think it is overrated. The other movie where I was similarly fooled was the Bridge to Terabithia, so long ago.

 

To be fair though, Rotten Tomatoes shows the critic’s score as 89% but the audience score is only 58% and so perhaps it has not gotten it so wrong after all.

 

This movie is supposed to be a creepy horror but just comes out weird. The central character Peter, played by Alex Wolff is wooden and lifeless and even the animations (God, the scene where the girl serenely floats up to the treehouse) could have been done in any off the shelf image editor by a twelve year old boy. Add a lot of silver paint and naked people in it, standing mute and watching the others (supposedly menacingly) and you get the ‘creepy atmosphere’ that they were going for.

 

The central theme is also totally stupid and seems to have been stitched together in a hurry.

 

What is the story, such as it is? Disjointed scenes, strung together. An old woman (Peter’s grandmother) dying and Peter seeing her keeping her eyes open; a bird crashing into a window and similar stuff. No link to anything else in the story after.

 

The only place where there seems to be a story is where the sister of Peter is forced on him to go to a party because the parents (correctly) suspect that it is an underage drinking party with teenage sex and drugs involved and then this kid, who is severely allergic to nuts eats a cake with nuts and goes into deep anaphylactic shock.

 

Instead of dialling 911 the brother packs her into the back seat of the car and tries to drive home. Right. And also has an accident. OK. And she dies. Great. Then the story goes into weird directions again, its brief coherence lost forever.

 

The father, mother try to cope with the shock while Peter seems to be curiously unconcerned. Not intentionally by the writers but it seems like that to the viewers.

 

The mother creates a panorama (which is what she does for a living) and a private one depicting the accident and the sister’s death. Hmm.

 

While she reluctantly attends a group therapy for her shock, Peter’s mom Annie meets joan, who also lost a loved one and forces her to go to a weird séance. And then the movie takes a cult turn where the dead are looking for a new heir to the throne and… need I go on?

 

The cast looks humdrum and the sister especially does not look or act the part.

 

Full of meaningless jumble, in my opinion.

 

2/10

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May 19, 2018

Movie: A Quiet Place (2018)

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:58 pm

imageI will try to avoid giving away much but it is so difficult in this type of movie. Perhaps I can preserve how it all ends, so that, if you have not already seen the movie, you still have something to look forward to.

 

First of all, hats off to John Krisinski. I did not know he had it in him to direct and act in something like this. If you watched his performance in The Office, he managed to underwhelm. His trademark was to look into the camera with a puzzled expression (He was Jim, dating Pam forever and married to her later in the series. He managed to be outshone by both Steve Carrell and Rann Wilson, who played Dwight) and I thought he did not have it in him to make a mark in acting in movies, let alone direct one. He proved me wrong. (I am reminded of Bryan Cranston, who was similarly underwhelming in Malcolm in the Middle, before spectacularly breaking out of the mold in Breaking Bad).

 

It is kind of a family project because two of the main characters is him and his wife Emily Blunt.

 

There are many things to love in this movie. One is that it does not patronize you and just gets on with the story. The story starts simply at Day 89. Day 89 of what? They don’t bother to explain but make you understand with things in the story. (Paper cuttings, white board notes and simply as things happen). The effect is spectacular. You piece them together bit by bit, and it is as if they had told you everything in order starting from ‘One day, a terrible thing happened’.

 

The second nice thing about this movie is that there are not many people in the movie. It is all about the Abbots – husband Lee (John Krisinski with a beard and he manages to shake off his association with The Office character Jim as the movie goes on), wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt, giving adequate support) and the central character who steals the show, Regan, who is a hearing impaired daughter. Apart from them is the son Marcus, who needs medication due to his asthma. There is another daughter Beau but she is “taken” right in almost the first five minutes and so the whole movie revolves around these four.

 

And there are hardly any dialogs. They talk in sign language (and neatly explained and credible because of Regan, they had to learn all this).

 

The story starts brilliantly. You realize that they had to go only in the daytime and quietly at that. Sound is lethal, as demonstrated when Beau sneaks a rocket (he is a great rocket enthusiast) and, falling behind when they go back home, switches it on. In seconds, he is snatched by something that you hardly see (it is a blur) and is gone.

 

You slowly learn the background. The earth (or at least the US) is taken over by an alien race, which eats anything alive, including humans. From Lee’s meticulous notes, you find that civilization is broken down and there are hardly any survivors in the area he lives in. These aliens are blind, and hunt by sound alone – which is why US is now “A Quiet Place”. They also have a body armour so it is hard to kill them even with guns. There is a note that “two were spotted in that area” so to survive they stay indoors, with trip wires (they light up when tripped and do not sound alarms) and silent navigation. Lee keeps trying to make hearing aids (no shops or malls are populated anymore) and like in The Walking Dead, they have to scavenge stores for medicine and other supplies.

 

Even supporting actors are only three (if you count one that is already dead as an ‘actor’).

 

The tension rachets up when they accidentally make noise breaking a lantern and setting a rug on fire and then hear sounds on the tin roof. In typical horror movie fashion, it turns out to be a raccoon. Finally they (and we) do come face to face with the horror of the monsters, and they are also hiding when these go around their own house looking for them and they try to stay still with no noise in order to thwart them.

 

Great scenes where Emily discovers that she is pregnant and you are as anxious as them to see how the new child will survive. In order to ratchet up the suspense, the kids get trapped in a grain silo with the monster(s?) outside and Lee goes to get them back and Evelyn steps on an open nail with another one of them right nearby and cannot even scream. Well planned story, huge tension with no sound at all (except for the background score of course).

 

I will not tell you how it ends, as promised, but the end suits the whole theme of the movie. Nice work. Definitely worth watching. I am sure Jim is as surprised as everyone else how much of a hit this turned out to be, but it is really a well made, well crafted movie. Every one has done their part and Millicent Simmonds, who plays Regan, has done a spectacular job and nearly steals the show from everyone else.

 

Good movie, nice to watch. I enjoyed it.

 

8/10

– – Krishna

February 17, 2018

Movie : IT (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:44 pm

imageMy, my! I have been a fan of Stephen King’s books for decades and read IT many years ago. It is an excellent book to read, and if you have not read it, I recommend that you do, even if you have seen the movie. To me the book version of most stories are more intense with very few exceptions (not this one) where the movie improves upon a very fluffy book experience.

 

The obvious examples of the examples are, for instance, the Lord of the Rings movies. Not that the book was not good but the movie went way beyond Tolkien’s description and really brought the story breathtakingly to life. But mostly it is the other way around.

 

The bonus you get when you read the book is to see the rest of the story too. As you probably know, this movie just covers the first half of the book and the second half is still pending for a sequel.

 

When I read this movie all those years ago, I kind of decided that you really cannot make a movie out of it, since this story is so surreal that any effort to show what happens would fail. I am told that there were some TV versions of the story earlier, and some critics even claim that the TV version was scarier than the movie. I have not seen them and do not know if it is true or not.

 

But the movie version is pretty good and I admit I was wrong. This group showed me how to make an excellent movie out of (not the book but just) the first half of the book.

 

There are some deviations, some well judged and some disappointing to a book reader. They left out the scene where Bill and Beverley get physical – it made no sense in an otherwise well written story and it was really good of the movie makers to axe it. But there is also that scene where the bike of Bill kind of gets conscious and saves him. I agree that this too has nothing to do with the story but it was kind of cool. I do understand why they may have chopped that too, but I missed it.

 

And one more aspect of the preamble and then I will get to the story : Everyone is raving about it and I wholeheartedly agree: Bill Skarsgard, who played Pennywise the Clown, steals the show. The portrayal is brilliant and he imparts the full sense of creepy doom whenever he appears. Great job.

 

The rest of the casting is also near perfect. You have Jaeden Lierberher as the near perfect Bill, stammer and all. Jeremy Rae Taylor is exactly how you would picture Ben Hanscom would be. Casting has been brilliant.

 

The story is as true to the book as possible. George, Bill’s little brother, gets the paper boat to play in the rain and meets Pennywise. (I did not really thing that they would show how he loses the hand first, but they did!)  With disastrous results. Bill is determined to find out what happened to the missing brother. He is part of the Losers Club, with friends Richie, Eddy and Stanley. They absorb a shy girl Beverley and a butcher’s son Mike who does not want to kill animals and the local fat boy Ben. They form a friendship and grows as their adventures grow.

 

As each of the boys have their own terrifying encounters with Pennywise, they realize something is far wrong. As if this is not enough, they have to hide from the local chief bully Henry Bowers and his goon sidekicks Patrick and Victor. They terrorize the boys repeatedly, showing up when least expected.

 

The studious Ben is the one who discovers about Pennywise from library books and how children go missing with an interval of 35 years (?). He meets Pennywise too and runs out before it can get him.

 

How they find out where the Pennywise has his lair and how they go screwing up their courage to vanquish him is the rest of the story. They know that even if they did get the upper hand, it is only temporary and after the regular interval, he may return again. They make a blood bond and swear that they will all be back to face IT together if that happens.

 

Brilliant movie and picturization. Keeps you absorbed from the beginning to the end. If you have read the book you get the extra satisfaction of seeing the story come alive.

 

Nicely done. 8/10

 

—  Krishna

February 10, 2018

Movie: Annabelle – Creation (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:02 pm

imageThis is supposed to be the prequel of the famous Annabelle story and narrates how Annabelle came to be. It has its tense moments and the director of this movie, David Sandberg,  is the same one that did the interesting film Lights Out earlier.  And the same sophistication shows here and the terror moments here are things where nothing happens and the characters in the movie and you wait for an impending attack that you know is going to happen.

 

This backstory has a backstory and it is all told in a wordless and poetic sequence. How the doll maker Samuel Mullins handcrafts a wooden toy for his only daughter Bee and she dies in an accident. The family never recovers and later, Samuel and wife Esther decide to invite an orphanage into the house as a charitable act. The orphanage was kicked out of their building due to their inability to pay. We find that the Mullins live in an ideal house for a horror story to happen: a creaking but sprawling house in the countryside, of course secluded from everything and everyone else.

In true horror picture style, they are given a run of the whole house except a locked room where they are forbidden to go. What will young children do when they are forbidden to go to a room? Especially in a horror story? Yup, one girl Janice – a crippled one at that – goes in when it was ‘accidentally’ left open one day.   She finds a key and opens, and comes face to face with Annabelle, the doll. Incidentally, the doll in this movie is not the Raggedy Ann doll that is supposed to be the real possessed doll but in a highly tongue in cheek reference to it, a Raggedy Ann doll is presented as a gift to a girl at the end of the movie when all the horror has been ‘resolved’. Nice.

But this doll does its spooky business very well so serves the purpose of the film, which is to scare the shit out of you. Janice is crippled, and after being thrown by the demon who has now been released, is confined to a wheelchair. When the demon takes over Bee, they find that she can walk and is ‘cured’ but is very strange in behaviour. The other girls, frightened now, confess to Samuel that Janice sneaked into the room but before he has a chance to do anything, Janice, possessed, kills him.

Samuel’s wife, Esther, is bedridden and when the girls meet her, they learn how Annabelle came to be. When Bee died, their parents conducted a séance and begged Bee’s spirit to talk to them. “Bee” asked them permission to occupy the doll and they happily agreed so that Bee can live with them even after their death. The invitation was enough for the spirit (occasionally in Bee’s form but otherwise in a true demonic form) to occupy the doll. When they realized their error (and losing an eye in the battle against it) Esther (and Samuel) have priests create a sealed room, with walls papered with pages of the Bible to seal the entity in, and keep the doll locked up in a cupboard and the room also locked. That is how Janice came by the room and the doll. Now we know the whole story.

What follows is a whole lot of attacks on the girls by the Janice-demon-Annabelle thing and a whole lot of jumpy sequences for you. They lock Janice in a room but when the police arrive, she has escaped and is far away in Santa Monica in an orphanage, calling herself Annabelle. She is adopted by the Higgins Family, thus setting the stage for the original movie.

Nice picturization, creepy moments, good acting. But still, somehow, this does not resonate as much with me since the theme is overworked in so many movies.

 

6/ 10

 

–  – Krishna

August 13, 2017

Movie: Get Out (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 8:40 pm

imageWhat an unorthodox movie! A movie that tackles race relations either goes down the serious path exploring the race question or is a film with all out African American characters and it just goes on with the story, sometimes in an exaggerated fashion. Here is one film that is refreshingly different. It is a horror but does not take itself seriously and just goes with the flow, with humour.

And this story has a punchline / twist that is extremely unusual. It bursts on you and I did not expect it at all because the twist is really a very unusual view on things and I bet you or at least 99% of you will not guess it either.

In addition to it they drop all kinds of clues on what is going on, with misdirection enough, like a finely crafted mystery thriller, which is what this is. I love the way they have developed the story, from the very first short scene to whet your interest to the final denouement.

Enough of a preamble? Let us see what the story is all about. First the small little preface I mentioned. An African American man called Dre is walking alone in the night. A car slowly follows him and he is creeped out. (Imagine this – an African American apparently stalked and spooked  From a stereotypical point of view, totally unexpected. See what I mean?) He then decides to change directions – it is a small street and the car cannot make a U turn.  After going several paces fast, he cannot resist turning back and seeing what happened to the car. It is now standing with the driver’s door open and a mediaeval knight has come out of it and is following him! (Yes, they mean a man in a knight’s costume). It is too late to run and he is attacked and his unconscious body is dragged into the car.

The main story is about photographer Chris Washington and Rose Armitage whose relationship has progressed to a point where Rose wants Chris to meet her parents. The problem is that Rose is white while Chris is black and he is very worried that her parents may not like it. Rose assures him that they are very liberal and would love him.  Even though he is the only black man she has dated so far, they will be  pretty cool with the idea.

He reluctantly agrees to go, against the advice of Rod Williams his closest friend who works for TSA not to go to ‘white people’s house’. He finds the family welcoming; if anything it is overly so. Strange things start happening to him slowly. The only black people he first meets are  servants in the house seem to be stiff and overly proper and look at him very strangely. He wonders if they are being kept under bondage but they do not seem to agree or is it that they do not want to confess?

And then there is the other black man who comes visiting. He seems to be married to a much older white woman and seems to have totally bought into the aristocratic life (never mind a white man’s life) with a hat and three piece suit at all times.

The father is all friendly. He is rich, a neurosurgeon but the mother strikes him as a bit cold. So when she offers to cure him of his smoking addiction through sheer hypnosis. He rejects it saying that he does not like people tooling around inside his head. Other friends of this family also seem very friendly.

When one of the maids behaves really oddly suddenly while pouring tea, the suspicions of Chris are aroused and then the other black gentleman who came to the party also “kind of goes crazy” when he was photographed by Chris. Chris is freaked out.  There are weird stuff like some of the friends admiring the “strength” of Chris and people praising the long distance runner Chris Owens showed up all those racist Nazis and beat out all the white folks in the Olympics.

 

Before he is aware of it, Chris is hypnotized by Rose’s mother, while he is still mocking the idea of hypnosis. Then the movie takes many scary turns and you watch Chris trapped, helpless and under every command of the family, losing consciousness.

He is freaked out when he finds his cell phone repeatedly unplugged when he is not in his own room. It is as if someone is trying to stop him from communicating outside.

When Chris and Rose agree that something weird is going on and that she should make up some excuse so that they can leave, we see an auction happening. The object of the auction? Chris himself. The auction is conducted by Rose’s dad, the neurosurgeon and the whole community seems to be bidding for him. For what?

If I tell you more, I will give it up. Trust me that the whole movie is one tense ride and you don’t relax for one little bit. And it all hangs together. Every little, weird, bit of it.

Daniel Kaluuya as Chris and his comic friend Rod played by LiRel Howery carry the whole movie well. But the real stars of this movie are the writers and the director, who present a splendidly crafted entertainer.

Don’t get me wrong. I did not say realistic; I did not say thought provoking; I said entertaining. If you keep your reasoning half of the brain quiet and just go along for the ride, there is not a boring moment.

The last line is phenomenally funny – when whatever is happening is all over.

 

8/ 10

–  –  Krishna

July 30, 2017

Movie: Split (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 5:49 pm

imageAnother movie from M Night Shyamalan. While his movies typically have a split at the end of the movie, in this case, you understand the twist much earlier. Still this movie is an above average Shyamalan movie.

As we have mentioned in our review of The Visit, an earlier movie by him, he is seen to be erratic. The last few movies, including The Visit, have been encouraging. I like to think that there is a genuine shift in making more entertaining movies and that the ‘improvement’ is not because our expectations about his movies has plummeted.

This movie is good. In fact, it takes off from the beginning altogether. There is a very lonely and non social kid called Casey, who has been invited to the party of her friend. Claire. When her dad takes them both on his car, along with another kid called Marcia who was in the party, he is overpowered by a  stranger, who also chloroforms all the kids and takes them over to an isolated house. The entire story happens in that house, with the three kids being prisoners of this man.

We learn that the man is Kevin. This character has been played by James McEvoy – yes, the same actor who comes as the young Professor Xavier in the X-Men movies. This is definitely a different role for him.

Through Kevin’s psychiatrist, the elderly Dr Karen Fletcher, we learn also that Kevin suffers from multiple personality syndrome, rather a very advanced form of it. Inside him are Hedwig, a kid, Barry, a sketch artist, a lady etc. There are actually 23 personalities there. The fun part is that the kids, and through them we, get to see many of them (all acted by McEvoy, for which, for a while there was a buzz that this may be an Oscar worthy performance – however, in the end, he did not even get a nomination).

Shyamalan makes a cameo as always as the assistant of the doctor but the main movie is about how Casey survives and we also learn why she was also so socially awkward. As a child, she suffered sexual abuse at the hand of an uncle, who ended up becoming her foster father when her father died prematurely.

Then Kevin reveals to his doctor that there is another identity called The Beast.

The entire movie is one of the indefatigable Casey planning to escape, nearly making it and either Kevin or Dennis or Barry catching up to them. Her persuading Hedwig, who is only ‘9 years old’ into helping her and then last minute, Kevin or Barry catching them at it.

Nice. There is also a pseudo science where it says that if the person believes that he is strong, the body adopts to become really strong and Karen quotes a ton of authentic looking studies to ‘prove that it is true’. You wonder why and it becomes clear towards the Climax where The Beast really comes in when all seems to be lost for Kevin.

Be as incredulous you like to be, this is a bit too much to swallow.

But if you keep your disbelief suspended and just enjoy it as a movie, it becomes then an interesting story, with an ending that holds together and keeps your interest until the end.

 

7/ 10

–  – Krishna

January 22, 2017

Book: Revival by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:29 pm

imageStephen’s ability to surprise with a totally different storyline never stops to impress. This book is unlike many others I have read from him and has its unique moments.

 

Of course, I may be biased because I have liked many of his books and reviewed many here. For a sample, see the reviews on Duma Key and Lisey’s Story in earlier entries.

 

A family of five kids, dad Richard and “Mom”. Jimmy Morton, Con(“rad”), Terry, Andy and the only sister, Claire.  Jimmy enjoys the toy army his sister gave him. He meets Charles Jacob, whose visit changes everything. Charles is the new young pastor who comes to the town to take over the duties when the older one died.

 

He shows the model town he has built with a motorized light sensor that can turn on the town’s miniature lights on and off. His wife is a bombshell and most boys in town have a crush on her and most girls on Charles, who is also good looking! His interest in science – especially electricity – and his unorthodox ways of preaching annoy the older people but young kids flock to his sermons.

 

His brother gets his voice impacted by a skiing accident and this causes a huge row between their dad and mom. Charles puts him in a contraption that passes (mild) electricity around his throat. It seems to cure him and bring his voice back!

 

A horrific accident where he loses both his wife and his little boy – involving a tractor with a vicious agricultural attachment and a driver who suffered a stroke at just the wrong time – seems to turn things for Charles. His next sermon is almost blasphemous and is forever called the Terrible Sermon and he is dismissed from his post.

 

Jamie goes to the Church basement to find out what present Charles left him and finds the mechanical Jesus. His faith shattered by then, he throws it on the wall and walks out.

 

He subsequently becomes interested in music and is chosen for a boy band. Astrid becomes his girlfriend. He drifts away from both and goes rapidly downhill, becoming a junkie fully and then meets Jacobs, who calls himself Dan Jacobs now and is a carnival artist. He offers to cure Jamie of his drug habit. When he passes electricity through Jamie (a special type) Jamie gets cured but has strange episodes of uncontrollable acts and nightmares. One of the people who participated in the act robs a jewellery shop in plain view of everyone in a state of fugue as well. There is something (“Something is happening!”) wrong with the treatment. Jacobs says goodbye and goes away and Jamie grows older by staying straight and working in a recording studio. The work was provided by introduction from Charles to a guy called Hugh and then Jamie discovers that Hugh was also one of those helped by Charles through the miracle of electricity.

 

When Jamie learns that Hugh was also one of Charlie’s clients with a side effect, they decide to go see Charles, who is now a ‘preacher man’ a televangelist. Jamie’s research with Bree, the daughter of Georgia, a coworker of theirs, turns up very disturbing rssults of Charlie’s miracle healing. He realizes that Dan Jacobs is not in it for benevolence or money but is in it for its own sake, not caring about what he does to whom.

 

He decides to stop him and travels to his hometown, where he now lives in a fabulous mansion, having made his money as a famous healer.

 

The story is interesting, but not one of the best of Stephen King’s. You wait for something serious to happen and it sort of happens now and then but the story drags a bit at times.

 

He learns that he has retired but asks Jamie to be his assistant. He refuses, goes back for a nostalgic trip to Maine and returns to Colorado, only to be emotionally blackmailed by Charles Jacobs into helping him.

 

When he returns for one last time, he learns that Jenny, a friend and lover of his Astrid, has been also roped in to help. The end is exhileratingly told, as only Stephen King can. Nice read, good book. But….

 

Yes. there is a but. I cannot but be disappointed. Stephen builds up Danny Jacobs and his lifelong obsession about secret electricity so much that when you finally find out what he is so obsessed about, you go ‘Wait… what?’. Not that it is not logical but it almost seems to be a let down compared to the build up. I don’t want to tell more in order not to spoil the story, but you tell me, after you read it, whether you agree with it or not.

 

Then there is Mother, who is like many of the Stephen King stories, is an elusive but horror inducing presence (Remember the Big Boy of Lisey’s Story?)  He is usually very good at the hinting of the horror – things left untold are scarier than clear descriptions, but here even the Mother’s description is kind of not up to his usual standards – at least in my mind. Still good story and the long epilog of what happens to Jamie Morton and all the characters we know in the book is interesting, for sure.

 

Let us give this a 6/10

 

  • – Krishna

 

October 22, 2016

Movie : Lights Out (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:46 am

image.jpgInteresting premise. Even for someone who has seen a lot of horror movies and so are very used to the formula used, this strikes as something new, which I guess is a very nice bonus.

 

The movie opens with an assistant in a mannequin factory – great, ideal setting for all those plastic wrapped mannequins standing out in semi darkness – notices a presence in the darker corners of the room. She sees that the presence seems to ‘disappear’ when she switches the light on and comes back when it is off. She gets scared, tells the owner, Paul, that there is something weird.

 

Paul is not the main character of the movie because, going investigating, he gets killed. The story is about his family, especially his children – Martin, a young boy and his grown up sister, Rebecca.  Their mother, Sophie, also figures in the movie.

 

It is the little touches that are well done. Martin notes his mother acting strangely. She acts as if there is a person in the house. And talks of ‘we’ as if she and another are living together. When you learn that she has psychological problems, we tend to discount it as hallucinations. A casual, ‘Did we wake you?’ when he hears his mother in the middle of the night talking to someone in her dark bedroom and a creepy hand when he turns back to look at his mom looking at him through a semi closed door… All add that element of mystery mixed with terror. Works well.

 

Now, you say ‘a demon or presence that shuns light? What kind of thing is that?’ There is a good explanation (I did not say logical explanation, just a good one) for that in the movie. And the fact that light is the enemy of the demon is well used, especially where the boyfriend of Rebecca ‘runs away’. I will not give out details, as it would be a big spoiler.

 

The other touches are good too. Martin unable to sleep at home due to sheer terror causes him to fall asleep at school and Rebecca is summoned. When Martin says that their mom has been talking to someone called Diana, Rebecca stops, stunned. We understand why later in the movie.

How Sophie realizes that Diana, who she thought was her friend is not, and even more importantly, how she gets rid of Diana are also extremely well told.

The scenes, earlier, where Martin and Sophie try to watch a movie and Sophie tries to introduce Martin to Diana are chilling.

 

Nice imagination, very good narration and story. If you discount the fundamental premise of malevolent entity which can do anything except be in well-lit spots, the story stands together too.

I definitely had fun watching this one, and so I will say 7/10

 

  • –  Krishna

 

August 1, 2016

Movie: The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:18 am

imageThis is the second instalment of the Conjuring Series, which are paranormal happenings investigated by the husband and wife team of Ed and Lorraine Warren. In the first Conjuring movie, you learn that the duo collects sample artifacts from their cases and put them in a room in their house. The same tradition continues here.

I feel that this movie, though interesting, does not live up to the terror standards of the original. Some of the elements are there. There is also this struggle where every séance and the visions Lorraine uses to solve the cases takes a lot out of her and Ed is scared that one more of that may kill her. And the scenes where they want to give up their cases to focus on a normal life but trouble finds them in the form of people who desperately need their help and have nowhere else to go.

The story is kind of a letdown. There is a family in England, where the young girl called Janet seems to have been taken over by a malevolent demon. There are interesting scenes where Janet wakes up in the middle of the night and finds herself in a different part of the house. She gets upset, suspecting that she is suffering from somnambulism, and ties herself to the bed but still wakes up in the living room, having had no memory of how she got there.

There are also interesting scenes when people refuse to buy the story of a malevolent presence in the house (first when the mother refuses to believe and later when investigators do not believe), stuff like the bed started moving right in front of them.

There is a complicated story about how the old man who seems to be threatening Janet was a decoy all along and the real demon is a very dangerous spirit who is using the old man to do her bidding and almost too late they go back to save the day.

Some of the ideas still creep you out, like how Lorraine finds a vision of Ed being impaled on a sharp tree trunk and how it nearly comes to pass.

The end of the story – how they overcome the spirit – is comically absurd, reminding you of a famous fairy tale (If I told you which one, it would be a spoiler here) – and that is another reason for feeling that this story does not measure up.

Give it a miss unless you are such a fan of Conjuring that you simply have to see every movie in the series.

I cannot see myself awarding this more than 4/ 10

– – Krishna

July 3, 2016

Book: Duma Key by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:21 pm

imageStephen King is one of the heavily reviewed author in this forum. For a sample of reviews of his other books here, see the review of Full Dark No Stars  or The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, to name just two.

 

This story has all the King elements: a gripping story, escalating tension, a very effective, if amorphous environment of terror in the background. Let us see the story.

 

Edgar Freemantle, a self made businessman, has an accident that cracks his skull and he loses a hand in the process too.  He plans to commit suicide to benefit his wife and daughters and is talked out of it by Dr Kamen in a rather unorthodox way. He releases Goldstein’s dog, horribly crushed in an accident from the agony of living with disability.  Pam, his wife, leaves him and he is encouraged by Dr Kamen to consider a change of scenery. When he goes to mitigate the sadness of a girl when her dog got into an accident and died, did he briefly have two hands? He is not sure. Has to be his imagination. He reaches the pink, isolated house in Duma Key and strange things start happening to him. The house seems to speak to him.

 

When his daughter Ilse comes to visit him, he knows that she is engaged to a man in a T shirt and sneakers and the number on the T shirt and the group called Hummingbirds, even before Ilse reaches him and tells him. Interesting.

 

An old lady advises him to send the daughter away because Duma Key “is not good for young girls”.  He meets Wireman after a long walk and makes friends. He also knows by touching an oven mitt from his wife that she is cheating on him with his business partner Tom and another associate.

 

When he sees Tom’s vision dead appear on his portico he gets alarmed and asks Wireman what he should do. Wireman asks him to warn his wife. He does. He discovers that Wireman has weird powers too. He can read minds.

 

Edgar discovers that he has a talent for painting, which he himself did not know he possessed. Or is it the house that is giving him that power? His paintings, in the meanwhile, are considered the work of a genius.

 

When he confronts Pam with the news of Tom about to die, she thinks Ilse has confided in Edgar.

 

He looks after the lady of the house when Wireman has gone on one of his errands.

When a child abductor and killer is imprisoned, one of his paintings make things happen that surprise Edgar too. Wireman’s past comes tumbling out – how he lost his wife and kids in succession and how even his suicide did not pan out – miraculously.

 

The suggestion – lightly done – that everything was engineered to get the three (Wireman, Edgar and Miss Eastlake) there together is chilling nevertheless.

 

The way he ‘takes care’ of a child molester is chilling and escalates the story to the next level, one little idea at a time, as only Stephen King knows how to do. Then he tries the trick for a good cause, this time with Wireman. First with the bullet lodged in his head and next with his entire face and eyes.

 

Wireman is cured ‘ by the painting’.

Edgar gives a presentation at his own art exhibition. When Eastlake appears and points out the horrors of the paintings, he realizes the problem and, before he could confirm with her,  Elizabeth Eastlake dies.

 

He realizes that Perse is the death ship and the “girl has awakened” through his paintings.

He paints to learn her past and is almost taken into the ‘death ship’ by a dead man.

He realizes with horror that all the paintings he had sold are death threats to those who bought them. Perse is furious with him and tries to take revenge by making Tom kill Pam but Tom, in a rare moment of lucidity on the way to Pam’s house, takes his own life, foiling Perse’s plans.

 

Perse is not to be thwarted.

 

Edgar belatedly remembers that he has gifted a picture to Ilse his favourite child and manages to get her to destroy it. But he did not account for all other possibilities, which makes Perse create disastrous results. His close family is impacted and Edgar goes with Jack and Wireman to confront Perse in her own redoubt on the Eastern part of the island overgrown with weeds and in a ruined first home of Libbit. They meet many challenges and the description is great; in fact,  vintage King: the tension escalates slowly. When you think it cannot get any more tense, it does. Nice!  (I know I have been deliberately vague above but it is only to ensure that I do not give too much away in this review, so that all the fun is not spoilt if you decide to read it after reading this review.)

 

Noveen, the talking doll, LAO  features well in the story. Then the heron scene adds to the sense of tension. The slow progress to find and kill Perse before the darkness falls and her power increases to an exponential level are all very well described. The tension literally crackles.

 

Fascinating  explanation of how Nan Melda died, trying to save the kids, and how Emery, the faithful but devious servant, died lured by Perse. The final confrontation with Perse in the disused well is beautifully told. You see the real Stephen King style come through at the end.

 

Definitely worth a read. It is a good ride down the terror lane with Stephen King as the tour guide.

 

8/10

 

  • – Krishna
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