MAYA (2015) – A WELL-MADE TAMIL HORROR FILM

BY THE GORGEOUS PALAH CHINGU

My Rating : 4.5/5
My Rating : 4.5/5

If it wasnt up to ruby, maybe i wont watch this film ever. First reason would be that Tamil films has a tendency to have a sloppy camera work and the quality picture usually is a sub par compared to Bollywood films. This is how my perception went and truth be told, i’ve watch quite few Tamil films that had a nice story line but you just cant ignore the hideous technical part of it. Sorry but not sorry, that’s how i felt. However, it was about to change. If Tamil film industry can maintain their quality and kept producing the good quality film like this one, i am sure they can even surpass Thailand (that most of us knew that they are the king in making a horror flick films).

Aari as Vasanth/ Arjun
Aari as Vasanth/ Arjun

The story began when 2 guys ( Vasanth and His friend) sitting in a living room playing a poker game. They are having a conversation about a girl named ‘Maya’. Apparently, this ‘Maya’ has been accused of poisoning her husband and she has been submitted to one of a mental institution in a forest named ‘Mayavanam’ due to her insanity. At that time, she was pregnant. Little did she know that her life is going to end there. After she delivered her baby, her child got taken from her. She pleaded and begged but nobody gives a damn. A few days later she was found dead and whether she committed suicide or someone pushed her, the hospital didnt care. They have been using that hospital as a base to test sickening experiment on those patients and one dead patient doesnt bothered them at all. ‘Maya’ story also have a freaky chant  that goes ‘ Maya, I dont have your baby‘ which legend told if you say it out loud 3 times, you are going to get a visit from ‘Maya’. His friend decided to chant it and calling out for Maya. At the third time, a dark figure shaped like a lady showed up behind Vasants, his friend was so shocked and fell behind from his seat. It turned out that Vasanth was doing some prank together with his friend’s wife who showed up dressed like a Maya ghost.

If you watch this film later, you might be wondering why there are some scenes in a black and white color and some are in normal color. Rather than giving you the sizzling spoiler, let me just tell you that there are 2 stories in this film and somehow , they are going to be converged together to make sure you understand the ending. To completely say this film is not a cliche horror film, i will not dare to. If you look at a mental institution, musical doll, lady ghost flying a few feet above the ground, its all there but how director reinvent those cliche that how he left me impressed.

Nayantara as Apsara
Nayantara as Apsara

Another story revolved around Apsara who just recently separated with her husband. She was miserable and at her wit’s end of trying everything to make her life works. She pursued her dream back which is acting but nothing seems to do good for her. Swathi, Apsara’s friend try to help her as much as she could. Apsara’s husband kept coming back and ask for her forgiveness but she remain cold and distant. She tore the check that her husband gave and doesnt let her husband to meet Meera, their daughter at all. What causes Apsara to be so indifferent with her husband, it remains a mystery until the end because thats when you can connect the dots in a story line that director has scattered all over the film.

Lakshmi Priyaa as Swathi
Lakshmi Priyaa as Swathi

Where is the connection of this 2 story that i just mentioned above, you might ask? Swathi, Apsara’s friend is an assistant director for  ‘MAYA’ film that slated to be released in 2 weeks. The film is based on the ‘Maya’ story that has been circulated around and considered a scary one because of some mysterious death related to it. There are rumors saying those who entered ‘Mayavanam’ couldnt find their way out and the tale of headless body cutting a tree in a middle of night happened there. The film production is having some trouble in getting the film distributors and try to market their film via contest approach. In order to generate interest among the audiences, they put up a price of 50 grand to anyone whom dare to watch this film alone in the middle of night at the cinema. The company also monitored a CCTV and heart rate monitor in case the participant cheated (close their eyes during screening and so on) and if anything like heart attack ever occurred during the contest.

Apsara has been avoiding a loan shark for over a week. She promised to pay him but failed to do so because her check bounced back. Her work in a commercial advertisement didnt deliver the payment although they promised her. She remembered about the contest that Swathi told her and decided to try it herself. She was scared but she has to do it in order to pay the debt and feed her daughter. She doesnt want to live under her husband’s assistance. She sat through a movie all alone although Swathi warned her not to to do it in the first place. Swathi told her about the first participant that has met his unfortunate death here. Swathi was convinced that this film carried a curse but Apsara wont heed any of her warning. Apsara calmed herself and watched the film from the beginning. She was scared but she has to endure it. A few minutes of watching the film, Apsara found herself in appeared  in the film.

After being so disappointed with Sinister 2, i thought i will never find  a good horror film this year. I was wrong. The storyline is a little bit complex and it requires you to think what are the connection of 2 stories that shown alternately in the film. The whole film is on point. The cinematography just screamed perfection from the start. This is not an exaggeration. The way they played with scenes in 2 different color tones is amazing. They even captured some of the scenes via shadow to kept the mystery alive. I would love to congratulate the technical department on such brilliant takes. It was a marvel to see takes after takes creating a movie magic. The soundtrack also shouldnt be left behind without any praise because they didnt play safe by playing the tune of cliche horror sound like a women’s laughing or shrieking. They keep it minimal but full of impact in certain scenes. The song featured in a film also not over the top in order to keep the audience in a horror mode. The performance by Apsara (Nayantara), Vasanth/ Arjun ( Aari), (Ram) Amzath Khan and Swathi ( Lakshmi Priya) is laudable and together they made a great ensemble casts.  The way Nayantara carried the film is award – winning performance . They stay true to their character  and managed to convince the audiences to feel the emotions together. You can feel empathy towards Apsara and you can feel angry when Ram dug Maya grave wihout any respect in a ‘Mayavanam’ Forest. Last but not least, The director of this film, Ashwin Saravanan who made a debut with this film, you are truly a gem. I will definitely looking forward to watch your next film. You played ‘fear lies in the unknown’ very well in this film. You let us into our own imagination on how ‘Maya’ will looked like. You didnt throw the cliche ending of how ghost will exposed herself at the end of story. You just produced a glimpse of Maya and finished it with a bang.

p/s: Usually, my post will be full of pictures but its hard to find any picture of Maya in google (either it was too early because it has just been released or this film keeping it simple in terms of promotion and advertising). I dont know but one thing i do know, please go watch this film, its worth your money and time. Trust me on this one.

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The Babadook (2014) – Horror Film Review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

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After Jessabelle and Grace the possession, I somehow lost my trust to watch horror film (that is produced by non-Asian production). Let’s admit it first, when it comes to scary, hair standing, cold chilly ghost tale, Asian did it best. My favorite horror movie came from Thailand, Japan and South Korea. Right after watching the babadook, I decided to review this film. I was so impressed with the acting of 2 main characters in this film. The way they portrayed each role is effortless but in the same time, it demands your attention. It revolved around the emotion of single mother that could not get over her husband’s death and how she was so incapable of raising her strange son but she managed to push through it. It moves slowly from one scene to other scene but you will understand why the director wanted it that way. Jennifer Kent, the writer/director for this film takes her film very seriously. What is exactly ‘The Babadook’? To be honest, I thought it was Australian horror legend as all Asian had and the culture of telling the story to others still going on until today. The most famous Malaysian Ghost story would be the formidable ‘Pontianak’. It can be described as a long-haired girl wearing all white, can fly, blood sucking creature and laughing hysterically in the middle of night. It may sound funny the way I described it but trust me, you don’t want to meet her in the middle of the night.

My Rating : 5/5
My Rating : 5/5

I was thinking that ‘The Babadook’ is like that: derived from tale and legend of Australia. It was not. The babadook came from a book. That’s just another reason that your kid can give you if she/he’s too lazy to read a book is there’s a ghost in it. Haha. The babadook came from the red book titled as ‘The Babadook’. No publication year, No publisher and not a single details of how this book can be found on your bookshelves. Amelia, the single mother, usually said good night to his son, Samuel by reading him a book. On that night, Samuel picked ‘The Babadook’ book from his own collection, asking his mother to read it. At first, it sounds like an ordinary children book. Amelia stopped in the middle of the book right after realizing that there is something wrong with the story.

If it’s in a word, or if it’s in a book
You can’t get rid of the Babadook.
He wears a hat, he’s tall and black
But that’s how they describe him in his book.
A rumbling sound, than three sharp knocks
You better run, or he’ll hold you in his locks.
ba-ba-ba-dook-dook-dook…
Your closet opens
And your honestly hoping’ that he won’t hear a sound
But that’s when you know that he’s around.
The book close
You have an itch under your nose
And that’s just how the story goes.
So close your eyes and count to ten
Better hope you don’t wake up again.
‘Cause if it’s in a word, or if it’s in a book
You can’t get rid of the Babadook
You’ll see him if you look

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Amelia hides the book from Samuel and told his son that it is not real. Samuel continued to disturb other kids with his weirdness, telling them the story about The Babadook. He was transferred to other school by Amelia due to the teacher’s complaint of his strange behavior. Amelia’s sister, Claire also couldn’t stand being around Samuel. Claire decided not to contact Amelia anymore when Samuel pushed her daughter and broke her nose. Amelia felt that something unnatural is following and stalking her family. She’s having no sleep at all due to the disturbance made by the Babadook. The Babadook came to her in the form of her late husband asking for her son. Amelia failed to see that The Babadook has successfully taken a strong hold on herself. Samuel always told her not to let it in but Amelia failed to the see the consequences of doing so. It was so bizarre to see how Samuel, the children is much stronger that her own mother. He fought his possessed mother with all his might and tied her in the basement. If I was Samuel, I would’ve died or being a very typical children who scream first and got killed right away. Samuel tried to call her mother, asking her to fight back but she was so weak. She strangled his son and at that one particular moment, Samuel touched her face as to assure her that it was okay to kill him. Suddenly, Amelia snapped from the trance of Babadook and vomited some kind of black liquid.

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I would spare my readers from the spoiler and not to write what’s the ending for this film. Please watch it yourself and be preparing to be surprised for the ending. It was not typical, that’s the least I could say. This film make me felt so satisfied that I don’t really mind to promote to others to watch it. A brilliant 5 stars, I give to the director, actors, writers and The Babadook itself.

Watch out:
1) When Babadook said his own name ‘Babadook, Dook, Dook, Dook’. That shit is freaking terrifying.

The-Babadook

Oculus (2014) : Horror Film Review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

My Rating; 3.5/5
My Rating; 3.5/5

“Oculus offered such a great plot with a twist of horror. It delivered a good scare and your heart beat will skip so many beats because of the surprise element in it. Unfortunately, the ending was mehhhhh. To conclude, Hollywood film loves to slaughter a good story with a very disappointing ending.”

Thats what i wrote in my facebook status right after i finished watching it. I felt the thrill, the excitement and the scare but i was dumbstruck by its ending. I mean come on guys!! Do you guys planning to do a sequel? The story begins with 2 different plot with a different timeline. It’s a flashback but in the same time, it is accompanied with a present story. It does get confusing earlier because i thought its about 2 mirrors connecting each other and the ghost can travel through those mirror. Well, its not. For a second there i thought its just a rip off of Indonesian Horror Film, Kuntilanak. The story is about Kaylie’s family that being haunted by the mirror. Cliche as it can be, the family moving to a new neighborhood in a suburb area (place is not mentioned though) and ready to start a new life. Kaylie’s parents, Alan and Marie were busy to set their new home and life together.

Kaylie and Tim in the flashback version
Kaylie and Tim in the flashback version
Kaylie and Tim in the present version
Kaylie and Tim in the present version

The ghost appeared in a short time earlier but still everybody gasp in the cinema. The disturbance started when Alan purchased an antique mirror and put it in his office. The evil force started showing the signs that they are currently residing in the house. The plants started wilting, their family’s pet is weak and inactive in a past few weeks and both Kaylie and Tim see a girl walking in the stairs and in the office particularly. At first, Marie suspected Alan for his infidelity due to a girl that the kids seen in the office. By the time she realized the mirror is the root for what had happened to the family, it was too late. She was already possessed and tried to kill her kids. Alan managed to arrive home and caught his wife trying to brutalize the kids. He successfully in making her fainted for a moment and try to call 911 for help. Its too bad that the spirit got into him too and he was in a trance. Controlled by the spirit, Alan chained and locked Marie in the bedroom and told his kids not to go near the bedroom for a while because their mother is sick.

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The Possessed Mom

Kaylie being an older sister try to protect his bother at all cost. She called many psychiatrists to ask for help only to be dismissed by them. For me Kaylie is a smart girl in the story. She detected that something is wrong when she tried to call for help. Although they used a different number, the same voice will answer the call. Knowing that she cannot sit still without trying everything, she went to her neighbor. Her neighbor did come to meet her father but her father assured the neighbor that nothing really happened and it’s just a teenager girl acting out. Kaylie was scared for her life and his brother. That night, her father decided to release her possessed mother from chain. The horror began when her mother chased them off and try to strangle kaylie to dead. She cried and called for her mother helplessly to stop it. At that moment, her mother suddenly loosened her strangulation and aware that it was her daughter she tried to kill. Her father then shot her mother three times.

M301 (Left to right.) Kate Siegel,  Rory Cochrane, Bob Gebert and Justin Gordon star in Relativity Media's OCULUS.  Photo Credit: John Estes ©2013 Lasser Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
When Kaylie’s father shot her mother thrice.

Kaylie pulled tim away and tried to smash the mirror with a golf putter together with her brother. The antique mirror is capable of protecting itself. They hit it with so many times but failed to cause any crack on that mirror. In fact, they realized that they were hitting the wall but not the mirror. Their father then came into the office and try to strangle kaylie for trying to break the mirror. Tim then hit his father and managed to take the pistol away. Alan then knelt infront of Tim and asked Tim to pull the trigger. What kind of kid around Tim’s age would kill his father? Alan take the gun that held by Tim aimed it right at him and shot himself. Alan died immediately. After this happened,all of you can guess what will happened next? The police and the ambulance will be arriving at the scene. Tim was sent to a mental hospital for evaluation and submission there and Kaylie is being submitted in the foster care after the tragedy.

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The glowing eyed ghost

This is the first plot they featured in a timeline that taken place during their childhood. The second plot featured in the film is when Kaylie and Tim had grown up. Tim already moved on and wanted to let of this past. His treatment indicated that all that tim encountered are part of his brain trick and it is not real. Kaylie, however, is obsessed and she had been tracking the mirror and found it. She purchased it and wanted to find the truth about the mirror. She asked tim to help her. Tim refused to do so at first but relent to his sister seeing that she could not move on.They both were back in their old house and placed the mirror at the original place. Kaylie sets up everything that she needed to prove that she is not crazy and there is some apparition that stays in the mirror. The camera, the clock, the plant and even the equipment to destroy the mirror if anything were happened to them. This is where the thrilling and mindfucking event occurred.

I am not going to spoil this film any further, it was good in entirety but the ending is going to ruin your mood. I wanted to give 4 for the flawless silver-eyed ghosts in the film but i am sticking to 3.5. Overall, the film is scary but not ‘that scary’. Oh before i forgot, there is one favorite moment i would like to feature in this review.

oculus

When Kaylie thought she bite the lamp glass (not apple) and her mouth got all bloody, that was awesome but gruesome at the same time. The mirror tricked her into thinking that she did chew the lamp glass. When Tim called her name, she suddenly realized that she still biting the apple.

American Horror Story: Coven review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

My Rating: 4/5
My Rating: 4/5

Ryan Murphy never ceases to amaze me with variety of his works like Nip/Tuck, Glee, New Normal and American Horror Story (AHS). His work that I am most impressed with is American Horror Story. I love all 3 seasons of American Horror Story wholeheartedly. It is not a typical of horrifying and terrifying ghost or unknown apparition wandering in the area; it is the whole new level of ghastly and grisly of ghost/spirit/the supernatural story. American Horror Story season one connecting the audiences to haunted house and the buried truth of it while season 2 shared the stories of Briarcliff Mental institution and its hidden secret lies within it. With 2 previous season that is so engaging, true to the storyline and raw in the element of sheer terror, there is no doubt the season 3 of American Horror Story are expected to be great among audiences and fans of AHS themselves.

Fiona Goode
Fiona Goode
Fiona and the Young Witches (Madison, Nan, Zoe & Queenie)
Fiona and the Young Witches (Madison, Nan, Zoe & Queenie)

American Horror Story: Coven embarks the story of witches at New Orleans. After Salem Witch Trials happened 300 years ago, the witches are less in number and mostly are in great danger. The opening of witch institution or they called it ‘Coven’ is to educate witches especially the young one on how to protect their life. The coven leads by the one supreme as the leader of the coven. However, the position of supreme is not fixed and will be replaced by someone new when the right time appear. This power struggle among young witches occurred as all of them desired to be the next supreme. It is the least thing that they should be worried of since the current supreme, Fiona Goode (who knew that her days are numbered and her reign will be over) does not intended to be replaced. She wanted to stay being supreme for as long as she can.

Marie Laveau (Voodoo Queen)
Marie Laveau (Voodoo Queen)

The story also emphasized on the racial slurs, voodoo, witchcrafts and witches hunting that taken place and time way back then. The old rivalry between Fiona Goode and Marie Laveau (The Voodoo Queen) also had been set among the theme in the story as they had targeted each other for revenge since the Salem incident. Fiona Goode craze of power is something that worries her daughter, Cordelia. She knew that her mother will kill any of those young witches if any of them happened to be selected as the next supreme. When coven already airing their first episode, I am excited on the comeback of my OTP between Evan Peters and Taissa Farmiga. I have been worshipping them since AHS season 1 as they portrayed the dysfunctional couple in it. Who doesn’t love a rebellious and suicidal girl who fell in love with a psychotic murderer boy? I know I did. Their chemistry work and I even wish they would date in real life (that was until I know even peters dates Emma Robert). Then, the dream of seeing Violet and Tate reliving their romance off screen shattered. Violet and Tate is their character’s names in AHS season 1.

Worshipping Tate-Violet since season 1 of AHS
Worshipping Tate-Violet since season 1 of AHS
They returned as Zoe and Kyle in Season 3 AHS
They returned as Zoe and Kyle in Season 3 AHS
The bizzare ritual of Kyle revival back to life
The bizzare ritual of Kyle revival back to life

When Taissa Farmiga (acted as Zoe) returned in third season of American Horror story, I am ecstatic. I know Evan Peters (His character’s name is Kyle) will be paired with her again in this season. They are playing, once again, as the dysfunctional character and are in love with each other. Unfortunately, Emma Robert also casted in the AHS season 3 which totally killed my mood to celebrate my OTP returns on the screen. It’s not that I hate her; it’s just disturbed the whole dynamic thing between Zoe and Kyle in the story. It turned out I was right, Emma Robert played a girl names Madison that bitchy and always get in the way of the relationship between Zoe and Kyle. It’s just not cool at all. Zoe in this series has a power of black widow spider. Anyone who is in contact intimately either forcibly or willingly with her will end up dead. Before entering the coven, Zoe’s boyfriend died of unknown cause right after having sex with her. Zoe met Kyle at a fraternity party and somehow, they both knew that they are attracted to each other. She knew it was impossible to have a relationship with him. However, Kyle involved in bus accident and died in that accident right after that party.When Zoe revived Kyle back to life with madison’s help, he was confused and terrified. Zoe seeks help from misty, the witch who had a power of resurrection to nurse Kyle until he’s finally stable.

Madam Lalaurie
Madam Lalaurie

There are also characters that are so evil in the series but somehow it worked in it. One of the examples is the notorious killer, Madam Lalaurie. Madam Lalaurie is a psychotic slave torturer who had been cursed by the Voodoo Queen to be immortal. Well, it is a curse since she are buried deep in the ground that nobody would ever heard from her even she screamed. For so many years she’s been buried, when she’s freed she can’t believe how the world had changed. She still maintains her bigotry and intolerance of other races to what she called a ‘color person’. She does not believe that they are all equal by now and unlike during her times before, they all are slaves to her. When Fiona freed her, she saw that her history remains intact and people remembered her for crimes and pains she inflicted on her slaves. She saw people used her house as a museum and exhibition of her history.

Fiona and Her Lover, The Axeman
Fiona and Her Lover, The Axeman

The series shows that even you possess the strongest magic and is proclaimed to be among powerful witches, the thought of people wanted your power and reign could led you to live miserably and unhappily. That’s what happened to Fiona Goode, she’s one of the influential and great witches but she’s lonely and tends to feel that everybody wanted to betray her. She failed to be a good mother to her daughter Cordelia causing their relationship to drift apart over the years. When Fiona did find her true love, it is the legendary Axeman, whose known to take life of his victims using the axe. The Axeman spirit wandered in the coven for so many years until Zoe accidentally set him free. He met Fiona at the bar and later confessed that he’s been Fiona’s guardian angel in the coven even Fiona could not see him back then.

Nan & Queenie
Nan & Queenie

The young witches in this series aside Zoe and Madison, is Nan and Queenie. Queenie is the only black girl in the coven and always felt she’s not part of the coven. She possess of voodoo power as she can inflicted pain to others when she’s hurting herself. Nan, on the other hand, is a witch that had a power of persuasion and can listen to other’s thought and mind. Overall, American Horror Story: coven covered the story of witches in many themes. There are oppression, marginalization of different group of people, family drama, racism and bigotry and power struggles. Sure, there are gory and bloodthirsty rituals and scene in the series but I would like to spare you guys the details of it. I cant wait for 2 more episodes and to see who’s among them will be the next supreme of coven. My bet will always be on Zoe. I don’t know why. I just felt it will be her.

Prepare to be scared.

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

The post title obviously for you guys ;P

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2

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My Gibberish Opinion: The Conjuring may fail to impress me but I somehow felt satisfied with Insidious Chapter 2. People said sequel film will end up in the dumpster but hey, I beg to differ. The continuation of insidious chapter 2 began when Elise found dead and Josh has been possessed by Parker ghost. The chill runs through your nerve when you know that there is no way josh returned safely from the further. The plot continued as Renai, Josh’s wife experienced the disturbances like creepy voices echoed through baby monitor and the lady ghost roaming inside her house. I will not going on about the rest of the story because anyhow, you have to watch the story yourself. This film still gives me a good scare though while watching it, I am encountering some people who never been to cinema before. It is freaking annoying, I feel like I want to slap each one of them but I remain civilized. Elise, the spiritual guide who died in insidious chapter 1 appears in several scenes as she helped josh and her crew to investigate what really happens to parker ghost and try to send him back to ‘The Further’.

Memorable Scene: When the psychotic lady ghost attack Renai at living room, that scene made me swear like 100th times.

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My Rating: 3.5/5 (I am not going to lie, I like insidious better. However, the sequel of the film is not all bad and James Wan did twisting the film in certain manners and be true to the storyline).

RIGOR MORTIS

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My gibberish opinion: This film is bizarrely beautiful and eerily artful. To be honest, i never liked Hong Kong’s Horror Films. They are not scary enough for me. Rigor Mortis strike as a different kind of horror film. Yes, all Asian films has long-haired lady ghost and wore white clothe but Rigor Mortis stays in its element. There are vampire hunter, black magic shaman, creepy Chinese ghost, the evil twins’ spirits and the disturbing kid ghost that sitting in the corner with mutilated face. The plot begins when the retired film star rented the cursed room number 2442. He originally did not want to live there for a long time as he planned to kill himself in that room right after settling down his things. However, he was being saved by the fellow resident who had a 6th sense. However, since the attempt of suicide by the man took place, the environment of the flat turned sinister. What I liked about the film: it has more than 1 ghost, it exhibits the reasons why such dark creatures existed and the veteran casts in this film really excel in their acting.

Memorable Scene: When the retired vampire hunter and the black magic shaman fighting and capturing the evil twin spirits.

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My Rating: 3/5 (it’s a different kind of horror film, there are some memorable scary scenes but it didn’t give me nightmare).