Music of the Swamps

It had gone quite dark as he walked through the swamps. It was the shortest path to the other side, and he had to get there somehow. Getting a car and traveling through the road meant that he would have to waste an extra hour and a quarter on the journey. But he didn’t want to reach his destination late. He wished to be there as early as possible. His phone was dead, and so was his only option for some light.

“Welcome to my world” he heard a voice from behind.

He turned around to see two eyes shining in the darkness. There was no light around except for what moon was providing. There was a shadowy figure right in front of him. It was rather like a small person, but the shape resembled that of a tree.


“Who are you?” he asked.

“Does it matter who I am? Do you know where you are?” it asked him.

“I asked you a question, didn’t I?” he asked again.

“Okay. I am the keeper of these swamps. I know who you are. I believe that you are here to steal the music of the swamps” the voice replied.

“I don’t understand. I was only taking a shortcut because I have an urgent thing to do. Please make way before I go through you” he said.

“You don’t walk through the swamps on a full moon. These are the days on which the swamps produce a certain kind of music which you are not allowed to hear. Well, hearing is stealing, and then I will have to punish you” said the keeper.

“Well, I don’t care about your music, but I have to go through the swamps to reach the village on the other side. I don’t care who are, because this is an emergency. So, stand aside, little person” he shouted.

“This won’t do you any good. The music of the swamps is sacred. This action of yours will have terrible consequences” the keeper warned him.

“I don’t give a damn” he said as he walked around the keeper to keep moving.

“And here you walk towards your end. Whatever you are hoping to achieve will never happen” the keeper was heard yelling.

He didn’t care at all. He did feel that the someone was making some music though. He wondered if the swamps do make some music. But he didn’t care to return or stop to think further. He kept walking, but the swamps seemed to extend a lot more than his expectations. This path no longer seemed to be the shorter one for him, as he felt that he should have taken the longer route by road. The music was getting stronger and soon, it turned into some kind of chant supported by some primitive musical instrument. He stopped to see a tree carved into something which resembled an entrance. He walked right in through it, but nobody got out through the other side.

“So, it is done?” the keeper was seen asking a huge shadow which covered the moon.

The next day, the body of a young man was found at the end of the swamps. The villagers attributed the death to a little shadowy demon which was believed live in the swamps. But the post-mortem revealed the cause of death to be because of hitting the head on a hard substance, which was believed to a thousands of centuries old holy rock on which he slipped and fell.

On the very next day, clouds covered everything on the sky, and a few villagers reported at the police station that they had seen a young man walking on the swamps with a singing young lady, and their feet never touched the floor. They also told the police that there was the music of the dead going on at the same time, which was a variation to the praise of the dead, that was sung when people died and their soul never really left this world. It was recorded as “the music of the swamps”.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.



Thrillers Make it Home

This is a day on which nothing interesting happens. Still, today is the day meant for making some unknown thriller movies popular, or at least a little better known. This is not about Inception, Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, Shutter Island, Hannibal, Red Dragon or the rest of those popular ones, as they are better known that even those superhero movies. I have added more than one kind of thriller, and with these movies, horror and philosophy mostly joins with the thriller genre to create the impact provided. I would start with the movie which has its situation in the title itself.

Unknown (2011): Liam Neeson rules the show in this psychological thriller which has us on the edge of our seats. As a thriller, its ability can’t be questioned as the suspense is well-built and maintained to reach an end where everything comes together and there is nothing lost in the process. It tells the story of a man who travels to another nation, but after an accident, can’t seem to be back with family again as his wife refuses to accept him as her husband – another person has taken his place there. In this adventure to find one’s place, Diane Kruger plays the supporting character, and she also does very well.


Shuttle (2008): Knowing when to improve the pace and how to go on to make its point, Shutter is an interesting thriller with a message. Peyton List and Cameron Goodman nicely plays the ladies who are lost in rather unknown territory as the driver of their cab turns out to be not just a driver. There are many thrilling moments and twists keep happening to help the story unfold as the movie go through into the final revelation. There is some blood and gore, but never reaches a high level. This is not to be confused with the horror movie Shutter, which released in the same year.

Clinic (2010): Based on the real incidents which features the abduction of newborn babies, the movie has six pregnant ladies who wake up in the middle of nowhere with their children removed. The suspense about this unknown world is maintained very well in this movie. Tabrett Bethell does a wonderful job here, unlike what she was supposed to do in one of the most ridiculous Bollywood movies ever, the doom of logic which is called Dhoom 3. There is also a final shocking twist in store. All the actresses in this movie has done a good job, and there are not many male characters in this one who gets much screen-time.

The Grey (2011): Liam Neeson plays the newfound leader of a group who are stalked by wolves waiting for an opportunity in the cold. Based on the short story called Ghost Walker by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, this one is more like a survival thriller or adventure thriller. It even has a powerful philosophical side running through. For the abusers who hate humans and go racists in the name of dogs, they should be happy because there are no dogs hurt in this movie, but only the wolves. I had to clarify this for them because they see anything and will start hating humans for no real reason. Well, some hate for the fellow humans averted is that much of goodness restored for humanity. Full review here.

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The Cell (2000): I have watched half of the movies directed by Tarsem Singh and this is his best as I know. This comes with a very interesting concept which brings things together. It sends us into the dark world inside the mind of a serial killer, as a virtual reality device allows one to enter there and collect information. Also note that Jennifer Lopez is the heroine here. There is a lot of artistic beauty in this dark psychological thriller. This one brought variety and life to the genre long before there were more twists added. Well, one has to imagine how worse it would be in the minds of the new age racists who have come up with an idea to hate humans in the fake pretence of loving dogs, as the focus is on skin colour.

After.Life (2009): This one might not be suitable for all kinds of viewers, as the pace is slower, and it is more interested about giving the viewers more philosophical thoughts about human existence, and what it means to live or die in a world which doesn’t really care. Who is alive and who is not, is a question that goes beyond reality. Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci are the two people who are present throughout this movie, and in the creepy atmosphere of a morgue. Liam Neeson had his usual strengths with simplicity, and Christina Ricci was stunningly good as a person disconnected from life so much that her being alive never ceases to be a mirage. It makes you ask questions.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Pages of the movies.


Your Cabin in the Woods

Horror is forever; just like the vampires. There are only a few full horror movies which can claim to have 91% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and in the last three movies, no entertaining horror movie has managed to gain that. Do mark that I don’t consider the overrated flick, The Babadook as entertaining – I am still to figure out what brought the better ratings for that one, and I will write about it when I do find out the truth behind the same. Even The Conjuring did fall short, and so it is a great achievement that one movie has made among the usual ones.

The name of this movie can be guessed from the title itself – it is The Cabin in the Woods which did excellent with the critics and good at the box-office, but still remains a rather unknown title in South Asia. Well, it never really released here, and may be it could have got a theatre after the release of The Conjuring, after which all those horror movies started releasing one after the other, none really making the same impact with the audience. The Cabin in the Woods just came a little early, and the big horror fan teams were not active at that time.

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The Cabin in the Woods is not just horror, as it is also a slasher. Another thing that it manages to be is to become a satire on the movies which can be classified more into the category of torture porn than anything else. It can also be considered as a horror comedy which makes fun of the use of violence, nudity, torture and sadism in those movies which uses them for no reason instead of integrating them or working them as necessary part of the flicks. The Cabin in the Woods doesn’t add them as stupid fun, but uses them effectively to mock a few other flicks which have brought the genre down.

There are horror movies which have used all the elements in the right manner, and while making use of those which never did along with becoming the satire, The Cabin in the Woods actually becomes that horror movie which is never to be missed. It also knows where to use the elements and when to stop. Even its bloodiest moments are controlled, and never going beyond a certain limit. The dumb movies like Kingsman: The Secret Service which tried some of the similar things and miserably failed becoming the true nonsense, which was strangely appreciated, can actually learn from this movie.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service was a bloody stereotype which should have been blown right out of the theatre, as it is kilometres away from being funny or interesting. It couldn’t go on to become a satire and glorified all the possible stupidity. Meanwhile, The Cabin in the Woods manages to become every good thing that this year’s spy movie couldn’t. The people without the ability to think differently will still consider this one as just another horror movie. It should happen with a lot of people, and so a warning has to be issued related to the same.

This movie uses the idea of the “deserted cabin” which has been successfully used in many other horror movies. The movies which used it successfully include the Evil Dead franchise, and Cabin Fever has it in the name itself; I Spit on Your Grave and Wrong Turn had their own cabins, and here, we use the perfect example of the same, and at the same time making fun of the whole setting. This one has college students at an abandoned cabin, and a number of horror cliches are unleashed on them leaving them with no option but to fight them off watched by unknown people.

Dana Polk (Kristen Connolly), Holden McCrea (Jesse Williams), Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz), Jules Louden (Anna Hutchison), and Curt Vaughan (Chris Hemsworth) are the five people left for the fate this time. The performances are really good, and they themselves make fun of the stereotypes used in horror movies. There is also a final twist in the end, and the movie itself becomes a reflection of how horror movies are made, or a thought about what would happen if reality shows were made based on horror rather than the repeated things that are shown on television. This is fun, and it works on brilliant idea, that of more than one existence – as a horror, comedy, satire, slasher, thriller and also that of a separate existence in the mind of a horror lover and inside a possible reality show.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Page of The Cabin in the Woods.



Please Let Them In

There was a time when I was depressed about how the vampire movies were being made. Byzantium was a relief in that case, and before that movie, there was another flick which brought a certain relief, but it was even more unknown and didn’t do much at the box-office either. It was not that well-received because people were really not expecting this kind of a vampire movie, which they will consider not their kind of entertainment and also not the kind of horror that they want.

Well, the situation was more about making a choice. But it also meant that another vampire movie which had the true essence had to go down. It is never a good sign for a true vampire lover who wishes to keep the vampire essence closer to the vampires rather than mixing or bringing it to the human side so much that it makes one wonder if the resultant creature is a human in a vampire disguise. So, it is once again up-to us to bring such lesser known movies further attention.

Based on the novel Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist and also coming after a Swedish movie of the same name had already released, this one has a lesser reception. Let Me In has managed good critical reception though, even as most of the people who have watched the Swedish original are stubborn and not ready to watch or accept this because they were too attached to that one. You don’t usually see this much critically appreciated movies in the horror genre, and Let Me In is not just about horror.

Chloë Grace Moretz is the future: She has been one amazing child actress, and now into even more mature roles

Chloë Grace Moretz is the future: She has been amazing.

Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a boy neglected by his parents and bullied by other students at school, has a girl called Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz) arriving to live next door with her father Thomas (Richard Jenkins). She is pale, acts strange, has no friends and wishes to have no acquaintances outside what seems to be her small world of two. Still, the boy and girl soon become good friends, but it turns out that the latter is not what she is actually believed to be. There are mysterious deaths happening in the neighborhood, and soon, it is the father who goes missing.

Bullying is a central point in this movie and the movie speaks against it. It is the major factor on which the protagonist’s life is developed, as he remains hopeless, and feeling eternally weak before the bullying students until he meets the girl, his first real friend and a strange source of power. The relationship between the two develops slowly, but beautifully, without any exaggerated additions. She is the strength that he has longed for, and as the movie reaches the end, the two are good enough to compliment each other, as he finds the strength to resist the bullies.


The vampire’s need for blood and their hidden lifestyle is shown without the style and glorification that it had with some of the movies of the time. There is nothing that much of beautiful about it here with being the creature of the night. There is not even the strange mystery which is often equated with beauty. Things are rather clear here. It is not that interesting being the immortal vampire. The need for blood is beyond control and the requirement of hiding is so much. There is no usual kind of entertainment, but there is the skill of story-telling and the strength of strong emotions in display here.

The kids are too good in this movie; there is not much about the adult characters here though. Chloë Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee come up with incredibly mature performances. The former adds a very significant strength to the adaptation, as she works through her vampire-self with elegance in this movie. She adds her own charm to the character, and once again proves herself as the future of the movie world. You will surely need to watch Let Me In, and may be the Swedish version, Let the Right One In depending on which one you get. Here is another #UnknownMasterpiece.



Sharpen Your Fangs

Most of the vampires have enjoyed some good time at the box-office with those movies with fangs driving hard into the necks of those currency notes. Some of the most mindless vampire franchises have done so well, that one has already gotten $3.345 billion world-wide. The most shocking thing is that the last two movies of that franchise which were the worst, actually managed to earn more than the the rest. It is a strange world, and a change of human perception about the vampires has made sure that this strange, meaningless vampire romance was going to take over to satisfy some audience.

But the question remained if such movies had to be made, and also if such books were to be written with not caring for the vampire essence? Interview with the Vampire maintained the basic vampire essence, and so did Vampire Journals; none of them needed to go into the strange teenage romance. Let Me In had recreated the same so much, and didn’t go down to a childish fantasy. There is a movie which knows how to make a rather beautiful and thought-provoking vampire stuff; something that Twilight had completely missed out, and with its complicated protagonists and complete artistic beauty, that movie is Byzantium.

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Byzantium is a less recognized beauty. It is not known that much among even the most regular movie viewers. The reason might be that it never really got a wide release. It comes from Neil Jordan who brought us Interview with the Vampire, and this movie maintains the feelings of that one including alienation, solitude, hopelessness and eternal doubt. The movie begins with these lines “My story can never be told. I write it over and over, wherever we find shelter. I write of what I cannot speak: the truth. I write all I know of it, then I throw the pages to the wind. Maybe the birds can read it”.

In a word which completely takes you into its eerie feeling, Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) and Clara (Gemma Arterton), the mysterious daughter and mother pair is on a never-ending run and finally seems to have somehow settled at the Hotel Byzantium. They have been chased by a group of vampires for around two hundred years. The flashback story goes back to the time of the Napoleonic Wars during which Clara is born. But at Byzantium, it is not just the past that will come to trouble the mother and daughter, as the present will catch up to them to force them in order to make decisions.

We have been forced into the CGI beauty which has often overtaken the beauty of the world and its people, and Byzantium takes you back to it. Saoirse Ronan plays a wandering beauty who carries a burden of melancholy with amazing skills. Four years after City of Ember, she once again brings the audience to a standstill with her performance as the lone vampire youth who never ages. Kirsten Dunst played such a character as a child vampire in Interview with the Vampire, but Eleanor’s troubles go deeper. She has the feelings of not just Claudia from that movie, but also that of Louis de Pointe du Lac.

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The one thing we can tell Saoirse Ronan’s character is to stop being so sad, as it basically depresses the viewers and makes them wonder how an immortal beauty can be portrayed with such powerful and abiding sadness. In such a world of no happiness, Gemma Arterton is Clara Webb, charming, seductive and deadly. Traversing between the darkness and the light, or rather dark grey and light grey, she is a character who saves the day in more than one way, and that depiction is rather of a domination that rises above the expectation. As she says “I had eyes that cut through lies, I had lungs that breathed eternity. Felt I’d lived my whole wretched life just to prepare me for that moment“.

Byzantium is a movie which replenished my vampire essence which was taken away by three movies, the completely worthless and shameless one called The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the hopeless one called Twilight and the clueless one called Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters. Byzantium is unbelievably artistic in its presentation, stylish with its environment and brutal with its emotions. It is like a form of art which does justice to the vampire mythology and never boasting about. As it hasn’t been promoted enough, I provide this post for celebrating this rather #UnknownMasterpiece.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Facebook Page of Byzantium.



The Fire Still Burns

The list of interesting movies which didn’t get the attention of the mainstream audience is endless. I would add a movie released in 2008 to the list. It had less scope to be popular here because the first big mall in my state opened only in 2009 and a multiplex in the form of Cinemax only followed at the same mall much later. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the people I know haven’t watched this one. Yes, Star Movies is once again the channel which has made this movie known here.

I am hoping to have more people getting to know about this movie. It was a box-office flop, and I can only wonder about the reason for the same in North America. May be people misunderstood and expected the wrong thing from this movie. The reviews were positive to mixed, but things didn’t work well with the audience. This movie is an adaptation of a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Jeanne DuPrau which was published in 2003, and this lone flick which remains the only one in the franchise is known by the name, City of Ember.

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The movie was released just about two months after the release of the last book in the series; The Diamond of Darkhold – but thanks to the terrible reception by the audience, it remains the only movie of the franchise, with any hope for a sequel lost without hope. City of Ember is a movie which deserved more. May be it released a little bit too early, considering the increase in the viewership of English movies now and also the better love for the movie adaptations from books. It can do well with a reboot during these times.

City of Ember has a very interesting setting. It takes us to a dystopia which has existed for a long time after something like an end of the world had happened. The human civilization is limited to this world underground which is actually running short of supplies. As the new world was established inside a giant cave, the generators falling apart meant continuous darkness and the trouble with plumbing works happened to be other reasons along with the food shortage. As the leaders refuse to accept the doom and won’t allow an exploration to the outside, there is no easy way out.

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The movie uses the idea of the dystopia, and how it chooses to remain the same without going to explore the other possibilities due to concern, fear, anxiety and thoughts of losing power. The present city gives them what they want, and it goes on and on in the same way without any change, and it has worked for them. So, even in a distant future with things seemingly getting worse, they have that feeling that everything will get back to normal and everything will be all right.

The design of the world is indeed special and has a special dark beauty for itself. The performances add to the total charm. Saoirse Ronan leads the team with that charm that not many young actresses could come up with. It might be one of those movies which established her talents so early. Harry Treadaway follows and he does a significant job in keeping side efficient. I would still say that even with fair performances from the rest of the cast, nobody can match the leading lady on the screen.

City of Ember itself is a reflection of our present world in which the situation is getting worse and nobody cares. The only difference is that our planet can still be saved, and an escape is not the best solution. But the much needed qualities to inspire the same is missing, and people were fed with a need to win at any cost, right from their childhood – so it will actually be a strange thing if someone actually bothers about the humanity as a whole without caring for the personal gains.

***The images used in this blog post are cropped from the screenshots taken from the movie.