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The Haunting of Hill House Review: Gold-Standard TV Horror

Starring – Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino and Elizabeth Reaser
Director – Mike Flanagan
Genre – Horror / Thriller
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Why do we watch horror movies? Do we want to test the range of our emotional content? Do we want to vicariously face our fears through the safety net of a screen? For many of us, Horror films are a small shot of adrenaline that courses through our veins. We are willing to endure the terror to experience the relief we get at the end of it. In that way, this is not my first and nor will it be my last rodeo. From 'The Exorcist' to 'American Horror Stories', I’ve had my fair share of horror flicks. So, it is with much certainty and great pleasure that I say that “The Haunting of Hill House (2018)” on Netflix, is one of the best television horror series in recent times and it is not to be missed. Based on a novel of the same name, The Haunting of Hill House revolves around a broken family that comes together to confront the disturbing and horrific memories of their old place and the events that drove them from it. 

Rationalization: Directed by Mike Flanagan, this modern reimagining of the novel is a firecracker. Stirring and atmospheric, we are treated to an intense observation of the family to fully understand the effects of grief and trauma. The pace of the series is intentionally slow, but it is measured for perfection. Weaving between past and present, Flanagan allows us to fully understand the seven Crain family members and the trauma they experienced by overlapping several timelines together. We understand how certain events have affected the Crain Family individually even after many years and why it is so important to come back to the old House to confront their fears. Family, Tragedy, Grief, Mental Health are some of the themes that the series has explored in such exultant fashion.

Beneath the horrors and the ghosts that the series promise, there is an actual story of an estranged family that hasn’t spoken to one another in years and are struggling with their own personal addictions and depressions. They are on the verge of succumbing to a fate that has plagued their family in the past and they must come together as one to oppose this. The narrative of this character-driven plot blurs the line between the supernatural and the psychosomatical. The House itself is evil and when you follow the crumb trails that lead you to its neat climax, you’ll be kicking yourself for not seeing the blatant clues that the director has been throwing in your face the whole time.

However, while there are supernatural beings providing the haunting, Grief is the ‘ghost’ that the director has dressed up for this series and that is where the actual scares really are. It is important for me as the viewer to be able to relate to the frights that the film or the television series offer, and Haunting of Hill House is just that. The Hill House exists as a metaphor for the destructive capacity of mental illness and it has taught me that No Ghosts is as scary as the ones that plague your mind. The series is well-acted and complex in its narration and has utilized great wide shots to create some of the best suspense scenes ever. The constant manipulation of the dark background space as well as lights and shadows show us how important camera work is to film making.

Conclusion: The Haunting of Hill House is realistic and it’s slow-building format has approached the complexities of making an effective horror story impeccably. Nerve-Racking, Hair-Raising and Thought-Provoking, The Haunting of Hill House is Gold-Standard Television Horror.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Siddharthen R (@cheeeekyponnama)
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Little Things S2 Review: Sweet-Tempered and Engaging

Starring – Dhruv Sehgal and Mithila Palkar
Genre – Comedy/Romance
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Have you had one of those moments when you keep talking about buying something too much and when you actually buy it, you realise that it's not something as great as you were talking about? Well, Little Things Season 1 was something which was extremely well received by the audience and evidently, the expectations for the second season were sky high. But all these hopes may have ruined an otherwise uncomplicated yet beautiful love story. 

People were maybe asking for all these improvements and modifications from it that they forgot to recognise the message and the innocent love depicted in the entire web series. The second season focuses on more sensitive issues of a relationship like ego, self-doubt and emotional dependency, unlike the first season which was more about honesty, fun and communication. 

Rationalization: Nevertheless, there are scenes where you have surprising twists and which explain more about the two main characters individually but I guess it was responsible for laying a stronger base to their relationship. Dhruv and Mithila are a really cute pair to watch on screen and their chemistry makes the situations in the plot much more relatable and comprehensible. There are a few new characters inspired from all our lives and relationships and it's easy to identify the depth and intensity of the script even when it looks like a facile and simple screenplay. The climax is the best part and the tiny anecdotes from each episode are rebound to make your heart warm. 

Conclusion: Overall, the entire season is sweet-tempered and engaging with forming another list of #RelationshipGoals, and if you watch it with no expectations and an open mind, you are definitely going to enjoy it.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nikitha Kashyap aka WW
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Karenjit Kaur S2 Review: Heart-Warming! Emotional!

Starring – Sunny Leone
Director – Aditya Datt
Genre – Biopic/Drama
Streaming Platform – ZEE5 

Introduction

S1 received a great response from the audience and I didn’t think that they’ll come up with a season two, since the former displayed brief details about the early childhood of Karenjit Kaur, her school days, becoming  the Penthouse Pet of the Year, her family’s reaction when they got to know what she is doing and tasting success in her field. So, when they announced season two, I guessed it will explore her early career, entry into Bigg Boss house and eventually becoming a Bollywood actress.

Well, I'm wrong. The series begins right where the season one ends, Sunny Leone on an interview with Journalist Anupam Chaubey (Raj Arjun). This six-episode series, with a total runtime less than 140 minutes, isn’t completely about Sunny Leone or her career in the Porn Industry. But the series takes a diversion and slowly, subtly settles on her mother, her alcohol problem and how it affects her.

Rationalization

So when you make a biopic, you not only concentrate on the person whom you’re making one about. Instead of including their family and their lives is appreciable. Writer Karan Srikanth Sharma has focused on Karen’s mother and in what ways her alcohol addiction causes worry to her family. But the writing doesn’t only focus on her mother but it is balanced between her mother and her personal life. I said the season one to be oscillating between different phases of Sunny’s life, even this one does but not like its former and comfortably settles at one point.

Director Aditya Datt once again does justice to the writing by bringing out the best from the actors and making them do what the script needed especially the portrayal of the strained relationship between Sunny and her mother. Grusha Kapoor did her role exceptionally well as the alcoholic mother and Sunny Leone made sure she projected herself well as herself.

Conclusion

On the whole, Karenjit Kaur-The Untold Story of Sunny Leone season two is more about her family, specifically her mother. The series is heart-warming, touching, sentimental, and an easy one to watch in one go.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nirmal Raj aka AK (@Nirmalraj2911)
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American Vandal Season 2 Review: Absurdity of Toilet Humor

Starring – Various
Director – Tony Yacenda
Genre – Mockumentary
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Revered as one of the funniest and clever mockumentaries of recent times, American Vandal is a satire of true crime documentaries such as the Wild Wild Country and Making a Murderer. While Season 1 debriefed the absurd phenomenon of #WhoDrewTheDicks at Hanover High School in Oceanside, California, Season 2 enquires about the ridiculous yet astute thrill seeker 'The Turd Burglar', who commits a series of felonies involving poop at a prestigious Catholic school in Washington.

Rationalization: Now, if you've watched the first season of this series, you must be well aware of the type of humor that Vandal benefits from. More than the first season, this second season is much more self-aware, meta and continues to deliver when it comes to comedy. The whole poop humor is not oversaturated and was handled adequately from beginning to end. But, the characters were once again the primary plus side of the show. The recurring characters of Peter and Sam were more mature and less douchey this time around, DeMarcus Tillman, Chloe, Lou added the needed intrigue as the supporting characters.

However, comparable to Dylan's character in Season 1, Kevin McClain aka Shit Stain McClain is the focal character and the one who plays the helpless victim, and Travis Tope who played Kevin was outstanding with his performance. His nerdy look, mannerisms, body language, speech, everything felt incredible and was easily laughable and at the same time pitiful to watch. Additionally, unlike Season 1, this time the show ended with a social message and a twist that I didn't see coming and is again a job well done by the creative team behind the curtains.

Conclusion: Overall, I once again had a blast watching American Vandal, and is undoubtedly one of the easiest, funniest and captivating series you'll find on Netflix. Watch it and revel the absurdity of toilet humor.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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GHOUL Review: Reinventing the Genre!

Starring – Radhika Apte and Manav Kaul
Director – Patrick Graham
Genre – Horror / Thriller
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Coming off the terrific success of 'Sacred Games', Netflix's latest original GHOUL starring Radhika Apte and Manav Kaul in the lead roles is marketed as a horror/thriller and is jointly produced by Phantom Films, Blumhouse Productions and Ivanhoe Pictures coupled with Patrick Graham serving as the director for the entire three-episode mini-series.

The narrative takes place in the bleak dystopian future where the country is bludgeoned by sectarian violence and with military personnel executing and arresting anyone who is attached with anti-national undertakings. On the other hand, Nida Rahim (Radhika Apte) who is still going through her military training, was applauded when she herself exposes her father's anti-national activities and gets promoted as an interrogative officer under Sunil Dacunha (Manav Kaul) at Meghdoot 31 (Advanced Interrogation Centre). Her first task is to put the screws to Ali Saeed (Mahesh Balraj), an alarming and also a most wanted terrorist who is responsible for multiple bomb-blasts and religious wars. However!?

Rationalization: Now, after watching the trailers and the promos, if you're going into this series expecting to get scared, you might get disappointed. Cause GHOUL, for the most part, deals with various subjects of bigotry, false patriotism, racism and cues in elements of horror to spice up the subject. The trailers were misleading, but I can find many similarities between this mini-series and Jordan Peele's Oscar-Winning film 'Get Out', which expertly alluded to few debatable subjects by adding a horror element to it.

Furthermore, GHOUL also impresses with its dystopian setup, director Patrick Graham's perspective of the 'near future' as the diplomatic world filled with war, terrorism and authoritarianism is profoundly unique and unlike anything, I've seen on Indian television. The gloomy composition sets up the vibe perfectly for this political / horror centred miniseries and Jay Oza's cinematography complemented the narrative adequately.

Unlike her previous two Netflix Originals ('Sacred Games' and 'Lust Stories') Radhika Apte's predominant protagonist role worked really well as her character had depth, emotion and was sympathetic much like Emily Blunt's character in 'Sicario'. Once again, Apte was fantastic when it comes to her portrayal and is the right fit as the standard-bearer for the show.

Conclusion: Overall, GHOUL is not your conventional horror thriller crowded with jump-scares and meaningless jolts, it reinvents the genre and tells a significant story enmeshed to Modern Day India. And similar to last year's 'Get Out' (from Blumhouse Productions) it ensured to channel the message effectively, and is a fabulously made mini-series which is worth watching.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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