I’ll certainly go on record as saying the first Conjuring movie is one of the best horrors of recent years, and it’s follow up wasn’t too shabby either. Set in the same universe, the Annabelle movie so far has passed me by, Luke warm reviews and generally ‘meh’ word of mouth not helping matters. However I had heard this follow up was meant to be superior, so I thought I’d give it a chance.
Set some time before the events of the original movie, this has a group of orphans coming to live at a house in the middle of nowhere (of course). The ageing couple that run the house however hide their own tragic history following the death of their daughter twelve years previous. However it’s not long that things start to go bump in the night, mystery surrounds the reclusive wife and there’s a closed off room that certain girls should not go poking their noses into.
A solid premise, a creepy location and inquisitive young girls in night gowns wondering around creepy corridors in the dark. Yes it’s rather familiar stuff and pulls out many a horror movie trope. However it’s also a movie that wears its clichés like a badge of honour, delivering effective scares and plenty of freaky imagery and nail biting atmosphere that I found genuinely unnerving. The mostly young cast do a fine job especially lead girl Talitha Bateman and with several nods to both The Conjuring movies this was the whole package. It gets pretty messed up and nasty towards the end and I left the cinema fairly shaken but thoroughly entertained. A small tie in with the last movie ends things on somewhat of a ‘ok..er, what?’ and for a movie labelled ‘creation’ it’s still a bit of a mystery just what Annabelle’s origins are – but otherwise I still got a kick out of this.
I was certainly intrigued by this concept. A malevolent spirit that disappears in direct light but is deadly in the dark, who seems to be haunting a small family, that of a single mother and her little boy. When said boy turns to his older, rebellious sister for help after one too many strange goings on, soon an investigation ensues … subsequently causing the family to look into their own past in the process.
Whilst fairly simple in it’s idea I did find this pretty unnerving throughout what with an evil spirit seemingly capable of jumping out from any darkened corner or darkened room. The maker’s had a field-day with this idea and I certainly got a kick out of the various ways the idea was explored, complete with an effective ‘shooting at the ghost’ sequence. However the frights don’t exactly come thick and fast and rely a little too much on loud noises and character reactions more than being scary in their own right … which they are but the other stuff dilutes the experience somewhat. Also I wasn’t keen on the occasional times the spirit spoke … again diluting the scariness by giving it too much character (the remake of ‘Ring’ had a similar misstep).
The casting is pretty decent, although only Maria Bello is recognisable but suitably unhinged as the troubled mother. I also thought the young actor playing the boy was above average. Add to this a complex turn from Teresa Palmer who manages to be more than a typical, moody twenty-something. The final act is also solid and full of action with some novel twists on the concept. But I did hope for a bit more light to be shed on the spirit’s origins, which sadly is ignored in place of a rather ballsy ending. So despite good intentions, this doesn’t quite reinvent the horror movie and is a bit too Hollywood with some of its scares … but regardless this was still a suitably creepy and entertaining experience.
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