Rapid Review: The Conjuring 2 (2016)

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“I know your name, demon, and that gives me dominion over you!”
– Lorraine Warren

SYNOPSIS: Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by a malicious spirit. – via IMDB

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GRADE 2What. The. Heck. I mean really! This movie was hyped up, it was raved about, people adored it, it got compared to the first. Let me tell you what it has in common with the first – Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. That’s it. I am telling you. When The Conjuring was released, I really liked the movie, up until the final third. It relied on atmosphere and was well acted, all of that. Upon rewatching it, I found it to be quite the hollow experience, and felt that I had scored it too highly. It was definitely a one hit wonder for me, and had no rewatch value. However, it was crafted well. As for The Conjuring 2? Unimaginative title and a terrible film all around – and not a good sequel, as so many have lauded it. This is not a good example of a sequel done right, in my opinion. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are good, but come across as limited due to the script. The script also tried to force emotion into it in places, and it fell flat and was terribly awkward. Let’s talk about how heavy handed and over the top this movie was. I mean seriously folks. There was no time to get freaked out or vested in what was happening because there was no grace, no elegance, no mystery, no finesse. It was just in your face, no subtlety, and felt like you were being force fed this horror. There was potential when The Crooked Man came to life – instead of scaring the socks off of me (as he rightfully should have), he was this terribly animated character that looked beyond stupid. Ugh. Let’s not forget how conveniently everything worked out for the Warrens – yes, it just so happened to be the same thing that they picked up in the Amityville house, all the way out in England? Puh-lease. I have no time for this movie, and cannot believe I had been looking forward to it for another solid horror. It didn’t deliver on any front, and was certainly a massive waste of my time. Ugh.

Rapid Review: Bone Tomahawk (2015)

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“Smart men don’t get married.”
– John Brooder

SYNOPSIS: Four men set out in the Wild West to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers. – via IMDB

GRADE 8.5So much yes. Yes, yes, yes. Ryan and Eric both praised and enjoyed this, and usually we see mostly eye to eye, and so I checked it out. I fell in love. What you get is a western horror. I was all for that. It sounded interesting, intriguing, and I was curious to see how they were going to pull this off. Well, flawlessly to say the least. For the majority of the movie, it plays out exactly like a western. No bells and whistles, lots of drama, the desert, men being all hardcore, the like. But just enough time was dedicated in the beginning to set up the fact that there will be room for horror, and the conclusion shifts away from the western a little and focuses on the horror aspect, and this blend is done just perfectly. The cast that carries this movie is fantastic – each member works wonders with the material they are given. You care about them, you worry about their plight, you wish to see what they will accomplish, you wonder about O’Dwyer’s wife, the missing criminal, the official who went missing and the troglodytes that were present that night. Where have they gone? Not to mention that there is humour laced into this once in a while, but it is dark and used sparingly, and in so doing it is effective. The film was shot well, and I loved that slow burn pace. It really set the film and the events up, and played out all the pieces just right. Bone Tomahawk also stays with you quite a while after it is over, so that is really good. The brutality and creepiness of this movie is wonderful, and executed just right – I know that sounds bad, but it isn’t just gratuitous, and it is nasty, so sensitive viewers, be warned. I cannot recommend this highly enough!

Rapid Review: Stretch (2014)

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SYNOPSIS: A hard-luck limo driver struggling to go straight and pay off a debt to his bookie takes on a job with a crazed passenger whose sought-after ledger implicates some seriously dangerous criminals. – via IMDB

stretch patrick wilson and chris pine

GRADE 8I hadn’t actually heard much about it, but I liked the cast, and decided to give it a test. As you guys know, I am not really one for comedy or anything, but this was Patrick Wilson guys, come on! Deciding to give it a watch, I found myself laughing throughout the majority of it. What a winner. It was fast, and even though it was predictable, it was funny and witty. Chris Pine makes an uncredited appearance, yet whenever he is on screen he steals the show in a role that is so extremely uncharacteristic of him, and he makes it work. This is typically a movie of everything goes from bad to worse for our lead, Stretch. But he is desperate to make his six grand, settle his debt, and somehow start his life from scratch. Naturally, things won’t be as simple as he was hoping, but alright. Taking a shift with Stretch for the most ridiculously awful evening of chauffeur work you have ever seen is endlessly amusing. Ed Helms was very entertaining as Karl-with-a-K, who kept popping up in Stetch’s mind to have some really whack conversations and I-told-you-so moments with him. There were some awesome cameos littered throughout the movie, what with Norman Reedus, Ray Liotta and an especially bizarre chat with The Hoff, they were definitely worth being featured. Stretch was shot well, had witty dialogue, good performances, some great laughs, some hilarious sequences, some action crammed in, and was just seriously fun overall. I would highly recommend looking into this one if you like some slightly offbeat comedy.

Review: Insidious (2010)

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“It’s not the house that is haunted. It’s your son.”
– Elise Reiner

The Lambert family moves into a new home to start fresh. Renai (Rose Byrne) and her husband, Josh (Patrick Wilson) have new plans and ideas for their lives. Renai is to work on her music more, and Josh remains a teacher at a school. They have two sons, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and Foster (Andrew Astor), as well as a baby. The home seems to be perfect, but Renai and Josh’s relationship seems a little strained. One night after work while they are all sitting in the family room, Dalton starts screaming after having fallen off of the unstable ladder in the attic, but he seems alright, and so they think nothing further of it. However, the next day Dalton doesn’t come down for breakfast and Josh goes to investigate only to find his son inexplicably comatose.

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“I just want things to be different in this house. I just had such a bad day. I’m scared nothing is gonna change.” – Renai Lambert

The doctors cannot help him whatsoever, and soon the family has to accept that it seems that Dalton will not be waking up anytime soon, though there is nothing wrong with him. Dalton is returned home with a hospital bed and all the equipment necessary to keep him nourished and all. Renai is becoming bitter, and as bad as it is, matters are made worse when Josh starts to “work late” all the time because he cannot deal with his home situation. Renai starts hearing strange things in the house, and is worried when Foster tells her that he wants another room seeing as it freaks him out when Dalton walks around at night. A nurse is helping Renai with Dalton one day, and after she leaves Renai discovers a bloody handprint on Dalton’s sheets, confirming her suspicions of something being wrong. Everything that can start going wrong in the house does, and Josh and Renai are at opposing ends as to what to do about it.

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“I know someone who can help, if you’re willing to ask.” – Lorraine Lambert

The answer becomes clear when they move into a new home. The house had to be evil, had to be haunted. Their newfound hope is stamped out when Rose starts hearing and seeing things that were very much the same in the previous house in the new one. Josh seems to think she is not all together, but his mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) says that Renai is not mad, she has had bad dreams and that something dark and evil has expressed his desire of wanting Dalton’s body. Dalton is violently attacked in his bedroom and Josh relents and allows his mother to call for Elise Reiner (Lin Shaye), a woman who will theoretically be able to help them with whatever is going on.  She sends a team to investigate, and they establish quickly that there is a problem. Elise figures that Dalton is an exceptional astral projector that has travelled too far into another spiritual world that she calls The Further, and that he thinks he is dreaming and does not know he is no longer with his body. The malevolent spirits want the connection between his soul and body to break so that they can take hold of it and use it for evil.

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“I can’t have somebody coming into our home and telling us the reason our son is in a coma is because his soul has floated off somewhere in another dimension.” – Josh Lambert

Who will go to bring Dalton back? Is anyone experienced enough to save the child? What has been going on with Dalton in this spiritual world? Will he be able to hold on long enough to not have his body infested with evil? Will the family ever go back to normality? Can Dalton wake up again and continue life, or will he forever be scarred by the events he has been involved with?

A 4/10 for Insidious. I will likely be very unpopular due to this, but I intensely disliked this movie. I enjoyed Patrick Wilson, but nothing and nobody else really after that. The movie had some stuff going for it initially, but I feel that anything and everything that Wan built up to (which was flimsy at best) was completely discarded when the family moved to the new home. The music was something that worked and then didn’t, it was inconsistent. It pushed too hard to be odd, different and to set you on edge, but it went from having chilling moments to just being too loud and annoying. The decay started slowly in the new home, them the slide began and soon after it was simply an avalanche. The plot holes, the ludicrous story, the way that too many jump scares and freaky, creepy things were trying to be squeezed into far too short a time frame. I never understood why everyone hyped so much about this one. I was really looking forward to seeing something new, something fresh, something freaky again and this is all that I got. I found it boring, constricting and incredibly predictable. It was one of the biggest let downs ever. Truly not worth the watch or the hype it generated – and how that came to be is still beyond me. I gave this movie another watch because I was told that I was far too judgemental the first time that I saw it, but watching it again I actually think I like it even less.

Review: The Conjuring (2013)

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“The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges on which we decide to follow.”
– Ed Warren

The Perron family buys a new home in 1971 and moves in – this is their fresh start. However, their dog Sadie does not seem to be impressed with the home, no matter that Roger (Ron Livingston) and his wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor) seem very content. They find out that there is an abandoned and boarded up basement beneath the house, and establish that they will sort it out. From the outset, though, something seems wrong. Carolyn wakes with unexplained bruises on her body and sees a doctor at Roger’s insistence, and is given pills for an iron deficiency. Day two in the home, however, there is an issue. Sadie is dead, and the five Perron daughters are quite upset by this. The clocks in the house all seem to stop at 03h07 without fail every morning.

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“There is something horrible happening in my house.” – Carolyn Perron

Initially this does not set anything off with the family, however later it becomes evident that something is happening. Roger takes a job with his rig that takes him to Florida for a week. Alone in the house, Carolyn realizes something is dreadfully wrong. She and her children suffer dreadfully by what seems to be an incredibly vicious haunting – Carolyn falls victim to an attack in the basement. The eldest daughter, Andrea (Shanley Caswell), is once again woken by her sleepwalking sister Cindy (Mackenzie Foy). Andrea is attacked by a malevolent spirit, and Roger makes it home just in time to witness all that is wrong with the house.

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“We’ve been called ghost hunters. Paranormal researchers. Wackos.” – Ed Warren

Carolyn seeks out Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), desperately in need of their help. Her family is cursed or haunted, she is sure of it, and only these paranormal investigators can help. At first Ed and Lorraine are reluctant, until it is apparent that Carolyn is desperate, and they make a turn past the house. Lorraine is a gifted clairvoyant, and upon entering the house establishes that some evil has attached itself to the family. The Warrens explain to the Perrons that the only way the Catholic Church will sanction an exorcism of the house is through an investigation so that proof can be presented.

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“You have a lot of spirits in here, but there is one I’m most worried about because it is so hateful.” – Lorraine Warren

Soon Ed and Lorraine are in full swing, digging up the history of the property and previous owners as well as other odd occurrences around the area. Ed is worried about his wife, who was very badly affected in an exorcism a few months ago. She loses a part of herself every time she works these cases. Though he is glad to have her with him, he is also afraid he will lose her due to the line of work. The Perrons need help, and when Ed and Lorraine call in their assistants to help check out the house, things seriously go wrong.

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“When the music stops, you’ll see him in the mirror standing behind you.” – April Perron

Will the Warrens be able to cleanse the house for the Perrons? What exactly has caused such a black stain on the house, and how will they be able to defeat it? Will the children ever be alright again after all is said and done? Will Lorraine be able to survive another ordeal like the faulted exorcism months before, and will Ed be able to deal with it if anything does happen?

The Conjuring scores a solid 8/10. This is what you want from a horror. It was well directed, it looked good, the actors were great for what they did and the effects were good. The way everything looked was creepy, too. I enjoyed the progression of the story telling, not too fast and not too slow. It was paced enough to really get under your skin and make it crawl. The film keeps you hooked from the very off, and that is something that rarely happens with a horror flick. I was watching so intently, and everything seemed to just work. I was far more impressed that I expected to be, and I can understand now why it got such an immensely positive response – it really just was that good! This film definitely delivers bags of eerie and some scares, and the atmosphere is just plain down scary at the best of times and the presentation was simply spine-chilling. I enjoyed every second of this movie, and it had me at the edge of teh seat from the get go. It has been an incredibly long time since any type of movie like this actually got something from me, but James Wan knew exactly what he was doing with this, and implemented it so well. Vera Farmiga really is a talented actress. She was absolutely great as Lorraine Warren, giving the character plenty of weight. This would definitely be the film to freak out those that scare easily and have weak stomachs, so just bear that in mind, though it is well worth the watch.