Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

Non-Review Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The Curse of La Llorona is fairly solid as contemporary studio horrors go.

Although the arrival of Avengers: Endgame has a lot of attention focused on the largest and most successful shared cinematic universe of the twenty-first century, there is a lot to be said for the strange horror universe that has been built outwards from The Conjuring. Although this trend is most overt in The Conjuring 2, the rare horror movie to also feature a car chase sequence, there is something fascinating in how these films have transformed studio horror into a blockbuster concern.

Mother have mercy.

There is a reason that these films are released during the summer months, as counter-intuitive as that might seem. Again, discussing The Curse of La Llorona in such terms might seem cynical, but it is genuinely striking. It takes a lot of work to satisfy the competing demands of the two genres; the shock of horror with the familiarity of blockbuster storytelling. The challenge with The Curse of La Llorona lies in offering audiences something that satisfies all their expectations of a film like this, while still offering a few shocks and starts along the way. It is a remarkable accomplishment.

The Curse of La Llorona strikes that balance relatively well. The film knows the formats and rhythms of a horror film, and director Michael Chaves knows both what the audience expects and how to work within that format to build a genuine and compelling sense of dread. The Curse of La Llorona is well-made, efficient, and delivers what the audience anticipates from a Conjuring spin-off. There’s something endearing in the reliability, in the care with which the film strikes these sorts of balances.

Scream queen.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Non-Review Review: The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2 is effectively a tentpole horror.

It is very much a horror film, with James Wan demonstrating all the skill and technique that he had honed over years working in the genre. There some wonderful slow pans and creepy camera movements that emphasise negative space, some very effective use of timing and mounting dread, and a palpable sense of menace. There are jump scares and slow scares, and enough false alarms to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The Conjuring 2 is in many ways an old-school archetypal horror film.

He ain't afraid of no ghost...

He ain’t afraid of no ghost…

However, there is something interesting happening in the background. The Conjuring 2 might have all the basic ingredients of a horror movie, but they are assembled in the style of a tentpole blockbuster. To be fair, the big summer release date is a bit of a clue, as is the climax that features a sweeping race-against-time as the heroes try to desperately make it back from the train station. Indeed, The Conjuring already launched something of a shared horror universe with the spin-off Annabelle.

In some respects, The Conjuring 2 feels like something of a mash-up, reflecting contemporary pop culture’s fascination with mashing existing concepts together to form intriguing cocktails. What is really surprising about the film is how well it works.

"I'm sorry, you wouldn't happen to be able to direct me to the Marilyn Manson concert, would you?"

“I’m sorry, you wouldn’t happen to be able to direct me to the Marilyn Manson concert, would you?”

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Annabelle

Annabelle certainly looks pretty. Not the doll, of course. The doll looks like the children’s toy version of Jack Nicholson. There is something immediately and effectively intense about the figure at the centre of this horror spin-off, to the point where it’s hard to imagine anybody wanting the toy in their home in the first place. To paraphrase Stephen King’s criticism of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, it is not a question of if this doll will start killing people, but when.

However, the production design on Annabelle is quite striking. It very much a period horror film in the way that The Conjuring was a period horror film. This time, we are visiting the sixties rather than the seventies. There are lots of bright colours and stylish clothes, and the film works hard to capture the mood and aesthetic of the era – or, at the very least, the era as we remember it. Annabelle feels like a horror film effectively riding the waves of sixties nostalgia that has rocked popular culture in recent years.

Well, it'll never be a collector's item now...

Well, it’ll never be a collector’s item now…

Sadly, Annabelle is not pretty enough to distract from its rather fundamental problems. Its script has some good ideas, but no real idea what to do with them. So, instead, it falls back on a kitchen sink approach to modern horror. The script for Annabelle is a collection of sequences and stock elements copied wholesale from recent films like Insideous or Sinister or The Conjuring. While those films did not necessarily have fresh scares, they were blowing the dust off some very classic horror movie tropes.

Here, it feels almost like reheated leftovers.

A doll's house...

A doll’s house…

Continue reading