Quick Review: Malignant (dir. by James Wan)


James Wan’s newest horror film, Malignant is something that really needs to be seen without any prior input on it. If there’s any way you can watch it – whether you see it in theatres or on HBO Max up until October 10th – It’s definitely worth it. Right after watching it, I contacted my cousin and begged her to watch it without moviepooping it. She never watches a movie without already knowing the outcome – who lives, who dies. If she doesn’t, the anxiety that hits her is great. She twitches in her chair, covers her face, screams and gives every reaction you to hope to experience in a movie theatre. She agreed to do so, and I can’t wait to hear her thoughts on this. I’m almost compelled to head out to a theatre, sit in the back and watch the audience.

You’re better off not reading this and just coming back later, after you’ve seen it. I’ll try not to give too much away.

When I think of popular couples in horror, the first one that comes to mind is Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel. James Wan & his wife, Ingrid Bisu may be joining that group. Along with screenwriter Akela Cooper (The 100), the three writers provide Malignant with enough jumps and mouth covers for me to enjoy the ride. Is it perfect? No. It might actually be offensive and/or triggering to a few people, depending on what they’re going through in life, but every movie has the capacity to do that without realizing it.

When mother to be Madison (Annabelle Wallis, Annabelle) suffers an injury, she begins to have visions of a figure causing murders. Much like Neil Jordan’s In Dreams, Madison visions give her a tie to the killer, who may be someone from her past. With the police involved in the form of Agent Kekoa Shaw (George Young, Containment) and his partner, Regina Moss (Michole Briana White, She Hate Me), they work with Annabelle to pursue the killer.

Malignant has it’s share of great shots. There’s one wonderful overhead sequence that takes place which reminded me a little of Minority Report, along with Wan’s usual work with lights and shadow. Smoky alleyways and barely lit hallways just add to Malignant’s creepiness. All of this is anchored by both Wallis’ performance, a mix of quiet tension and wide eyed horror, and by Maddie Hasson (Underdogs), who plays her sister Sidney. Sidney is the source of Malignant‘s more comedic quips, along with Ingrid Bisu, who plays the Forensic Investigator. The movie strikes a good balance there, I felt.

From a writing standpoint, there’s enough misdirection to keep the audience guessing, but it doesn’t do in a way that lies to them. On my 2nd viewing (I’m on my 3rd while writing this), the elements that seemed strange really do make sense. There’s also tidbits of humor placed throughout the movie. It doesn’t make it a comedy by any means, but it’s nice to be to chuckle once in a while. It does make one huge mistake (for me, anyway) that almost completely lost me early on, a conversation between sisters that made me wonder why such information wasn’t already known between them over all the time they knew each other. You’ll probably be able to recognize it when it occurs.

Malignant is a tight 1 hour and 51 minutes, but it’s paced so well that the film feels like it’s almost over before you know it. As much as I enjoyed it, that was one of the other problems I had with the film. Not a terrible thing in any way. It hooks you from the start, gives you some great jumps and reveals through the middle. The 2nd half of the movie kind of pushes the pedal to the floor and guns it. I can think of at least two films that Malignant references, but I’ll maybe write about them some other time.

Overall, Malignant is a great Halloween treat, with James Wan & Co. showing everyone how it’s done. It gets strange, but when all’s said and done, you’ll be thankful for the ride. Just go in blind, turn off all the lights, take it for what it is and enjoy.

The Warrens return in the trailer for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It


Warner Bros. has us prepped for the summer with another installment of The Conjuring! Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) takes over the directing duties from James Wan (who serves as a Producer here). This time around, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) are investigating a case that puts them and an entire town in the spotlight. When a young man is arrested for a murder based on demonic possession, the Warrens are called in to find the truth. We’ll find out for sure when the film releases both in Cinemas and on HBO Max on June 4th.

The Tournament beckons in the Mortal Kombat Trailer


Way back in 1995, Paul W. S. Anderson made his big break with the original Mortal Kombat film. 25 years is high time for an update. Produced by James Wan, this Mortal Kombat seems to be a little stronger with the story it’s sharing. So far, I’m liking the cast here. The Raid‘s Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero, Hiroyuki Sanada (Avengers: Endgame, The Wolverine) as Scorpion, True Blood’s Mechad Brooks as Jax, and those are just the names I recognize. I’m just happy they added Kung Lao to the mix.  I’m hoping there will be more fighting action in this version, and a great soundtrack to boot.

Directed by newcomer Simon McQuoid, Mortal Kombat’s release date is set for later this year, and since it’s a Warner Bros. Picture, there’s a good chance HBO Max may get it early as well.

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Conjuring, Mama, We Are What We Are, World War Z


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 2013 Horror Films

The Conjuring (2013, dir by James Wan)

Mama (2013, dir by Andres Muschietti)

We Are What We Are (2013, dir by Jim Mickle)

World War Z (2013, dir by Marc Foster)

Horror Scenes That I Love: The Clock Ghosts From Insidious


After all of the sequels and the rip-offs, it’s easy to forget just how scary Insidious was when it was first released, way back in 2011.

Believe it or not, it’s still pretty scary.  Take the scene below, for instance.  I screamed the first time I saw it and then I screamed again rewatching it on YouTube.

The reason this scenes works is because, from the start, you know that those two ghosts are going to show up.  You just don’t know when.  With each click, you know you’re getting closer and closer to something bad appearing in that hallway.  And then when they do finally show up and the movie’s soundtrack goes “BOOOOM!” and then you see the smiles on their face — AGCK!  Seriously, this is one of the best jump scares of the past decade.

 

4 Shots From 4 Haunted Films: The Haunting, Poltergeist, The Conjuring, Crimson Peak


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, the Shattered Lens gets a little bit spooky with….

4 Shots From 4 Haunted Films

The Haunting (1963, dir by Robert Wise)

Poltergeist (1982, dir by Tobe Hooper)

The Conjuring (2013, dir by James Wan)

Crimson Peak (2015, dir by Guillermo Del Toro)

Horror Trailer: The Curse of La Llorona


The Curse of La Llorona

Every culture has it’s own folktales and scary stories to tell around the campfire in the dark. Coming from the Philippines I know of many scary folk stories and monsters that’s unique to my culture. As the world has become more modern these dark tales have morphed into urban legends new and old.

What all these dark folk tales and urban legends have in common is the theme of death and suffering. One such urban legend, or a dark folk story among the Latino community, is the tale of “La Llorona” or the Weeping Woman.

This April 2019, James Wan of The Conjuring fame will bring to the bigscreen an adaptation of the tale of the “La Llorona.” This should be of much interest not just to me but to fellow co-founder of the site, Lisa Marie, who has such a huge interest in the subject of the Weeping Woman.

The Curse of La Llorona arrives with its first official poster as seen above and it’s first trailer below.

4 Shots From Horror History: The Conjuring, You’re Next, The Babadook, It Follows


This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 Shots From 4 Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we bring things to an end!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this visual history of horror!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Conjuring (2013, dir by James Wan)

The Conjuring (2013, dir by James Wan)

You're Next (2013, dir by Adam Wingard)

You’re Next (2013, dir by Adam Wingard)

The Babadook (2014, dir by Jennifer Kent)

The Babadook (2014, dir by Jennifer Kent)

It Follows (2015, dir by David Robert Mitchell)

It Follows (2015, dir by David Robert Mitchell)

4 Shots From Horror History: The Wolfman, Insidious, Let Me In, The Cabin In The Woods


This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 Shots From 4 Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we begin our current decade!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Wolfman (2010, dir by Joe Johnston)

The Wolfman (2010, dir by Joe Johnston)

Insidious (2010, dir by James Wan)

Insidious (2010, dir by James Wan)

Let Me In (2011, dir by Matt Reeves)

Let Me In (2011, dir by Matt Reeves)

The Cabin In The Woods (2012, dir by Drew Goddard)

The Cabin In The Woods (2012, dir by Drew Goddard)

Film Review: The Conjuring 2 (dir by James Wan)


Conjuring_2

The Conjuring 2 will scare the Hell out of you.

Seriously, I’ve seen a lot of horror films, including the first Conjuring (which I absolutely loved).  I’ve seen ghosts, vampires, demons, werewolves, psycho killers, and threats in the shadows.  I’ve seen cats jump out of closets.  I’ve seen ghostly faces suddenly appear in the darkness.  I’ve heard screams and chants and howls.  I’ve seen limbs severed in every possible way.  I’ve seen a lot of cinematic horror and, as a result, I tend to feel that there is nothing that can scare me.

Well, it turns out that’s not true because The Conjuring 2 scared the Hell out of me.

In many ways, The Conjuring 2 tells a familiar story.  Once again, the film begins with an opening crawl that informs us that what we’re about to see is based on a true story.  Once again, a loving but chaotic family is being haunted by evil spirits and the Church has asked paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to investigate.

The setup may sound familiar but director James Wan manages to keep the scares compelling.  Over the past few years, Wan has emerged as one of our greatest genre filmmakers.  Whether he’s directing an Insidious film or the latest Fast & Furious installment, James Wan knows how to hold an audience’s attention and how to make the potentially predictable compelling.  In The Conjuring 2, Wan creates and maintains such an atmosphere of dread that even the expected scares (bumps in the dark, voices in the shadows, slamming doors, and faces suddenly appearing in the background) take on an ominous intensity.  From the very first shot, Wan leaves the audience with a profound feeling of unease.  I was not alone in covering my eyes during a few scenes.  I was also not alone is occasionally looking around the darkened theater, just to make sure that there weren’t any ghosts creeping up on me.

That said, we all already know that James Wan is a master of horror.  We know that he can tell a ghost story and, from the minute we saw the first trailer, we all knew that The Conjuring 2 was going to be scary.  What sets The Conjuring 2 apart is the same thing that made the first Conjuring so special.  (For that matter, it’s the same thing that made Wan’s Furious 7 so special.)  Wan fills the screen with horror and spectacle but he also finds the time to celebrate his character’s humanity.

There’s a scene that occurs about 90 minutes into The Conjuring 2.  Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) are visiting with the haunted family.  The family has been shaken by both the supernatural and the fact that so many people refuse to believe that they are actually being haunted.  Ed spies a guitar sitting in the corner of the room.  He grabs it and, with the haunted children gathered around them, he launches into a surprisingly good Elvis impersonation.  He sings I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, all the while glancing over at Lorraine standing in the doorway.

(What makes this especially touching is that Lorraine has been having premonitions of Ed’s violent death and is terrified that she’s going to lose him before they finish investigating this case.)

It’s a totally unexpected scene and yet it works perfectly.  Some of it is because Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have this great chemistry that makes you believe that they actually have been married for years.  But it’s also because the scene reminds us that The Conjuring 2 is about more than just ghosts and scares.  It’s also about love and family.  The haunting is threatening to end Ed and Lorraine’s love story.  The haunting is threatening to destroy a loving family.  Ed and Lorraine aren’t just investigating a ghost but they’re also saving a family.  They’re not just fighting against the supernatural.  They’re fighting for love.

And, in our cynical times, that may sound corny or silly or old-fashioned.  Well. you know what?  The Conjuring was an old-fashioned film and, in a way, so is The Conjuring 2.  But who cares?  Horror works best when it’s mixed with humanity.  The Conjuring 2 may be a horror film but it’s also a celebration of humanity, love, and family.

You may have noticed that I haven’t go into many specifics about the plot of The Conjuring 2.  I don’t want to spoil it for you.  This is a film that you should experience with fresh eyes.  I could tell you about the scariest scene in this film but, if I did, you would not get the full experience.  I’ll just say that I’ve seen a lot of scary movie nuns but none of them can compare to The Conjuring 2.

The Conjuring 2 is the best supernatural horror film that I’ve seen this year so far.  It will scare you and it will touch your heart.  See it.

Also, be sure to stay for the end credits, which feature a lot of genuinely creepy snapshots of the actual locations where the film’s haunting is said to have occurred.  Not only are the pictures scary but they also show the care with which The Conjuring 2 recreated 1970s London.  Is the picture below a scene from the film or is it a picture that was taken during the actual haunting?  You’ll have to see The Conjuring 2 to find out!

the-conjuring-2-1