THE CONJURING 2

0

SHOULD I? STATUS: Meeehhhhh-commend

Available on American Airlines Flights (I know, right? Super bougie)

Based on a true hoax story

THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS

  • Mod-to-high jump scares
  • Haunted house/family genre
  • Dat Vera Farmiga

THOTS

I admit that maybe I’m approaching this franchise from the wrong end, having not actually seen either The Conjuring or Annabelle (look, they make horror movies about living dolls for a reason, they’re fucking creepy), but you know what? It wasn’t so painful coming up the ass. Sorry, am I being crude? I didn’t realize horror fans were so sensitive.

Taken as it was, I have to say, The Conjuring 2 offers a solid specimen from the “haunted house” genre, although I would honestly argue this fits more into the “haunted person” arena as opposed to an actual “haunted house.” It’s typical poltergeist sort of fare, based on a “true story” from when “true poltergeist stories” were all the fashion – the early ‘70s. Any movie that can claim to be based on a true story does elicit just that extra inch or so more of thrill.

If you’re a fan of Poltergeist or similar, The Conjuring 2 will appeal to you because that’s what the story really is, though the film’s justification for its events is about as thick as the first early December sheet of ice overlaying some given neighborhood’s decorative, man-made pond. That is to say, there is an explanation and it holds just so long as no one steps on it, or tries to challenge it with the throw of a few fist-sized rocks. The film gives its audience just enough rationale for why this haunting? now? that probably no one walked out of the theater complaining of plot holes. However, like an appetizer may stave off true hunger, it doesn’t fully satisfy. It just puts off, enough.

While we’re talking about small-to-moderate flaws, while there’s an extensive cast of characters, if the film passes Bechdel, it does so narrowly. Mom’s acting starts off poor and, ultimately, hits only uneven success. Several short scenes feel auxiliary and maybe needless in retrospective examination. If a director’s ability is truly demonstrated by unbroken shots, The Conjuring 2 doesn’t say anything favorable about its dude-behind-the-cameras-in-charge. But does it have to?

The Conjuring 2 is one of those films with good enough star power and decent funding which ultimately delivers exactly what it promises but not one whit past that. It won’t enrage you or leave you disappointed. Neither will it excite you or make you think. Sometimes, with horror movies (as with most things in life), even I admit – mindless entertainment can be all you want or need.

CREEP

0

SHOULD I? STATUS: Close the tab, open Amazon, and watch CREEP this very moment.

Available on Netflix

In which Mark Duplass stars as Mark Duplass

THE QUICK AND DIRTY DEETS

  • Sub-genre: Not-your-average psychological horror; Hide Yo’ Kids, Hide Yo’ Wife; Budget Indie
  • High on ultra-reality; solid plot; low-budget; ultra-indie
  • Low-to-moderate jump scares; low CGI, low gore

THOTS

Ah, Creep. It’s probably unfair to Mark Duplass to call it the movie where he plays himself, but come on. The man was born for the part. I’ve always found him creepy. There’s something about his brown eyes, which seem narrow like a reptile’s while simultaneously too dark and large, that puts me off. His mouth resembles nothing so much as the original Grinch’s. His lips are curiously defined. Curious – cartoonish.

I sound like I’ve really thought about this. I’ve watched Creep five times in 13 months, plus caught Duplass in such Netflix indie-hit-parade films as The One I Love, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Your Sister’s Sister. His characters creep me out every time. They creep me out in movies he’s written as well: Creep and Jeff, Who Lives At Home.  Duplass is all up in mostly-uncomfortable movies.

Who better to whip up a serious creepy horror than a creep, a real strange man?

Because Creep? It works. I wouldn’t watch a movie in full five times in a year if it didn’t, trust. Creep works on fundamental and real levels. If you don’t know it, sit down and turn it on. This movie will glue your eyes to the screen. You will not want to look away or miss one thing. The ultimate in movie experience. Creep gets its audience’s total buy-in.

I guess I should tell you what it’s about, if you don’t know yet.

Creep is a found footage film. We have our videographer/adorable MC-slash-everyman, Aaron, who responds to an online ad which offers $1000 for a day of film work. What aspiring director wouldn’t jump at this? Aaron’s been hired by Josef, a cancer-infested would-be dad who wants a tribute video, or something, in case he passes before his son ever meets him. Creep progresses through the events of that day of filming, then follows Aaron as Josef’s behavior escalates in a mile-high spiral of crossed lines and shattered normal boundaries.

Creep features every element of “strong film” that I’ve grown to, perhaps slavishly, adore: the two actors on a budget provides, yet again, a script that’s stunningly believable, which provides important clues and context in natural dialogue and action. It is truly disturbing without resorting to CGI or needless gore, and employs few attempts at what are always regrettable, cheap jump scares. Each of these attempts to startle could be cut, and the cut would strengthen the film. Regardless, you will think about Creep later. It will stay with you. Its everyman MC is adorable, relatable, not like Murder Partys much-loved Jeff. Each linked event in the film’s plot chain could actually happen, in real life; each is set up by the scene before and progresses in natural steps to the seamless next.

You could know someone to whom Creep happened. You know a place that looks like that. You can see it, happening. For real. To someone you know. 

Yes, there are some flaws. Since the first half or so of the movie focuses on that one day of Aaron and Josef filming, it can be difficult to realize the movie continues after – difficult not to anticipate the end of day will arrive along with some conclusion. The movie’s still strong after this first day. Frankly, only this strength justifies the second part’s inclusion. Day 1 is so impactful it would be better as its own short film than clumsily tacked on to a lackluster ending. The rest of the film develops, and it follows: it’s just easy as an audience to develop the wrong expectation of an early ending because of the structure. This small hangover effect maybe could be off-set if the film was edited a hair more intensively. And like I said, I’d remove all the jump scares. Besides that, there’s a small logic issue in the script at the very end, when Josef’s on the phone. (You’ll catch it if you look out for it. It’s not too-too obscure, by my reckoning.) These flaws, ultimately, are very small things. Almost personal preferences, as opposed to correct movie crafting, movie style laws that must be followed to the T – but, I only say, almost. Nonetheless, Creep, unaltered, tagged with these minor complaints, is well worth your time investment. After all – I haven’t seen a perfect movie yet. 

I can’t imagine a horror fan who won’t love Creep. Truly, I can’t. So now, go and watch it. What else are you doing with your entire life?