I have to be honest, I don’t like James Wan. I think his films are derivative, boring, obvious and severely lacking in scares. I didn’t mind Insidious though the sequels were rubbish. The Conjuring was well made and acted but, at best, it was unchallenging and generic. The sequel was worse, and the third part was even worse than that. The Nun was laughably bad, Annabelle and her nonsensical sequels the equivalent of a rotten toffee apple. So to say I had low expectations heading into the next James Wan ‘horror’ film is an understatement.
Unfortunately, there are no expectations low enough to make this travesty enjoyable.
The plot is thin and dull as dishwater but here it is – Madison (Annabelle Wallis) is in an abusive relationship with her partner, when he is murdered the suspicion falls to her, and this continues as she is haunted by visions of other murders blah blah blah, there’s a ‘twist’ that anyone who knows anything about horror or watched American Horror Story Freaks can see a mile away and it is as ludicrous as the rest of the film.
There are issues from the first few scenes – pregnant women don’t constantly clutch their stomach, if she’s a nurse with pregnancy issues she’d have stayed at work, abused people don’t ‘antagonise’ their abusers, the crime scene is like a train station with so many people coming and going, the cops display their obvious biases and assumptions from the get go, etc.
We meet Madison’s sister who also feels like someone’s idea of a human, and she joins the two cops Dumb and Dumber as they get closer to the truth and that ‘twist’.
There is so much wrong its hard to know where to start. The set design is murky and uninspired, as is most of this movie, and the soundtrack alternates between bland and jarring.
The acting pretty much across the board is atrocious with the one bright spot being Zoe Bell as a campy butch lesbian stereotype that was bordering on offensive but at least gifted some much-needed levity to the insufferably stuffy self-importance which imbues much of Wan’s work. I suspect however, that the bad performances were not all the fault of the actors as this script from hell is such a laughably over the top, melodramatic ridiculous mess whilst also being completely humourless, that I don’t see how anyone could have made it work.
There’s also the usual James Wan schtick of drifting fog/shadows/things happening behind people, handy heavy exposition scenes and telegraphed jump scares – ho hum!
The CGI was appalling, especially in the police station fight set-piece where the action looked just like a cheap video game.
And she never put that great heavy pelt of obviously fake hair up in a ponytail like anyone would whilst running around and fighting – It was maddening!
In short, people don’t talk like this, police don’t act like this, I cannot believe this made it to the big screen as it felt like a student film in the worst possible way.
This was badly written, badly acted, and very badly directed.
Please let this be James Wan’s retirement piece, he needs to leave horror alone.