I have a confession to make; I have been slacking in my horror watching game. While I’ll see something every now and then for the past year or so I have seemed to focus more on action movies. That is about to change though. Despite an unusually busy June it’s that time of year to celebrate Halloween in June. While not the week long marathon it was last year I still have 3 bite sized horror reviews for you.
I remember hearing about this a couple of years back. A movie about a clown curse produced by Eli Roth? Sounds like a something I had to see. Then… nothing. It just kind of disappeared. Lo and behold it finally found a distributor this year. Was it worth the wait? For the most part, yeah. The idea of a clown being some kind of ancient demon who eats children is certainly interesting and they pull it off pretty well. The effects are pretty good bringing a level of body horror we don’t usually see. My only real problem is how formulaic it feels at times. Despite it’s cool concept it is basically Thinner but with clowns and follows the same beats. I would say it’s definitely worth a watch though.
The Funhouse Massacre
I’m always skeptical of horror-comedies. While there are some certified classics far too often they are, for the most part, underwhelming. So going into The Funhouse Massacre I tried to keep my expectations in check. Coming out of it, I was pleasantly surprised. Not necessarily by the comedy because, in all honesty, I found it a bit inconsistent. A lot of it being fairly typical teen comedy with “Oh that body looks so fake” when it’s real type jokes. There were bits of comedy gold scattered throughout though. The best example being Gerardo, an older guy dressed as Machete tagging along to the funhouse, refusing to go in. “Nope it is too scary,” he says deadpan as soon as they walk in before leaving. It is a good half hour before he’s brought back into the movie. It’s such an little, understated thing that happens and it totally works. While the movie lacked on the comedy side it delivered on the horror side of things. From a production stand point it is great. The scenes inside of the funhouse look amazing. Like real life funhouses each room has it’s own cool look. Each, not so coincidentally, matching the six slashers. This top-notch set design is one-upped by the effects. Going for an ultraviolent, over-the-top tone it doles out blood and gore that looks way better than most indie horror. If there is one problem, and it is a big one, and it’s the plot. Like Clown while the concept is great everything about it feels like a rehashed story arc taken from better movies. Still this is easily forgiven when the movie is as fun as it is.
The Conjuring 2
The Conjuring was the first movie where I was really sold on James Wan. While I think Death Sentence was underrated I was underwhelmed by Saw and saw Insidious long after it came out. Still with a lot of hype behind it I quickly became a believer after The Conjuring with it’s retro feeling scares. After a brief return to action with Furious 7 he returns to horror with The Conjuring 2. Set several years after the first film we follow Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren and them dealing with the Enfield Hauntings. For the most part the film is great. While the term “master of horror” gets thrown around a lot Wan proved once again that he deserves the title. Like it’s predecessor it uses classic suspense building as opposed to gore to great effect. Scenes like the Nun following the Warrens home are some of the best horror scenes I’ve seen in some time. Not to mention the Amityville house scene which, without hyperbole, may be my favorite version of the story. Wan also smartly introduces some skepticism into the film series. Instead of just relying on the “based on a true story” tag several characters are introduced as skeptics of the supernatural. Little details like this make it stand out from the glut of ghost movies at the moment.
Unfortunately, and I know how silly this sounds, it just isn’t as good as the original. As good as the scares are an excessive amount of seeing the old man and the demon nurse hurt their effect for me. I also found a subplot about Lorraine predicting Ed’s death to be a bit of a waste. While Wilson and Fermiga are absolutely great together for the most part the scenes could have been taken out and the film would be just as good. Still these are relatively minor nitpicks. At no point do these little things ruin the movie or prevent it from being one of the best horror films of the year. I can only hope the Nun spin-off film is better than Annabelle.