Jake’s review published on Letterboxd:
Literally… where to even start?
This is the kind of batshit, gonzo horror movie that can only be made with a distinct combination of talent, passion, and a shitload of money from directing a billion-dollar-grossing superhero flick. It’s like Wan read my review for ‘The Conjuring’ (a movie I do like) and decided to capitalize on every bit of potential he has as a storyteller. Granted, this a has a ceiling. I cannot in any way guarantee that you, whoever is reading this, will enjoy this movie, because frankly it’s such an ‘out there’ ever-evolving mess that I cant make a solid call for anyone either way. From the opening scene alone, which feels right out of some schlocky hammer horror movie, it’s obvious that Wan is operating in the maximalist Sam Raimi school of horror. Tilted angles! Weird Giallo lighting! Motivated camerawork that feels so diametrically opposed to the concept of ‘stillness’ that it feels like everyone involved was so excited to make it that they couldn’t sit still! If that’s not your deal, then nothing here will convert you, but even still the weirdness furthers. The story here is, fundamentally, absolutely goddamn ridiculous. Well told, emotionally honest, almost operatic in it’s artificial grandiosity to the point of near-parody, but still ridiculous. I managed to call the twist about twenty minutes before the actual reveal, which only made the build up that more euphoric in the ‘oh my god are they ACTUALLY going to DO this?’ kind of way. Jen and I both laughed at silly music stingers, cheesy lines, ridiculous line delivery, it’s all a blast that’s in service of a bug-nutty tale that’s so restless it very nearly goes off the rails. However, compelling filmmaking, committed performances, outstanding visuals across the board, and all the gore you could ever ask for are around every spooky corner. Scary? Not really? But it’s not TRYING to be chilling, and as I alluded to in my review of The Conjuring, Wan sticking to broader, more bombastic scares where it becomes more spectacle than anything else is what I always wanted him to focus on. There’s not a trite beat here because he’s constantly upping the ante, and at a certain point I just bowed to the movie’s whim. It doesn’t hurt that Wan snuck in the best action scene of 2021 into his weird ass horror movie, but like, cool. You do you man, I’m here for it. Thankfully it never loses sight of its core metaphor/thematic content, so that always keeps you grounded.
Basically, if you’re a nut like me who really loves shit like Drag Me To Hell and It: Chapter 2, I enthusiastically recommend this. Even if you don’t, please consider giving money to a dude whose still willing to make something this gleefully macabre and cartoonishly sinister. It has shades of everything from Basket Case to Raimi’s ‘Darkman’- so yeah I’m an easy lay here. Destined to be a mainstay of my horror movie Blu ray rotation.