Let’s hear the sound of no hands clapping.
James Wan’s attempt to pay tribute to Giallo films and burn up all his goodwill from studios is halfway successful in that this is one of the worst horror movies I have ever seen. We follow Madison (Annabelle Wallis) who begins seeing brutal murders as they take place after her husband bashes her head into a wall. Her sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson) tries to convince CSI: Dipshits Kekoa (George Young) and Regina (Michole Briana White) that Madison is innocent and something else is doing the killings.
What follows is a mystery that isn’t mysterious and twists that aren’t surprising.
The film begins with a laughably over-acted hospital scene thirty years prior. The tone of the film is completely absurd here, and these are the only moments where I see Giallo inspiration. We then shift to a heartbreakingly tense scene of domestic violence that grounds the film into reality. However, the tonal inconsistencies wreck the film.
The dialogue is written at around a junior high level. If I had heard that a bunch of first year film students made this film, I could forgive a lot of the inconsistencies. However, with someone like Wan, who apparently understands storytelling, this is unforgivable. We don’t have characters; we have exposition machines shaped like people. None of the characters need names either, we could just have labelled them “supportive voice,” “skeptic,” and “dumbass.”
The film becomes unintentionally hilarious as it is so bad and so tone deaf that it is a wonder it was ever made. I know Wan fanboys are going to say this is him undermining the horror genre or doing something unique. Here’s the thing though, bad horror films with terrible pacing, characters, tone shifts, plot holes, and overall lackluster writing aren’t unique. Films like this are a blight on the genre.
Gabriel, our killer who is a backwards human is actually a twin (who they refer to as a teratoma) made of magic cancer crap who can control electricity and knows kung fu. We both guessed it was her the whole time, the backwards body I assumed was more symbolically turned inside-out rather than just backward. Madison’s constant worrying at her head telegraphs that she is Voldemorting it from the first Harry Potter.
I honestly can’t believe this film is being called surprising. We guessed the ending before the second kill and nothing shocking occurred. Yes, I did not predict the tumor would become Neo from The Matrix and kill like 80 people in another stupid ballet turned fight scene that is more cartoon than real. The reason I couldn’t predict it was that this shift was stupid. Sheer absurdity has a place in movies like Dead Alive or other schlocky horror, but it doesn’t work here.
Here’s my bigger issue with it: I don’t think Wan meant for the film to be unintentionally hilarious. There are too many forced serious scenes that make me think he simply didn’t have control over the film. For people praising this I want to direct them to the awful horror films on Amazon Prime. If you like bad writing, characters, and sheer stupidity you’ll love those.
I wondered why the trailers for this film were so ambiguous. The answer is obvious: any information given about the story will ultimately spoil it. We have to mis-market the film for anything to be surprising. This isn’t an original, clever, or even good film. Here we have nothing more than pretentious garbage designed to make edgelords think they’re more sophisticated for “getting it.”
Easily one of the worst of the year.