Thursday, May 18, 2017


Edited & Directed By: Mike Flanagan 
Written By: Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard 
Based on Characters Created By: Juliet Snowden & Stiles White 
Cinematography By: Michael Fimognari 
Music By: The Newton Brothers 

Cast: Annalise Basso, Elizabeth Reaser, Henry Thomas, Lulu Wilson, Parker Mack, Halle Charlton, Doug Jones, Sam Anderson, Ele Keats, Eve Gordon, Kate Sigel 

In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her 2 daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business, inviting an evil presence into their home.

I will admit like most, I wasn’t looking forward or particularly interested in watching this initially. As i pretty much hated the first film. I wondered why bother continuing the series, but I guess the first film made enough money to warrant it. Not to mention there must have been an idea there that couldn’t be just abandoned. So this film came out and if not for positive work of mouth at first. Then seeing who was behind the making of it. I am sure I would have skipped the film

This is the rare sequel that is better than the original. It might be because the first film seemed more interested in bringing a rather thin story to life based upon the board game or novelty item and then filling the film with cliche uninteresting but visually appealing teenage characters. Not only did it not offer anything new. It seemed to have no respect for the genre or it's audience that felt like uninspired film making.

This one at least has some originality and seeks to have fun with it's premise though it stays soaked in the genre.

This film is set in the past and deals with ghosts, possessions and offers real scares. It also keeps the audience on edge as the potential victims to these scares are women and young girls. Using that to get the audiences response, as it leads us to worry more. While introducing a once close family torn apart as they are still grieving but still close and as the film goes along we see each relationship fractured and splintered. The fact that they are family actually makes the film fee l a bit more cruel as they each are betrayed by the spirit in Familiar clothing of their loved ones. Believing their fate to be the result more of betrayal.We must unfortunately watch as young girls future and hope for it, being slowly snatched away as they will end up being part of a legacy more than anything.

The film begins with showing the tricks of the trade of a medium trying to support her family with her trade and the hardships they are going through. Before she buys a Ouija board more as a prop that seems to inspire her youngest daughter to actually have a gift of speaking to the spirits that surround them. Until something more nefarious happens.

The film doesn't seem to waste anytime making is wonder what is happening as we understand immediately this is a bad and dark spirit. What helps the film is that it is never gratuitous nor over the top. When it comes to material or violence it suggests certain things and acts more effectively than a lot of films try to do and fail by doing it poorly.

The time period also helps that makes the film feel retro but also part of that time period. There are some familiar faces but the cast seems mostly brand new. So you believe them as their characters.

The film tries to define whether it's the board that is evil or if it's just a conduit for spirits both good and evil. It just depends on who is more powerful and vulnerable at the time.

The film does offer many surprises and jewels. Even if by the end it feels a bit basic as it can. Ever go completely in it's own way. There is always a bit of a tinge of the studio making it stay within certain guidelines.

Director Mike Flanagan says he wanted to create the thriller as if it were shot in 1971. Some techniques included antique lenses, scene fades, and camera zooms instead of steadicams. Other simulated techniques: dust on the negative, subtle warping of the audio track, reel jumps and split-diopter (where both the foreground and background are in focus).

The film was shot digitally, but director and editor Mike Flanagan, in order to add a retro feel to the film, added elements in post-production to give the appearance of a movie shot on film. Those include the 'cigarette burns', marks that appear every 20 minutes or so in the upper right corner of the frame, which were used to signal a change of reels for film projected.

It's a fun rental to check out if you are a fan of the genre and better than one would expect a movie like this to be. Though this film ends up being basic. At least this film feels somewhat fresh and open to ideas.

It also feels like an homage to horror films of yesteryear. As the film is never gratuitous and while it has sown violence. It seems more about scares and the drama of certain situations. So that it feels almost quaint. It feels like a horror film that could have come out in yesteryear's. As it is more about feel and tone at times rather then just special effects and shock

Directed by up and coming genre filmmaker Mike Flanagan who so far in his career has a talent of taking films that have familiar or ho-hum premises and filling them with an energy and passion that make them worthwhile. Like in his precious film HUSH. Offering just enough of a simple twist to make the films captivating . He is fast becoming a director to keep an eye on. An especially exciting genre film director who has ideas and a passion for the films he is making

Grade: C+

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