Ok first of all HOLY SHIT. This movie is really, really, REALLY scary. Definitely one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. Honestly since my repertoire for scary movies is rather shallow, it is certainly the scariest movie I personally have ever seen. First off, I should say that in my mind, the rule of comedies also applies to horror movies. As long as the movie accomplishes what it sets out to do, which of course is to scare the crap out of me, I should be ready to forgive some of its faults. And there are quite a few here. So let's dive into it shall we?
So, acting. Director James Wan (also directed Insidious 1 and 2, as well as the original Saw) does something that you don't see too often in horror movies: he has recognizable actors play these roles. Patrick Wilson, (Insidious 1 and 2) Vera Farminga, (Source Code and The Departed) Ron Livingston, (Office Space) and Lili Taylor (Six Feet Under) all star and take this movie and it's subject matter very seriously, and ultimately allow themselves to be totally engrossed into their roles. Simply put, these are some of the best acting performances I've seen in a horror movie. Vera Farminga and Lili Taylor in particular are outstanding, and they really got me engaged in the final act of the movie. Well done to Wan for deciding to remove the Paranormal Activity factor of having nobodies play the characters to make it seem like it's real events. Which has never worked for me personally.
Story. Well, I was genuinely surprised at how good the story was. Sure there were holes, for example if you want to know why the birds are doing what they are doing you are going to be disappointed, but at the apex of the movie I was completely sucked into it and wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters, despite the fact that the creepiness and scariness of the movie was also at its apex by this point. Also there were absurdities everywhere at the apex too that would probably bother me more on repeat viewings but on the first viewing I was able to get past them. Obviously I'm not going to share them because most are major spoiler points but still, if you do watch this movie you'll probably be shaking your head at them too. But still a very enjoyable 112 minutes, even if I wanted it to be over as quickly as possible due to the fact that it is TERRIFYING. Also there's an entire second storyline involving an incredibly creepy doll that was very scary, but made very little sense to me in terms of what was going on in the primary storyline. However I would not be surprised if we see a movie by Wan dealing with this doll because Jebus was it creepy!
Finally, I should mention that Wan shoots this movie in an interesting and rather unique style. He did things with the camera, such as starting a shot upside down and then flipping it, or having a long single take scene showing the horrors of what was going on in different levels of the house, that were really effective. This gave the movie a bit of a supernatural feel. And the long one-shoots were absolutely genius. They gave you a second to think that you were safe from the horrors happening in the cellar just to go upstairs to a haunted closet and be right in the middle of more terror. Honestly I'm rather surprised Wan didn't shoot in this style for Insidious. Maybe he decided it wouldn't work in Insidious? I don't know. But it definitely worked here. So ya in conclusion, what we have here is one of the best horror films of recent years. Go see it if you haven't already and like horror. Even if you don't bring a girl over and watch this. It's not scary via gratuitous amounts of blood. Rather it's scary via the paranormal, which means she will be more willing to watch it. A sure way to cuddle guys. So watch it!
The Critique: well-paced, well-acted, and as scary as scary can be. One hell of a horror flick.
The Recommendation: guys if you want a cuddle session then this should be number one on your list. Also a must-see for all horror fans.
The Verdict: 8.5/10 between great and awesome