MONSTERZERO NJ’S 20 HAUNTED HOUSE FLICKS FOR HALLOWEEN!
Madison Iseman’s babysitter Mary Ellen finds paranormal peril when babysitting for Ed and Lorraine Warren in Annabelle Comes Home.
As we approach Halloween, what better way to celebrate than with the classic horror film trope, the haunted house! There are a lot to choose from, so, here is a sample realty catalogue of terror, from different decades, in which a dream home becomes a nightmare!
( You can find reviews for the below titles covered here by using the search engine at the top of the page!)
This haunted house needs no introduction.
The fourth flick in the Insidious franchise is subtitled The Last Key and is slated to arrive on January 5th, 2018. For now we get a trailer and it does look kinda spooky. This one is again written by Leigh Whannell, but this time directed by Adam Robitel, who directed the very creepy The Taking of Deborah Logan. Series star Lin Shaye also returns in the flesh, which seems to imply it is another prequel.
INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 (2013)
Insidious: Chapter 2 starts up almost right after the original Insidious ended with Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) Lambert reunited with their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) after his spirit was held prisoner by a demon in an afterlife dimension called ‘The Further’. But as we saw in the final frames, something else was now inhabiting Josh’s body and it had strangled paranormal investigator Elise (Lin Shaye) to death. We pick up as the unsuspecting family, including older son Foster (Andrew Astor) and their infant daughter Kali, have moved in with Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) while police investigate Elise’s mysterious death in their house. They are barely moved in when supernatural occurrences start to begin again with objects moving, spectral voices, apparitions appearing and dear old dad acting very strange. While Renai tries to deal with the fact that supernatural forces are still with them, Josh tries to convince her all is well and Lorraine decides to team up with Elise’s former assistants paranormal investigators Specs (Leigh Whannell who also wrote the screenplay) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) along with one of the original investigators from Josh’s childhood haunting, Carl (Steve Coulter) to get down to the bottom of these haunted hi-jinx once and for all.
And that is all I will say about the story as, despite some familiar trappings, James Wan (The Conjuring) takes this installment in some clever directions and once again uses the familiar elements very well. We get to know the story behind the evil woman in black seen in the last film and even revisit The Further, though this time it is inventively linked to events in the first film. The pace is a bit slower and more methodical this time around, but since this film is a bit of a mystery as well as haunting, it takes it’s time to let the story unfold and secrets be revealed. We still get some spooky scenes, but it is refreshingly mixed in with Lorraine and company’s equally goose-bump inducing investigation. And what they find is deviously fun. The film is not quite as lively as Insidious part one, but I liked the mystery element and the film earned points with me for making it’s return to ‘The Further’ a bit more clever and less silly then last time. That is the point where the first film lost it’s grip on me and here I liked how it was done and was with this supernatural chiller up to the spooky end.
Wan is a good director and he takes what could have been a ho-hum retread and makes it a fun follow-up. He gets good performances out of all his cast and while I found Patrick Wilson to be bland in both Insidious and The Conjuring, he gets a far more lively performance out of him here. He gets to ham it up a bit and it suits him. The film has some beautiful and creepy visuals, as is Wan’s trademark, and Joseph Bishara’s score adds some nice atmosphere, too.
So in conclusion, while the story elements are more familiar; we’ve seen some of it before and the pace a bit slower, Wan does give us a spooky mystery to add to the paranormal activity and makes much more clever use of his otherworldly ‘Further’. He also gives us some clever answers to the questions left by his first Insidious and that all adds up to a spooky fun time at the movies. Also stars House Of The Devil‘s Joceline Donahue as young Lorraine in some equally clever flashback sequences that tie into the rest of the film in a fun way.
Having just seen The Conjuring, I thought I’d take a look back at James Wan’s Insidious and find the reviews are very similar…
Insidious is a fun, spooky and sometimes intensely scary flick, but does it live up to the internet hype that preceded it’s release? Not quite. The first hour of Insidious does deliver the goods. It’s basically non-stop scares and chills as early word promised, but it’s in it’s final act when it loses it’s grip somewhat.
Insidious tells the familiar story of a husband and wife (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) moving into a house with their children and strange things start to occur. Soon their one son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) is in a coma and moving away does nothing to stop the appearance of specters and strange sights and sounds. When they bring in paranormal investigator, Elise (Lin Shaye) she tells them, to their horror, that their son has the ability to leave his body in his sleep and has lost his way back. Now a vicious demonic entity has their son and wants his soulless body to use as a vessel to enter the world of the living. Can they fend off this dark spirit and save their child?
Once Director James Wan brings in the paranormal investigators and they start to explain things, the film takes a bit of a change in direction and things get a bit hokey. What follows is still spooky and there still are some good scares, but nothing close to the first hour. The design of what we see is creepy and Wan’s directing skills don’t falter, but the problem is we see things that are better left to the imagination as our minds can imagine far worse then anything Wan can present us. Some of the before mentioned explanations sound silly and hinder the atmosphere Wan has worked hard to set up and seeing his spooks, specters and demon out in the open and in plain sight, does not help it either. Things were far more effective when left in shadow, in glimpses and with a little mystery. The cast are fine though Wilson is a bit bland and Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson are a little too goofy as Elise’s fellow paranormal investigators.
All in all, Insidious is far better than some of the endless sequels and remakes that pass as horror flicks today, but it’s not a classic by any stretch. Much like an amusement park ride, it’s fun while your on it, but after it’s over the effect fades quickly.
THE CONJURING (2013)
Much like his Insidious, James Wan delivers some very spooky goods during the first two thirds of his latest haunted house chiller, but as with that film, loses his grip somewhat in a theatrical and overly familiar last act. The Conjuring takes place in 1971 and is based on a supposedly true case-file from world renown paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played here by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). It tells of one of their most horrifying cases, the haunting of a remote, old Rhode Island home bought by Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) and their five daughters. Soon after they move in, things start to go bump in the night and the family, especially the children, are increasingly terrorized by a malevolent entity and a variety of other spirits. Carolyn comes to the Warrens for help and what results is a paranormal investigation that turns into a battle against the vengeful spirit of a woman accused of being a witch and Satan worshiper, who wants to use Carolyn as a vessel for her malevolent deeds.
For the first two thirds of this flick, the skillful Wan is very good at utilizing the time honored haunted house conventions and using them well to give us some nice chills and scares. But despite Wan’s craft at scaring us in the first 2/3 of this horror flick, he once again, as he did in Insidious, looses his grip on us with a finale that is theatrical and far too routine, as it presents yet another by-the-numbers exorcism scene that brings nothing new and therefore no suspense to the story. It’s just more levitation and vomiting and scary contact lenses that adds nothing remotely fresh to the convention. And this is odd because, Wan is good as making the conventions effective such as birds flying into windows and the customary furniture moving and shadowy phantoms. We’ve seen it all before, sure, but Wan presents them well. Yet while the rest of the movie is grounded in these basic conventions, he goes full blown Hollywood horror with his last act and we get a finale that is stale and predictable right down to characters being dragged around the floor by invisible assailants. Granted he is following a supposedly true tale, but it disappoints that he can’t seem to maintain the level of creepiness and loosens his grasp on us in the over-indulgence of giving us a ‘big finale’ as he did in his last haunted house horror. And even with that, Conjuring ends suddenly and with kind of a whimper when all is said and done. You’re like ‘that’s it? it’s over?’ This is supposed to be one of the Warrens’ worst cases, yet it doesn’t seem any worse then their Amityville Horror or Haunting In Connecticut cases. The film never really takes us on the decent into Hell you’d expect when someone like The Warrens makes claim that this is one of their worst encounters. It isn’t any more severe then Insidious or any other haunted house movie.
But, still, it is effective enough to entertain to a decent degree and Wan’s visual style is great to look at as always. Despite some hokey dialog, the cast all perform well, thought I again feel Patrick Wilson is a bit wooden especially compared to the livelier Farmiga and Lili Taylor, who really does strong work here.
All in all, The Conjuring is effective enough to amuse and entertain, but in the end, is far too routine and familiar to really be something special or truly scary enough to make it stand out from the rest. Go in with moderate expectations and you might have a good time.