Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror.In this edition:The Conjuringreveals its frightening villain with the film’s biggest scare sequence.
Few horror movies have shaped the genre over this decade quite like 2013’s The Conjuring. Its hugely successful theatrical run proved there was a robust appetite for horror at the box office, inspiring other studios to follow in its wake. Moreover, it marked the birthplace of an ever-expanding franchise that includes sequels, spinoffs, and spinoff sequels in what’s been dubbed The Conjuring Universe.
It’s easy to see why, too. The Conjuring is a chilling culmination of everything horror master James Wan had learned in his career so far. From the nail-biting suspense of the Saw franchise, hard lessons learned in Dead Silence, and reinvigorating haunted houses in Insidious just two years prior, Wan was well prepared to deliver the scares. Boy did he deliver the scares. The Conjuring is a major juggling act of unrelenting terror; the scares come nearly nonstop. There are countless memorable moments that are guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine, but none manage to top the petrifying reveal of the film’s central antagonist, the evil witch Bathsheba – played by none other than Insidious’ Lipstick-Face Demon actor and film composer Joseph Bishara.
Penned by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes, The Conjuring introduces a fictionized version of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by the amiable Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. Throughout the decades, their stories of ghost and demonic hauntings became popular and inspired dozens of films, most infamous of which is The Amityville Horror. For this film, the Hayes siblings crafted their screenplay around one of the lesser known Warren cases; the 1971 haunting of the Perron family in Harrisville, Rhode Island.
Roger and Carolyn Perron Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor have just moved in to a bargain priced farmhouse fixer upper with their five daughters: Andrea Shanley Caswell, Nancy Hayley McFarland, Christine Joey King, Cindy Mackenzie Foy, and April Kyla Deaver. Creepy manifestations start happening straightaway, gradually escalating to nightmarish levels of torment. Out of desperation, Carolyn seeks out the Warrens to save her family from the oppressing evil lurking in their home.
Before the Perron family could even unpack their belongings, they started experiencing strange phenomena within the farmhouse. All of the clocks stop each night at 3:07 a.m., a period known as the Witching Hour due to peak supernatural action. The family dog Sadie doesn’t even last a single night. Birds fly into the side of the house on the regular. Carolyn finds herself dealing with mysterious bruising. That doesn’t even begin to touch upon the strange sounds and smells that linger in the middle of the night.
Each of the family members deal with their own eerie activity. Carolyn is lured to the dark recesses of the house by disembodied clapping that mimics the “Hide and Clap” game her children play. Christine’s feet are tugged by an unseen entity while she sleeps. Little April finds a music box that lets her see and speak with a not-so-imaginary ghostly friend. Andrea’s sleep is consistently disturbed by Cindy’s strange new habit of sleepwalking into her bedroom and knocking her forehead repeatedly against the doors of her wardrobe. Meanwhile, Roger is picking up extra shifts as a truck driver to support his large family, so he’s away from home for long stretches. All of these threads collide in one epic night of horror that closes out the first act with a bang.
Roughly forty minutes in, Carolyn is lured out of her bedroom and downstairs by strange noises. Just as the clock strikes three in the morning, no less. She follows the sound of clapping straight into the basement, where she’s promptly locked in by an unseen foe. Upstairs, Cindy once more wakes Andrea with headbanging against the wardrobe. This time Andrea is prepared to cope; her father gave her advice on dealing with a sleepwalker just prior to embarking on his latest work trip. Andrea gets out of bed, coaxes Cindy away from the wardrobe without waking her, and is just prepared to settle back in bed when the wardrobe’s doors rattle on their own. As if someone or something is trying to break out.
She slowly approaches, the trepidation clear. From behind her, Cindy jolts up in bed, awake and vigilant as her sister throws the wardrobe doors open. Andrea finds nothing but her clothing. It’s Cindy’s sudden gasp in fear that causes her to look back and realize that her sister isn’t looking into the wardrobe but above it. We follow her gaze upward to see a crouching, menacing figure staring back at her. Its growls crescendos along with the electrifying music stinger, a warning cry as it launches itself at Andrea. The entire house erupts in screams, and the massive scare marks our first real look at the evil responsible for it all, Bathsheba. Her ghastly appearance and the events tied to it prompts Carolyn to seek outside help, effectively setting up the second act in the process.
As with many scares in horror, misdirection plays a crucial role in setting up this memorable sequence. Wan spends a lot of time grooming the audience on where to divert their attention prior, so when the scare comes from a different direction it’s a complete surprise. Cindy’s sleepwalking is the biggest component in setting this scare up. In her state of subconscious, something is luring Cindy to the wardrobe. She bangs her head against its doors in rhythmic fashion at night, causing the viewer to focus on the question of might be inside of it.
When everyone is off at school, leaving Carolyn home alone with youngest daughter April, they play “Hide and Clap.” While a blind folded Carolyn is searching for April, clapping draws her to the wardrobe in Andrea’s room. We see the doors ominously open and hands emerge to signal Carolyn, but she’s kept in the literal dark. It’s only when she tears off her blindfold and looks through the wardrobe for April that she realizes with dawning horror something else drew her to that spot. Again, another visual clue that horror is lurking within the wardrobe.
Wan bided his time to condition the viewer to expect the terror to come from inside a piece of furniture that came with the sale of the house. Not above it. Even as the tension is mounting, the camera cuts back and forth between Andrea’s approach of the wardrobe, Cindy’s dawning awareness and fear, and the dark wardrobe itself. It’s shot in such a way that it keeps the top of the wardrobe out of frame prior to the reveal, ensuring the jolt is at its most potent.
The misdirection extends beyond the wardrobe, too. Up until this moment, the major scare could’ve come from anywhere. Carolyn’s battle with the clapping hands that resulted in her basement imprisonment. The putrid entity lurking in the dark corner of Christine and Nancy’s room, an entity that had just confessed to Christine that it wanted to murder her family. Each member of the Perron family were targets of varying paranormal attacks. Of all the moments to reveal herself, Bathsheba’s shocking appearance above the wardrobe was the least expected. Then again, not much else announces the overwhelming power of your horror villain quite like using the film’s biggest scare to make a grand entrance, either.
It’s October, and that means it’s horror movie season. Netflix is ready to scare your pants off with the streaming platform’s latest original horror movie, “Eli.” Check out the trailer below.
Directed by Ciarán Foy “Sinister 2”, the film follows Eli Charlie Shotwell from 2016’s “Captain Fantastic”, an 11-year-old boy with an auto-immune disorder who, sheltered from the dangerous environmental stimuli of the world, is checked into a “clean house” for treatment. But he soon discovers that the house is not just “clean” — it’s haunted. Think “Bubble Boy” meets “The Conjuring.” Similarities to the latter are reinforced by the presence of Lili Taylor star of “The Conjuring” and the recently canceled Netflix series “Chambers” in the film’s cast. Kelly Reilly recently seen in TV’s “Yellowstone” also stars.
From Netflix, here’s the synopsis: “‘Eli’ is the story of a young boy plagued with an unknown, debilitating illness that requires him to live completely sealed off from the outside world. After exhausting every option, his parents put their trust - and his life - in the hands of a doctor whose experimental, cutting edge treatments at her clean house facility may hold Eli's last hope. As Eli undergoes the tremendously intense process that could potentially cure him, he begins to be haunted by experiences that make him question who he can trust and what is lurking inside the house.”
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The film is written by David Chirchirillo 2013’s witty horror-comedy “Cheap Thrills” along with Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing co-writers on the acclaimed 2016 horror movie “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”.
“Eli” is the latest Netflix horror outing to ostensibly become buried on the site’s packed page of scary movies. If you’re looking for a silly scare, one recent standout from the surfeit of Netflix original horror movies is “The Perfection,” starring Allison Williams and Logan Browning as warring musical prodigies gone psycho. Producers on “Eli” also worked on the chilling, atmospheric, Netflix horror series “The Haunting of Hill House,” created by filmmaker Mike Flanagan, who is next directing on the big screen with the “Shining” sequel “Doctor Sleep,” opening November 8.
The film begins streaming on October 18, just in time for Halloween.
EXCLUSIVE: ABC has put into development Possessed, a supernatural crime drama based on a Korean format. The project hails from The Conjuring writers Carey and Chad Hayes, The Vampire Diaries alum Paul Wesley, The Masked Singer executive producer Craig Plestis and Aaron Kaplan's Kapital Entertainment, where Wesley and his company Citizen Media is under a producing deal.
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Written by the Hayes brothers, Possessedcenters around a young woman, who after a near death experience, becomes a vessel for the dead to avenge their wrongful deaths.
Carey and Chad Hayes executive produce with Kapital Entertainment's Kaplan and Dana Honor, Wesley, Plestis and MBC Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, the South Korean network which aired the original series and also originated the format for the hit Fox series The Masked Singer.
The original Possessed aired a 10-episode first season on MBC in 2009. Starring Lim Ju-eun and Lee Seo-jin, the series centered on a high school girl possessed by spirits and the criminal profiler who exploits her powers in his quest for justice. You can watch a trailer below.
The Hayes brothers are best known for writing New Line Cinema's global box office horror hits The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2. They also co-produced the horror film Annabelle.
Possessed was one of the first projects Wesley's Citizen Media and Kapital put in development under the production partnership forged in February. Wesley, who stars in Kapital's CBS All Access series Tell Me a Story, is repped by ICM Partners, Management 360, and attorney Marcy Morris.
At ABC, Kapital Entertainment has a put pilot commitment for medical drama Blank from Trey Callaway and Dave Semel.
Paradigm and attorney Paul Miloknay repped MBC Broadcast in the packaging of the format. Plestis is also repped by Paradigm.
Jewish superstition has been riddled with dybbuks and golems for centuries, but horror movies haven't wised up to it nearly enough. “The Vigil” is proof that bible-thumping priests and haunted convents can't have all the spooky fun. In director Keith Thomas’s eerie first feature “The Vigil,” a young man estranged from the Orthodox Jewish community of Borough Park, Brooklyn, agrees to fulfill the duties of a “shomer,” the ritualistic practice of looking after a dead body over the course of one night. Desperate for rent money, he agrees, unwittingly signing up for a long night with a possessed corpse.
The ensuing mayhem relies on the usual preponderance of jump scares, but Thomas combines those moments with aplomb and surprising thematic depth. Set almost exclusively within the confines of the shadowy home, “The Vigil” suggests the potential for a new angle on “The Conjuring” universe via Jewish guilt and Holocaust trauma. And if “Conjuring” owner Warner Bros. doesn't ingest its lore, Thomas has ample potential for a new franchise of his own.
“The Vigil” takes place almost entirely at night, as Yakov Dave Davis wraps up a support group for young Hasids who have abandoned their faith. Having grown up in an insular world defined by traditions, Yakov's adjustment to secular ways is a work in progress. After a cringe-worthy effort to ask out a young woman from the group Malky Goldman, he attempts to shoo off his former rabbi Menashe Lustig, the star of the sweet 2017 drama “Menashe” when the pesky zealot materializes outside. But the offer's too good, and Yakov has leverage, since an earlier shomer was scared off from the gig for reasons that become clear later on. After some typical haggling, Yakov's introduced to the creepy old widow Mrs. Litvak, who vanishes upstairs as he settles into a chair next to the dead man's body.
Covered in a white sheet for the duration of the movie, the corpse is a perfect minimalist vessel for the frights to come. A close cousin of the morgue-center freakishness in “The Autopsy of Jane Doe,” Thomas' story wastes no time turning up the scare factor, with the usual parade of flickering lamps, sudden movements in the shadows of the frames, and streaking music cues just in case the last two devices didn't get the adrenaline flowing enough. However, even as “The Vigil” settles into a familiar routine, it tackles that task with a polished, at times even elegant approach to a haunted house formula.
Cinematographer Zach Kuperstein, whose haunting black-and-white imagery injected “The Eyes of My Mother” with such hideous power, explores the interiors of the cramped Litvak home with a sophisticated use of light and shadow; some scenes have been so baked in darkness they grow disorienting, reflecting Yakov's own subjective descent as the night wears on. Strange circumstances come and go — phone calls and FaceTime conversations turn sinister at unlikely moments, and horrific phantoms lurk in murky corners — but “The Vigil” also manages to draw out the mythological intrigue, as Yakov learns about the demonic presence haunting the Litvak home, and what he must do to avoid their terrible fate.
The specifics of that setup are rich with implications about the historical specter of anti-Semitism and the underlying roots of secular Jewish identity. “The Vigil” succeeds at translating contemporary horror tropes into “Get Out” for the gefilte-fish set, and doesn't need to overextend itself with a contrived revelation about the sudden loss that led Yakov to abandon his faith. But the filmmaking maintains its gripping spell all way through a final showdown that forces the man to rely on his spiritual training once more, with the most dramatic use of phylacteries since the “tefillin as grappling hook” gag in “The Hebrew Hammer.”
If that means nothing to you, the grab bag of jolts and screams that dominate “The Vigil” might feel a tad stale. But the movie does an effective job of mapping out the specifics of its setting, from the flashes of Yiddish phrases to the ritualistic asides, and Lustig's casting points to the level of authenticity in play. As with “Menashe,” the movie navigates the contradictions of religious Judaism without denigrating the people who actually commit to its tenets. And it provides the opportunity to consider the how this material might continue in future installments. Imagine the VOD potential for “The Vigil 2: The Bris From Beyond.”
Above all else, the movie provides a remarkable showcase for Davis, who commands every scene as a man grasping to contain his fear of things going bump in the night while struggling with internal conflicts far heavier than the supernatural events in play. Even a gimmicky horror movie needs real ideas to animate the sense of concern for its characters, especially since the genre never guarantees a happy ending. “The Vigil” takes that philosophy to heart, right down to a brilliant final shot riddled with implications about Yakov's psychological challenges. The best verses don't require biblical scholars to appreciate their depth, and neither does Thomas' accomplished debut.
“The Vigil” premiered in the Midnight Madness section of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. It is currently seeking distribution.
It was just a few days ago that we let you guys know that A Nightmare on Elm Street star Heather Langenkamp would love to return to the role of Nancy in another A Nightmare on Elm Street movie should the opportunity arise. And today we have word that the actress would also love the chance to star in a film set within James Wan's The Conjuring Universe. She says this.
"I think some of the New Line films that they're putting out, like the Annabelle and all the universes from the Conjuring universes, I do really like a lot of those movies, and I think they all have some really great characters, and they use a lot of character actors from the genre. I think those movies are the ones that appeal to me most. I'm not really into slasher movies. I really don't love watching the body count racking itself up. Of course, I mean, there's a lot of great parts in all of those movies."
Heather Langenkamp then goes on to speak about what kind of role would entice her to return to the big screen, revealing this.
"I think I would just look for a really great part, one that the fans would watch it and go, 'Oh, that's different,.' Or, 'That's cool, that's new.' That had some meat to it that was an interesting role. And that's my goal going forward is to find those roles out there and make my fans happy, because they're like, 'Where are you? Why aren't you doing anything, Heather?' I'm like, 'I don't know, I'm trying.'"
She added this.
Related: Lorraine Warren, Paranormal Investigator Who Inspired The Conjuring, Dies at 92
"The older I get, the more confident I get that they need old ladies out there in film."
Again, this news comes on the heels of Langenkamp saying that she would love to return as Nancy Thompson in another A Nightmare on Elm Street movie. Specifically, she said last week:
"I would really love to reprise Nancy in a way, because I feel that there's more of that story to be told, certainly. But I don't know if there's anyone out there who is as imaginative as Wes Craven, who could figure it out. I just don't know. I don't see enough great storylines that would incorporate NancyThompson in any universe. I just don't know if that exists, but some brilliant person might be working on something. But I know the fans would love it so much because I see them in these situations where they're so enthusiastic."
Personally, as cool as it would be to see Lagenkamp take a role in James Wan's The Conjuring Universe I think seeing her return to the dream world of Freddy Krueger would be far and way the more exciting project. But that might be the obvious thing to say here. All the same, the last time we saw Langenkamp in a Freddy movie was way back in Scream and The Last House on the Left writer-director Wes Craven's New Nightmare back in 1994. That movie saw Langenkamp play a fictional version of herself hunted by the entity known as Freddy Kruger in the real world. That movie costarred Pet Sematary young star Miko Hughes as her son, Dylan Porter, and Robert Englund as himself and Freddy Krueger. This story comes to us via ComicBook.com.
Annabelle Comes Home is a brainless sequel that telegraphs every scare. The seventh installment in The Conjuring Universe and third Annabelle film had me laughing out loud for the wrong reasons. Annabelle franchise writer Gary Dauberman steps behind the camera for his feature directorial debut. He delivers a formulaic plot with cookie cutter characters. Annabelle Comes Home is a lame rehash of tired horror movie tropes. Lower your expectations to the basement, where a third of the film takes place.
In a seventies suburb, paranormal investigators Ed Patrick Wilson and Lorraine Vera Farmiga Warren take possession of the demonic doll Anabelle. A priest blesses the porcelain terror before the Warrens' imprison it in a sacred glass cabinet. Annabelle is locked away in their basement, along with other dangerous artifacts the Warrens' have collected. Annabelle becomes an afterthought as time passes by.
Mckenna Grace stars as Judy, the Warrens' ten-year-old daughter. She is ridiculed at school for being weird. Judy has inherited her mother's clairvoyance. The Warrens' have to leave for an overnight trip. They leave Judy in the care of trusted teenage babysitter, Mary Ellen Madison Iseman. She gets an unexpected visit from her troublemaker best friend Katie Sarife and high school crush Michael Cimino. Teenagers and a girl alone in a house with a bolted basement full of evil...what could possibly go wrong?
Related: Annabelle 3 Poster Unlocks the Warrens' Dangerous Den of Demonology & Witchcraft
Annabelle Comes Home never deviates from the standard horror movie formula. The adult characters disappear in short order for a flimsy reason. Never mind the fact they're leaving an only child under a teenage girl's care in a house filled with dangerous supernatural objects. Everything with a glaring sign that says "danger, do not open"; gets opened. I couldn't help but break out in laughter when a character finds the Warrens' keys. She magically figures out the right key for every lock on the first try. This is absolutely laughable to see when a door has multiple locks. This nonsensical behavior pervades the entire runtime. Just like dumb teens running blindly through dark woods, the characters here bumble about illogically. Rational thought and self-preservation don't exist.
Annabelle Comes Home has zero surprises. This is a death blow for a horror film. Imagine walking through a haunted house and being able to tell exactly when someone jumps at you. Gary Dauberman falls from the predictable tree, then hits every branch on the way down. Nothing unexpected takes place. Each frightening moment is woefully spoiled by an obvious build-up. Annabelle Comes Home could have been written and directed by a machine. There isn't a true second of distress or intrigue for the audience.
Annabelle Comes Home is rated R for "horror violence and terror". It should be rated B for boring. The film is spectacularly unoriginal, a dialed-in profit exercise. Incredibly, if Annabelle Comes Home grosses just $64 million at the global box office, The Conjuring Universe will become the most successful R-rated franchise in history. That's a mind-boggling statistic for such a subpar effort. Annabelle Comes Home is produced by New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster Productions, and The Safran Company, with distribution by Warner Bros.
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