Son

Written by Alexander Reams

49/100

Horror films have always had the good old reliable tropes that they can rely on. Such as haunted houses, killer on the loose, and one that recently seems to be used more than any other, possessed children. Whether that is demonic, medical, vampirism, or witchcraft. Son, from fairly new director Ivan Kavanagh, relies heavily on the latter trope. The film’s plot, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before. When a young boy contracts a mysterious illness, his mother must decide how far she will go to protect him from terrifying forces in her past. Sounds familiar? Well that’s because it is a rehash of countless horror films, most prestigiously being The Conjuring 1 & 2

A pair of performances in the film shine brightly. Matichak (Halloween) as the mother of the possessed child brings something that has been seen before, but her delivery of the script seeps care and love for her son throughout. This is shown especially in the home invasion scene. Matichak’s facial expressions and body movement as she tries to rescue her son from forces in her home. Hirsch (Speed Racer, Once Upon a Time.. in Hollywood) as the detective chasing them brings a no nonsense aura that fits perfectly in a film filled with worthless dialogue and nonsensical performances. His kindness towards Matichak develops to a romantic interest, but not in the traditional sense, his feelings towards her never get in the way of his job. A trope that is not shown enough with detective characters which does add a layer of freshness. 

The screenplay, also by Kavanagh, is mediocre and filled with vapid lines that truly mean nothing to the story and try to draw your attention from the abysmal performances by everyone except Matichak and Hirsch. The actor playing “David”, Luke David Blumm is another reason why there is such a negative stigma against child actors. He overplays every scene, losing any chance at building stakes and emotional connection. Emotional connections between characters is a two way street, and while Matichak has one with Blumm on screen, he has nothing, no connection, or any resemblance to a relationship with Matichak echoing back. Even with great performances from Andi Matichak and Emile Hirsch, the film stumbles in its pacing, direction, screenplay, and every performance outside the top billed duo.

Son Trailer

Son is currently streaming on Shudder.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Written by Alexander Reams

59/100

Some will always say that the third film in a trilogy is the weakest, sometimes that is true, and sometimes it isn’t. This is the unfortunate instance where that rule is true. In the past 10 years the horror genre has had a resurgence, a fall, and another resurgence. Starting in 2013, after an abysmal year for the genre, in walks James Wan with his newest horror project, The Conjuring. One of the most notable and recent entries in the “serious horror” genre, the film focused more on characters and their relationships with one another than the scares. Characters have always led to the best scares in horror films. This is a lesson that the Conjuring-verse films forgot about after the first film, but were reminded with the second. With one film in particular applying this, Annabelle Creation (2017). However, after the critical failures that were The Nun (2018), The Curse of La Llorona (2019), and Annabelle Comes Home (2019). The Conjuring was due for a resuscitation in quality, and to a degree that happens in this film. However this is also the first time in the trilogy that the film begins to care more about the scares than it’s characters. 

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson have been playing these characters for over 8 years now, and with that comes good and bad. What’s good and borderline great about their performances is that over the time of these films you can see their relationship grow, just like in a marriage. Their flow on screen together gets better and better with each film. With their relationship being the best aspect of this movie. According to the films, they met 30 years ago, and it’s been 10 years in this universe since our introduction to this couple, according to the dates given. Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona), clearly let these actors do whatever they felt was right and trusted them to keep with the tone and style of relationship as the previous films. I definitely view this as a positive mark on the film because the last film Chaves made had very poor acting and direction. This time it is only in the direction that he stumbles. Valuing jump scares and set pieces over character development caused it to blend into numerous other generic horror films that audiences have grown accustomed to rather than a distinctive piece unto itself. 

One of his few saving graces is the way he shoots this film with DP Michael Burgess. Particularly in the last half hour of the film, the wide shots are beautifully captured on the Arri Alexa and Alexa Mini with Panavision lenses. Scenes in the medical bay of the prison are beautifully lit to create very macabre images which in turn make this film visually stand out in a way that the previous films hadn’t. While this film does not live up to the original films in the trilogy and is disappointing in terms of quality, I am not surprised that it was what it was. The direction is not even close to the level of James Wan’s and strays too far from the path that was laid before it. Despite this, it still stands very tall over the other various unwanted and poorly made spinoffs that this universe birthed along the way.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It Trailer

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is currently in Theaters and streaming on HBO Max.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.