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I feel like Shudder (who produced this) may have meddled in the production at some point, since the set-up is so muted and morbidly amusing, and the third act is so conventional, with Stênio's deceased wife Odette attacking his family in familiar demon mode and using all the powers of darkness. It;s a fun film but I thought the idea of 'betraying the secrets of the dead would lead to a more elegant reprisal, and not just slamming doors, flashing knives, and possessed babysitters.The Sao Paolo setting and good performances carry it off but it's a pity it devolves into a domestic dispute since the societal violence and choas seems to be a string factor early in the film. Stênio is a refreshingly despicable anti-hero.
Forget the good reviews, it's just more Wan-style cliches and jumscares: the same spidery-fingered demon bellowing 'YOUR SOUL' the same broken-necked walk, tricks with dumb-waiters and dolls houses, rotating crucifixes, and no idea about the Catholic Church (nuns can't hear confession, people: it's a sacrament) and worst of all, the focus is a bunch of dull child-actors, so there isn't even anybody interesting to watch. Miranda Otto wastes her time in ridiculous one-eyed make-up.
Anybody who goes to these films and then criticizes the format (Augh, too much violence; no plot; one-dimensional characters!) is just embarrassing themselves. That said, it opens with a great bang but the middle sequence in Morocco felt baggy and unnecessary: third act back at the Continental wrapped it up in style. Fun cameos from Bronn and Angelica Huston but Halle and her dogs felt a bit extraneous and the fight sequences felt more heavily edited to conceal weaknesses. Dacascos a huge stand-out, as martially skilled (and gorgeous) as ever. Huge fun for those that like this sort of thing.
Sleepily' directed is a good phrase and perfectly describes this film, which feels likes it's literally sleepwalking through cliches, with a woozy score, weirdly muffled sound-levels, and the occasional mechanical jump-scare entirely failing to liven things up. The kid is pretty good, in a generic tap-dancing actor-kid sort of way. Ugly lighting and sloppy editing don't help at all.
Box-tickingly directed with hardly a spark of inspiration, this prestige treatment actually shows up the sleazy-dream novel's flaws more glaringly than the rubbishy 80's version. Lazy-eyed Jete Laurence furnishes a moment of ghoulish humor on her first night home from the grave, but then it's just stabbings until the Ramones play us out. Dreary.