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This does open up the opportunity for one of a pair of tributes to the amazing Texas Switch in Mario Bava's Shock--the one where a thing that is bigger than it looks can loom up over someone in whom we have invested some emotion. It's cool the first time it happens and less cool the next time--the law of diminishing returns something this series should consider as a whole. Now, it turns out this demon is not possessing Arne full-time for reasons to do with a bone totem Lorraine discovers in the crawlspace underneath David's waterbed. We know this because, in a largely unmotivated and extended flashback that stops the movie dead, we see David trying out his new waterbed. Actually, I do know why there's a flashback: because the screenwriter handbook says something has to happen every 15 minutes, and this flashback happens at the 30-minute mark. The problem with this "scary" scene is that it shows David recognizing his waterbed is haunted, but because of the opening sequence, we know he got possessed anyway. This means David slept on the fucking bed despite dire warnings, meaning he deserves to get possessed, the little fool. Lorraine takes pictures of the totem, and later another bone totem surfaces in Ed's office. Ed, who has had a heart attack and been in a coma for a while suddenly finds himself in the forest chasing after Lorraine, who has been possessed or at least overtaken by a vision of something terrible and almost runs off a cliff--but Ed grabs her in time. Phew!
There's a police procedural element where Lorraine does a Dalai Lama trick of picking out the right artifact to prove to credulous Sgt. Clay (Keith Arthur Bolden) that she's for real (Ed never doubted for a moment); a visit to creepy exposition dispenser Father Kastner (John Noble), who shows the Warrens his collection of evil books in his farmhouse basement; and a separate timeline depicting an early adventure (it's love) between Young Ed (Mitchell Hoog) and Young Lorraine (Megan Ashley Brown). I laughed with sweet delight when Lorraine, with a look of complete disgust, tells Father Kastner, referring to his collection, "You should burn all this." Farmiga's line delivery is perfect mom-in-her-dotage "lemme talk to your manager." Ed says in a no-nonsense daddy way, "I don't suppose you have all these books organized by the Dewey Decimal System, do ya?" Kastner launches into a story that includes a baby with its heart born on the outside--which, of course, is the same thing Glen says in Raising Arizona when relating the dire selection of adoptable babies in Maricopa County. Yes, Conjuring 3 is incredibly bad, completely incoherent, and also a hoot. I mean, settling in to watch it for this review, it took me an hour to realize I'd already seen it. But, look, there's a scene in a police station where something significant happens while an entire room full of cops responds to something they can't possibly see. Then the movie cuts to Elvis singing "Suspicious Minds" as Lorraine says she met Elvis once and Ed, in the back seat, smiles in an entirely unreadable way, leading me to think "orgy, probably" or "cuckold fantasy," but maybe I've just seen too many Patrick Wilson movies.
THE 4K UHD DISCThe first of the Conjuring movies to get a physical 4K release, find the 2.39:1, 2160p video transfer of this expensive, mainstream, big-budget, by-the-numbers tentpole franchise garbage horror movie to be predictably eye-shattering. Presented with HDR10, the image is purposefully dim, although enthusiastic highlights lend a ton of visual interest, like the twinkling, almost celestial lights above young Lorraine and Ed as they act moony in a gazebo. Shadows are credibly black while the wider colour gamut shifts the colour grade away from the slight teal lean of the accompanying Blu-ray towards a more brownish-purple reminiscent of Ektachrome--a palette that better suits the period vibe. Red light sources, for what it's worth, burn with a hellish intensity they lack in SDR. Fine detail is super-fine, with settings like Kastner's basement library so sharp I felt I could read the titles of every grimoire if only the camera would move a bit closer. It might be too tactile in places, veering dangerously close to motion-smoothing territory: The digital source, upconverted from a 2K DI for this presentation, is so frictionless it loses any chance of filmic texture. The attendant Dolby Atmos audio bears down on you in its 7.1 Dolby TrueHD mixdown, yet I can't help thinking that for a horror movie this reliant on deep atmosphere and jump-scares, it all comes off a little thin. The opening exorcism is the key exception, filling the room with wind, a weird sizzling noise that creeped me out almost more than the events on screen, and enough explosive volume to become immersive. While it's technically irreproachable, this track, the bar has been set high enough at this point that I'm disappointed, almost bored, by the mix proper. It lacks imagination, sharing that deficiency with the film itself. 2b1af7f3a8