I refuse to watch any trailers. I think nowadays, 90% of the plot is given away in 2 minutes in a desperate attempt to draw in audiences. But when I saw that a new movie was called as good as the classic Exorcist and Rosemary’s baby (which are excellent in my opinion), I wanted to watch it. When I heard that people deemed it gruesome enough to linger at the edges of their conscience for a long time, I really wanted to see it.
What followed next was 2h 7min of horror and 10 minutes of crap. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was really good. The ending was shit though so if you want to have a really great experience, walk out 10 minutes before the end and make up your own ending. It’ll be 10 times better than what we’ve been given.
The rest of this piece contains spoilers and only spoilers. Do not read unless you want to know what happened.
The movie is about the surviving members of the Ellen Graham clan. The elderly matriarch passes away and her daughter does not seem to paint a very loving or caring portrait of her mother. We deduce the grandma has been a manipulative snake in her life time, not loved by her kin and with the exception of the grand-daughter, no-one really cared about her passing on. The grand-daughter is an odd child.
She wears this oversized hoodie all the time and she chews on chocolate like there’s no tomorrow. She’s also allergic to nuts and seems autistic in her behaviours. She misses her grandma and even mentions that maybe her grandma did not love her enough because “she wasn’t a boy”. This is quite important to the plot as we later find out that the grandma only came into the family’s life well after the first born was delivered and could only “sink her claws” into the second child – the daughter.
Based on the books the grandma left behind, we know she was into occultism, spiritism and she even had a massive triangle drawn on the floor of her bedroom. She had books about devils and talking to the dead and leaves her daughter a cryptic message that all the sacrifices she forces upon them are all worth it in the end.
Grandma * and here’s the spoiler * was actually into Devil worshipping. She had a cult who looked up to her as a leader and what they worshipped was a demon from the 7th circle of hell who was responsible for wealth and wish-granting to whomever was strong enough to summon him. Grandma needed a boy as a host for the devil and this is why her own son committed suicide, but only after blaming his mother for putting spirits into him. The surviving sister thought he suffered from schizophrenia and is sobbing in the grief support group as she blames all the deaths in the family on herself.
Grandma’s chance comes about after coming into contact with her estranged daughter, after the birth of her second child, the grand-daughter. As she puts it, “I wouldn’t let her have my son, but I let her have my daughter”. I didn’t get it at the time, but it was the act of giving a child to the devil that made the mother a cultist. This is the part that resembled Rosemary’s baby so much. The cultists needed a child as a way to channel the devil. They wanted Peter but they couldn’t have him so they used the sister.
All goes to shit when Peter goes with his sister in tow to a highschool party where he proceeds getting high with some friends and his sister ends up eating a wallnut cake.
As she’s axphyxiating, Peter rushes her to the hospital. In an attempt to get air into her nasal passages, the girl leans out of the car while clawing at her neck and at the same time, her brother swerves to avoid a dead animal on the road and in doing so, smashes his sister’s head against a pole. She’s decapitated.
At this point I was in shock. I could hear gasps around me in the audience. Within a week of the grandma’s death, the grand-daughter dies too. So the plan to have a demon-host fails miserably. This is when the cultists kick into gear.
Pretending to be friends, they approach the grieving mother and offer her a “proven” way to get in touch with her dead daughter. She only has to recite a few words written in a foreign language and get everyone in the house to touch a glass together.
So this is where the movie really kicks off. The haunting begins. Words from the incantation start appearing all over the house. The mother starts sleepwalking again. She confesses in a dream that she never wanted her first child (probably due to the fact that he was to be given to the devil?) and she found herself covered in paint thinner along with her kids and ready to strike a match. She said she was sleepwalking and she swears by it but what if it was her subconscious trying to end her line. Kill her offspring and kill herself. End the bloodline.
But as the mother becomes increasingly agitated, the eyes turn towards the father. The dad. The rock of the family. He strikes me as down-to-earth, good guy. He looks like any normal person would under the circumstances. He lost a daughter. His son was blaming himself for her death, even though it was an accident. His wife refuses to speak with his son and when she does, she projects onto him all of her hatred, all of her sneering taunts and passive-aggressive stances. He tries so hard to keep everything working, to keep his marriage going. He does understand his wife. Until she starts depicting into her art the decapitation of their daughter. Until his mother-in-law is dug up and “appears” in his attic, along with a bunch of flies. Until his wife performs an incantation that brings a ghost into the house that leaves his son terrified. Until his only son smacks his head against the desk in school, breaking his nose. He breaks down and cries in the car.
At that point, I really felt for him. I wanted him to get the hell out. I wanted him to escape. To see that his wife was crazy. That whatever crazy gene his mother-in-law had, it was passed down to his wife. That his wife’s artistic skill in creating miniatures was in fact a desire to own control over her world, over her destiny, like a snapshot showing clarity.
Yeah, I wish he escaped.
His wife told him he has to burn a notebook because she can’t burn it. He refuses and is about to go and call the authorities when she snatches the notebook from his hands and throws it into the fire. He catches fire at that points and burns uncontrollably. She screams but it was her who threw the notebook into the fire knowing exactly that this would happen. She screams and then she stops and smiles.
It was at this point that it hit me. She was in on it. She was part of the cult too! The white clothes, the sleepwalking episodes, the words carved into the wall. She carved them there. She knew where they were and what they meant.
Her mother, who tried to nurse her baby girl, who watched her and her husband sleeping at night, who wanted a boy for the demon. Her mother was who started it. And she was about to end it. This was the scariest part of the movie.
The boy wakes up and as he slowly wanders the house screaming his mother’s and his dad’s name, he comes across the charred remains in the living room who still had a wedding band. And as the gasps in the audience became clearer I could see it too. The mother, his mother, was behind him. She was near the roof of the room, ready to jump him. But that wasn’t the worst. There was a naked man smiling in the dark. The demon had come. This is the spot you get your ass out of that chair and walk out. Don’t look back. Walk out.
The crap in the end
Movie was soo good until now. Drama, terror, how a family deals with grief, catharsis and family dynamics with one member going crazy. They should have stopped there.
The last 10 minutes feature some floating bodies, his mother slashing her own throat with a piece of wire, the son jumping through the window in the attic to his death and the demon taking possession of him. We see naked people in the bushes. Some flaccid penises (long live Sundance!) and some bare bosoms. We see people gathered in the small tree house kneeling in front of a Demon God who has one hand up in the air pointing. We see the decapitated corpses of this boy’s mother and grandmother kneeling in front of this God.
We see the people chanting and asking the Demon God to grant them wishes and wealth in return for eternal obedience. Yep, Satanism.
Close up on the boy who had not yet said a word. Is he traumatised? Is he really possessed by the demon? Is he gonna call the cops on their asses? Is he gonna go back to school on Monday?
Moral of the story
If your mother is trying to breastfeed your child, it’s time to throw her out of the house. Talk to your family. Don’t lie. Heal together.
PS: Let me know if you noticed the house model next to the staircase that has a lovely bungalow on top of a hill, all lit up and looking nice and underneath is a dark house with moss and no lit windows, spanning across multiple floors and looking dreadfully horrible. That is a lovely representation that not is all that is seems and pleasant surfaces hide terrible truths.