— by Jeff Schultz

Serious, steady and slow, don’t go in expecting the nasty-violent James Wan of SAW, which may be why mainstream critics are going for it (74% vs SAW’s 48%). At almost two-and-a-quarter hours, it seems stretched and at times inert — with lots of stuff you’ve seen before: the slow step-ups to doors that open revealing no one there; the shadows at the end of hallways; the toy that suddenly starts operating on its own; the kid on the ceiling. On the plus side, there’s something fascinating about Vera Farmiga’s Lorraine, partly because of her deadpan demeanor, which borders on the comic. (Carol Burnett could have lampooned her perfectly.) At times, Farmiga’s stricken, so-so-serious act bumps up against the essential ridiculousness of the plot. But she also creates most of what little atmospheric dread the movie has.  And atmosphere is pretty much it. The monster looks like Gene Simmons after entering a convent, and while its morphing mouth is a bloody kick, I’m having trouble remembering any other solid effects. Maybe the thing with the dog, but… meh.

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