I had ensconced in my favorite space in my favorite place in Chennai-J1, Main screen, Satyam Cinemas on a lazy Saturday afternoon to see the what James Wan had done with the Warrens and their case files in his latest offering-Conjuring 2. I love to go for some movies alone to not let petty conversations water down the cerebral impact I hope to derive out of the viewing. Some movies interact. Some intrigue. And very few disturb.
Wan’s creations largely fall in this category. Take for instance the gut wrenching Saw series or the Insidious movies that seemed like a love child between Exorcist and Nightmare on Elm Street, they have a hand made quality to them despite being based out of an alternate space ruled by vanquished souls and twisted minds. His attempts are the most candid we get to a ghoul cracking experience within the syntax of mainstream movie making. So they are best, when watched in isolation.
Seated comfortably in the wall corner by the aisle break, I was hoping to be shaken out of my skin, yet again. The crowd was a motley of well dressed men and women, if the clothing and the small talk occupying the earspace was anything to go by. They were talking in well constructed sentences, polite and cordial sounding about the good reviews the movie had garnered and how pricey the popcorn had become. What else was I expecting from a crowd in an uptown theatre than good behavior I thought to myself.
Then lights went off as the screen came alive. Darkness befell as the title began to roll.
The crowd that seemed like the creme de la creme of the city that had gathered for an opera concert while the lights were on, suddenly started making noises that alternated from resembling mating calls of chimpanzees to a foul’s wail with the butcher’s knife about to swing as the movie started playing.
So much for the sophistication that went off with the lights.
It was not like the movie was a drab affair that didn’t engage; quite the contrary infact. The screenplay moved chronologically as it is based on true happenings-with shrieking sounds at first leading to disobedient furniture and appliances, to aberrations and finally the appearance of the spirit -culminating to the point the affected family was left at the mercy of the Warrens’s paranormal sleuthing prowess.
Then I started wondering as to what could possibly be the reason, the dude and dudettes who rinse in lattes-behave like neanderthals at the first sight of light-in a horror movie, time and again.
Probably is it from the fact that a dark room with no accountability is seen as a callout to the lurking primal self from within?( I can’t deny taking to the temptation myself, but definitely not in a theatre playing a good film.)
Or the bravado and the heckling are infact red-herrings to cover up being genuinely freaked out. Hence the funny noises let out in the place of a yell as an attempt to keep up the machismo.
I’ll have to wait and watch.
Somewhere near the halfway mark of the movie I got my answer; as the first yell came out of the boisterous crowd leading to applause. From this point, the crowd seemed vested in the proceedings. The fracas had made way for a state of genuine engagement. The theatre had begun to muse on the movie. A state very few movies manage to pull off in this part of the world, especially the ones that belong to this genre.
The theatre was functioning like the ersatz electrocardiogram of the movie-pounding along rhythmically from one development to another-screaming empathetically at times and applauding at a breakthrough; likes its own glimmer of hope;hopefully.
The movie ended with a standing ovation from the entire theatre. Ed and Lorraine Warren had officially become a part of popular parlance here, so much so that a 12 year old would understand a meme made on them.
To derive a standing ovation from a heckling crowd that had come to have a party at the cost of the movie is no mean feat; the cinematic equivalent of taming of a wild horse . Wan did it the last time around. He seems to have hit the bullseye with his sophomore attempt too.
Read somewhere that he’s hinted at the third instalment involving a werewolf theme during an interview. Bring it on, already!