SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Who doesn't love evil puppets? I guess the people they kill don't. In this movie, there's a ventriloquist who owned 101 puppets, who was murdered and then buried according to her will: not only buried with all of her puppets, but actually cut up into a puppet herself after death. Yeah, that's really weird, and I can't imagine anybody fulfilling that request. But they did! Anyway, that's all backstory. In the actual story, a puppet is delivered to a guy's doorstep, it kills his girlfriend, he goes back to his hometown where it was sent from, discovers the aforementioned backstory, and battles evil puppets and a ghostly old lady. Puppetry ensues.
This is a James Wan film, like Insidious 1 and 2, and it shows
. It was instantly obvious that this was made by the same guy. He must have fallen into the coffin at his grandma's funeral when he was young, because he has a terrible fear of old ladies. He also makes very polished-looking horror movies, full of red lighting and people covered by sheets, which aren't really very scary. They're almost like Disney Family horror movies. They're too neat and clean, and the music is too overblown, and he doesn't seem very good at jump scares. There's a scene in Insidious 2 which starts out really creepy, where a boy is looking into his half-open closet at night, hearing noises inside and the camera is zooming closer and closer as we fear what might pop out. In the end, somebody does pop out and runs across the room, which should be very frightening, yet somehow it's not sudden enough or something, because it just has zero impact. It's more like a feeling of relief after all that tension rather than a shock. Hard to explain, but you watch the scene and you won't be scared!
That's not to say his work is all bad, it's just that I wonder if horror is really the place for this guy. He should try a nice romantic comedy or something. It can't be that bad though, because I'm willing to see what else he's going to do.
The big reveal at this end of this movie is big enough and fun enough that I won't even spoil it here despite my spoiler warning. It's not a world-changer like The Sixth Sense, but it does what I want a twist to do: makes you go back over the movie and change your view on earlier scenes, and realize that you could've figured it out if you had just noticed certain things earlier. That trips a fuse in my brain and joy just sparks out.
What it does wrong is what about 80% of all twists do: it manually takes you back over those earlier scenes and shows them to you again, far far
too many of them, to beat the twist into your head as clearly and completely as possible. I got it after the first two quick flashes, I didn't need to rewatch the whole movie, and if I wanted to do that, I could hit the rewind button. This is a cardinal sin that so many movies commit, the massive over-explanation to the point where you actually get bored and want to get back to the climax of the movie you were trying to watch. I'm sure it's a fine line, as there are bound to be some people who need all that extra reinforcement (as evidenced by the reviews of movies I see that flat-out miss entire chunks of the plot). I'm sure they test this out with test audiences until it's "just right", but it sure never feels just right to me.
So in the end, we have a body count of 4, and because it's kind of fun, but by no means good cinema, and with a bonus point for the disturbing final twist, I'll award it 4 out of 5 Missing Tongues
I of course had to draw a puppet here. I did a terrible job.