Michael Jai White Takes On His Next Opponent…A Ghost!
I’m not being mean when I say SyFy delivers a certain type of film. The channel is known for schlock horror films like ‘Sharknado‘ or ‘Frankenfish‘ so the expectations are never high. Thankfully I went into ‘The Crooked Man‘ knowing that so it allowed me to enjoy it. There’s no way it’s going to be a masterpiece but damn, it sure is fun!
‘The Crooked Man‘, who shares the same name as a monster from ‘The Conjuring 2‘, has a fairly simple plot. Six years ago, a young girl Olivia and her friends decide to scare each other at a slumber party. Olivia sings the song of the titular character and it conjures him like you’d see with the Bloody Mary myth. Once he arrives, the demonic figure kills one of the young girls and Olivia is later blamed. Now older, Olivia (Angelique Rivera) returns to the town and a string of murders begins. Still knowing this haunting is her fault, she sets out to figure out how to defeat the monster.
I applaud ‘The Crooked Man‘ for being a fairly straight-forward film. The plot is basic but that does help. Usually these SyFy films are so convoluted that any sort of scaled back story feels welcomed. Where things start to get messy with all the rip-offs from other things. There’s the obvious ‘Conjuring 2‘ thing but the general idea of this monster is something everyone has seen before. Even the plot point of the girl returning to her hometown and having drama happens weekly in a Lifetime Channel movie.
“No One Can Escape The Darkness”
While the script wasn’t the strongest, I’m surprised with how good the acting is. Michael Jai White deliver a fun performance as a troubled recluse. He seems to know what movie he’s in and goes that extra campy mile. Pretty sad he didn’t just roundhouse kick this ghost!
The film really loses points when it comes to the lackluster character design. Instead of being anywhere near the level of his cinematic counterpart, this Crooked Man looks more like a 90’s ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer‘ or ‘X-Files‘ monster. The only thing scary about this guy is his thrift shop jacket and fedora.
Same goes for any of the kills in this film. Sometimes if you’re going to do something so cheesy, it’s better you show less. Director Jesse Holland didn’t seem to hid any flaws and I guess I can applaud the honesty. The effects used for The Crooked Man’s attacks are laughable and take away from any scary moment. These scenes would’ve worked better if Holland decided to film them darker or show less of them.
Biggest crime committed here is how much of a missed opportunity this feels like. There’s a genuine sense of dread throughout ‘The Crooked Man‘. You mix that with a handful of good jump scares and it’s on par with an average Hollywood haunted movie. That’s what makes me so angry is that I can’t even be fully mad at this piece. There’s far worse movies from SyFy but this doesn’t get anywhere near its full potential.
I’m not saying this movie is a must-have but I would be lying if I didn’t have fun. Michael Jai White’s insane performance in this film really carries it to another level and I found it to be a bit scary at times. All of that is wasted with a weak titular villain and cheesy effects. All of the good things need a bit more polish to make up for some of the real bad.
With a bigger budget and James Wan attached, ‘The Crooked Man‘ could’ve worked.