It is a slow moving, old fashioned, suspense movie that is reasonably well acted. Renee Zellweger does a very good job as the social worker trying to do the right thing. Most of the other grown-ups are not given a great deal to do (except die). But Jodelle Ferland, as Lilith, the troubled young girl is very good. In one particular scene with Bradley Cooper, she makes the hair of on the back of your neck stand up. That scene is the best in the movie and points out some of the movie’s big issues. One of these issues is the insertion of several disconnected “by the numbers horror movie” scenes that are yawn inducing.
Hornets coming out of a guy’s nose? Not scary. Steely-eyed, soulless pre-teen, scaring the piss out of Bradley Cooper? Scary. Ferland is an excellent young actress who will hopefully be doing more than just horror films like this, Silent Hill and an upcoming appearance in the Twilight series.
And then there is the jump from “disbelief” to “belief” in this movie. People go from not believing there is anything supernatural going on to feeling murder is justifiable based on static-y phone calls.
There is no attempt to establish supernatural rules. What can a vampire not do? How do you kill it? We all know-- stake to the heart, chop off the head. Everyone is aware vampires do not like garlic or holy water. But what about ghosts, demons, possessed people? They can read minds? Is it all the time? What is their weakness? How do they do their evil? If they can smash one door to splinters why not all doors? If they need to call some people on the phone to get to them or need to hear a person’s fears to do the same, why not ALL people? It is the little things that make a tolerable horror movie good or a good one great.
This film is somewhere between tolerable and good and if they had kept this a little less Hollywood they could have made it really creepy. Some of the CGI stuff looked pretty silly. Remember Angel Heart? Where, at the end, they make Robert Deniro’s eyes glow, just because they think some portion of the audience might be too stupid to have realized yet that he is the Devil? There is some of that in this film, especially in the final scene. If the evil creature in question had retained its habitual form it might well have added a disturbing ambiguity to the film.
One thing that is really irritating is how misleading the previews are. Even after the release they seem to include statements that are not in the movie. Before the release the previews included clips that wound up on the cutting room floor. Misdirection previews are fine but lord; I hate the ones that include cut footage.