Instant Picks of the Week 6/30/17
Gone are the days of scrolling mindlessly through your queue! No longer will you have to sift through the vastness of what’s coming to the instant viewing wastelands this month! Whether you’re looking for a stellar film or an exciting new show to binge, Instant Picks of the Week brings you the hottest releases in film and television on instant viewing platforms that we know you’ll love, or at the very least not despise.
THE CONJURING (HBO GO)
Certainly not the horror film that “started it all,” but it just might have been the one that saved “it”! I will forever be grateful that THE CONJURING exists, because for my money, it set off a new epoch in horror history. Although there are a handful of aughts gems that deserve to be rescued from the phoned-in, washed-out dreck that was popular at the time (HOUSE OF WAX, anyone?), it was certainly looking like major studios had no more business making high-budget horror after a decade of failed East Asian remakes and the rise of indie titan Blumhouse. Enter James Wan and THE CONJURING, which effectively shut up virtually all genre naysayers. A horror film with scope, stellar acting, and emotional turmoil that perfectly complemented the physical threats, this felt like one of those parameter-transcending entries that could reach across all boundaries of taste and preference (an essay I’ll never write would compare this to what Deafheaven’s SUNBATHER did for metal). Tension was continually present and developed without ever hitting a plateau, and we actually managed to give a shit about all of the characters that were introduced to us, with an antagonizing spirit that was justified in its actions, if not necessarily sympathetic. Alright, I guess the Annabelle stuff wasn’t really tied in all that well, but who cares? I still can’t get through that opening sequence with my eyes open the entire time. [Thomas Seraydarian]
THE CONJURING 2 (HBO GO)
As a horror fan, one should feel obliged to champion James Wan. In a genre so dominated by cash grabs and throwaway genre fare, Wan has made a mark for himself as someone who has avoided gimmickry. With SAW he ushered in an entire subgenre that completely missed the point of his brilliant original, and with THE CONJURING, he reminded us just how potent a polished haunted house film can be. So when I heard that Wan was taking on a sequel, I was more than curious. If ANNABELLE was anything to go by, THE CONJURING 2 would be a complete waste of time. But James Wan expanded the emotional arc of his two fantastic leads, played with two disparate narratives in a surprisingly subversive way, and brought us one of the most horrifying demons of the 2010s. THE CONJURING 2 is a horror epic, one whose monolithic narrative and clever puzzle-solving made for some of the best ghost hunting in years. [Sergio Zaciu]