THE CONJURED aka ADALINE (2015)
Starring Jill Evyn, Lane Townsend and Jeremy Walker
Written & Directed by Bidisha Chowdhury
Out on UK DVD October 10th from High Fliers Films
“Adaline’s terrifying visions bleed through from the past and become Daniela’s present day nightmare”.
Daniella is your typical starving artist living in the city. Talented but not yet appreciated, she is a good soul who deserves a break. And she thinks that break has come when she inherits a large estate from her aunt out in the country. But as she struggles to settle in, she stumbles on the houses gruesome past, and soon learns that history has a way of repeating itself.
Although the setup is familiar, it’s familiar for a reason. Lots of haunted house films follow the same central conceit but they are still successful because the filmmaking is skilled, but unfortunately that’s not the case for Adaline.
It’s a very pretty film on the surface, with lots of showy shots of the city and the country and very well-composed framing of the house and characters but my god it’s boring. And while the reasons are many, the main culprit is the script. I lost count of how many random, overlong scenes of chitter-chatter there was here.
In the opening ten minutes we have not one but two scenes of Daniela chatting with her friend, and both scenes completely lack drama or conflict in any way shape or form. It’s a real slog and proof that the old, basic screen writing rules really are true. But all this could have been edited out if writer and director Chowdhury had been more disciplined. As it is, the film feels stale and unengaging, full of filler.
The performances are also a mixed bag, but when the scenes are filled with so many awkward gaps in conversation that could easily have been cut out in post, again, it’s more the filmmakers issue. As the clichéd sexually confident and adventurous best friend, Emma Claeys struggles with the inane dialogue, her character just there to show how quiet and lovely Daniela is. As Daniela, Jill Evyn does very well with the material she is given, but deserve better.
And then there is the flashback scenes. Daniela finds a diary in the spooky old house, which tells a tale of murder and betrayal. But the visualisation of it is laughable. It feels like you’re on the set of one of those hammy murder mystery tours, with cheap consumes and over the top acting.
But the main issue I had with Adaline was the ridiculously offensive disabled character Marvin (Jeremy Walker). His inclusion in the story is as mystifying as the insensitive way the character is written and portrayed.
On a technical note, aside from the editing in the dramatic scenes, Adaline is just fine. Chowdhury has a good eye and goes for the more M. Night approach, lots of steady wide shots and patience. The house itself is beautiful and we get to see lots of it, and the ending does jump up the pace a bit even if it did raise more questions than answers for me.
But Adaline is too bland and unengaging for me to truly recommend. Not campy enough for a fun Friday night in, it’s just a bit dull.