James Wan, by directing the first SAW film (and executive producing the rest) has possibly done more than anyone in creating the recent wave of sadistic, ultra-violent horror movies (I resist the words "torture porn" because it presupposes no other possible value in such movies, and I don't believe that). So it's interesting and refreshing to see him dive into a PG-13, rather classically composed horror film. No blood here, but he continues to show mastery of creepy visuals (I always thought the Jigsaw puppet in SAW was more moving than the elaborate, bloody traps).
A young boy slips into a coma for no discernible medical reason, devastating his family. And that leads into a plot involving ghosts, demons, and astral projections. And that lets Wan show off some nice visuals, and shows how some of the simplest effects can be the most effective. The guy pacing outside the window only to walk off screen and pace back on screen inside the room is more effective than the red-faced demon, no matter how easy it is to realize how they did it.
It also shows silly, laughable, ineffective moments that pull me right out of the movie. The acting just isn't that good, but I think the worst offense is a blackboard with the name James Wan written on it and a doodle of the SAW Jigsaw puppet head. I can't imagine this scene is intended to do anything other than pull you out of the movie and say, "hey, remember this is directed by James Wan! Remember this other, completely different movie he directed/franchise he launched?" It would be so easy to rip this movie apart at Bad Movie Night.
So I ended up not really knowing if I really liked it or not, but I am convinced that Wan is a more interesting director than I gave him credit for, and I should pay more attention to his work in the future.
Running Time: 103 minutes
My Total Minutes: 231,636