There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
An English nursery rhyme. Many will be familiar with it turning up in horror during a section of The Conjuring 2. Few would know that it’s already made an appearance outside that universe. Similar in the way we already had a ghostly Nun horror in 2005 way before we got The Nun in 2018.
The Crooked Man was released in 2016 and is every bit a TV movie as you might expect. Both in storytelling, acting and visual quality. Now that might make you think it’s not worth checking out but you might be surprised by certain elements.
The movie opens at Olivia’s slumber party where they are trying to frighten each other. One comes up with the suggestion that they try to summon the Crooked Man which involves singing a song while a music box plays. All done by the power of the internet!
That night he comes, kills one of the girls and Olivia is blamed. She spends the next 6 years in an institution and upon release returns to her hometown with her father. Many of the townspeople believe she killed her friend all those years ago so it is not a happy homecoming for her, now played by Angelique Rivera.
A bit of name calling and graffiti is the least of her problems as it turns out what she summoned all those years before has returned. Once you sing the song, everyone involved is cursed to die by the hands of the Crooked Man.
The expectation of cheapness is never really realised and that’s worthy of credit. The first half builds some atmosphere, makes the malevolent being somewhat spooky and builds the character of Olivia well. It could be dull, seeing as the story is cookie-cutter paranormal fodder but it isn’t. At least at first.
Where The Crooked Man begins to fall apart is in its second half where it begins to lose focus, becomes disjointed and relies on cheap jump scares. Plot strands are left loose to flap in the wind, often picked up then dropped before they can tie into something important. This happens time and time again up until we reach a wholly unsatisfying ending.
A bit more consistency would have really made the difference here. On the whole, it’s got things going for it and that can be appreciated but it ends up leaving you with a bad taste in the mouth.
The Crooked Man