Conjuring 2 at a Hyderabadi Single Screen.

It was five minutes past ten and we were nowhere near the theatre. The movie was scheduled to begin at 9:45. “Probably they are still showing ads,” one of my cousins said hopefully. “Yeah, right.” I thought. This wasn’t Chennai where you could breeze into PVR thirty minutes late and still be in time to catch a couple of those propaganda ads for the CM.

Cousins’ night out. First get together. Second show movie. Conjuring 2!

It sounded brilliant on paper. Just like the Deccan Chargers team before the first season of IPL. You only had to wait for the tournament to kick off to discover what a disaster it was. So when a group of eight plans something as simple as watching a movie in a theatre, you learn why some countries aren’t such big fans of democracy.

It was a Sunday and all the multiplexes in Hyderabad were booked. The only viable option was a single screen near BHEL; twenty minutes away from our house and we were twenty minutes late!!! Go figure.

By the time we entered the hall, a ghost was already tormenting one of the kids. Damn! We had missed the initial faux-scares inherent in all horror movies where you hear a loud bang and it turns out that somebody just sneezed or something. And since I am no Woody Allen, I didn’t stomp out of the hall for missing nearly a quarter of the movie. I did the right thing and stayed back. It proved to be quite an education.

James Wan certainly didn’t have a Hyderabadi audience in mind when he made the movie. The hall was a riot during the first half. You could hear laughter break out when it was least expected. Any stand up comedian would have killed for such an audience.

The scene where the devil reveals its name to Vera Farmiga was quite frightening but guys were rolling around in their seats and the in-house comedian commented on the terrible state of the ghost’s teeth, advising it to make an appointment with a dentist.

Another thing that surprised me was that people were having conversations with each other across the hall. When the ghostly nun appears for the first time, one guy from the front end of the hall shouted, “Damn, this ghost looks really scary!” And pat came a reply from the other end of the hall: “Yeah, it looks like your WhatsApp DP.”

Another guy probably forgot that no matter how much you shout at the characters on the screen, they can’t hear you. He went on for a full five minutes cursing the little girl who tied her hand to the cot so she wouldn’t sleepwalk again. “Why do you even bother, girl. You know you are going to sleepwalk again.”

Lights were switched on at the randomly placed interval and I finally got a chance to find out who the fanatic screentalkers were. Engineering students…obviously. They probably got a night out pass from their hostel and were making the most of it.

Post interval, the movie played out quite quickly. A couple of good scares, a terrifying climax followed by an obligatory romantic kiss, and the movie ended. Lights came back to life and everyone started to shuffle towards the exits and for once, I witnessed the entire audience stop in its tracks to wait for the credits to roll out. There wasn’t a standing ovation or anything. It was simply because the credits were accompanied by the traditional real life vs. actors photographs that feature at the end of any movie based on real life incidents.

This doesn’t prove anything, except that the movie held its own as a horror flick. If the film sucked, people wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass how the real Ed and Lorraine Warren looked. They would be racing each other to the parking lot, cursing the fucking ghost for being such a douche bag. ¬†Apart from a few guys who acted macho and looked around with bored eyes like they tackled psychotic ghosts daily at lunch, most of us were visibly relieved that the movie had ended with the protagonists alive and ready to tackle another bad-ass ghost next year.

Okay, it didn’t have the best plot and the evil ghost’s destruction was a bit anti-climatic (It isn’t a spoiler…did you really expect the ghost to win in the end). But hey, this is a genre movie and it provides the thrills to justify the ticket price (Unless you live in Bangalore and pay 500 for a single ticket).

As we drove away, I realized something. The hall was completely silent during the final half hour of the movie. No sarcastic comments or loud laughter or talking to the screen.

James Wan had succeeded in conjuring the toughest audience. And though I hate to admit it, I was a wee bit thankful for the running commentary that accompanied the scares during the first half of the movie.

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