The Crooked Man from James Wan’s “The Conjuring 2” is one of several unsettling horror creatures that carry themselves in such a spooky way that viewers mistake them for being entirely CGI. Mama from Andr s Muschietti’s 2013 horror film of the same name and the three wife-ghosts in Guillermo del Toro’s “Crimson Peak,” all of whom were all played by the towering Javier Botet, are among that spooky group (partially responsible for one of thescariestfound footage scares). The Spanish actor’s next project is playing Dracula in a new Andr vredal film, a casting decision that suggests this iteration of the Count will have a gaunt, Nosferatu-like appearance.
The 6 7 Botet can move as smoothly or jerkily as he pleases, whether he is emerging from a children’s fort or the family dog in Animorphs fashion; it’s all nightmare material.
The Crooked Man, one of the demon Valak’s many terrorising instruments, terrorises a family in “The Conjuring 2” just like it did in the first film. The creature, sporting a vicious Cheshire grin and beady black eyes peering out from his altered hat, is dressed in a red pinstriped suit suited to his extended limbs and lean frame. He occasionally riles himself up with a twisted version of a nursery rhyme:
There was a crooked man … and he walked a crooked mile / The crooked man stepped forth and … rang the crooked bell / And thus his crooked soul … spiraled into a crooked hell/ Murdered his crooked family … and laughed a crooked laugh.
The spindly manifestation, who would target parents, children, and adult sceptics alike, inspired interest in aspinoff following the movie’s premiere. It took a while, though, for me to notice his crooked appearance.
Jared Krichevsky has such sights to show you
Jared Krichevsky, the artist and co-creator of Crooked Man (together with James Wan), published photographs of various alternate designs with both significant and subtle changes on his blog. Another design features a toothy, pitted (hatless) dome that resembles something out of a Tool music video, while the first design features a bent hat as opposed to the rounder bowler featured in the final edition. Many more C-Men had twisted, mangled fingernails that won’t even grow or curl in on themselves, at least not like post-mortem nails would for a human.
The Crooked Man as depicted by Krichevsky is particularly intriguing; a humanoid form covered in muscle-deep slashes, it is reminiscent of the scarred and bloodied Centaurs from “Hellraiser” A Crooked Man covered with geometric lacerations suggests a cruel power far scarier than a hubristic surgeon or a cannibal Texan, avoiding the stitches and artificial cosmetics that make Frankenstein’s creation and Leatherfaces so terrifying.
The CG designer praised his collaborator’s inventiveness on his blog:
“‘Conjuring 2’ was a great pleasure to work on and I love the way he turned out in the movie as well. As a huge fan of his work I really learned a lot in getting notes from Director James Wan, he really enjoyed the exploration process and was open to letting the character evolve.”
As much as anyone, Krichevsky “hopes” to see a Crooked Man spinoff, it should be stressed. If the movie ever takes off again, hopefully he’ll be hired to design the creatures.
When Botet is behind the makeup, everyone wins
The vast selection of alternative designs offered by Krichevsky demonstrates a number of unsettling, uncanny pressure points to incite dread in moviegoers. In every iteration of Valek’s skinniest form, the almost universal discomforts with too-wide grins, too-small eyes, and too many teeth find purchase. However, none of the options are too challenging for a performer of Javier Botet’s ability, whether the creature has missing facial features, strange skin textures, or harmed flesh.
The “Man Behind Hollywood’s Monsters,” as Botet is known, has an impressive background in monster movies. He’s the actor everyone has seen but didn’t realise it because of all the prosthetics and fx makeup, from playing a viscous leper in Andr s Muschietti’s “It” to the toe-less ghoul in Andr vredal’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series (where he played a wight in “The Long Night” episode from season 8). Or worse, it’s claimed that he is entirely computer generated.
While the Crooked Man spinoff is still in the planning stages, fans can re-read “Dracula,” just the “Captain’s Log” chapter for this adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 novel, and anticipate seeing Botet destroy a ship of doomed mortals when “The Last Voyage of the Demeter,” currently in post-production and Botet’s second collaboration with vredal, releases in August of 2023.