POPCORN: Dude, I just saw a ghost.

CINEMA: In the bathroom???

POPCORN: Yeah. Like, someone was peeing in one-a the other stalls. But when I walked out and looked . . . there weren’t any feet on the floor.

CINEMA: Then you didn’t really see a ghost at all.

POPCORN: No, but I totally heard it.

CINEMA: Huh. Well, the rumors must be true then.

POPCORN: What rumors?

CINEMA: Not everyone knows this, but if you talk to some of the old-timers they’ll tell you. There was a man long ago who came to this theater every week. He never saw a movie without a huge bucket of corn and a large Coke. They say it was the kidney stone that killed him . . . the damn thing must have weighed eight pounds . . . and he died right there in one of the stalls, trying to pass that hellish thing . . .


CINEMA: They call him . . . the Piss Ghost of Pea Patch. (raucous laughter)

POPCORN: You’re so not even funny.

CINEMA: Are you sure you can see Annabelle Comes Home? You’re not going to want me to hold your hand, are you? Maybe we should check out the new Toy Story instead . . .

POPCORN: You can suck it, pal.

POPCORN: Tell me that didn’t creep you out, man.

CINEMA: Eh, it had moments. So I should admit . . . I’ve been rather underwhelmed by anything in the Conjuring universe that isn’t one of the proper Conjuring films.

POPCORN: Really? Cuz they totally have all that quality you’re always goin’ on about. Like, empty space on the screen where stuff can hide. That, and, like, atmosphere.

CINEMA: Oh yeah, there’s atmosphere in abundance here. Some of the early reviews talked a lot about this being one of those slow burn kind of horror movies, which gave me higher expectations than I’d had for, say, The Nun. But then it ultimately started throwing everything at us anyway, from figures lurking in the background to jump scares –

POPCORN: Like, that look-away-then-look-back-a-couple-times trick.

CINEMA: – which has become a kind of cliche –

POPCORN: Cuz it still makes us jump, dude.

CINEMA: Of course it does, but it’s like the meowing-cat-tossed-through-a-window bit from the ’80s. How many times are we going to see this before no one jumps at all?

POPCORN: I dunno, man. Those meowing cats still get me.

CINEMA: I will say that having Ed and Lorraine Warren appear in this one – a kind of prequel of sorts to the first Conjuring – elevated it a bit from the other Annabelle films. But then, when each of the four main characters was stuck in their own particular scenario, it started to feel like too much. For me it was less about the atmosphere then, becoming more like a kind of disjointed funhouse.

POPCORN: No way, dude. It was like . . . you had the Avengers movies, right? It’s like those were the ones everybody was waiting for. But then you had to sit through a couple Captain Americas – and maybe, like, a Thor – but then there was Captain America: Civil War, and that was pretty much an Avengers movie. This was like Civil War.

CINEMA: Hey, that second Captain America was solid, and every one of those was better than any Conjuring movie that wasn’t The Conjuring. But I will say that, even with its flaws – mostly of the cliche variety – this non-Conjuring movie came the closest to being like one of the Conjuring movies. Take that however you will, but there is a compliment in there somewhere.

POPCORN: But it creeped you out, right?

CINEMA: I just told you –

POPCORN: Not the movie, dude. The old dude in black sitting behind us.

CINEMA: Seriously, that’s it. No more ghost movies for you. We go through this every time now . . .

Popcorn and Cinema have just passed the bathroom. They are the last patrons to leave the theater for the evening. From the doorway, propped open for its nightly cleaning, comes the voice of an employee of the Pea Patch Theater: Dammit, boss, we got another one of them. Damn thing looks just like a rock.      

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