There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
That is the beginning of the children’s nursery rhyme that paves way for a frightening appearance from “The Crooked Man” in James Wan’s The Conjuring 2. Impossibly thin and unnaturally inhuman, the Slender Man-esque Crooked Man is the stuff of nightmares, and while many have praised the genuinely terrifying design of the character, others have criticized Wan for bringing a computer-generated villain to the screen. CGI is enemy number one to the horror fan, and especially since Wan had previously shied away from utilizing the modern technology in a noticeable way, it was indeed somewhat jarring to see him put it to use in the ’70s-set sequel.
Right? Wrong. Because Crooked Man was played by a real man. His name is Javier Botet, and this isn’t the first time us horror fans have mistaken his work for the work of digital effects artists.
“I’ve seen a few critics refer to a Conjuring 2 character as CGI or stop-motion,” Wan tweeted out this week, “but is in fact played by the incredible, and very real, Javier Botet. [He] creates amazing movements with his body. Like a living, jittery, stop-motion puppet. All done in-camera.”
Born on July 30th, 1977 in Cuidad Real, Spain, Javier Botet suffers from Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that is characterized by tall statures, slender frames, and elongated limbs and digits. Measuring 6-feet, 7-inches tall and weighing just over 100-pounds, the double-jointed actor has used his condition to become a bona fide icon in the horror genre, responsible for more nightmares in recent years than any other actor who has attempted to, well, give us nightmares.
It was back in 2007 that Botet played Nina Medeiros in the Spanish found footage film [REC], showing up at the end of the movie for an appearance that may have been brief but nevertheless resulted in one of the most frightening scenes in the past decade. The mere sight of a fully exposed Botet, bathed only in the green glow of a night-vision camera, was enough to send chills up the spine and solidify [REC] as one of the scariest horror films in recent years. It’s a role nobody but Botet could’ve possibly played, and the same can be said for his subsequent roles within the horror genre – all of which, we have no doubt, have resulted in you losing some sleep.
Javier Botet was made the star of the show in 2013’s Mama, filling the titular role of an aggrieved mother who died many years prior. Like The Conjuring 2, the Andres Muschietti-directed Mama was criticized for its computer-generated villain, though fans familiar with Botet recognized that he was the man underneath the mask. And while digital effects were no doubt utilized to add little bells and whistles to the character, including her flowing hair, it was mostly Botet’s performance that made it onto the screen – for proof, you’ll find a super creepy movement test below.
Just last year, Guillermo del Toro took to social media to let the world know that the visually stunning ghosts in Crimson Peak were played by actors who were enhanced with CGI, contrary to popular belief, and you’ve probably gathered by now that it was once again Javier Botet who was responsible for much of the confusion. Botet played the ghosts of Enola, Margaret, and Pamela.
More recently, Botet’s one-of-a-kind work was seen in this year’s The Other Side of the Door, an otherwise unremarkable film that is highlighted by his performance as the four-armed creature known as Myrtu. For whatever reason, the character is mostly kept off screen and hidden with quick cuts, but nothing about the movie shines brighter than Botet’s contribution to it.
Check out some of Botet’s creatures below, along with the aforementioned Mama screen test!