July 18, 2013 \ Movies \ 0 Comments
As I was watching THE CONJURING I was reminded of this classic quote by Eddie Murphy “Why don't white people just leave the house when there's a ghost in the house? Y'all stay in the house too long. Get the ___out of the house! Very simple: If there's a ghost in the house, get the __ out! And not only did they stay in the house they invite more people over!” It’s a classic stereotype regarding horror movies and this very much applies to THE CONJURING. Part POLTERGEIST, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and The AMITYVILLE HORROR this film is the best “bitch don’t go down there” movie I have seen in a while.
The film opens in 1968 with three female roommates telling their story of a doll named Annabelle who they believe is possessed by an evil spirit. The film wastes no time at building suspense and successfully sets the tone for the remaining of the film. As always I won’t get into specifics but let’s just say you will never hear the phrase “miss me” quite the same. During this open sequence we are also introduced to paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren portrayed by Patrick Wilson and the always terrific Vera Farmiga. The Warrens will come more into play later in the story.
The story shifts to 1971 where we are introduced to the Perron family, husband and wife Carolyn and Roger (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) and their five daughters. We meet them as they are moving into their “new” fixer upper located near a lake seemingly in the middle of nowhere and they appear to have no neighbors. There is an early indication that all is not right in the house when the family dog Sadie refuses to go into the house. Of course it is not obvious why she does not want to go in but it is a nice touch. With these types of movies you get the scenes where the family is touring the house for the first time, the kids are picking their rooms etc. Then there comes the discovery of the “creepy basement/cellar” of which everything is covered in dust and spider webs and of course the dad warns all don’t go down there until he can clean it up. Soon creepy things begin to happen and Carolyn solicits the help of Ed and Lorraine to investigate the strange goings on at the house. I will not dare reveal anything as it will spoil the fun of seeing the film.
One of the strengths of the film is the fact that it is set in the 70’s which of course was a time before cell phones, the internet and the 24 hour news cycle. This was also a time when these types of occurrences would have been viewed as believable rather than being met with a level of skepticism. If the characters believe what is happening to them then in effect the audience will believe it as well. The director of the film James Wan, writer/director of the original SAW and director of the underrated DEATH SENTENCE, does a fantastic job of building tension by using silence rather than music cues to tell the audience to be scared. Most horror films try to manipulate their audience into being scared rather than actually earning the scares. For example let’s say you are home alone and you hear a strange noise and you decide to investigate the sound of the same sound. Is there a “soundtrack” that plays as you walk? No of course not. Wan seems to understand that and every scare that occurs in this film is earned. Strength of the film is that it is virtually bloodless. For some reason contemporary horror/thriller directors seem to think that gore equals scary but at those are two different things. Most horror films are not scary they are just gross-out fest with each film trying to out gross the other. I was pleasantly surprised that this film was not just wall-to-wall gore like the EVIL DEAD remake was. But just to be clear this film is not a horror movie but more of a supernatural thriller.
Overall I enjoyed THE CONJURING for what it was and at just under two hours it is a suspenseful ride for the majority of the time. There aren’t any slow parts with the plot taking it’s time to get to the conclusion. The film is a classic “haunted house” movie and does not rely on CGI and gore to get it scares. The preview audience I saw the film with seemed to have a good time and screamed at the appropriate moments and yes talked to the screen at the appropriate moments as well. So if you are looking for a very good thriller which genuine scares that will not gross you out, see this film. And I dare you not to say “bitch do not go down there!”
Although the film is rated R, I feel that the film is appropriate for older teens say 14 or above. There is zero sex and nudity and virtual no blood. It would basically be up to the parent to determine the level of scares you think they can handle. Yes it’s scary but it also a lot of “fun”. My advice use caution.