I’m not a horror movie person. But I grew up when movies like Dracula: 2000, Valentine, and Halloween H20 were coming out. Not to put down any of those–they were among the better ones at the time (plus they’ve got some super people in them)–but compared to a “real” horror movie, they were a little subpar. They weren’t that scary, they weren’t that suspenseful, and two of them were sequels. (Bane of the horror genre in my opinion–e.g. a 7th Nightmare on Elm Street, and then Freddy Vs. Jason? Plus a revamp from the beginning? Come on. When are these motherfuckers going to die, for real?)
But, The Conjuring is absolutely nothing like those. It’s a ghost story. A real one. While zombies and vampires are all good horror movie fodder, ghosts hit closer to home. People believe in ghosts. People have experienced unexplainable phenomena best described as hauntings. And this movie packs a dose of fright and suspense, while keeping the unnecessary gore and pretty naked people out of it (another bane of the genre.)
The funny thing is: I love horror and ghost STORIES, though I’ve never been a big fan of the movies made out of them. Since this movie is based on a true occurrence, it was easy for me to get into. Plus, I can’t say no to Patrick Wilson, let alone Vera Farmiga. These are two top-notch actors still proving their caliber to the Hollywood heavyweights, but I was sold years ago. (And Patrick Wilson, with dark hair and sideburns? Cherry on the sundae 🙂
The story centers around two families, the Warrens and the Perrons. The Perrons (Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor, and their five daughters) are being haunted in their new house by some pretty vicious spirits, but they don’t realize just how deep the horror goes until Ed and Lorraine arrive and appraise their situation.
Lorraine is a psychic, of sorts, attuned to paranormal activity and presences more than the average person, and Ed is the “researcher”, who has studied and pursued these types of cases for years, with his wife alongside him. Because of a recent incident in which Lorraine saw something from the “other side” that affected her more deeply than ever before, Ed has become rather protective of her, but she feels a sense of duty to help people as only she and Ed can.
The house, at first, seems creepy, but not exactly dangerous. Clocks stop at the same time every night, doors creak, photo frames fall off the walls. But the spirits become more and more active and more and more violent the longer the Perrons stay in the house. They grab ankles in the middle of the night, they show their faces in mirrors, and they’ve developed a fixation on Carolyn, the mother, as a mode of perpetrating their intentions.
Once the Warrens look into the history of the house and the land, they discover layers upon layers of occurrences, years of built-up evil and ugliness that has happened at the house and in the surrounding area, which was once all part of a large property dating back to early settlement in America. It comes down to a showdown between the witch that started it all and Roger and Carolyn Perron and the Warrens, who now have to perform an (unauthorized) exorcism to save Carolyn and her children.
What I Loved
Despite my attitude toward the genre, I’m a really awesome person to go to horror movies with. I will be gasping, gaping, and jumping out of my skin at all the right moments, and if you’re not scared, you’ll at least get to enjoy watching me freak the fuck out at everything. This movie had me on the edge of my seat, hand covering my open mouth, pretty much the entire way through.
Like I said, very little gore, nothing too predictable (e.g. black character/slutty girl dies first, etc.), and really terrifying. I think what was most unnerving was that there were SO DAMN MANY of them! This is hundreds of years of terror amassed into one area: hangings, drownings, suicides, dead children, murder, and none of the dead have moved on. (Seriously, I’m getting goosebumps just writing about it!) It was clear how the story would culminate (possession/exorcism), but it still kept me on edge until the end.
Many props and kudos must be given to the director, James Wan (Insidious, Saw). He did an excellent job of playing up the suspense and keeping the cliches and cheap tricks to a minimum. It’s not easy making a horror movie like that these days–everybody wants to see blood–but he did it and did it well. I was constantly reminded of Insidious sitting through The Conjuring, knowing the director was the same for both, but the level of suspense and fear was comparable. And, of course, awesome job by the actors. It’s not easy screaming your head off and appearing to be truly afraid when there’s nothing actually there to react to, and both the adults and the children did it perfectly.
If you haven’t been scared in a while, even if you don’t like horror movies, I think you’ll like this one. It’s good to get that adrenaline pumping, and it’s good to be scared, though preferably by a movie or a book than by something in real life.
Since I haven’t been posting much, I thought I’d throw this one in. (Also since it’s semi-related, same director/genre.) Insidious Chapter 2 comes out in September, and a friend of mine passed this one along a couple weeks ago. It’s pretty creepy, but it leaves me with more questions than answers. Maybe that’s a good thing…
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