July 30, 2013

The Conjuring (2013)

(aka James Wan Does it Again.)
Release Date: In Theaters now.
Country: USA.
Written by: Chad and Carey Hayes.
Directed by: James Wan.
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick WIlson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston and an incredibly creepy doll named Annabelle.

We wanted to have this review up the weekend of the 19th; you know, when The Conjuring actually opened, but someone amongst us dragged their feet and made us wait... All I'm going to say is that she think she cute, but making us wait an extra week to see this movie is not cute. Alright, maybe It's kinda cute, but not like, totally cute.

Anywho, it wasn't our fault.

The Conjuring tells one of the many stories of Ed and Lorraine Warren; you know, the infamous ghost-busting couple who were involved with the real life Amityville Horror case. Many have since claimed the whole Amityville Haunting thing to be a hoax, siting that eyewitness accounts and forensic evidence just don't back up the claims of the Warren's or the Lutz family, for that matter.

True, not true, the Warren's efforts have at the very least given us some entertaining films over the years, both with the Amityville flicks, and the endless number of Haunting flicks that they inspired, which let's face it, are nearly endless.

Now it's James Wan's turn to give us a brand spanking new tale of haunting fright from the Warren's case files, and let me tell you that with The Conjuring, the guy has made a film that is every bit as compelling as The Amityville Horror.

 
In 1971, the Perron family moves into a creepy old farmhouse in Rhode Island, apparently to live the middle class dream of the 70's. Right away we truly feel a sense of terror for the Husband, because he's living in a house with a wife and five young daughters... which means he's pretty much never going to get his way or win an argument. Poor bastard.

We couldn't help but feel bad for the poor kids either...
There's also a bunch of ghosts living in the house with them, worst amongst them a particularly pissed off ghost of a Witch (Bathsheba) who long ago killed herself for the greater glory of Satan... and that bitch right there is still trying to kill a bunch of kids to appease her dark Lord's will. I didn't know that Witches were into Satan, but, whatever.

"There are Witch feet behind me, aren't there?"
With more and more creepy shit happening to the Perron clan, they seek out the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren, because in the 70's there weren't a lot of people to turn to when ghosts were trying to kill your family. The Warren's agree to help the Perron's, and it's not long before all of them look like they're going to end up dead, because Bathsheba is a vindictive bitch.

Ssh, ssh. Just let it happen.
 
James Wan knows how to make an effective Horror movie, and right now he's doing it better than just about anyone else in the genre. The Conjuring isn't perfect, nor does it in anyway feel original, but that doesn't mean that it's not compelling as hell, and that it doesn't deliver the goods on just about every level.

This is nowhere near the scariest movie I've ever seen (could be because I'm a bit desensitized to it all at this point), but it does create a tense atmosphere and delivers some pretty good scares throughout. The sound editing plays a big part in said atmosphere and scare factor, as the movie knows exactly when to be loud or dead silent.

The main reason that The Conjuring works though, is because the of the story; the characters are really likable and the actors bring them to life in such a way that you can't help but become invested in them. It also helps that the story that they inhabit is a strong one too. Not once do James Wan or his writers condescend to their audience, and give them some half-assed jump scare bullshit that is so prevalent in Horror flicks these days, nor does the movie's plot ever feel forced for the sake of pulling off more gags.

This is just a great Haunted House flick, period. James Wan has a knack for creating films with a great and believable atmosphere, and The Conjuring might just be his greatest Horror offering yet.

That creepy 'effing doll!
I wish I could wholeheartedly believe that everything Ed and Lorraine Warren claim to be true, actually happened. As a lover of all things Horror, I do my best to shut of my brain and just accept it all as "shit that really happened," because it just makes for a more fun movie watching experience. The logical part of me however just can't come to grips with the idea that things like this happen, and happen as frequently as these "based on a true story" movies would have you believe.

Then again I don't believe in Vampires exist, or that Zombies are ever going to rise from the grave and eat humanity to extinction, but I absolutely buy into both concepts, so I digress.

These people are way too good looking to be ghost nerds.
 I've seen some reviews of The Conjuring, both "Professional" and by moviegoers, that say things like "this movie offers us nothing new" or "It's no scarier than a Scooby Doo cartoon" and it vexes me.

Now, I'm all for opinion. Everyone has one, and they tend to differ wildly on most occasions. For an average movie fan to say something like "I've seen it done before" or "It wasn't even scary at all" is fine, because maybe they just didn't like it, or feel it. Not everyone is going to like everything. Fine.

For "Professional" reviewers though, that shit is inexcusable. If you're a pro, you have to know already that there are few totally fresh ideas on old themes that ever make it to film form anymore, simply because so many have already been explored, most of them ad-nasuem. Furthermore, if you're going to review a Horror movie on your site (or wherever), then have someone who actually likes the genre do the review for you; not so that they're kinder to the movie, but so that you readers can read a review that comes from someone who has a respect for the genre, which will actually make the review more honest. I'm not interested in hearing what a vegetarian thinks about the new steak place down the street, because they don't like fucking steak to begin with, so why would I care what they have to say about it?

The negative reviews of The Conjuring that I've seen all feel to me like they were written by people who think Horror is the bastard genre of the film world (which it kinda is), and that they were just not all that enthused about it from the get go. I can completely understand that. You don't see me running around reviewing Adam Sandler flicks, because as unfunny as that guy is, my review would mostly consist of me taking a shit on my keyboard, and little else. What I'm saying is, I'm not the guy to be reviewing his flicks, or other cheap, shitty, unoriginal comedies like them, because I'm already set up to hate them (because I really don't like shitty movies.)

I could be way off base here (I'm not), but this is just something that rubs me the wrong way.

There are more dead birds and bruises in this movie than there is bloodshed, but that's not to say that there isn't plenty of disturbing imagery to be had here. It's just not a gore-fest, that's all.

No, and we can understand why, but what a waste of Vera Farmiga's hotness. I mean, at least show her butt in a thong, or something, you know?

You don't need me to tell you to go see this, but I will anyhow: Go see it.

If you like a good Haunted House flick, it doesn't get much better than this. Tight direction, a near perfect sound mix, gorgeous cinematography, top notch acting from all involved, and a pretty compelling story, The Conjuring is an all around great movie that uses every bit of its near two-hour running time to great effect.

Oh, and let us not forget about the doll. Annabelle is a thing of creepy perfection, and will pretty much haunt your dreams forever. Especially if you're a girl, small child, or a very timid man.

A

We're not saying that Vera Farmiga is a dirty whore or anything, we're just saying that some people* out there wish she was, because, yum. *Not us though, we're too classy for that.

5 comments :

  1. the conjuring is my favorite so far this year -
    its hard to believe october is only 2 mos away...thats when all the movies come out for our fave genre , and its important this movie did not get dilluted in that slew of flicks that for the most part are garbage.

    great review M'hael

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  2. Yeah turns out the hype was real...I thought it was fantastic.

    **SPOILERS**
    I'm pretty desensitised to horror movies (though still love them) but that first jump scare when you actually get a first glimpse of her on top of the wardrobe was god tier!! rattled me!

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  3. I really didn't understand all the hype about this movie. Honestly It didn't scare me for a minute. I felt the premise was downright ridiculous. The way they explain concepts of posession, spirits and other stuff is completely bullshit for someone who actually has (even overheard) something about demonic posession from a real priest or demonologist standpoint. It was a ghost of a witch? or a demonic posession? they should really get their shit together before making a movie. I mean, they actually want us to believe it was a real case? they should at least TRY to do some research on the spiritual concepts that are going to be used to convince us that the premise is real.

    The idea of a hyper sensitive to the paranormal character is not something new, but it's done in such a "The 6th sense" that completely lacks originality.

    Most of the movie was formulaic and some of the key concepts were executed just ok, but with such a poor narrative there was not a real reason to have any interest in what the hell was going on on the goddamned house.

    From my point of view, watching this movie was a waste of money.

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  4. The lame thing about this movie is that damn near EVERY cliche is in it, to the point of feeling like it's not even James Wan's movie...

    -Little kid that can see/wants to play with ghosts: Check
    -Innocent ghost that wants to help: Check
    -Creepy old lady with bloody face: Check
    -Haphazard Exorcism: Check
    -Family pet (usually dog) that sense ghosts/gets killed: Check
    -Psychic chick: Check
    -Crappy cop: Check
    -Creepy doll: Check
    -Haunted items: Check

    The list goes on, it was cliche after cliche, over-hyped and totally generic. It had a decent atmosphere and COULD have been awesome if anything at all about it was even remotely unique; it's not that there are few new ideas in horror, it's that there wasn't a single new idea at all in this one. Even simply removing some elements, like the freaking ghost-seeing kid that "wants to play with her new friend" (rolls eyes) would have helped it.

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  5. A horror movie containing cliches is near impossible to avoid. What makes a horror movie good or bad is how you're USING these cliches. The Conjuring can be seen as a "typical" ghost story set in a mansion, but I think they're using effects, sounds, shadows and subtle details with perfection. Not to mention the doll... she freaks me out!

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