[FILM] The Conjuring

I will begin this review by stating that I am no Horror Movie Maven. I’m easily frightened and I will jump and squeal like a scalded cat should someone jump out at me from behind a door. Even if I know that person is there. I’m a wimp. I recall one night watching the Director’s Cut of The Exorcist in my bedroom. When I finally managed to fall into a fitful sleep afterwards the television inexplicably turned itself back on, showing only static, which instantly woke me up. I ejected the disc from my PS2 (this was a while ago), put it back into its box and deposited it on the top stair of the landing. Don’t ask what my logic behind this was, but I had to get the DVD out of my room. That’s not the worst of it either; after watching The Exorcism of Emily Rose I couldn’t let myself sleep before 3am for two weeks. Because everything in the movie happened at the 3am “witching hour”, and, you know, if nothing happened before then I’d be safe from demonic possession. Only then could I sleep. With the light on, of course.

My admitted cowardice aside, I did really want to see The Conjuring. I do enjoy director James Wan’s work and I’ve heard very positive reviews about what is being heralded as the scariest movie in a decade. So I steeled myself and watched. Naturally I made sure I wasn’t alone this time.

TheConjuring

The Breakdown: The Conjuring is the “based on true events” story of the haunting of the Perron family and the subsequent aid of “demonologist” husband and wife tag-team extraordinaire, the Warrens. When Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) move to a new house with their five daughters they begin (almost immediately we’re thrown into some spooky stuff, like on the VERY FIRST DAY!) to experience some strange paranormal events. When it becomes apparent to the pair that they cannot handle the situation (and typically they can’t move because, you know, they’ve no money) they seek out Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) who are doing some guest lectures about evil ghosties and whatnot at a University. Further freaky crap ensues.

What I liked:

  • It’s a strong opener, with the audience getting an insight into what exactly the Warrens do, and we’re shown the story behind one of the scariest looking dolls I’ve ever seen.
Why the bloody hell would you buy this thing.

Why the bloody hell would you buy this thing.

  • The Perrons getting settled in to their new digs. I have to admit, I loved the house. The feel of the movie is great too. It’s set in the seventies and quite believably so. No flairs or afros in sight, but that was only the briefest of disappointments. And one cannot argue with a soundtrack that includes a tune from The Zombies.
  • There was one particular scene I absolutely loved. It took place in one of the girls’ shared rooms. It was simple, it was highly suggestive and I’ll be honest, I could hear my heartbeat in my own ears. Serious props to young actress Joey King, who gave an inspiring performance.
She actually checked for the monster under her bed. Braver than I am.

She actually checked for the monster under her bed. Braver than I am.

  • Vera Farmiga. She’s my new lady crush.

What I disliked:

  • The Perron children play this weird game called “Hide and Clap”. At first it eluded my understanding. I mean, don’t these children have toys? Anyway it becomes an evident recurring theme throughout the rest of the film, so it has its place and I guess I can’t complain too much.
Let's blindfold each other in a haunted house! Great idea.

Let’s blindfold each other in a haunted house! Yay! Great idea.

  • Nobody ever listens to their dog in these movies. Why not? Dogs are like young children; they have this innate sixth sense when presented with anything abnormal. If my dog started barking at a house and refused to cross the threshold I’d be pretty freaked out.
  • The movie felt busy. There was so much going on, so many different spirits. I understand this was to portray just how dangerous this house was, and later when the story behind it unfolds it makes sense, but still, it was sort of overwhelming.

On the whole this movie was enjoyable. The cast were excellent, and it isn’t often that happens in the horror genre. I wouldn’t agree that it is the “scariest movie in the last decade” or anything so hyperbolic, but it was a solid enough scare, and will hopefully lead a progression of similar horror to follow. While very alike, I personally thought Insidious was scarier, excluding the last thirty minutes of it. I find I stop being scared after the veil of mystery is stripped away and we actually get to see what we’re supposed to be afraid of. Let’s face it, our imaginations are usually much worse than anything we get to see on-screen or on page.

I remember doing this once when I didn't want to go to school.

I remember doing this once when I didn’t want to go to school.

The Conjuring is what I call “classic horror”. It is suspenseful, adrenaline-filled non-stop action and you cannot escape the feeling of despair throughout. It manages to engage the observer without resorting to excessive gore or unnecessary nudity. If you’re looking for topless babes with bouncing boobs bounding away from a scarred, chainsaw-wielding maniac, then this is not the flick for you.



Categories: Film, Review

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21 replies

  1. Great review. Agree with Insidious comment. When he goes to the other zone it’s not as scary. Although I liked the Conjuring more overall. My favorite is the exorcism of Emily Rose.

    • Exactly! Bringing us into that other zone made something so mysterious, so ethereal, completely tangible. Took away all the scariness for me. Emily Rose is definitely more like what I would call “the scariest film of the decade”. It really was great, but I don’t think I could watch it again! ;)

  2. I’m still yet to see Insidious – when I worked in a music/movie store I sold heaps of it, and the cover of the DVD always left me unimpressed, but I’ve been hearing good things. May need to give it a whirl…

    • Do give it a whirl! It won’t change your life or blow your mind or give you sleepless nights, but I think it was done well. I tend to find the suggestion of some horrific event much worse than actually witnessing the horrific event, if you get me. The use of a well-placed shadow or a suspicious background sound. Insidious does this well in places, although I was disappointed in the last thirty minutes or so, as it was less subtle.

  3. Sounds good despite the lack of topless babes. Great review and hilarious captions.

  4. Nice review, thanks. I’ll be checking this out now.

  5. I’ve just recently found myself in possession of this demonic film ;)

    I’ll have to brave it alone…

    • Oh nooo. But I’m sure you’re not as squeamish as I am Kev. Leave the light on though, especially for the first two thirds. After that it gets a bit ridonkulous.

      • Have you seen the Evil Dead remake? I saw it one sunday at 6am, and it creeped me out…aside from the gory bits, the film’s atmosphere and general events are scary as hell…

        I saw the first few minutes of The Conjuring, and I agree…who in their right minds buys that doll? I’m sure it was in the “Possessed” item-tagged corner of the shop :)

        • Must watch the Evil Dead remake now if it’s that effective!

          • If you ever saw the original Evil Dead series, this film mixes elements from Evil Dead 1 & 2.

            Which reminds me, I read some news a while ago in which Sam Raimi said there would be at least another new Evil Dead film and another Army of Darkness one, and that later on the two timelines would join up in a cross-over film hahahaha

      • Just finished it…I agree with you, the last 30 minutes are ridiculous…in fact, I’d say as soon as the Warrens come in, the film starts going downhill…the atmosphere and buildup, and that first climax with the ghost on top of the wardrobe, it all goes away and they fail to bring the feeling back, instead resorting to jump-scares

        And then there’s the Exorcism…that’s terrible…

        • I loved the Warrens but you’re right, as soon as the mysteries are stripped away, the unknown is gone and the scares lost all of their effectiveness for me. :(

          If only we could have a haunted horror movie where nothing is explained and we just get creepy spirits doing creepy things within a tense atmosphere and then all of the characters die of heart attacks eventually.

  6. I loved that Joey King scene…. She is really awesome! I really enjoyed her Ramona and Beezus and really wanted to see how she does in this movie. That scene did it for me. Her fear was so real. I could feel it.

    Overall, I really liked this movie. Not many horror movies get me scared but this did have me feel it a little. Not much, but whilst watching it I could feel the fear.

    Great Review V! I need to watch a lot of movies from 2013 so I’ll only read the rest of your reviews once I’ve seen them.

    • Indeed, I was exactly the same! Some of the scenes were just palpable. It gets a bit ridiculous toward the end but it’s one of the best “haunting” horrors I’ve seen in a long time.

      Thanks for stopping by, hopefully we shall see more of each other! :)

  7. Great review! I am completely with you on the whole loss of mysticism thing – it annoys me when a tense, frightening film succumbs to (and i hate to use the word) mainstream-ish reveals. Atmosphere and imagery are things that get to me: The film ‘It’ freaks me out because the clown is creepy and abstract, even though the actual movie isn’t that great. The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is my favourite horror film because it has this pulsating atmosphere that just doesn’t feel right (in a good way). Just found and now really enjoying your blog!

    • You’ve described exactly what I meant! And so eloquently, too. Indeed, I don’t want to be shown what I’m supposed to be afraid of, I want to feel it. Don’t slap me in the face and announce, “Now, here’s the scary part”, because that’s not going to work. ;D

      Thanks for stopping by, delighted to have found your blog too.

  8. Great post. It is interesting because I actually found ‘Hide and Clap’ game very (if not the most) disturbing. I totally agree with your about the ‘busyness’ of the movie. There should be at least one ‘breather’ where the audience can assess what is going on and think.

    • Indeed, the movie does the subtle tension very, very well, but when it starts to bombard you with weirdness and scares it tends to lose the atmosphere. Hide and Clap was very disturbing!

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