Friday, July 19, 2013

The Conjuring (2013): A Welcome Return To The Haunted House Tale

 ~Review by Marie Robinson

Ed and Lorraine Warren have become very famous (and probably pretty rich) because of their unconventional profession. They were a married team of paranormal researchers—Ed, who unfortunately passed away in 2006, was a demonologist, and Lorraine is a noted psychic. People know them most famously for their involvement in the Amityville haunting, but they have done presumably hundreds of other cases, some of which are very, very strange.

James Wan’s new film, The Conjuring, explores a case they did in 1971 in Rhode Island. It involves the Perron family who move into an old farmhouse and immediately begin experiencing very strange activity; the root of which is a mysterious boarded up cellar, still filled with a previous occupants belongings. When the Brady-esque family is finding it increasingly hard to be comfortable in their own home and have nowhere else to go, they call upon the dynamic psychic duo.

 This film has a shared perspective between the Perron family and the Warren family. We go into both households and get to know both families. The Warrens are reluctant to accept the Perron case because they want to spend more time as a family and focus more on their young daughter. Ed and Lorraine were also going to take an opportunity to take a break from investigating, as each case wears on Lorraine mentally.
However, it doesn’t take much pleading from the Perrons’ to convince the Warrens to help them—and it is lucky for them that they did, because as it turns out this is no simple haunting, but something much darker.
The real-life Warrens have received a lot of criticism for being what they are. After all, demonology is an unaccredited, self-proclaimed title and any proof toward psychic abilities is, well… inconclusive. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the Amityville Horror case because many believe that it was all fabricated and that the tragedy that occurred there was exploited for fame and money.

Whatever you believe, interviews with the Warrens will show that they seem to be earnest, good-hearted people with a genuine desire to help. Patrick Wilson (Insidious) and Vera Farminga (Orphan) do a fabulous job portraying the Warrens. Farminga did have the advantage of getting to know the real Lorraine Warren, as she was very involved in the filming. She even has a cameo a lecture hall scene! If you are one of those people who don’t favor the Warrens you probably will not like The Conjuring as it is very much about them and serves almost as a tribute.

My opinion is that James Wan makes a damn good horror movie. I loved the first Saw, enjoyed the hell out of Dead Silence, I adore Insidious and I certainly enjoyed The Conjuring. I feel that us horror fans are very lucky to have a director like this in the genre. He not only “gets” horror but he seems to really care about what he is doing. And although he is pumping them out rather quick, so far I don’t feel that he has sacrificed quality. He seems to be developing a few favorites, such as actor Patrick Wilson and composer Joseph Bishara, who has done the score for Insidious and also provided the music for The Conjuring (damn good music, too).

Ed and Lorraine Warren
The Conjuring is a thickly atmospheric film with some seriously scary moments done well. It might not bring anything new to the table—nearly the opposite, but I like that.
It is a throwback to classic haunted house films like The Haunting or even The Amityville Horror. It is a good, fun film that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck and probably coax a few giggles out of you, too. Sometimes it is nice to just grab a friend that you can share a bag of popcorn with, dig your nails into and enjoy juicin’ up on some good old-fashioned nightmare fuel.

Fun fact: The Conjuring’s scenes were shot in sequential order!

The Conjuring is now in theatres but save some excitement for James Wan’s next film, Insidious Chapter 2, out this September!


Jeremy [Retro] said...

Did some coverage for the score and think this is disturbing. Sorry haven't been here in a while...

Jeremy H.

New Look, New Name and Same Stuff...

Ps. Word Verification is Awful, if you get the chance PLEASE Turn it Off and set your comment preferences to NO ANONYMOUS!

Doug Brunell said...

My stance on "Insidious," which I think you know, is making me very reluctant to watch this one, though it does sound interesting and your review makes it seem far more tolerable than I expected it would be. That said, the fact that it brings nothing new to the table also bothers me. Wan has shown he can add new life to old ideas (even when he eventually fouls them up like he did in "Insidious"). Why not do it here? I can't answer that. I will say this, though, I was hoping your review would make me lean one way or the other and it actually has given me more pause ... in both directions! Damn you!

Christine Hadden said...

Sorry, but word verification has to stay. For one, I like the anonymous posts (sometimes people who don't have a blog or have a word-press account) like to comment and that is the only way they can. And two, I have some trolls (as most bloggers do) and have to leave the traps set. You know what I mean?

Thanks for stopping by!!

While Insidious is not perfect, I thought the first two thirds was effectively scary. That said, I liked The Conjuring a lot more. It was chilling and atmospheric, which is what I am looking for in a film - and is so lacking these days.
As far as "bringing nothing new to the table", that may be partially true, but the WAY he brings it is still excellent. In my eyes, this one is a winner.
Check it out for yourself :)

jimmie t. murakami said...

Christine, why do reveiwers always make a big deal about whether or not a horror movie "brings anything new to table" ?, especially when you remember that its almost impossible to be completely original anymore (in any genre not just horror) because after 124 years theres just no-where new for film-makers to go anymore, as long as a film is at least entertaining we should just be happy with that.

otis rampaging heterosexuality said...

Is that all i am to you Christine, a troll ! ! !, i thought you loved me ! ! !. PS, Jeremy is a bloody ludicrous, pretentious, posturing, highbrow, elitist, racist, snob.

eddie lydecker said...

Christine, you know that blog called "Day of the Wo-girl", well the bird who runs that did a recent post about gorgeous birds like yourself who write they`re own horror blogs on the internet and she included your good self on the list, when i saw that picture that she posted of you wearing the camp crystal lake t-shirt and weilding the axe my knob nearly ripped through my trousers, you drive me absolutely wild darlin`, absolutely wild. By the way, i didn`t know that you also write for Fangoria, you`re a clever bird as well as being a gorgeous bird, a perfect combination. You`re the best Christine, the best, a truly incredible bird.

Marie said...

You boys are feisty

Christine Hadden said...

You are the very definition of troll. Stop the madness...

Ian McDonald said...

I think it should be clearly stated that the Warrens were, at best, charlatans who took advantage of poor, desperate people for final gain.

I hate to be rude, but ghosts do not exist and it silly and occasionally dangerous to pretend to the contrary. Based on their conjecture, murderer Arne Johnson mounted a "not guilty by reason of demonic possession" defense, and families have insisted that ongoing sexual abuse was supernatural in origin.

That said I usually enjoy Marie's reviews and think she has intelligent insights into the horror genre from an underrepresented perspective, but I feel like there's very little actual content about the film here. I was hoping to see some criticisms on the opening visual style contrasted with the rest of the film, or how the horror-cliche protagonist here played against one of Insidious' greatest strengths.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where the above photo was taken. It looks like they the on the set of the movie Psycho

Mirza Ghalib said...

If you love horror movies, I suggest you to take out time and watch it. Beautifully scripted, directed and executed by all the actors. If you love surprises, you'll get a lot of them in this movie, but by ghosts. Real life based story, based on exorcism. Watch it !! Watch it !!