Monday, January 25, 2010

Mindless Movie Monday: Conjurer

Quite often, my mindless movie Mondays tend to showcase films that are on the cheesy or substandard side of horror. Today's outing, the independent film Conjurer (2008), is really neither of those. Mind you, it's not exactly a celebrated entry in the horror hall of fame, but I didn't waste my time watching it.

I've heard it was on the Sci-Fi channel (back when that is how they actually spelled it!) and that is always a pre-cursor to me being wary of a film's competence and ability to entertain me. But I didn't know this fact when I ordered it up off my Netflix queue, and I was reasonably gratified after viewing.

Shawn (Andrew Bowen) and Helen (Maxine Bahns) are moving to a house in the country because of the tragic loss of their baby and they really want to make a new start. Yes, I know that sounds incredibly clichéd, but moving on...
Helen's brother Frank (John Schneider) has loaned them money to get the place, as Shawn is a currently out of work photographer. Moving from the city to the country was no doubt the reason for that hardship.

The plan is to build a new house on the property, and until then they will stay in the older one. Shawn has his own demons from the past to overcome too, and a little subplot works its way into the larger picture here.

Things seem to be going fairly well at first - the house is a lovely little place on a few acres in seclusion and the two are enjoying painting and fixing things up.
There is a little cabin on the property as well, and it is scheduled to be torn down to make room for the new place.

Here is where things get a little spooky. Allegedly there is a local legend about a witch of some kind who used to live there back in the mid-1800's. (Of course there is!)

One night, Shawn sees a strange light emanating from the decrepit cabin. It's the first in a series of strange occurrences (i.e. sounds and visions) that wig Shawn out. Nightmares plague his nights, and during the day he starts seeing a mysterious crow all the time.

It first appears when he is checking out the abandoned cabin and doesn't let up. This, combined with a strange jar of teeth (!) he finds, make Shawn more than a little suspicious about the property.

Foolishly, he doesn't tell Helen, as he feels she is in too fragile a mind-set to bring it up. He instead has a few conversations with the previous owner, whose mother apparently knew the legend of the witch, Hattie.

She evidently is out for revenge against people who have or are about to have children because long ago, she got pregnant with the child of a married man. He killed the child and she cursed the land.
So when Helen ends up pregnant, she's at a loss to understand why Shawn is so determined to move them back to town and leave the sprawling countryside behind.
Fighting ensues.

The acting here is actually not too bad, especially from Bowen.

I even developed a mini-crush on him during viewing (I'm alright now). He brings a very believable performance to this slow-burning ghost story, and John Schneider has just the right amount of cocky brother-in-law/loving brother to get by. The actress playing Helen was respectable but nothing to write home about.

The ending is supposedly a twist, but honestly I saw it coming. It didn't ruin my enjoyment of the film, and if I hadn't seen soooo many other similar films in my lifetime perhaps I might not have caught on.
There's no CGI to speak of, no jump scares, no Oscar-worthy performances. But nothing truly brainless enough to make me turn it off or denounce it entirely.
Not much I can say other than to check it out if you are so inclined.

1 comment:

Wednesday's Child said...

What speaks volumes about this film is that I'd forgotten I watched it until I saw your review and even after reading the review I still can't remember a single thing about Conjurer except for the fact that I have seen it.