The purpose of this sort of film is to set goose bumps along your arms and make you jump and to that end the director has done a damned good job. My wife and I jumped several times during the movie even though we knew something was about to happen and numerous times I had chills running down my arms. This is of course all down to the effective use of music and sound effects together with the images, without them you probably wouldn't react because there is nothing here that you haven't seen before. It is just very well combined and presented.
The story is the classic haunted house tale of a new family being tormented by an evil entity and the good guys that come to the rescue and is allegedly based on a true story. I noticed that some reviewers have referred to an interview with one of the daughters of the family but to counterbalance that the current owners of the house say it is all baloney and nothing has or does happen there. But there again they would say that wouldn't they?
This is a great movie to give yourself and some friends a thrill at Halloween and there is no blood and gore which is a plus but don't watch it on your own if you are of a nervous disposition.
on 2 July 2013
Directed by James Wan (Insidious, Saw, Dead Silence), The Conjuring is set in America during the 1960's. We follow the 'real' case-files of paranormal investigators The Warrens, who work against supernatural elements trying to possess the living, in this case the Perron family. The Warrens face a terrifying battle against a demon unwilling to leave...
One thing you can expect from a James Wan film is quality, with an impressive collection of horror titles behind him, disappointment was never an option. Unlike many supernatural films of late (Paranormal Activity, Grave Encounters) this film presents a nostalgic era before technology ruled the home roost (and the horror film), when a lonesome haunted house out in the sticks, and a creative eye for fear could hold the audience. The film creates a haunting atmosphere set around childhood themes; using games, toys and innocence to project the violence of this sinister entity. The POV of both families fighting 'evil' offers a variety of encounters and experiences, in a film that may have been less engaging otherwise. Although there is the usual line- up of jumps, Wan includes his own touch of originality making you leave your seat a few times.
The reveal is always a tense moment in a ghost film, The Conjuring manages to keep it together unlike many others (Mama). However, the reveal always seems a needless element, as the presence of the ghost is enough to create the fear, and putting a face to a ghost is unnecessary. The solid acting of the cast should be noted, along with a well written script with moments of comic relief, but don't get too comfy, as Wan will pack a punch to those unsuspecting. An example of how ghost films should be; packed full of jumps, and minus the showcase of evolving technology that captures 'found' footage. Wan conjures (yes) a decent horror full of childhood nostalgia and things that go bump in the night.
After all we all have that one childhood story that still keeps us 'adults' awake some nights... mine was the attic hatch in my room...
on 26 February 2014
I don't normally review films but after seeing all the good reviews of this film I thought I had to. I was looking forward to seeing this as it was described as an original take on the horror genre. The film starts off promising and is genuinely creepy. But as with many films lately it gets more and more over the top as it progresses. The acting is very good, can't fault that, but I was expecting so much more than the usual possession film which seems to be in fashion at the minute.
Before I saw The Conjuring I heard a lot negative complaints that it was merely "cattle prod cinema" which I inferred meant a lot of awful stingers were the only thing that would make the audience jump. This horrible cliché has been overabundant in many so-called "horror" movies for a good while now and I my expectations were low.
Thankfully, there are no stingers. Yes, there are scares and jumps, but the score is completely unobtrusive and there are no cats jumping out of closets or phones suddenly ringing. James Wan knows that atmosphere, cinematography, suggestion, and the unknown can build suspense and horror, and the Conjuring has plenty.
Apparently based on a true story (which I am extremely doubtful of, but not completely disbelieving) a happy family of mom and dad and five young girls move into a large farmhouse bought at a low price from a bank auction. As soon as they cross the threshold things are not quite right and the property reeks of pure, menacing evil. Eventually they call in the help of a local ghost-hunting couple to document the case and research its history.
It was the early 70s, the real Ghostbusters (pun intended) were still in college.
About 80% of The Conjuring works. The dread, the suspense, and the inability to comprehend what is really lurking in the darkness of the house makes for great horror. The girls see...something, but we don't. It's a lot like Robert Wise's The Haunting, which is kind of ironic since Lily Taylor, who plays the mother, was in the 1999 remake of that movie, which was full of all the worst horror clichés and set-ups, as well as excessive CGI. It's like Taylor wanted to set the balance straight by doing a movie that took the opposite, and more intelligent, approach.
John R. Leonetti's photography is very slick, with lots of slow, creeping shots, but I couldn't help but think that a rawer edge, with exploitation lighting, would have helped it look a bit more authentic. There are a bit too many slamming doors scares too, and towards the end it goes off on a completely pointless tangent with the Annabelle doll and does absolutely nothing with it. For the bulk of the running time The Conjuring seems original and groundbreaking, though in the last act it's a jumble of Blair Witch, The Exorcist, and What Lies Beneath.
The positives still far outweigh the negatives, and I still recommend the film to horror fans. If only we had a version of The Amityville Horror that was made this way instead of that horrendous 2005 movie. No doubt there will be numerous sequels.
The Blu-ray looks great in 2.40:1 1080p with brilliant DTS HD-MA sound. The extras could have been more satisfying.
on 24 April 2015
This movie is a LOT better than the stuff of this sort normally is.
I recall seeing a documentary about this (or a very similar) occurrence, with interviews by people like a police officer. This added credibility to the story in general.
First, acting is good. And I mean good. Second, filming itself is a cut above a flat cardboard typical for the horror genre in general.
I thought that the story had a pretty good momentum throughout, all the necessary details explained via actions of the parties. Two stories sort of run in parallel - the "demon fighters's" life and the life of an ordinary family facing extraordinary experience. Than they merge. I am glad to report I did not see many glaring annoying discrepancies in the story. The one slight hiccup was how the wife ended up attending a lecture by the demon fighters in some university, where she approached them. Supposedly, it was not a TV advert or an Internet site to give her the idea?
The details of the era like costumes, equipment and such were realistic enough.
I did not think all special effects reflected the actual events. However, they were pretty well done. The film becomes really scary at times, without being gory. There were a couple of genuinely good moments, like a piece of bed linen being caught by the wind and suddenly showing a human silhouette behind it. Or the apparition suddenly jumping at the girl from top of a wardrobe.
Now, to me the highlight of the story was not the happy ending, but the words across the screen at the end. That to the exorcist, demonic forces are very real, and that if they are real, God must be real too. And we ourselves choose which path to follow with our own actions.
It is up to us to chose to believe the story, or not.
on 24 March 2014
You know, I was quite worried that this would be another silly teenager scary movie with stabbings and the usual cheap stupid scares like cats and mirror tricks. I have seen countless haunted house movies over many hears, including a haunting TV show. It is extremely hard to unsettle me and I was truly afraid watching this, on a sunny day drinking cans too. I Left this one for last because I had a feeling it would be the type of movie that would get under my skin and stay there for a while after I was done watching it. I was right.
Remember all those times you watched horror movies and saw the camera slowly moving towards a dark place of a room and you just KNOW something is in there and going to jump out but you don't know when. This movie has you feeling like that a lot. it is obvious that this family is under attack but you just don't know how it is going to go down. I loved the clapping part it really had my on the edge and reminded me of the orphanage clapping game. you cant help but recoil with tension.
Mr Wan I bow down to you, your formula is pitch perfect and should be respected. I had my hands up to my face for some of this, I felt like such a little girl. Its strange because I have seen movies like this so many times. This is textbook how things like this happen, there are so many stories out there where people start to experience certain things just before this happens ect ect. Even though I am familiar with the "routine" of horror movies it still scared me.
I am a huge fan of the Warrens and felt their characters were played respectfully. There are some really good extras about them in the bonus section that is well worth a watch. I was afraid that they might dishonour the couple but they didn't. Lorraine is such a wonderful person.
Everything was done properly and they didn't pour cheapness into it. This is not a typical teenager movie and certainly deserves a chance.
This is a good scary movie but some might find it too much so it would be a good idea to know what scares you before you end up with nightmares.
on 26 November 2015
Half-decent, be it generic, horror, based on a true story in which a large family move into a haunted farmhouse, resulting in them seeking out 'paranormal investigators' to try and rid the dark presence. There are quite a few novel creative ideas here, which is impressive in itself, and the film, at times, does prove to be scary (and when's the last time one could say that?). Its failure, however, as is with most modern horror films, is that a lack of subtleness, when required, hampers the experience - yes, we understand there may be spirits and ghosts loitering around, but please please don't show us ordinary people with face-paint and expect us to believe it; it's much better to hint as opposed to show, if wanted to be taken seriously. That aside, the film, for most parts, is fairly well played out, mainly via the narration, directing, and the acting. Worthy of a note, there's quite a spooky use of a doll, seen only through a subplot, and, in its own right, it warrants a film all on its own - perfect for a potential John Carpenter classic. Regarding 'The Conjuring', don't expect anything spectacular, but it's far from a stalemate either.
Although I'm not a fan of James Wan, on a purely entertainment level I enjoyed this. Lets dispense first off with the brain-numbingly tedious notion that the events depicted in this fictional film are in any way based on real events. It is a very overused tool now to entice the naive and it's a lazy way for a director to induce an artificial extra 'chill factor'
It is a typical haunted house caper which brings little new but still does a good job of creating an eerie atmosphere, has good characters with all the young female ensemble putting in a good display. Has some good imagery and I liked a lot of the camera work, moving rapidly from one angle to another.
The story is the same as all of these types of films and has similarities with 'Poltergeist' (again!!) and 'The Amityville Horror' among others. It moves along a a brisk rate and asides from the odd dodgy special effect (Wan really likes people being flung about by invisible nasties in his films) I found it very watchable, wasn't bored and jumped at the bits designed to make you jump at. Good location and good use of inanimate objects also to create an aire of menance.
on 4 August 2013
Based on a true story, the film opens with an incident in which Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren explain the difference between ghosts and demonic possession, both being similar to owning cats. Ed has a basement full of artifacts that would make "Riley's Believe it or Not" museum green with envy. Hey don't touch the monkey!
Meanwhile the Perron family has moved into a house in Harrisville, RI, in 1971 BF (before flashlights). They discover their basement door has been boarded over, because God knows spirits can't pass through wood. The Perron family has a pack of screaming daughters, just right for a horror flick.
Needless to say the plot and subplot come together with wonderfully horrific results. Like most films the creepiness builds to a climax. This particular film has some minor religious overtones to it as one would expect with an exorcism type production. Good film to watch in the dark. Take the kids. Zombie soundtrack.
Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, or nudity. WARNING: Does use the word "groovy" and "The Brady Bunch" is on TV in the background.
I sometimes watch horror movies when I need a good laugh. I do not believe in the 'afterlife' and consequently I find these films rather amusing. I had heard from a film critic, who seems to share my sense of humour, that this was quite a good film for a horror movie, so I decided to watch it.
Having watched it I have to say that it was a good film and that I even considered buying it on Blu-ray because I streamed it. It is supposed to be based on a true story (presumably these people should really have been in an institution). Having said that the acting was very good, the storyline and the production were equally good too. It even made me jump in a few places and it was as good as any well made sci-fi movies that I have seen. Yes I laughed in various places because the whole idea is ridiculous but it kept my attention all the way through and I wanted to know what happened next. In short I found it very entertaining and well worth watching. I will probably buy it when it comes down in price having watched it once but it is one of the few 'horror' movies that are worth buying. They did a good job with this film.