on July 20, 2013
James Wan is a horror director that might have finally peaked with this one. His first SAW film was the best of the bunch and while Insidious had flaws, it also had some great scare moments and visuals. The Conjuring is a near perfect ghost/demonic possession movie. The scares are not cheap and they are 90% effective. A couple felt a little forced, but overall this is one the creepiest movies I have seen in theaters.
Based on a "true story" that takes place in 1971, a family becomes the victim of some evil forces in their new house. Two paranormal investigators are brought in to gather evidence. They are based on the famous couple that also investigated The Amityville Horror years later.
The acting is great all around from the kids and adults. I like how they didn't use any big name actors. Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Ron Livingston are relatively well known, but thankfully no huge star power here to completely take you out of the film.
Very little gore, no foul language or nudity in a horror movie? Believe it or not, this thing earned the R rating for pure scares alone. Now don't get too overhyped or anything. I personally didn't jump in my seat or want to cover my eyes (though many scenes are quite chilling), but plenty of people around me did.
This is the first movie that has made me want to review it in a month. The Lone Ranger (2 and 1/2 out of 5 stars) and Pacific Rim (3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars) didn't surprise me enough to warrant my time reviewing them.
The Conjuring is my favorite film so far this year. Let's leave it at that.
on August 3, 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 room 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.
on July 18, 2013
Gut wrenching, beautifully filmed and perfectly paced, THE CONJURING isn't just one of the best supernatural chillers of recent years - it truly deserves a place next to "The Exorcist," "The Innocents" and "Poltergeist" as one of the more memorable cinematic excursions into the paranormal ever produced. That may sound like high praise, but walking out of director James Wan's stunning thriller, I was hard pressed to think of other horror movies that have captivated me from start to end as much as this one did.
Chad and Carey Hayes' screenplay takes the true story of a Rhode Island family's haunting in the early `70s and embellishes it into a film that grips you from its earliest frames, while Wan - the director who single-handedly launched a decades worth of gory "torture porn" pictures with the original "Saw" - here demonstrates a far greater command of the screen with what many have already called a directorial tour de force. In fact, Wan utilizes a documentary-styled approach that's closer to William Friedkin's 1973 classic than any other supernatural film I can recall, and expertly works with John R. Leonetti's cinematography and a masterful sound design to create one of the more brilliantly directed pictures this genre has seen in years.
The Perron family - led by parents Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston - move into their home in northern Rhode Island and quickly notice standbys of any film haunting: bumps in the night, unseen forces that cause their dog to bark, and an occasional chill that permeates the air. Their five young daughters, though, are quickly put into the crosshair of a supernatural entity that wants more than to just make its presence known, physically announcing itself by grabbing the girls and causing bruises to Taylor that she believes are just the result of an iron deficiency. Ultimately, the Perrons call in paranormal experts Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Fermiga and Patrick Wilson), the earliest "Ghost Hunters," who soon realize the family isn't suffering from a noisy oil burner on its last legs causing a ruckus.
"The Conjuring" carries an R rating but the film's violence is minimal and its profanity nearly non-existent. Wan eschews the gratuitousness of his past works in favor of a less is more approach that's just as scary for what you don't see as what you do (particularly when young Andrea Perron first encounters a ghost, standing in the corner of her room but only visible to her - not the audience). At first, it might be easy to resist the movie's familiar structure, but as the story unfolds, it's nearly impossible not to get wrapped up in the family's plight as the supernatural occurrences increase. The effectiveness is all due to Wan's direction and the uniformly believable performances of Taylor, Fermiga and Wilson, not to mention the unaffected young actresses playing the tormented Perron girls. Yet even with all the chilling moments, you come to care about these people, and the emotional catharsis that closes the picture is something few films in this genre have been able to duplicate (kudos to Joseph Bishara for a moody, effective score as well, with Mark Isham contributing a poignant "family theme" that plays a significant role in the film's concluding moments).
"The Conjuring" is at a disadvantage compared to other films in its genre because it's had to follow classic films like "The Exorcist," "The Haunting" and "Poltergeist." For viewers resistant to horror films in general, there's probably little here they haven't seen before, and one could argue the more explicitly visceral elements of the haunting are its weakest asset. Nevertheless, Wan's movie grabs you and doesn't let go until the credits have rolled - and even then, you might be checking the rear view mirror, just to make sure nothing's followed you home. That's frightful filmmaking at its finest, and "The Conjuring" is unquestionably the most effective cinematic haunt of this generation.
Before I get started on this review, I want everyone to ignore that infamous little phrase that gets attached to films like this. You know which one I'm talking about: "Based on a true story." I could go on about the trustworthyness of the Warrens or the lack thereof, but the best thing to do with this film is to ignore all of that. If you go into this with the idea that the Warrens are shameless hucksters, then you'll miss out on enjoying all that this film has to offer. If you go into this thinking that every frame is true or trying to explain to someone how all of this could've happened, you'll suffer the same fate. Just enjoy this for what it is: one of the first mainstream horror films released to the theaters in the summer in a long while.
Now on to the proper review.
I was thoroughly impressed by this movie. Supposedly this did insanely well when they ran this through test screenings and I can see why. The Conjuring had a lot to offer and didn't try to fill its running time by checking off every box on the horror movie cliche checklist. There are some tried and true formats here to be sure, but they're fairly well executed. The movie makes use of a lot of jump scares, so if you're irritated by those I would probably wait until this hits the rental sites. They're all done in good fun and are for the most part genuinely spooky, although I'll say that the jump scares were far more effective in the beginning of the movie.
The acting was excellent in this and whomever thought to hire Lili Taylor should get a huge pat on the back. She's probably the strongest actor in this piece, second only to Vera Farmiga. The ladies genuinely rocked this movie fairly hard. The guys were good as well, but let's not pretend that they were there for anything other than to be played off the women.
Now as far as story goes, this was decent. It's actually a fairly simplistic story line when you get down to it. There wasn't a lot of gussying up of the subject matter, although there was somewhat of a side story that surrounded the Warrens' daughter, the demon, and a doll from the beginning of the movie. I do have to admit that I'm not sure what I felt about that part. The doll's acquisition was shown at the beginning of the movie and largely had nothing to do with what the Perrons went through, except for showing up in one scene. The scare surrounding this scene was decent, but I kind of feel that it was one of the two weakest scenes in the film. The other weakest scene? I hate to say it, but it was the showdown in the end. I liked it well enough and it was entertaining, but it also felt slightly anticlimactic. Most viewers won't feel let down by the scene, although my friends and I all agreed that although this was an incredibly strong horror movie, the ending did sort of leave a little to be desired in comparison with the rest of the film.
In the end though, the concerns are all fairly minor quibbles. This will still be an excellent film to go see in the theaters and something that I'd recommend for horror fans- especially those who love the older stuff. The director took great pains to make the opening and ending feel like something you'd have seen in the older days of horror, which I greatly appreciated. I'd say that this film is good enough to where it's something I'd outright own when it releases on DVD and assuming that the sequel will be as well done as this was, I'll be there on the opening weekend for whatever other movie they make.
On a side note, if you can, see this with a more full theater. I was lucky enough that my fellow theater goers were excellent companions to watch a movie with. They reacted at all the right times, which made everything in the movie that much more scary for myself and my friends.
on October 30, 2013
this is kinda cool because I actually live just behind this house (the real house in harrisville, ri) on the powerline grid-
my neighbors who own the farm just behind them knew Roger and Carolyn personally- and their little girls. Roger was a salesman and always away from home, carolyn was home with the children- and she was not mentally stable from what I'm told by a couple of neighbors who have lived here the past 50 years. Roger liked his booze- and his wife a dramatic person- the whole family was unstable. I've actually met the contractor who renovated the house and personally know the family who owned all the land next to the perrons land (which is now mostly owned by Rosenfeld concrete- and I bought my land off of tom Schwartz- who owns all the forest on our block (up to the perrons property) and who's ex-wife Pam used to live in the perron house just after they left. Schwartz bought the property off of the Perron family-
The movie is 100% pure BS and not based on a single piece of documented evidence-at all! The Perron's are simply tale tellers and the warrens simply live for the fame and never accommodate skeptics. There's so many holes and inconsistancies in every single one of the warren's "cases"- I've read them all. This entire movie is based on nothing but rumor and second hand story tales. There hasn't been a single reported incident in this house since Schwartz bought it and since resold it (hmmmm,wonder why?) This movie is actually pissing all of the neighbors off because of all the people who come and take photos and actually knock on everyone's door to get info about the house- even had the burrillville PD keep people away because it's out of control.
It's amazing how eager people are to believe and accept any premise that hint's to an afterlife.
that being said- it is somewhat of a scary movie; but unlike real terror movies like the exorcist, the conjuring gets you with the typical new-age horror movie scare tactics with use of loud noises in dark rooms - I enjoyed watching it but there were some pretty big holes in the story, for example- why would a man move his 7 member family into a new-england house in the fall without knowing if the furnace was working? According to the movie- the furnace was located in the "secrete room" that was accidentally found when the girls were playing "clap & seek" in the closet; roger went down into the secrete basement where there was a piano and old furniture, and then found the furnace in the same room, and then told his wife he'd be up in a few minutes, he wanted to try to get the furnace working....??? which means he moved his family into a new-england house just before winter and never thought to ask the sellers where the furnace was- since it was in the "secrete basement?" pretty stupid lapse of logic in the story. Too bad I can't post pics- because I have a few of me riding my bike over that bridge you see in the special features section of the dvd "face to face with terror" that bridge is less then 1000' from my house just through the woods.
watch the movie- just take Hollywood's version (and perron's tales) with a huge, HUGE grain of salt and don't believe everything you see on the big screen- even the "based on true events" which is all total bulls[...].
I drive past the house every day on the way to / from work- it's a nice house since it was renovated- plenty of new cars in the driveway- certainly doesn't look like anyone is being tortured by demons or ghosts in that house...
on October 21, 2013
This film is what i would call one of the best films of 2013. Filled with fear,terror, and a new faith in God. I have never been more frightened in my life. A true story that shows a family coming together, through this supernatural horror. Vera Farmiga does an excellent job in her portral of Lorrianne Warren. This movie is a great movie! NOT FOR KIDS!! Dont watch this with anyone under the age of 15! Very scary, yet so good!!
on October 17, 2013
This is one of the best horror movies I have seen. I truly felt the fear of the unknown. Happily, it lacked any gruesome scenes and just gave you a great scare! Blood and gore are good for shock-value, but it's not scary.
When I was much younger, I am 50 now, I really liked scary movies. However, in the last 1-2 decades, they just did not have the same appeal to me anymore. I try to watch them but I end up turning them off and find them silly/poorly done/bad story/bad acting/etc. Very few scary movies seem capable of holding my attention now days. The reviews for this movie gave me the impression it might be better.
Basic premise: The family moves into a house that has an evil spirit and starts terrorizing them. They ask two known paranormal experts to help them rid their family of the entity.
This basic premise has been done over and over again. Did this movie do a good job? Yes they did.
This movie is not overdone, underdone, it is just right in so many ways. The acting, the CGI and the writing are all well done. This movie kept my attention from beginning to end. In fact, it left me wanting to see more. A rarity these days. I would like for the same makers to make a movie about the doll.
Family friendly: Only scary parts. No nudity, sex nor offensive language.
If you are looking for blood and guts or tons of gore this is not your movie. The movie is not super scary. This is pretty good story telling with better than average acting and the special effects were perfect for the movie. It is like the people that made the movie really wanted to make a quality scary movie. It probably won't win any awards but compared to the competition, it is by far the best scary movie I have seen in a long time.
4 stars for a movie is a very good rating from me. Friends/family know I watch a lot of movies and often ask me for recommendations.
ETA: I have seen several reviewers mention/compare the movie "Insidious." I decided to give it a watch tonight. First, I did not realize I had seen "Insidious" before until I got to the bed scene. I thought some stuff looked familiar. I rented this movie some time back and turned it off before it ended. I did the same tonight. "Insidious" is not even in the same league as "The Conjuring." They both have one of the same lead actors but that is it."
on November 1, 2013
Not that I'm really all that into horror movies, but my wife and I decided that a scary movie on Halloween would be apt. Well "The Conjuring" didn't disappoint! The whole movie creeps you out, there were a couple of scenes where my wife literally screamed during the movie. I still haven't slept well three days later. Really good scare.
on October 13, 2013
'True Story' haunted house and possession movies are a dime a dozen these days. Anything that can be cheaply made by studios to rake in tons of dough at the box office are automatics (this is why Paranormal Activity could essentially continue on forever). In my mind the definitive haunted house movie will always be The Poltergeist, and the standard equivalent of the possession movie will always be The Exorcist. Not surprising right?
However, both of those movies were not specifically based on true stories. This is where The Conjuring comes in. You can only sing the same song so many times before it gets old and tiresome, The Conjuring puts a genuine twist on the story by making it feel like every moment in the film is honest and forthright without using the 'documentary' style filmmaking (which I always thought was a cheap gimmick). The use of the practical makeup helps recreate the feel that The Exorcist gave us the first time we saw it. It is also worth noting that James Wan, director of the original Saw and Insidious, continues his successful efforts here as a horror filmmaker.
The Conjuring will grip and horrify you like very few movies can these days. I promise it will be one of the scariest movies that you will ever see.