Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Though I don't scare easy, a few years back director James Wan tapped into one of my few fears with his movie 'Dead Silence' and the completely demonic ventriloquist dummy.  Not just the dummy in that movie, but all of them.  Every last one of them.  Apparently I am one of the few people that actually liked that movie, but 'Dead Silence' might've been the last time I was semi-freaked out watching a horror movie.   His follow up 'Insidious'… eh… not so much.  Ah, but now we have Mr. Wan's latest film 'The Conjuring', a movie that takes place in the early seventies, which I think was a pretty scary time considering the clothes and President Nixon, and this is a movie that opens with what looks to be a demonic ventriloquist dummy.  I hate those things.  I gotta say, at least for the first two acts, 'The Conjuring' was fairly unnerving.  The third act… eh… not so much.

Lorraine Warren, as played by the beautiful Vera Farmiga and Ed Warren as played by the beautiful Patrick Wilson, are a pair of paranormal investigators trying to figure out why a demonic doll is terrorizing some 1960's college kids.  Seems like a demon has latched onto the doll, with its ultimate goal, I think, possessing one of the college kids and then causing a ruckus.  I not sure why demons inhabit people and then start spitting bile and stuff.  I'm sure there are other, more viable things one can do when one possesses a human, outside of spitting bile and spinning ones head around.  Regardless, The Warren's subdue this demon and take the doll to their Warehouse 13 styled basement where they keep all of their evil, possessed trinkets.

Fast forward a few years where the Warren's have had a lovely daughter in Judy (Sterling Jerins) and are still doing their Paranormal Investigations, though they've had to scale it back to due Lorraine having a real bad experience during an exorcism that went terribly wrong.  But unfortunately for the Warren's, their skills… all of them… will be required for what they are about to experience.
Back to the FCU
Let Chris know how Wrong He Is
Don't Be Square...
Like Totally Twisted Flix!

Say hello the Perron's and their five daughters.  Roger (Ron Livingston) is a truck driver and Carolyn (Lili Taylor) is a homemaker and they have just brought an old country home in the middle of nowhere.  It was a killer deal.  We know there's trouble on day one when daisy the dog refused to go in the house.  She knows what's up.  Trouble was guaranteed when they discovered they had a basement that was boarded up.  Why would anyone board up a perfectly good basement?  Why indeed.

It doesn't take long for the weirdness to start happening.  The clocks stopping at 3:07 in the morning every day, Carolyn waking up with bruises, the youngest daughter finding an imaginary friend, which is NEVER a good thing in a horror movie, and the other daughters experiencing all kinds of odd phenomena.  By the time Carolyn was terrorized in that basement and the oldest daughter was getting choked out by something or another, it's time to call in the experts.

Lorraine has the gift of paranormal sense, and it takes all two seconds for her to figure out that the Perron's are screwed in this house.  And we've seen enough of these movies to realize that you just can't move out because the evil is now with you.  The Warren's haven't figured out what's going on, but just know it's bad, and that Exorcism is the only cure.  But this demon has no interest in going anywhere, and it really wants to murder some little girls.  Even the Warren's little girl, if it can.  And Lorraine is no condition to do this exorcism.  It's not looking good because the possession is in full effect, lives are in danger, and black bile is spitting up en masse.  I still don't get that.

It seems to me that James Wan has tricked them all.  This guy practically co-invented torture horror with 'Saw', which in a sense has essentially become horror in the modern age, but he doesn't do that anymore.  He's gone back to the good old days of dark lighting, things hiding in closets and under beds, and things which may or may not jump out to scare the beejeebus out of you.  And the trick, to a modern audience accustomed to watching body parts mutilated and having this called 'horror', is that this 'new' approach feels fresh, when it's anything but.  Trust me when I tell you that there is nothing new or original or cutting edge about 'The Conjuring' as it is about as standard a haunted house / possession movie as you are going to see, but it does possess a wealth of talent in front, and behind the camera which still makes it worthwhile.

No doubt, Wan knows what he's doing when it comes to setting up his jump scares.  And while we've seen it before, it's still effective, basically because sometimes the scare just doesn't come, which keeps us on our toes.  We do enjoy stupid people in horror movies, those who look under beds, completely fearful that a monster might under it.  Would I do that?  Oh no.  Would I track down a weird sound in the basement, knowing that everybody I know to be human in this house is upstairs asleep?  No I wouldn't.  If I see a ghostly apparition walk past the door in the dead of night, am I going to follow it and try to interrogate it?  No I am not.   But the first two thirds of 'The Conjuring' was about as effective as conveying unseen dread and fright as any movie I've recently seen.

The conclusion, while not terrible by any stretch, just stopped being scary and turned into a demon possession action movie.  Is there another way this could've been handled?  I don't know, I'm not a filmmaker, but dread was replaced by thrills and the thrills just weren't there for me. 

That being said, 'The Conjuring' was still some effective old school horror, taking place in the seventies, when this kind of thing was common in the seventies.  With the added bonus of a possessed evil ventriloquist dummy.  I hate those things.
Don't Be Square... Like Totally Twisted Flix!
Real Time Web