Dave’s 3-Word Review:
True? Likely story…
Hey guys, remember that one classic horror film way back when called Amityville Horror and it was based on a book and a true story and yatta yatta? Remember how every horror film from here to Timbuktu wanted to take the best parts of what made the film tick and made their own version? Well, the entire paranormal part of the story was inspired by these two demonologists by the name of Ed and Lorraine Warren. This married couple was famous for their research and lectures on hauntings. Well, here comes one of their darkest cases that’s been kept quiet for 30 years because the world “wasn’t ready” for it yet…oh…no? Because it’s pretty much the same thing as Amityville as well, and that is…The Conjuring.
Let me introduce you to the Perron Family. Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their never-ending supply of daughters have just moved into a new home, and surprise surprise…the sucker is haunted. By what appears to be…a never-ending supply of ghouls, ghosts, specters, and of course, demons. Demons are the entities primarily focused on and mentioned, though. Anyways, strange occurrences begin happening all around the house, worsening every day. So, when there’s something strange…in the neighborhood, who they gonna call? That’s right. Ghostbusters Ed (Patrick Harris) and wife Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and their team. Their first plan? To exorcise the wardrobe.
I kid, but I’ll be honest, there were some good things about this film that I can’t ignore. This is a very successfully creepy flick, which is a huge surprise, given how tacky it is. I’ll admit that I was more creeped out than scared, but there was a lot of bad riding on this flick from the get go, and it is certainly flawed.
As far as ghost movies go, or any horror flick at that matter, I usually watch with two preferences: Personal and Professional. My personal preference is that it never shows the ghost, save for maybe one shot in the final, climaxing moments of the film. You are the best tool for scaring your own self, your mind is the one and only thing that can create your worst nightmare, a movie can’t do that. My professional preference is the following: When there is a need for a ghost – visually speaking, you should either see them as clear as day, but not hear them; or you can hear them but not see them. I think if these general rules were followed, you’d be able to hold the scare factor together and still maintain believability that this is a ghost…but this film did both, which honestly made it a bit tacky in the long run.
The ghosts appeared as solid as you and I, and as clearly audible as your friend sitting next to you. There’s nothing there that I can accept as a definition of “ghost”. You can’t just put makeup and old clothes on. When you see people dressed up like that on Halloween or on those zombie walks, are you convinced? That’s why today we have CGI to make those ghosts flicker or be half invisible, or blurry, or just a shadow, or part of a shadow. There is so many things you can do to make a ghost believable if you really try. Then…of course the movie didn’t stop at one ghost, it built and built until it was begging for a spoof.
The other things I had issues with in the film was the darn subplot with the possessed doll. Maybe it’s just me, but I think possessed dolls are the stupidest, corniest, most unbelievable plot device in horror. Every second they try to sell a stinking creepy doll moving around like its alive, my overall score drops. That did not need to be in there. My other pet peeves with this flick involve Patrick Wilson and Ron Livingston, whom I didn’t think were the best casting choices. Wilson clearly chosen for his role in Insidious. The story wasn’t anything new, as I mentioned above, a family in a haunted house that makes the owner crazy and homicidal. We’ve seen it. Yeah.
Now that I’ve finished up bashing the sucker to kingdom come, you’ll notice that my recommendation is still “Rent”, but please know that it is a relatively low rent. After all of that corny plot tools, bad ghosty decisions, and lack of storytelling…the movie is successfully a creepy flick, because even though it has a lot of focus on what you see…it also used the “suggestion” tactic, which is…in my opinion…the only way to really scare anyone. The movie would truly be the same as everything else if it didn’t use suggestion, but since it did, it separated itself ever so slightly, and voila…it made waves.
The Conjuring borrows from other haunted house stories and legends. It focuses on showing the audience what’s in the closet rather than have our paranoia create an explanation for ourselves through the proven use of suggestion. Still, the film is a creepy one.