There’s a Lady in a Dirty Nightgown That I See in My Dreams.
I had just gotten myself all prepared to see The Wolverine when I realized that I had made an appointment to get my air conditioning unit looked at right when the movie was going to start. I didn’t even need it anymore! It had taken so long for them to come out that the temperature had just cooled down naturally! Oh well. Instead, I had made plans with Friendboss Josh and his lady friend the Whitneybird and, even though I of course wanted to see The Wolverine more, I am a man of my word. Josh is practically brought to the point of suicide every time he’s not in my presence, and I’d hate to see how he’d react if I had plans with him and changed them for Hugh Jackman. Being the fantastic person I am, I decided to keep my word and go see The Conjuring with him, written by Chad and Carey Hayes, directed by James Wan, and starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, Shannon Kook, John Brotherton, Sterling Jerins, and Joseph Bishara.
The Perron Family – father Roger (Ron Livingston), mother Carolyn (Lili Taylor), and daughters Andrea (Shanley Caswell), Nancy (Hayley McFarland), Christine (Joey King), Cindy (Mackenzie Foy), April (Kyla Deaver), and Evita I think – move into a peaceful and isolated house in the country, complete with a creepy black tree in the back and an inexplicably hidden cellar. Even though nothing bad could possibly happen here, it does. Paranormal events start occurring all over the house. They’re tame at first, but then they amp up to the point where Andrea is attacked by what appears to be the spirit of an elderly woman. In order to save their family, they call in Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson), an acclaimed demonologist, and his wife Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), a clairvoyant, to help. Also, there’s an Asian guy (Shannon Kook) and a cop (John Brotherton).
Though I did like this movie, I don’t credit much of it to the writing. As I was typing the recap of the story, I started to think that I could probably create a template for reviewing ghost movies that would save me a lot of time. *BLANK* moves into a house. At first it’s peaceful, but then strange things start happening. Harmless at first, but then they amp up until *BLANK*. They call in experts, shit gets real for a little while, then either happy or sad ending. The end. I would also say that not too much credit could be given to the story because this movie was said to be based on the actual investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren. That being the case, I couldn’t give this movie much more credit than I could give the Amityville Horror movies, which were also based on the Warren’s investigations, and I suspect followed a similar pattern. Perhaps I’ll be able to use this template if I ever review those movies. I also took issues with a few things in the story of the movie, although I suppose I also can’t take that much issue with it because it could have happened in real life for all I know. The death of the dog early on, for instance. Josh pointed out to me that dog made a huge error in judgment by deciding not to come into the house. I know they were trying to indicate that the dog sensed something and was too afraid to enter the house, but the dog got killed outside anyway. Lot of good that did you. At some point in the movie, someone also remarks that the spirit hasn’t done anything violent. Really? You obviously mean it hasn’t done anything violent EXCEPT for attacking Andrea and pushing the mom down the stairs. Besides that, it’s completely tame. But the biggest error in judgment is that they leave the kids alone with the mother just moments after announcing that she’s possessed. I don’t even have a joke about that! It’s just dumb!
Though I was underwhelmed by the story of the movie, I would still give the movie credit for being pretty effective in its delivery. It built suspense very well and did pretty well with the startling moments. It was pretty suspenseful on the two occasions that the parents investigated the cellar with only a box of matches, but it made me curious because I was pretty sure they had invented flashlights by the 1970s. When they later actually used flashlights, it confirmed my suspicions that it was dumb for them to not decide to use one. Later in the movie, it was pretty damned startling when the sheet blew off and stopped on a ghostly figure. It reminded me of the scene in one of the Paranormal Activity movies when dust fell on a ghostly figure. There wasn’t much gore in this movie (which I appreciate), but when they used it, they used it well. When they had the birds flying into things and breaking their necks, they were really convincing. I guess the most gore they got was around the climax of the movie, but they never went overboard. They also used the sound pretty effectively. There was a point in the movie where the bass was so low that it shook my seat like I don’t ever recall happening in a movie before. Maybe the theater is more to blame for that though.
I felt like the performances were pretty effective in this movie. I feel like I haven’t seen Ron Livingston since Office Space, so I was happy to see him here. He didn’t really do anything to blow my mind in this movie, but he was good. Lili Taylor did pretty well. She was kind of a non-entity when she was just normal as the mother, but when she was inhabited by another entity, she did a complete turn. Excellent performance. Of course, her performance as a mother left a little something to be desired, and not just because she tried to kill the children at one point. I also mean the fact that she not only let the kids play a game of blindfolded hide and seek in a house with stairs, but she also participated. I didn’t think much of anything of any of the children in the family. The only thing I kept thinking was why there were so gundamned many of them, and why were they all girls? I suppose it’s a real thing that could happen, but it also should’ve been a reason not to move to the country. I mean, if all of those chicks in the household get their periods all synced up then demons will be the least of their worries when their house is surrounded by bears. Also, there were so many girls that I couldn’t really tell them apart. None of them really did much to stand out except the youngest one that liked talking to a music box. Beyond those people, the only thought I had was about Shannon Kook, but only because it was so stereotypical that the Asian dude would always be so ready with a camera.
The Conjuring didn’t really do much for me by way of story, but I don’t think anyone really cares that much about the story of a horror movie. It’s really more about how effectively the movie can creep you out, build your anxiety, and make you jump in your seat. This movie did that pretty well. And the performances were all pretty good as well. I would still say that it leaves me a bit on the fence when it comes to a recommendation. It’s definitely not a bad movie, but it didn’t feel like it was good enough for me to say you need to go see it in a theater right away. You could wait to rent it. I guess I would say you should get to the theater if you have a hankering for a scary movie, because you probably won’t have a better opportunity until around October. The Conjuring gets “The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges on which we decide to follow” out of “There is something horrible happening in my house.”
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