Thursday, July 25, 2013

Warren Peace!

The Conjuring  (New Line Cinema, 2013)

Before the Camera:

Vera Farmiga  (Orphan)
Patrick Wilson  (Hard Candy)
Lili Taylor  (Dogfight)
Ron Livingston  (Office Space)
Shanley Caswell  (Little Victories)
Hayley McFarland  (Eye of the Storm)
Joey King  (The Dark Knight Rises)
Mackenzie Foy  (Wish You Well)
Kyla Deaver  (The Candy Shop)
Shannon Kook  (Verona)
John Brotherton  (Pervert!)
Joseph Bishara  (Insidious)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by James Wan

Produced by Rob Cowan, Tony DeRosa-Grund, and Peter Safran

Written by Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes

When it’s 1971 and the house you just bought and moved into turns out to be dripping with evil spirits – who you gonna call? No, not them – it’s thirteen years too early and besides, they’re fictional characters anyway. So who you gonna call? That’s right. Ed and Lorraine Warren. At least, that’s what the Perrons (Taylor and Livingston) do.

The Warrens – a real life couple - became well known as ghost hunters and paranormal investigators in the 60’s. At this point of their careers – the early 70’s - they had investigated hundreds of alleged hauntings, and managed to provide rational explanations for dozens of them. But the remaining incidents were not so easily explained away, and it here that demonologist Ed (Wilson) and medium Lorraine (Farmiga) bring their formidable gifts to bear – to exorcise and cleanse places and things tainted with evil negative energy or beings. Sometimes they trap the evil energy in an item – and that nightmarish knick knack goes into a special room in their home – a repository of these diabolical tchotchkes kept at bay with a regular infusion of positive energy from priest blessings.

The Warrens meet the Perrons.

The Perrons recently moved into an old but well built house in the wilds of Rhode Island with their five (!) daughters. The very first alarm bell goes off when the family dog refuses to go in the house – but who’s going to pay attention to a dog? The family soon discovers a secret cellar – boarded up and hidden in a closet in the hallway downstairs. The daughters all start to experience small, creepy moments – figures glimpsed in reflections, feet tugged while they sleep. The clocks in the house all stop every morning at 3:07am – regardless of how much they’re wound or how fresh the batteries are. Eventually, the almost playful element washes away – and is replaced with evil – and no one in the house is safe. They contact the Warrens, and despite Ed’s misgivings that Lorraine is still bearing psychic scars from their most recent exorcism – where something went horribly wrong – they agree to investigate the Perron home. What they find there is described in the opening of the film as “so malevolent” they kept the incident secret for more than forty years – and threatened the lives and mortal souls of a dozen people. Even armed with religion and positive power, will they be able to stop …The Conjuring?

You never know who you'll find hanging around these old houses...

I first heard about this movie when it went into pre-production – because it was going to be shooting right here in my hometown! Despite that, and the presence of director James Wan, I wasn’t sure about this one – because there have been a lot of these ghost stories in the movies lately, and at some point it usually feels like one too many trips to the well. I heard some good things about the movie from pals working on it – and was invited to drop by the set for a visit – but time got away from me and I never took advantage of that offer.

When the trailer premiered I was impressed by what I saw – the movie looked like it would be scary.

The movie was scary!

Blessedly rated R – and proving to me that PG-13 horror is always going to be pallid and toothless – this is a terrific old school haunted house movie. The forces in the house are mean as spit – and clever in their psychological assault on the Perrons. They fill the movie with dread – and Wan is able to evoke as much terror from what you don’t see as what you do see – or hear. The derivation of the evil in the house is totally believable and solidly explains the various haunting elements in the house . There are jump scares, “don’t go in there” moments, creepy sounds, and physical manifestations that are truly and wonderfully creepy.

Vera Farmiga and yet another creepy toy...these ghost
flicks are crawling with them!

The cast is uniformly excellent – with Farmiga especially potent in her performance – but everyone is good, including all of the children – not an easy feat and one worth commending Wan for. The period production value is well handled, and the makeup and special effects are marvelous – lots of practical work enhanced with just the right amount of CGI – which is to say nearly invisibly - the very best way to handle effects like these. The movie rattled me pretty good, and my wondrous wife Suze spent a big portion of the running time gripping my hand in varying states of crushing depending on the level of terror onscreen. If you like a horror movie that serves up a big platter of fright – then look no further. The Conjuring has everything you’re looking for on the menu, and then some.

Let’s Get Out of Here ?

At very roughly the 1:40:00 mark Patrick Wilson has gotten his fill of the Perron home and proposes a general evacuation of the area.

 Eye Candy ?

The ladies are terrific actresses, and they are both pretty cute - but the frumpy early 70's mom fashions throws a block on them joining the list - for this movie, anyway.

Sorry ladies!

 Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "The Conjuring scares up a fine
bit of movie watching!"

 Thank you Mr. Man! Until next post, you Can Poke Me With An Annabelle Doll, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. I cannot wait to see this. I loved James' work on Insidious and this looks perfect scary to me. Awesome review, my friend!

  2. My review's coming later today, but so far I can say: I agree with everyting you wrote!