Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Film review: The Conjuring
Thanks to a youth spent reading everything I could on the paranormal, I was already familiar with the real Warrens and their reputations. Even better, thanks to Lorraine appearing occasionally on Paranormal State, I was primed for catching her cameo in THE CONJURING.
So part of my interest in seeing the film was based in prior knowledge and an appreciation for ghost stories. But more than that, even early reports on the movie gave a glimmer of hope that this might be one of those rare, genuinely good modern horror films. The casting seemed excellent, and while it's based on a true story that's similar to many other haunted house tales (fiction or not) it's a formula that just kind of works.
After watching THE CONJURING, something else occurred to me. It might be a personal preference, but right now, there's something that just looks great (and feels eerie) about films set in the 70's. I'm not sure what it is yet, but I'll have to keep my eye out in the future.
Overall, the film was excellent. I think this will be the top new horror film that I would recommend to anyone who asks for a suggestion, horror fan or not. I really liked the creativity they took in making the film creepy without resorting to the usual lame tricks. I felt like the filmmakers really took care with this story, too.
If you're not at all familiar with The Warrens or this film yet, you should know that it straddles a line between a haunting and an exorcism film. That said, if religion in your horror puts you off, you may not like it as much. I'm not saying it's preachy, and it's not. It's just a fact that in the world of this story, there are demonic spirits, and it requires some religion and exorcism to overcome it. In my opinion, it could be an issue for you if you can't grasp or respect The Warrens' perspective. You don't have to share it, but I know there are horror lovers out there who just can't "get" films that require that sort of gear shift.
Personally, I find religion fascinating in a sort of sociological and psychological way. At this point in my life I am not religious or spiritual at all, but I find belief an intriguing thing. I've especially taken a shine to considering religion in horror, because the role it plays in creating (and overcoming) fear and evil is such a powerful and interesting thing.
There is one minor detail that bothered me, though. In discussing the history of the house in the story, they wandered into the topic of witches. Oof. I try to understand the religious beliefs that lead people to make blanket statements about witches when what they really mean is "satanists" but alas, it remains a sticking point for me.
That aside, I'm relieved that THE CONJURING stood up to my expectations, and happy that there's a new, quality entry into this sub-genre that doesn't involve a handheld camera.