Scary summer movies come and go, all bids from studios who want to grab as much of those sweet summer funds as they can. That’s not to say the work they produce is an obvious cash grab – sometimes the best horror films come out in the summer. But last year’s abysmal turn out in the horror genre for the summer, how does this first of the terrifying tales fare in comparison to the films that fill theaters in October? Will you be cowering in fear or yawning in boredom?
Let’s take a look at The Conjuring.
The Conjuring is about the Perron family moving into a new house in Rhode Island in the 1970s. Of course, the house is haunted by several angry spirits which begin to torment and torture the family until they are forced to seek help. Enter Ed and Lorraine Warren, two paranormal investigators who agree to take on their case. What occurs is a long battle between the Warrens and the ghosts of the house, who have sinister plans for the little family. I won’t give much else away, but bonus points if you like happy endings (hint hint).
In terms of how this film looks, they get as close to the 1970s as you can without hopping into a time machine and shooting it from the decade itself. The colors, the settings, the fashion all looks period-perfect. Even the scenes themselves look like they have that particular grimy look that old home movies had from that ever. The ghosts are pretty disturbing, making good use of makeup and jump scares to keep them moving long enough that they never stop being creepy. The special effects are well used but never become overwhelming. Of course, there’s the disturbing doll that likes to jump around scare the crap out of every member of the audience that is the real star of the movie. Be forewarned, if you’re going to be seeing this movie and are terrified of dolls, prepare yourself mentally for the sheer disturbingness of this thing.
I will say that while the action is pretty engaging, the story at times feels like it lacks substance. The interaction between the family is strong in the beginning but once the investigators arrive, it just feels like the movie stops caring about character interaction and starts through crosses and people around non-stop. That’s not a bad thing – at the end of the day, this film is a haunted house film, the action is what should be the focus of the film. Still I would have liked a little more meaningful interactions between the various characters, especially the sisters who seem to have an interesting dynamic.
I will say that the script is sort of all over the place in the end. Lorraine figures out how the big bad ghost is doing the evil, and then she goes home without telling the family. Not even five minutes later, the ghost takes over and begins to take over, Lorraine is like “Oh, yeah, that’s how she was doing it!” I swear, this has to be bad editing, or simply some sort of bizarre case of scenes that were cut leaving this open. You might think it’s not a big deal, but this gaping plot hole led to the endangerment of three people, two of which were children. Why not just cut it out of the film the first time she mentions it so this glaring issue isn’t an issue anymore.
The acting is on par with these type of films – nothing Oscar worthy but certainly believable. Ron Livingston, who plays patriarch Roger Perron comes off a little wooden and disconnected at times, but otherwise the adult members of the cast hold well together, display real fear and empathy throughout the film’s finale. The child actresses work well, even if Ed and Lorraine’s daughter Judy, played by Sterling Jerins, is just meant to scream a lot. The ghosts, sadly, don’t get much of a character to talk about, but I will give the actors credit, they do their job well.
This is one of the creepiest films I have seen in a while, but take away the scares and there’s little substance there for the plot. It has some great horror, great action, and good cinematography. I’m not going to say that this is going to become a classic – it’s too much thrill and not enough heart for that, but its crowning achievement is that it manages to be scary without over-relying on jump scares or fake outs. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who wants a good shock to their system in this summer heat.
– Great cinematography.
– No cheap scares.
– Strong action sequences.
– Acting can vary.
– In terms of story, some substance is lacking.