The Conjuring (2013) Review

One from the re watch pile…
The Conjuring (2013)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: I have said on several occasions that I am not a fan of ghost/ demonic possession films. It’s not because I am afraid of them, but rather I don’t believe in either so the stories hold no fear for me, and are occasionally interesting distractions rather than actual entertainment.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good movie when it’s made, or am excited by a great performance, it’s just I don’t find the stories engaging enough as I find ‘true’ stories about possession to be a farce.

Anyway, this is the first film, directed by Australian director James Wan, about the real-life, honest-to-goodness psychic ghost-hunters, Lesley (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren and their exploration of the Perron family haunting, where Roger (Ron Livingston), his wife, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their 5 daughters move into a new house where strange things start happening.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens.


First their dog dies, then noises and a whole pile of spooky hocus pocus occurs, driving Carolyn to ask the Warrens for their help to try and get rid of whatever is in their house… and what is the horrible secret of the mysterious bruises appearing of Carolyn’s body…?

Considering this film is supposed to be based of a true story, it is full to the brim of stock standard tropes of generic, uninteresting ghost films. A whole bunch of jump-scares and totally post-millennium ghost story make-ups that are uninteresting and universal looking make this film little more than run-of-the-mill.

Also, Wan has included a pair of cannon-fodder buffoons, like the ridiculous Specs and Tucker from the equally daft Insidious films, who are really just mimicking those characters, and stand in as the ‘technical’ and ‘protection’ archetypes seen in stuff even back to Poltergeist. I’m not sure why they need a gun-toting type in their war on supernatural terror, but there he is, useless as boobs on a bull. Even with the Annabelle icon he robs not just from the history of possession/ ghost cinema but also from his own film Dead Silence from a couple of years earlier.

Lili Taylor as the haunted Carolyn.


The real win in this film is the cast. Wilson and Farmiga have a chemistry rarely seen in films anymore: they actually feel like a couple who have been together for years. Lili Taylor is amazing and ageless as she always is… seriously, she has looked exactly the same for 20 years! Surprisingly too, all 6 of the children in this film are amazing and not one of them is in the slightest bit annoying… or ‘the Anakin Factor’ as I like to call it.

The construction of the story is really clever too. Two set-ups occur in the first 45 minutes of this film, one of the family’s haunting and the other, the Warren’s history and skill set, so essentially for that period you are watching two separate stories that intersect when one requires assistance from the other.

It’s a nicely made film with some great performances but essentially it is a dull as dishwater, generic post millennial ghost story that surely must only appeal to people who don’t normally like proper horror films.

Score: **

The Australian Bluray menu screen


Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian Bluray release which runs for approximately 112 minutes. This film is presented in a perfect 2.4:1 image with an extraordinary, and I mean extraordinary, DTS-HD 5.1 audio. The soundtrack and audio style of the film is nothing short of spectacular.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with a trailer for We’re The Millard, if that counts an an extra. I must admit I did buy that film based on this trailer.

The reviewed copy of this disc comes with a Bluray, DVD and ‘Ultraviolet’ version, which expired in 2015, so that possibly doesn’t count.

Onto the main extras:

The Conjuring: Face to Face with Terror looks at the actual family who believed they were being haunted that this film was based on. It’s interesting to hear the ‘actual’ tales from the people who were involved in the ‘real’ haunting and exorcism.

A Life in Demonology is a history of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the actual paranormal investigators. It’s a nice tribute to the two with some interesting stories.

Scaring the ‘@$*%’ Out of You looks at the making of the film and how even in a film that’s essentially a biopic, though a snapshot of an entire life, you still need to throw in those ghost story tropes to make it an effective horror film as well.

Score: ****

WISIA: I watched it twice: the first time originally and now to review it for you all. I doubt if I’ll watch it again.

Annabelle: has very little to do with this story but is now a money maker in her own right.

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Countdown to Halloween Review #4: Night of the Demons (1988)

One from the re-watch pile…
Night of the Demons (1988)


Film: I find it hard to criticise films from the 80s as this was when I really became a super horror fan. I’d liked monster movies before this decade, but early 80s still really distilled my love and made me the horror fan I am today.

It’s with a slight bit of embarrassment that I admit to this being not just because of stories of murder and mayhem, but also due to the ‘scream queen’ culture, and the names associated, like Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer, Debbie Rochon and the legendary Linnea Quigley. It was not always necessary due to Academy Award (r) acting performances that I admired these women, but more due to a more physical aspect of their performances.


Ok, because they were nude quite regularly, and I’m a fan of boobies.

So what is this film about?

Weirdo Angela (Amelia Kinkade) and her friend, the facile Suzanne (Linnea Quigley) have decided to hold a Halloween party for their friends, but what they don’t realise is, is that she is holding the party at the notorious Hill House, an old mortuary that has several legends of awful things happening associated with its history.


Of course, the moronic groups of sex-crazed teens decided to hold a seance, which of course causes one of them to become possessed, who then passes the ‘infection’ on, slowly turning all the group into demonic distorted images of themselves, but who will survive, and what sort of condition will they be left in?

Badly acted and a stupid story with bloodshed and bodacious boobies: it’s all the great things about 80s horror condensed into 90 odd minutes of fun.

Score: ****


Format: The reviewed copy of Night of the Demons was the 2004 release, region 1 DVD from Anchor Bay, and it hasn’t really aged to well, especially with our fancy new equipment that we have now, 12 years later, that’s not to say it’s unwatchable, but it could do with a touch up here and there. This edition is the unrated version with additional gore and violence (the cover slick’s words, not mine) and is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen with a Dolby Digital ‘Ultra Stereo’ soundtrack.

Score: ***

Extras: There’s a couple of extras on this DVD, of which the video quality on them all is lacking.

My Demon Nights is an interview with Linnea Quigley looking back at her career at her experiences on Night of the Demons. It’s interesting but ultimately superficial.

There is also a commentary with director Tenney, executive producer Walter Josten and Producer Jeff Geoffray.

There are two trailers, one the theatrical and the other the video, and three TV spots for the film.

Promo Reel seems to be a promotional piece for video store owners to tempt them into taking Night of the Demons into their shops for rental. It’s actually quite an interesting piece of propaganda!

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: It’s one of my true loves from the 80s, and it gets a regular spin at my place.

The Conjuring 2 (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Conjuring 2 (2016)

The Cover of the Australian Bluray for The Conjuring 2


Film: I don’t deliberately try to be antagonistic when I find things I don’t like that the rest of the general public, and fandom enjoy. It’s put me at the solo end of several arguments: my dislike of The Blair Witch Project, my love of the Holly Valance action film DOA and my absolute apathy towards George Lucas’ fiddling with the original Star Wars saga.

My more recent battles have been regarding my dislike of a lot of these post millennial ghost movies. I am no great fan of ghost stories anyway as I don’t have a great belief in the supernatural, particularly ghosts. Of all these ghost movies that have come out the only one that I really enjoyed was the Ethan Hawke vehicle Sinister, but as far as the Insidious series and these Conjuring films, including Annabelle, well, I’m not a fan.

(I will hold one caveat to the previous statement: I did really dig the initial ghostly j-horror films like Ring and The Grudge when they first came out, but the ‘wet girl’ ghost became old quite quickly)

The Conjuring 2 is another adventure of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), ghost hunter/ psychic investigator/ exorcists who in this instalment travel to rainy Ol’ England in 1977 to help the Hodgson family. 

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson in The Conjuring 2


Janet (Madison Wolfe) and Margaret (Lauren Esposito), the two daughters, decide to play, one night, with a witch board and accidentally bring out the horrible spirit of a man named Bill Wilkins (Bob Adrian) who decides to torture them, their brothers (Benjamin Haigh and Patrick McAuley) and their single mother, Peggy (Frances O’Conner)… or does he not even exist?

The Warrens are recently accused of being charlatans after an investigation of the Amityville house, and can’t be seen, as agents of the church, to be involved in any sort of chicanery… but is the evil in the house even MORE clever than first suspected..?

Straight up I have to compliment Wilson and Farmiga for their excellent performances. They are the rocks in the middle of the entire tale and are just so well cast and perform with so much conviction and they are a pleasure to watch. Add O’Conner to that mix and you have a pretty solid central cast. The kids are mostly all great though one of the young characters is supposed to have a stutter, and rather than be a realistic stutter, it sounds more like lines from Morris Minor and the Major’s Stutter Rap. 

On a personal side note I have to say I was delighted to see Anatomie and Creep’s Franka Potente back. I feel like I haven’t seen her in years!

The spooky nun from The Conjuring 2


James Wan’s direction is quite good, and there are some clever camera tricks, and what felt like an occasional tribute to older horror films… I kept getting a Hammer Horror vibe at times… and in general it had a pretty cool, cold creepy feel to it. 

There were two epic missteps that I found a shame though. One was the realisation of a ‘Crooked Man’ character who seemed too cartoony for the look of the film, and the final reveal, which I won’t explore for spoiler reasons, was just a little generic.

A small shoutout to the soundtrack as well. The ghostly incidental music is perfectly juxtaposed with music of the time, which both set the scares and the period. I’ve no doubt this soundtrack will end up in my collection.

The story was OK and whilst I am still not convinced by ghostly movies, I did quite enjoy this but it was about performance rather than the tale. It was a improvement of the first Conjuring, and a galaxy away from the bursting gall bladder that was Annabelle.

Score: ***


Format: As one would expect a modern film in a modern format looks excellent. The Conjuring 2 review copy is an Australian region B which goes for approximately 134 minutes and is presented in 2.40:1 with a Dolby Atmos 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: There’s a pretty good bunch of extras on this, the shame is none of them run for very long.

Crafting the Conjuring as you may guess by the name, is a making-of deal, and is brief, but interesting.

The Enfield Poltergeist: Living the Horror investigates the ‘real’ case of the Enfield Incident, including interviews with the now-adult sisters that the film portrays, and Lorraine Warren herself! 

Creating Crooked explains the invention and execution of the Crooked Man character, which I reckon would have been a cool make up effect and creature, but not in this film. Here he just seems to be a tacked on scare, which suits no purpose other than that,

The Conjuring 2: Hollywood’s Haunted Stage looks at paranormal investigator Johnny Matook and his investigation of one of Warner Bros soundstages which is apparently haunted. It’s pretty stupid and essentially a waste of disc space.

The Sounds of Scary checks out the score. Being a soundtrack nut I was excited to watch this, and was only disappointed by the brevity of it. I mean, horror soundtrack featurettes usually hit the same notes: it’s moody, scary, etc. I guess I might be a frustrated musician.

Deleted scenes are as occasionally correct in their absence from the film.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: Like I said, I’m not really a fan of ghost movies, so I’ll only watch this again if my family, who love these sorts of movies, want to watch it, otherwise it’s a dust gatherer.