Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring (USA, 2013) - Color, Director(s): James Wan
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 15]
Approx. 112 min.

Z-rating: 5 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 0 stars out of 5

"Based on a true story" is an overused adage when promoting horror movies in an attempt to lend some credibility to the film's story. What could be scarier than the possibility of the events in the movie actually being true? Unfortunately, these movies often take many liberties with the plot in order to produce an entertaining film and, in embellishing the story, give critics a reason to doubt that any of the events have actually taken place. Enter James Wan's third supernatural horror film based on Ed and Lorraine Warren's real life paranormal investigations during the 1970's. The Warrens are featured as prominent characters in the film but what you might not have known was that they also investigated the hauntings depicted in the films The Amityville Horror and The Haunting in Connecticut. In fact, Lorraine Warren even mentions specifically that of all the places she's visited throughout her career, the Amityville house is the only one she would never return to.

The film opens with the Warrens investigating a demonically possessed doll, which is based on their real life investigation of a possessed Raggedy Ann Doll named Annabelle. What we're seeing is footage played during a lecture given by the Warrens to a University class on the supernatural. After a brief title crawl, we cut to the Perron family moving into their new home. The family experiences some supernatural occurrences after their first night in the house but initially writes it off as strange coincidence. Not until something attacks one of their daughters in the middle of the night do they seek professional help from the Warrens. Agreeing to come out and visit the house, the Warrens conduct an initial investigation and conclude that the house needs an exorcism in order to "cleanse" it. After doing a little research on the property, they uncover the original owners' relation to a woman that was hung during the Salem witch trials and a curse that was placed on the land. Now, it's up to Ed and Lorraine Warren to save the Perron family.

I cannot stress enough how much I loved the focus on the Warrens and their career as professional paranormal researchers. I grew up LOVING the movie Mr. Vampire because it was just amazing to watch a Master ghostbuster/vampire hunter at work. I prefer watching professionals who actually know what they're doing as opposed to amateur home video artists that you find in a Paranormal Activity movie. The fact that these characters were based on actual people that really did this type of work is what makes the story so enriching. The Perrons are such a sweet family, you really hate to see all this happening to them. I have two young nieces myself, so I can relate to the fear of something happening to them that I have no control over. I'd rather take my chances on Jason Voorhees, Chucky, or something I can actually fight against.

Nudity: None pervs, there are children in this movie!

Gore: Being a supernatural film, there isn't much in the way of blood being spilled either. Although a police officer is bitten on the cheek and we see the spouting blood for a brief moment.

Room full of haunted, possessed, or cursed items

Awesome: to the MAX!!!! Right before seeing this movie, I was complaining to a friend that there seemed to be a lack of truly creepy or frightening movies in recent years. (I was personally disappointed when The Woman in Black and The Innkeepers failed to thrill me) Although I understand that as an avid horror movie fan, the chances of coming across more hits than misses is lower when you watch them in such large quantity. I had to eat my words when James Wan killed it this year with back-to-back haunted house films in The Conjuring and Insidious: Chapter 2, which had to be the best supernatural movies I've seen in years. I will admit that watching the sheer volume of horror movies that I've seen, you do get desensitized a bit, but you can always tell the difference between a good movie and a bad one. This movie was fantastic and I highly recommend buying or rent it for Halloween!