Friday, August 2, 2013

Review: The Conjuring (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: James Wan
Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor

I’m kind of obsessed with ghost stuff. I watch a butt tonne of ghost reality shows, I dig the heck out of ghost movies and I have many books on the topic. It’s not that I believe in ghosts, more that the subject matter intrigues me so much. So when I say how excited I was for this movie, you can understand where it’s all coming from. The Conjuring is a ghost film based on an apparent true tale and is centred around famous ghost hunting duo Lorraine and Ed Warren. I know these two well; you can’t wander through the mass amount of ghost media without learning about this pair. Expectations are high, seat is now buckled; what kind of ride am I going to have?

Ever since Paranormal Activity I think the ghost movie has gone through a little bit of resurgence. However it wasn’t until Insidious that we saw these films really hit their stride. The PA series, while enjoyed by me (well maybe not number 4) hinged very much on the jump scare. While Insidious does have its jump scares, it uses cinema techniques other than just the now ubiquitous ‘found footage’ to create an excellent sense of atmosphere. The Conjuring continues this tradition and it seems that James Wan as a director is really getting a handle on this.

The Conjuring oozes a style that is both disturbing and intense - the audience I had reacted to just the sheer promise of dread, instead of the actual outcome. All because right from the get go there are camera techniques used to make the audience ill at ease. Even in the happiest moments the shadows are always lurking. One of the more intense scenes occurred thanks to a squeaky door, some shadow and some excellent acting from the child cast members.

However while I could continue to give The Conjuring a sensual massage till the cows come home, time has come to stop and pay up. There are problems with the movie that, while they don’t really stop the movie from being a great little watch, never proves to be that exceptional.

The biggest problem is that Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson steal the show as Lorraine and Ed Warren. They share a great chemistry and are enthralling as the ghost hunting couple, so much so in fact that when focused on the family being terrorised I couldn’t help but want to get back to the Warrens as quickly as possible. It’s not that the other cast members are bad, in fact Lili Taylor is fantastic as Carolyn Perron, beleaguered and haunted mother, it’s just the script seems to be more in love with the Warrens. It’s a very weird feeling to have the focus of the movie on two characters that aren’t actually the main protagonists of the story.

Not only does this effect the acting, but I personally felt like I was never given enough of the Warrens, or the haunting effecting the Perron’s. It makes the individual stories feel truncated and yet the movie suffers from being overly long. It could definitely use a trim here and there. I think the film would have been more effective if we stayed with the Warren’s and journeyed with them instead of cutting back and forth. This may have hurt the Perron Family dynamic, but unfortunately sometimes sacrifices need to be made.

The Conjuring is an excellent movie and is a great example of a ghost story done brilliantly. It pays a lot of respect to the Warrens, who are legends in the ghost hunting world and gets us to care about all the characters involved even if the lime light isn’t fully on them. This could very well be one of my favourite movies of the year and makes me really excited for James Wan to unleash Insidious Chapter 2.

1 comment:

  1. Good movie... story is not that new but amazing direction. Could not sleep for 2 days after watching it...!