Friday, July 19, 2013

FILM REVIEW: The Conjuring (2013)

 
The Conjuring  is the rated R supernatural horror film we've all been waiting for. I seriously can't remember a good original horror film that has presented such an intriguing premise in such a captivating way. I got lost in this horror film.

James Wan is a really good filmmaker. And really good filmmakers make really good horror movies. Just the way he layers his films and creates tension is masterful. Not to mention the actual look of the film, thanks to his go-to cinematographer...John R. Leonetti. The Conjuring  is as beautiful as it is terrifying. It is the best horror film to deal with exorcism in quite some time. Seriously. I know I tend to over-hype films sometimes and make the mistake of realizing that the film wasn't as GREAT later on as it was when I walked out of the theater. But, ladies and deviants...The Conjuring  is a GREAT horror film.
 
The film opens with one of the creepiest sequences in years. The Annabelle doll. If you're familiar with supernatural history then you might know about paranormal investigator husband and wife, Ed and Loraine Warren. They've researched several notable supernatural events throughout the years. Most notoriously...The Amityville horror case. The Annabelle doll is another of their extraordinary cases that is briefly shown...but, it becomes part of the overall story. And, yes...dolls are fucking creepy.
 
So, we're introduced to the Warrens...played with complete and convincing devotion by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. The two display a magnetic chemistry crucial to the emotional investment in the film. Also, I love these two actors. They've dabbled in some really memorable genre stuff throughout the years...and this film truly elevates their talents. I could seriously envision a world where different sequels come out every so often showcasing different cases the Warrens have investigated and both Farmiga and Wilson cementing their place within the supernatural cinematic landscape.


Speaking of great performances, Lili Taylor plays Carolyn Perron, mother of 5 beautiful daughters and husband to hard-working truck driver, Roger (a capable Ron Livingston). Taylor pretty much redeems herself completely for the genre sins she committed in 1999's The Haunting. A film that I wanted to love...but, ended up being more irritated with than anything. In The Conjuring, Taylor handles emotional and physical abuse like a seasoned pro. You can literally see the heart-break in her face as her character struggles to deal with moving into a new potentially beautiful house (purchased on the cheap)...only to realize that the place is a breeding ground for witch demons. She's always been an incredible actress.

The rest of the cast serves as great supporters to the pillars of the film. All the young actresses who play the young daughters are great for what is asked of them and Livingston, as mentioned, is passable as the husband trying to hold his family together. Most notable of the supporting cast is John Brotherton, who plays the cock-strong police officer simply named Brad. He serves as the bumbling comic relief skeptic who quickly snaps out of his stupor once he realizes the gravity of the situation.

While the film's premise is certainly nothing new: Paranormal investigators enter a house possessed by demons. It is the film's execution that really delivers the greatness that we've all been waiting for. Every jump-scare is earned with the tension-filled build up and all of the actual terrifying moments are delivered with such a cold effect that I actually felt my hair raise during multiple points in the film. Also, the promise of the continuing adventures of the Warrens has me sold.


In the way of flaws, I really have nothing big to bitch about. Perhaps some clichés here and there. Some suspect CGI that kind of takes you a little out of the otherwise excellent film that you are watching. And maybe some script decisions that could've been handled to much greater effect. But, other than that...I can't really take too many critical jabs at a solid rated R horror film released smack in the middle of a summer blockbuster season.

The Conjuring  really boasts some truly creepy SFX. They are scenes that I want to watch again just so I can see what the special effects team accomplished. I loved the look of the possessions and how people became possessed. One sequence in particular (involving Carolyn Perron in bed) really sent shivers down my spine. While not a stand-out achievement that introduces anything brand new to the genre, the SFX team really deserves an applause for what they've done here.

In the end, The Conjuring  is definitely a must-see. I won't say that it is the new standard in horror films or that it replaces The Exorcist  or anything crazy like that. But, I will say that all horror movies should be like this. A ruthless assault to the nerves while also delivering a solid story with excellent performances by all involved. The Conjuring  is truly a GREAT American horror film.





Thanks for reading,

bryan.





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