Seeing as how Halloween is this Friday, it’s about time to start rounding up some reviews on horror movies. Props to those who have been doing a horror review every day this whole month, I wish I had the motivation to do the same, but sadly I’ve been slacking. I’ll have to settle for a horror week instead of a month. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone else’s, though! So this is going to be a random selection of horror movies I’ve either seen recently or a long time ago. Some will be favorites and some won’t, but they’ll all be ones memorable enough for me to think of off the top of my head. So without further ado…
The Conjuring is a horror movie I’ve seen recently this past month. I found myself putting it off because I’m a bit of a little girl when it comes to some scary stuff, and refuse to watch movies like this at night time by myself. But no matter, I’ve finally gotten around to it. If I were to rank this movie on a scare scale of 1-10, 1 being not scary at all, and 10 being pissing my pants, I’d give this about a 7. I jumped at some parts and it stuck with me long enough until the sun went down and I started thinking how freaky it would be if a ghost grabbed my feet while I was trying to sleep. Needless to say, I had a little bit of trouble sleeping that night. Overall, I’d say that’s a success.
It’s easy to say the scariest stories are the true ones. Unfortunately, “true stories” when it comes to horror movies end up being about as true as me saying Bigfoot lives in my back woods. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in any ghost stories. I’ve been to one of Lorraine Warren’s scary ass Hallow’s Eve lectures and let me tell you, she’s pretty damn convincing–enough to where while I was driving home that night, I had to try my hardest not to look in the rear view mirror lest there be a scary face sitting in my backseat. Hollywood sucks at telling true horror stories, though, and take liberties that make it lose any credibility, and therefore, a lot of the genuinely scary elements. I’m pretty sure they’ve done much of the same here.
The Conjuring follows the story of the Perron family after they move into a new house in Rhode Island. Shortly after they move in, they start experiencing the usual kind of paranormal activity–strange noises, visions of ghosts, the mother, Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor), actually wakes up with bruises on her body, and the five daughters experience some pretty creepy situations as well. When they realize what they’re dealing with is serious business, Carolyn and her husband Roger (Ron Livingston) track down the famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) and ask them for help.
For the first half of the movie, director James Wan seems to understand that sometimes the scariest elements in a movie are what we don’t see. Pictures falling off the wall, doors slamming, a quick glimpse of a shadow or a face, these are the things that build suspense and create jumpy situations, something classic horror movies heavily relied on in the past. I don’t know about most people, but it’s these things that get me, not long shots of an actor in bad make-up or a CGI ghost wailing at the screen. However, once it gets towards the end, the whole vision of Bathsheba the ghost witch was a little ridiculous. Actually the possession scene was a little over the top in general. This is coming from someone who is scared to death of demon and possession related stuff (thank you, The Exorcist), but the possession here wasn’t all that scary, not to mention, the Warrens have stated numerous times they would never do an exorcism without a priest, so that whole scenario is an example of Hollywood fiction at its finest, or worst, depending upon how you see it.
Also, the inclusion of the Annabelle doll seemed extremely out of place. Sure, dolls are scary. I used to have one doll in my room I got for my first Holy Communion when I was a little girl, it was a praying doll. One night, it randomly fell off my dresser, and you know what I did? I kicked that thing the hell out of my bedroom. It sits downstairs now in a glass hutch in the dining room. But I digress. My point is, Annabelle, aside from being a creepy ass doll, served no purpose to this particular story. However, it was obviously put there for the possibility of a spin-off, which did happen, and I didn’t see it, mainly because I heard it was awful. So, I think it’s safe to say Annabelle is just a big fail on all accounts.
I know I’m mainly nitpicking here, but it’s tough to find some good horror nowadays and I feel the need to be harsh for some reason. However, The Conjuring, despite a few issues I had with it, really is some of the best horror I’ve seen in a while. Half the time I don’t even bother going to see horror movies in the theater because I just know they are going to be bad, and that’s probably why I didn’t see this one. I’m glad I was wrong, though. James Wan directed something worthwhile here, and it doesn’t hurt that the actors did a top notch job at acting terrified, Lili Taylor wasn’t so bad at pretending to be possessed either. This definitely isn’t a bad pick for Halloween.