So MIDWEST MARK and his MIDWEST WIFE have been on more of a movie-centric kick lately, seeing as my current go-to shows are on either Friday or Sunday nights (MAGIC CITY, TRUE BLOOD, and RAY DONOVAN.) Needing to fill up my time with some sort of visual stimuli necessitates diving in to the trusty Blu Ray collection every now and again. That, and finding the rare occasion to watch a movie in the actual movie theater.
This summer has been a fairly dry season for movies, and aside from PACIFIC RIM last week one of the only other summer movies I was genuinely looking forward to was THE CONJURING. I have a feeling that Hollywood is going to be doing quite a lot of soul searching after losing out on millions and millions of dollars from their string of tentpole flops, none of which (LONE RANGER, RIPD, WHITE HOUSE DOWN) give me any motivation to leave my house. I take person exception to PACIFIC RIM in the ‘flop’ category, as it was a genuinely great movie and deserved much more than it got. Hopefully overseas markets can take it over the top.
THE CONJURING proves the point that a movie does not need a budget of $150 Million+ to be ‘good’. In fact, you can consider THE CONJURING to be an absolute masterpiece of a movie brought to us by JAMES WAN (SAW, INSIDIOUS) who we can now officially dub a “master of horror” if he wasn’t considered it already. It is easily the scariest “based on real events” movie ever (unless you count THE EXORCIST, but that was quite fictionalized) and probably one of the best horror movies of the decade. I often wonder which films will be looked back on 10-20 years from now and considered “classics”, but THE CONJURING should easily be able to go down in the annals of timeless horror films. It does everything so well without being overly gory and overly sexed up, and the ‘classiness’ was certainly a breath of fresh air.
Side note: it was shot on a 13 million dollar budget and grossed 41.5 million in the opening weekend. Quality over quantity, people!
It stars VERA FARMIGA (BATES MOTEL) and PATRICK WILSON (INSIDIOUS, WATCHMEN) as Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are real life paranormal investigators / demonologists who travel the area helping people who suspect they are somehow haunted. I am huge fans of both of them, and they play their parts outstandingly. LILI TAYLOR (HEMLOCK GROVE, SIX FEET UNDER) and RON LIVINGSTON (OFFICE SPACE!) star as the Perrons who moved into a house infested by a demonic entity. All of the actors are terrific, although we can now place LILI TAYLOR alongside LINDA BLAIR in the “Best Possessed Actress” category. Even RON LIVINGSTON, who will forever be typecast in my mind as Peter Gibbons was downright excellent.
Fun fact: LORRAINE WARREN herself also makes a brief appearance in the movie (front row in one of the lectures), and has appeared in several paranormal television shows like PARANORMAL STATE and A HAUNTING.
I don’t often come out of a movie saying that the audio and sound effects were great, because that is an aspect of film that is often taken for granted. But in THE CONJURING, the audio effects are utilized every bit as effectively as the visuals for extra-creepy effect.
So was it scary? It was extremely scary. While I am not one to jump and scream (I’m a man, dammit!) there was plenty of times where I was genuinely disturbed and downright frightened, which does not often happen anymore. My wife, on the other hand has left a permanent handprint on my arm where she clutched it out of sheer terror.
Oh, and by the way… why on earth do parents bring tons of small children to a rated-R horror movie? We’re talking 3 and 4 year olds here, not to mention the infant baby in the front row. Unbelievable. I would imagine that more than a couple of them have since been scarred for life.
Perfect score for THE CONJURING in every way. If you are a fan of horror movies, it should be considered required viewing. I have my concerns about the soon-to-be-released sequel to INSIDIOUS, but I can’t wait to see what JAMES WAN comes out with next.