I realize it has been two months since I published. That’s a shocking period of time to have passed so quickly. My local movie theater in Canton, NY has been letting me down on recent horror films. I wasn’t able to see The Purge in theaters, though I hope to catch it on DVD release, and there have been another of other new films I have missed out on because the independent theater is too cheap the buy the rights to certain titles. I understand this is a small town problem, but that I had to drive a half hour to Massena, a non-college town with a smaller population than Canton to actually catch it is a little off-putting. My ears are still ringing from the volume of the theater, as well.
Rant aside, this is what I have for you today. The Conjuring is the latest brain child of James Wan, a director whose work in Insidious I greatly enjoyed. Believe it or not, he actually took a step forward with this film, which is sitting above 8.0 on IMDB and with an 84% rating (at the moment) on Rotten Tomatoes. From an aesthetic perspective, it’s nothing special, but the relatively low budget of 16 million dollars shows that in this genre, it doesn’t take much money to buy effects.
At its heart, it is an exorcism film. This might put off some of the more aggressively atheist viewers (the type of individual even more likely to bring up religion than Mormons,) but it has a lot more than that. Contained in two hours of horror are evil possessed dolls, demons, hangings, secret basements, flash-bulb cameras, haunted closets, blustering know-nothing cops, and Patrick Wilson. If you were to combine Chucky, Insidious, Signs, Sinister, and The Amityville Horror all in one, and do it correctly, it might look a little something like this.
I don’t even like Patrick Wilson. It’s not that he’s a bad actor, he just reminds me of Nicolas Cage. But he fit his role in this film much better than Insidious, where he looked confused and out of place through most of the film next to Rose Byrne’s A+ acting. In this, his character is believable, if nothing else. The rest of the cast is solid but unspectacular, proving that the strength of the film lies largely in Wan’s directing and a looping, comprehensive storyline that makes full use of every minute in the two hour run time.
Don’t get me wrong and think I’m selling this as the best horror film ever made. It’s not. But it’s probably the best you’ll see this year, no disrespect to Wan’s upcoming Insidious, Chapter 2. There are a few cheap, loud “jump” moments, but they aren’t overused and for the most part are unpredictable enough to keep you on the edge of your seat for the duration. Despite a lack of gore, swearing, or nudity, the film holds an “R” rating, which is a testament not only to the fact that it’s downright scary, but the fact that they were able to write a believable horror dialogue without the characters bleating obscenities every other word.
In recent years, the Horror Genre has been one left largely to late night parties at home by the Netflix account. There aren’t too many films worth dropping the ten dollars on to see in theatres, but in this case, it’s worth the trip. Because it’s based on a true story, there are a lot of stones left unturned, but that leaves more to the imagination of the viewer. Would watch again.