"Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives."
I've finally done it! I may be two weeks behind everyone else in the world, but I've now seen "The Conjuring"! I even managed to avoid all the spoilers on Twitter and Facebook beforehand, which wasn't easy considering how overhyped this movie has been.
Supposedly based on a previously unpublished case file from paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who I've never actually heard of before, "The Conjuring" starts off like an episode of "Friday the 13th: The Series", turns into a clone of "The Amityville Horror" for an hour, and ends up as a twenty minute version of "The Exorcist". As you can imagine, I was not impressed.
In fact, I was so disappointed with "The Conjuring" that I was tempted to only write the following for my review:
If someone perusing the aisles next to me in a DVD store were to ask me what I thought of "The Conjuring", those two words would be the most honest initial reaction I could come up with other than adding whichever choice expletive I might deem appropriate to the situation. I'm not saying that this has happened, although it certainly has done with other James Wan movies in the past, and the response of the person asking has also been equally negative. I'm sure that similar conversations have transpired between other people in various locations.
Maybe I live in my own sheltered little bubble where everyone shares the same good taste, but I've never known of a director other than James Wan whose movies are so consistently underwhelming apart from Christopher Nolan. Even Zack Snyder has double the amount of good movies on his résumé. I'm not going to acknowledge Dario Argento, Uwe Boll, Lloyd Kaufman, or Ulli Lommel because, let's face it, all their movies are guaranteed to be crap from the get-go.
|A metaphor just waiting to happen.|
The reasons why "The Conjuring" is such boring crap are very easy to list. For a start, the story is unoriginal and clichéd, and it's a messy fusion of far better films that came out over 30 to 40 years ago. We've seen it all before ad nauseum. "The Conjuring" brings nothing new to the table and doesn't even present what it has got in an entertaining manner for adults.
Thus, the second huge problem with "The Conjuring" is that it might as well be a PG-13. How and why it got an R-rating is beyond my comprehension. There's no nudity, no swearing, no sex scenes, no gore, and it's not scary in any way. So how the Hell did it get rated as an R? "R for Rubbish" is my assessment although I'm betting on failed bait and switch shenanigans behind the scenes with the MPAA just to get asses on seats in the movie theatres.
The big giveaway that the target audience was initially meant to be braindead teenagers is the amount of grammatical errors in the script. Both Lorraine and Ed get away with saying "hung" instead of "hanged" without anyone correcting them, and if that's not bad enough, there's Ed's immortal triple-negative, "We ain't never seen nothing like this!" which you can see in the trailer along with all the other "good bits". The terrible dialogue is almost as bad as the "I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do" line in the shitty "Evil Dead" remake. No wonder the mumble-mouthed younger generation are the way they are!
Thirdly, there's no characterisation whatsoever. I couldn't tell you the names of any of the characters even though they were given, what they might be interested in other than ghost hunting or being the victims of a demonic haunting, or any details that would make them more than two-dimensional. The best I can come up with is that "The Conjuring" stars Patrick Wilson with sideburns, Vera Farmiga looking far more beautiful than I've ever seen her look before, the Peter guy from "Office Space", the plain-looking girl who played Nell in "The Haunting" remake whose name I always forget, and a bunch of other people who I've never heard of poncing about in a badly maintained American house. If you think I'm joking, try telling me the names of the family members without looking them up on the IMDb. While you are at it, what are the names of the cop or the Warren's assistant? No idea? Case proven.
Without characterisation, what's the point of a horror movie? If you can't identify with the protagonists, empathising with their situation and feeling the catharsis when it's resolved is completely lost, isn't it? Or is this something that kids today just don't care about? As much as anyone born after 1989 is likely to be a complete moron in my estimation anyway, there are exceptions who must have left the cinema as disappointed as us older guys. Even the ones who only went to see some scary effects must have felt cheated of their $10.
|Vera Farmiga is so hot in her granny clothes!|
I wish I could find something good to say about "The Conjuring", but it's a typical James Wan movie. There are a couple of overloud jump scares which don't work, the usual creepy dolls which aren't creepy at all, some guy in a latex witch mask which is supposed to be scary, horrible shaky camerawork (but with lots of zooming this time just to be very '70s!), irritating child actors, poor CGI effects, plotholes everywhere, no atmosphere, no tension, total chaos at the end with a lame resolution, and nothing original whatsoever. The tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of Blumhouse Productions' formulaic style of composition when the family mentions birds hitting their house (as in "Dark Skies") is realised when the birds repeat their kamikaze attack near the end, but you can't make in-jokes like that when you do the same damned thing yourself!!!
I suppose the period setting in 1970s America is well done, but that's not exactly a difficult thing to achieve. Apart from the cars, America looks much the same as it has done since the 1920s when it comes to the crappy wooden sheds which people jokingly refer to as houses. Every house in my town looks like the one in "The Conjuring" only in an even worse state of disrepair! Forget nostalgia, these firetraps need to be knocked down and replaced with some proper bricks and mortar! I'm sure that I've mentioned that several time before on this blog though.
I'm not happy about James Wan using a cover version of "Sleepwalk" with lyrics either. The original Santo & Johnny instrumental from 1959 which is such a signature feature of Stephen King's "Sleepwalkers" (1992) just doesn't belong anywhere else! The guitars in "Sleepwalk" even sound like cats meowing for God's sake! But, in spite of having a witch in the story, there are no cats in "The Conjuring"! There's a collie dog called Sadie who meets her maker off camera, but no cats! Oh, that makes me so angry!
The word on the street is that James Wan is giving up horror movies now to make the next homoerotic installment in "The Fast and the Furious" franchise. I wish him the best of luck, but after "The Conjuring", I can't say that he will be missed.