Friday, April 29, 2016

Don't Watch This Alone!: THE CONJURING

Welcome to the inaugural edition of DON'T WATCH THIS ALONE!, where we review the best, worst, and everything in between in the world of horror.  We'll start things off with one of my favorites, the 2013 film...THE CONJURING.  Enjoy!

As a movie-going audience, we never seem to get tired of "haunted house" movies.  From classics like The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist to more recent incarnations such as the Paranormal Activity franchise and Sinister, movies like this have been scaring audiences for decades, and with great success.  The Conjuring is no different.

Directed by the very talented James Wan, the twisted mind behind the successful Saw franchise, The Conjuring steps far away from the "torture-porn" horror sub-genre he became famous for and continues down the path of the classic "haunted house" genre of which he has become more recently accustomed, directing Dead Silence and Insidious 1 & 2.

The Conjuring is based on the true story of The Perron Family haunting and the infamous demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who set out to rid the family of this evil that is plaguing them.  The Warren's most notable case was the Amityville haunting of George and Kathy Lutz in 1975, but several films have been based on their work, in The Amityville Horror (1979), The Haunted (1991), and The Haunting in Connecticut (2009).  This film takes place in Rhode Island in 1971.  The first half hour of the movie bounces back and forth between the Perron family and their initial encounters with the haunted happenings of their new home and the Warren's performing seminars about their work, setting up good context for the remainder of the film.  This is something rarely seen in these types of movies.  Normally, we learn about the family that's being haunted, but nothing important about the paranormal investigators who try to help.  This adds a level of depth to the movie that many others in this genre lack.

Full of all the classic, cliché moments that a paranormal movie should have, from an invisible entity pulling someone from their bed, slamming doors and creaking floors, a young child's not-so-imaginary friend, and even an exorcism, The Conjuring sets itself apart from others in the genre with a great cast, solid acting, and beautiful cinematography.  It also brings forth an emotion rarely seen in horror films, causing the audience to actually care about the characters and whether or not they survive.

Playing Roger and Carolyn Perron, the family being haunted, are Ron Livingston (Office Space, Swingers) and Lili Taylor (The Haunting, Hemlock Grove).  I remember the first time I saw Ron Livingston walk on screen, and I'll be honest, I was a little nervous.  All I'd known him for were comedies, and I wasn't really sure how he would do in a movie like this, but I was pleasantly surprised. He brought great emotion to his character which really allowed the audience to connect with him and his family.  And then we have the infamous demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson (Insidious, Watchmen) and Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel, Orphan).  This was Wilson's second time starring in a James Wan paranormal movie, the first, of course, being Insidious.  Both of these actors put on amazing performances and their chemistry together was outstanding.

With such a great cast, script, and director, there was no way this film wouldn't be a success, and the fact that a sequel is due out later this year is proof of that.  Overall, I felt this movie had a solid story, different from most of the "haunted house" movies out there, and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.  I would highly recommend this movie to any horror fan.

The Merc's Score:  9/10

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