Mainstream Hollywood Horror Should Be Like “The Conjuring”
July 20, 2013
While there was nothing terribly unpredictable about this film and while skeptics doubt the events that unfolded here are in-fact true, “The Conjuring” still proves to be a very effective horror, regardless of ones personal beliefs about this being a work of fiction, or non-fiction…
I thought the opening sequence was especially creepy as we catch a glimpse into the world of Ed & Lorraine Warren’s work, and the types of cases they take-on; it was masterfully executed, and for me perhaps the scariest part of the film. There were plenty of other moments throughout to get your heart racing, but I’m not sure they matched the subtle and genuine creep-factor of the opening tale; and that’s not a slight at the rest of the movie, or implying it wasn’t scary; it’s more emphasizing just how chilling the opening was; at least for me.
We then transition into The Perron family moving into a new house out in the country, and of course supernatural occurrences begin – even on the first night.
We then alternate sequences between The Perron family, and Ed & Lorraine Warren – and what I like about these transitions is that both worlds are interesting. You become interested in The Perron family, and what is transpiring in their house, as well as what’s going on with the Warren couple, and their work.
Finally, after the Perron family are not sure what else to do, Mother Perron seeks the Warrens out and explains her family’s situation, and while the Warren’s were at first skeptical, they agree to come investigate.
Now both the Perron family and Warren couple’s worlds merge together…
And what I like about this is how Director James Wan, executed the transition and made it feel natural to the story. So many times when you establish one character’s world, and then another character’s world in the same story their lives can work apart, but when you combine them in your second act the story can lose momentum, and often feel forced. But here it felt totally organic and helped the overall story build.
What I liked about this, and what I think is so rare about most films nowadays, particularly horror, is that I liked the entire Perron family, as well as both of the Warrens…
What I appreciate about this film is that they didn’t try to get overly cutesy with any of the characters. The Perron family consists of a mother and father, and five daughters, ages ranging from 4 – 16, and although the kids would bicker with each other as siblings always do, none of them were disrespectful, or smarted-off to their parents. The parents played by Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston were also warm and caring with their children, while also being firm at the same time. The parents also seemed to have a strong relationship themselves, which ask any married couple with kids, let alone five kids, is a difficult task to accomplish…
Then there was Ed & Lorraine Warren who also maintained a strong and healthy marriage while investigating paranormal activity together – and throughout they really felt like a unit. Neither were overbearing towards the other, and they treated each other with respect and listened to one another. In too many movies you have married couples who don’t know how to hold a conversation without one trying to dominate the other, whether it be the husband, or the wife. What I liked about Ed & Lorraine’s relationship is not that they always agreed on everything because they didn’t, but the way they talked things out, and listened to the other.
Notice that when you have understanding spouses, respectful kids, and caring parents in both of these families that you create likable characters – and when you like all of the characters you’re going to get much more invested into the story, and their survival…
I mean think about it…would any of us care if Esther whacked the douchey brother over the head with a hammer in “Orphan”? I would have welcomed it – and that’s not good. You’re not supposed to want the “good” guys to get killed by the villain.
So, why does Hollywood insist on creating so many unlikable characters? How many horror films have we seen where we wouldn’t mind seeing some of the bratty spaz’s die?
But in “The Conjuring” there isn’t a single character you’d want to see harmed…and I think Hollywood should take note of this, and implement in more films.
Another thing I liked about this film, and the characters is that none of them did anything moronic…
It’s become all too cliche that in horror films, the victims have to make stupid moves, and make dumb mistakes that usually cause them to have a set-back, and sometimes even die. The problem is most of these asinine actions seem far-fetched and are forced in the script simply to keep the story going. This was not the case in “The Conjuring” and I think one of film’s biggest strengths.
Also, another pet-peeve of mine is when characters, generally the protagonist, spew out some lame line towards the villain, typically right before delivering a death blow; this is another example of how Hollywood attempts to be overly cutesy, and fortunately “The Conjuring” doesn’t make this mistake, which is a huge plus in my book.
Overall, I’d say “The Conjuring” is extremely well-executed, so have to give James Wan a ton of credit. The acting is superb throughout. Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston all excellent. The kids were all great, especially during scenes they had to emote fear.
But of all the stars, Lily Taylor shined the brightest; she has always been such a phenomenal actress! To this day she remains underrated, and under-utilized in Hollywood. It’s really good to see her on the big-screen and playing such a tremendous role.
I really don’t have any major criticisms for this film; I think it’s nearly flawless. The only thing I could say I was a little disappointed about was I was hoping for some kind of more unique demon. But if the story was in-fact true then I guess they are trying to go with what was reported; so a different demon wouldn’t factor-in.
And besides, the opening sequence makes up for that.
What did you think of this movie?