Most of you don’t know, but I have a thing for ghosts and ghost stories. Well, it’s more of a love/hate relationship, mainly because I am both intrigued and terrified of them. And, given my lack of religious belief, it’s even more curious that I could believe in them at all. But, I won’t get into that now. Nevertheless, that belief in ghosts compels me to watch any movie or show that comes out, especially if it is billed as “based on a true story.”
This week, The Conjuring hit theaters. The film tells the somewhat true story of demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), and their investigation of a haunting in New Hampshire during the early 1970s. They are contacted after the Perron family, especially the mother, Carolyn (Lily Taylor), experiences things they can’t explain.
After meeting with the family, the Warrens decide to investigate the happenings in the house. They set up cameras, audio equipment, and have Lorraine, who is a clairvoyant, comb the house to see if anything is amiss. Well, as the Warrens and Perrons came to find out, there’s much more than a few creaking floorboards to blame for the goings on in this house.
If you are a fan of paranormal horror films, especially Insidious, you’ll love this film. It’s got all the things you’d come to expect from a James Wan ghost flick: breathless moments of anticipation as you wait to see a ghost that sometimes doesn’t come, creepy dolls, and a shot or two of something creepy behind Patrick Wilson.
I will admit, I did have my doubts about the film in the beginning. From the onset, it seemed as if the film would just mirror most of those paranormal films that are passed off as good horror these days (especially that A Haunting in Connecticut, which Lorraine Warren had a part in, too). As the film played, I started to see some familiar trappings of the cliched horror film emerge:
- Family struggling to pay bills, and can’t leave the house when shit gets heavy.
- Young daughter has an imaginary friend that you know is (SPOILERS) a ghost.
- The ghost latches itself onto (SPOILERS) an adult in the house, causing them to tear the family apart.
But, none of that mattered when you watched Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga work together. It was electric. I’ve been a fan of Wilson’s since 2005’s Hard Candy, and it was this movie that made me a fan of Farmiga’s. You can feel the love and warmth the two share for one another, and you can tell that both she and Wilson put a great deal time into researching their characters, although many of the scenarios in the film were fictional. They really carry this movie, as they are supposed to.
Oh, and the story was actually pretty good, too.
Although the film does have its moments of silliness, this film isn’t some cheap paranormal exploitation like Paranormal Activity. Rather, it’s a story that mixes both fact and fiction like a good ghost movie should. If you come into the theater expecting to be scared, then you should leave feeling fulfilled, especially if you are a fan of James Wan and Insidious. In the end, it left me thinking, “Damn, wonder what else the Warrens had gotten themselves into? Well, let’s find out. To the Netflix!”
Amityville Horror, anyone?