Viewed – 04 September 2015 Blu-ray
I had wanted to watch this a while back, but for one reason or another never got around to it. Horror movies of late it seems have a funny effect on me. I have grown up loving the genre but the more recent obsession with supernatural subjects has never been to my liking – what can I say, ghost stuff scares me. That being said it has been a while since one has had such an effect, and the last was probably Insidious. Funnily enough by the same director as this supposedly based on true events movie.
James Wan has made a bit of a name for himself; a relatively young director who has gained quite a reputation, starting out with the Saw movies and then the aforementioned Insidious (and it’s sequel) and now this. A family move into an old farm house in the early 70s, a man and woman and their four daughters. However its not long before they realise they are not alone and strange stuff starts to occur. Step in demonologists Lorraine & Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) who specialising in investigating the paranormal – and boy, have the family got a very unpleasant spirit for them. Wan knows how to direct a horror movie, no doubt. This is filled with tension, solid performances (with a stand out Lili Taylor) and slow burning atmosphere complete with quality camera work and a creepy setting. I’m easily put on edge by movies like this, but this drew me into the characters and story, building up to the scares with genuine style and class. We get an eerie sleep-walking girl, stuff going on in mirrors, glimpses of ghosts and a decidedly unsettling backstory. As a subplot, we are also introduced to the possessed doll ‘Annabelle’ and the freaky looking thing gets to play it’s part … even if it seems under-utilised.
The movie is not without it’s clichés and there are riffs on The Ring, The Exorcist and Amityville – but the influences here are worn with pride and when the scares come – oh boy. This was one of the most frightening horror movies I have seen in quite some time – it goes for the jugular where many recent horrors have chosen to play it safe (The Babadook). A movie best watched with the lights down and the sound cranked up – as long as you don’t mind a sleepless night afterwards.
Verdict: 5 /5