The universe created for The Conjuring franchise, has in my opinion been (mostly) consistent, quality horror. This latest entry is based on the case of Arnie Johnson, who in 1981 was trialled for murder and as his defence, the lawyers said it was demonic possession.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as real-life paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren who are called in to aid the defence and prove Arnie was possessed. Along the way they stumble upon a satanic curse linked to other incidents. The central story was intriguing and held my interest and how the movie further explored the Warren’s relationship was welcome. Jump scares were plentiful and for the most part well done, and certain set pieces definitely got the hairs standing up on back of my neck (the morgue scene). Also, how Lorraine Warren’s psychic abilities are shown does get quite imaginative.
Franchise creator James Wan steps down from the directing chair, acting as a co-writer and producer and minus his skill at delivering carefully drawn out atmosphere and scares, this failed to get under one’s skin as much as the previous entries … but still retains high production values (with effective sound design) and strong performances. The weakest of the three movies then, but still well worth a watch.
I’ll certainly go on record as saying the first Conjuring movie is one of the best horrors of recent years, and it’s follow up wasn’t too shabby either. Set in the same universe, the Annabelle movie so far has passed me by, Luke warm reviews and generally ‘meh’ word of mouth not helping matters. However I had heard this follow up was meant to be superior, so I thought I’d give it a chance.
Set some time before the events of the original movie, this has a group of orphans coming to live at a house in the middle of nowhere (of course). The ageing couple that run the house however hide their own tragic history following the death of their daughter twelve years previous. However it’s not long that things start to go bump in the night, mystery surrounds the reclusive wife and there’s a closed off room that certain girls should not go poking their noses into.
A solid premise, a creepy location and inquisitive young girls in night gowns wondering around creepy corridors in the dark. Yes it’s rather familiar stuff and pulls out many a horror movie trope. However it’s also a movie that wears its clichés like a badge of honour, delivering effective scares and plenty of freaky imagery and nail biting atmosphere that I found genuinely unnerving. The mostly young cast do a fine job especially lead girl Talitha Bateman and with several nods to both The Conjuring movies this was the whole package. It gets pretty messed up and nasty towards the end and I left the cinema fairly shaken but thoroughly entertained. A small tie in with the last movie ends things on somewhat of a ‘ok..er, what?’ and for a movie labelled ‘creation’ it’s still a bit of a mystery just what Annabelle’s origins are – but otherwise I still got a kick out of this.
(Updated 22/06/2016). The first movie in what appears to be growing into a horror franchise really impressed. I was quite late to watching it but so glad I did even though supernatural ghost-story fair usually freaks me out. But director James Wan nailed an old fashioned concept and delivered a truly unnerving and frightening experience. So sitting down to the sequel I was both excited and a bit on edge. Early word had it that this was going to be even scarier … and once again explored a based-on-fact true story this time set in Enfield, England in the late seventies. Paranormal investigators Ed & Lorrain Warren (Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga) are called into investigate a series of strange happenings at a family home where the youngest daughter seems to be the focus of a restless entity.
As a UK resident this was an immediately relatable and authentic setting for a horror movie. With recognisable east-end cockney accents, along with a street not unlike one I grew up on, I was transported back to my childhood, at least spiritually. However this is a James Wan movie and soon the tension builds and the scares are brought on so we get freaky things going bump in the night, eerie corridors, moving furniture and a ghostly, malevolent old man. It’s effectively creepy and unnerving but not quite as under-your-skin as Conjuring #1, relying a bit too much on jump-scares. A prologue detailing the Warren’s involvement in the infamous Amityville house sets the tone and the involvement of a ghostly, demonic nun definitely disturbs. However with a 2hr+ run time, the encounters do get a bit repetitive, and a boogie-man sequence that plays on childhood fears threatens to turn the movie into something else entirely.
Performances however are decent across the board especially the young actress playing tormented child ‘Janet’ (Madison Wolfe), as well as her struggling mother. Yet this is also Wilson & Farmiga’s movie and they again add plenty of emotional weight to proceedings. Wan cranks up the thrills especially towards the end but a bit like the last movie things wrap themselves up too easily. However throughout I was nervously gripped and with the backdrop of a true story in mind this still made for an above average experience. Recommended.
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.
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