Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Conjuring (2013)

I know some people like this movie for some reason, so allow me to express my opinion of it in the most balanced, well-reasoned and fair way possible.

It fucking sucks ass! Why would anyone like this cancer-boil on the face of horror? It’s the same thing as every other unoriginal Exorcist-wannabe horror movie released since fucking Emily Rose and there is nothing – I repeat, N-O-T-H-I-N-G – original about it at all! Not to mention it’s boring as hell and incredibly poorly written – like, first-year-college drama students wouldn’t even pen something this dross. I don’t even think there’s a scary moment to be found. Fuck it!

Ahem. Okay. Now that’s out of my system and we can move on with the review.

Director: James Wan
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor

The Conjuring is the latest in a series of modernized horror movies made by James Wan. Wan got really famous back in the day for directing Saw, but then he went on to completely destroy that potential by directing Dead Silence. He made a good move by going with the mega-hit Insidious a few years later, but after that he seems to have decided “fuck it,” and just went back to doing complete shit like Insidious 2 and this movie. The Conjuring is a film that seems to forget there’s anything else you can possibly do with a movie besides rip off Poltergeist and The Exorcist. That’s really about it. Let’s take a look.

We kick off with a bunch of kids talking to the dad from Insidious and the mom from Orphan – a totally credible pair of characters, if you remember anything about their original movies. I’d trust them to exorcise my house about as much as I’d trust Dr. Kevorkian to treat cancer patients who have billion-dollar trust funds somewhere.

He kills old ladies and she slaps little girls in hospitals, I sure trust them any day to deal with my supernatural problems. Added bonus for the fact that Insidious Dad had ghosts following him around most of his life and ended up putting his whole family in danger more than once. Sounds trustworthy to me!

Apparently these two are paranormal researchers. The kids talking to them feed them some dumb story about how they let an evil ghost haunt their doll. Then when it started being, well, evil, they threw it out, but it kept on coming back. This whole thing is really just a Goosebumps story. Night of the Living Dummy? And this is supposed to be a serious modern horror movie. Get the fuck out.

WHAT? I can't believe bad stuff happened when we let an evil spirit live in our creepy ass doll! Yes, that's really the plot here. No, I haven't figured out a way to kill the writers yet.

We then switch over to bland 70s family with bland 70s wannabe lighting and color on the screen. They’re moving into a new house. This house has all the perks – places to play hide and seek in AND scary doors that open and close with ominous sound effects laid overtop! We get a long string of just dull as hell scenes – just this family going through every dull attempt at a scare this movie tries to pass off. Their oldest daughter is incredibly bitchy and annoying, and one of the younger daughters sleepwalks.

Witchcraft! Well, maybe if it was the 1770s, but I know it’s not that time period. This movie is too busy trying to shoehorn in blatant references to the 1970s. It’s about as subtle as the Brian De Palma Black Dahlia’s attempt to recreate the ‘40s. Sepia tones and stupid haircuts don’t make your movie any better.

Oh, and the dog dies:

Oh man, our dog just died! Let's never investigate why this happened and never mention it in the movie again. We are so awesome.

Fuck you. Also it’s never mentioned again, and they never investigate it. Glad to see they cared so much about their pet.

If that doesn’t make them care about creepy happenings at the house, how about their daughter having a nightmare and then waking up talking about someone wanting the family dead?

No, I guess that’s not enough to care or move out of the house at all. What’s the reason given for this again? Oh yeah, because they have money invested in the house. That trumps the safety of your family.

You know what does finally get them to do something about it though? One night they’re all sleeping and the sleepwalking daughter comes in, waking up bitchy daughter. Then they see a Grudge ghost and the bitchy daughter starts fighting with herself.

The daughter needs to quit watching bad Japanese movies before bed - they're not doing her imagination much good.

That apparently is enough. They hire Insidious Dad and Orphan Mom onto their case and they get right on it. What follows is about an hour of some of the most boring crap you’ll see in a horror movie these days. It has everything. You got the endless, boring scenes of people talking about whatever ancient histories and pasts the movie somehow thought was interesting – it’s not. It’s really not.

What kind of brain-mash thought this up? It’s practically just an afterthought – toss in some Satanic warbling about ghosts and killing babies, and you got yourself a poorly written horror backstory. Who even gives a shit? Just be honest about it. “We don’t really care at all about establishing a coherent, meaningful or scary story. We just wanted to make a cash grab in time for the end of the summer season. Just send us your money now, you corporate whore rider!”

"Why yes, this scene has been done in every other horror movie in the last decade. But we're still doing it. Because we just don't give a crap."

Play that over these scenes – it’ll be less deceptive. It’s not like there’s anything going on. Some crap about Satanic sacrifice and possession. Bitch, please. If you sacrificed anyone involved in this movie to Satan, he’d just send them right back to Earth with a little pink sticky note saying “Please try again” on it. But I digress – the movie sucks. That’s all I was trying to say.

We also get cliché jump scare scenes, of which there are too many to name. Ooh, are they going to have a quiet scene and then get real loud for the jump scare? Fucking don’t keep me waiting too long – the suspense is killing me. Yes, movie, bouncy balls truly are the way to keeping an audience on the edge of its seat:

40 minutes in and the scariest thing in the fuckin movie is a bouncy ball. Man, this is such a giant piece of shit.
"A bouncy ball killed my father..."


Don’t tell anyone. I can trust you, right?

But hey, it’s not like we’ve hit every cliché. There’s still one we’re missing! At least they haven’t done anything involving an exorcism yet – oh, wait. It’s the next scene where they mention that. And here I was having some form of hope for humanity left in my soul.

We’ll get to the exorcism soon enough. Before that wonderful scene, we have other things to contend with, like dying birds:

Those are never really talked about either. This movie just seems to hate animals.

We also get some despicably poor dialogue from almost every character. Like when they’re all having a sunny breakfast together the following morning – always good after a fresh round of bird suicides – and the mother says “The house hasn’t been like this in a long time!” Yeah, especially considering you moved in and the creepy shit started the next morning when the dog died. Oh, wait, I forgot nobody in the movie gave a shit about that – my bad.

How about when Insidious Dad gets handed some pancakes from the little girl who was also in Orphan? He’s like “They really are a nice family.” Yes, nice families truly are judged by the number of times little girls hand you pancakes. You goddamned weirdo.

There’s also a scene later where Mr. 70s Bowl Cut Dad finds Insidious Dad working on an old car. 70s Bowl Cut Dad says Insidious Dad “really looks like he knows what he’s doing,” even though all Insidious Dad is doing is sticking his hands inside the open hood of a car. How does that equal “knowing what he’s doing,” you fucking idiot? He could be wiring a car bomb to your engine! Granted, that’s implausible – though it would make this movie so much more entertaining.

Ugh, point is, the dialogue sucks. I guess that’s to be expected when most of the movie consists of dog-shit exposition spouted out like a broken leaky faucet in that scummy bathroom on the subway.

After that we get a scene where the demon tries to snatch the bitchy daughter. I’m not really sure what he’s trying to accomplish – he kinda just drags her around the room. Maybe that’s how he “gets to know” new girls. Or maybe he’s just really bad at “Tag.” Either way, you want to know what they do to free the daughter? Well, no, you don’t care. But I’ll tell you – they just cut off the part of her hair that the demon is holding onto. That somehow stops the demon from doing anything else.

Awesome, she can fly!

What the hell? What kinda pansy-assed pussy demon is this? Is cutting off that one part of her hair really enough? What a wuss. He probably slinked back into the shadows with his tail between his legs. Captain Howdy is laughing at you, you moron.

Elsewhere in the film’s rolls of fat we get references to other movies, like the aforementioned Captain Howdy – referenced here in a music box one of the little girls is holding. It’s poorly thought out and means almost nothing.

Well, “almost” is actually giving the film too much credit. We also get references to the previous movies these actors have been in, like several nods to Insidious in the house and the layout of the rooms. I’m pretty sure the scene where the Orphan mom is looking around the house is almost identical to the beginning of Insidious. Later on we get people looking around a bedroom with UV lights, similar to a certain scene in Orphan.

The first and third pics are from this movie, the second and fourth are from Insidious and Orphan respectively. Can you tell the difference? I wouldn't be able to if I hadn't been the one who took these screenshots. I really think this just points out the deficiency in how samey all of these modern horror movies look, both in the lighting/cinematography and the set pieces. We need some more original shit in the mix.

Originality, what’s that?!

The crowning failure of this whole mess is the climax, in which we get all the same old exorcism clichés you’ve seen before. I’ve gone on rants about this before, but honestly, fuckin’ honestly, what is the appeal? I understand not hating this kind of scene – maybe if these kinds of scenes really scare you for whatever reason. Maybe if you are actually the son of Satan yourself, hissing at the cross, that would scare you. Otherwise I just don’t see it.

Worst frat party hazing ever.

The scene is overly long and cluttered, with maybe a couple nice shots I guess – but mostly it’s pretty weak. There’s some crap shoved in about how the possessed wife has to remember this one really nice day at the beach with her family – this day she apparently said she would never forget.

And nobody is wearing a swimsuit for some reason.

It’s just so forced and contrived – those are the only words. What do we know about this character? She likes the beach. What does that tell us about her personality? She … likes the beach. What relevance does that have to the overall meaning of the story or of her character arc? She likes the fucking beach! God! Can’t you deliver one thing of substance?

Eh, I guess not. Just have a bland happy ending scene of the family hugging out in the sunlight. Because horror movies always have happy endings.

Wait, no they don’t. That’s pretty much the cincher on why this sucks: name one good horror movie with a totally happy ending like this one. I mean it really fucking is – it’s wrapped up nice and neat in a pink bow with a complimentary box of Peeps along with it and a note from the Easter Bunny. There’s no darkness here! Where’s the foreboding and the fear? Name one horror movie that’s any good, that ends in a happy-go-lucky manner like this one does.

Maybe the reasoning for this was the “Based on a True Story” tagline. But really, if the defense is “oh, they’re keeping it true to the original family” – well, no, that is not an excuse at all. You clearly showed no regard for any semblance of reality when you included the exorcism scenes with the screamy bloody ghosts and rolled-backwards eyes. I don’t care how people remembered it in real life – the way it’s presented here is just like any other craptastic exorcism horror film. Not real life.

Frankly, I think this got it closer to real life:

Images copyright of their original owners, I own none of them.