Director: James Wan
Horror, my favourite genre; well one of them. Yet it’s a genre in a terrible state of affairs at the moment. Especially mainstream horror, the bigger studios are playing safe, removing the shocks, controlling the gore and driving films into a ratings band that they shouldn’t be in. While US horror films are in a major lull, I look to the Indie and foreign language films to fuel my horror needs, they seem to be pushing the genre forward, France and Spain seem to be leading the way, while the East is always a good place to look for a decent horror film.
So you may be wondering how I’ve seen this film, a month before general release, well I have Frightfest and the infamous Sleepy Q to thank for that. This was our “Thank you” film for buying tickets to this years festival, braving the elements etc etc; though I only joined the queue at 6am. Some had been there all Friday ; hats off to them brave souls! We also got a video introduction by James Wan.
The Conjuring, claims to be based on real case studies by Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren, who’s most famous case study happens to be Amityville. Though a little research shows that while the Warren’s did investigate paranormal events at the Peron’s family home the story has been embellished for the big screen, we shouldn’t be surprised really, but on the plus side knowing this now makes no difference to how I feel about this film.
James Wan’s previous film Insidious was 2/3’s brilliant to 1/3 average, the average section being the final act. The build up and overall creepiness of this film showed a lot of potential in this young film maker. Yet he undoes some of his hard work with that final section and forced final scare. Though he has filmed a second Insidious, which I’m looking forward too.
Even more after The Conjuring, for me this is Wan’s best film so far, he doesn’t let it fall apart at the end. The film builds nicely and then explodes into a relentless final act which really had me unsure of the fate of the Warren’s and the Peron’s. It opens with a good introduction to what the Warrens do and how they see the paranormal world. Wilson (also the star of Insidious) and Farmiga are very good here, very solid in their roles. Then we meet the Peron family, the house and shortly after that the paranormal happenings start. From here the tension builds, the feeling of unease while we are around the Peron family grows and grows. There are obvious moments, but Wan also deals us some curve ball moments as well, and I admit I jumped a couple of times (and I never really jump!). Yet it was the creepiness of it all which got me, on numerous occasions I felt the hairs stand up on my neck; a great sign I am enjoying it.
As for the rest of the cast I have to praise Lili Taylor in her role as Carolyn Perron, she is brilliant, never over plays it and looks genuinely scared at times! The rest of the Perron family are all good, the kids especially. I really had no issues with much in this film at all; maybe I was just happy that I was finally enjoying a horror film from America.
Yet all this will be undone if you watch the trailer, even the hand clapping teaser, the trailer which opened this weekend on the cinemas had 3 or 4 of the best scares in it, my advice is just see the film. If you are in the cinema and the trailer comes on close your eyes, it’s a much better experience if you don’t know what’s about to happen!
This is the best horror film I’ve seen this year, I am curious to see how well it plays on a 2nd viewing, and I will be there on opening weekend. This is a film to see with a full house and hopefully some people who haven’t seen the trailer!
Though my faith in US horror isn’t restored this is a big step in the right direction; yet for every really good film like this we have 5 or 6 bad ones like Texas Chainsaw 3D to drag us back down. I would have really enjoyed seeing The Conjuring on Empire’s screen 1 in the Frightfest festival – I really think it would have played very well.
5/5 – Maybe not – but in terms of the horror films this year it is!