Happy Halloween

conjuring-poster

This one I recommend.

The Warrens, ready to take on evil spirits in this.

The Warrens, ready to take on evil spirits in this.

Scary; horror fans might fancy it

Scary; horror fans might fancy it

My one big problem with The Conjuring is the phrasing of the statement that this film is in fact “Based on a true story”. A more apropriate way of putting it would be “Based on things that a bunch of real people say they saw”. Other than the fact that I most surely don’t believe that the stuff depicted in this film truly happened – at least not in “that way”, if you get my meaning – I gotta say that I nevertheless liked watching it.

Halloween is coming up and I have selected James Wan‘s The Conjuring as my first film to talk about during this year’s streak of more Halloween-themed reviews, and I can tell you straight away that this is a quite well-made and gripping one, both in the atmospheric horror and in the more action-packed scenes.

The plot is based on the adventures of parnormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren, played here by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, respectively. It all begins with the haunted new home of Carolyin and Roger Perron (played by Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston), who are greeted with an unwelcome attitude by the spirits who appear to live there as they’re just about to move in with their dog and kids, the kids being played by Mackenzie Foy, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King and Kyla Deaver. Noises are heard, the dog gets inexplicably killed, the kids are disturbed by something in their sleep, doors move (of course), a spectre ultimately emerges and eventually it all gains the attention of the aforementioned paranormal investigator duo. To the Nite Owl mobile!

When Ed and Lorraine begin their investigation on the Perron household, it doesn’t seem so bad. But strange things eventually continue to occur and we’re treated to the obligatory share of scares. Some work really well; some work less well. Some scares are genuinely good and clever; a few are fake-out jump scares, but not many. Either way, the stuff that goes down is enough to make the Warrens want to perform an exorcism on the house itself as things really start to heat up.

conjuring dolls

This all makes for a very entertaining and compelling horror film which, thanks to being based on a real ghost story, incorporates some of the things that, let’s be honest, many of us are paranoid about even when rationality tries to assure there’s nothing to be afraid of. I enjoyed the story and felt very much invested a vast majority of the time; it’s when it comes to the authenticity of the source material that I have a few things to say.

However much I like to speculate about spirits and the afterlife, I remain skeptical about it. The thing with people who claim to have seen ghosts, is that they normally possess enough faith to unhesitantly disregard any other possible scientific explanation for what they experienced  – unlike the surprisingly smart Warren characters – and immediately hop to the conclusion that it must be something of the supernatural. Even though it could be a case of vivid hallucinations and odd feelings brought on by sleep paralysis, images induced by perfectly normal night terrors or something as simple as misidentifying something that kinda-sorta from a distance looks like a ghost, believers will most likely still say it’s something beyond our human knowledge and claim to have some sort of special ability that allows them to see these things. Well, if you’re trying to say that your beliefs make you more prone to interpreting more things as paranormal activity, then yes!

Since I’m pretty sure the effects of infra-sound, another common explanation for alleged ghost events, was disproven by the Mythbusters not too long ago, I think we can write that one out. Even without that, though, there are still so many factors you need to take into account when you feel like you might be in the presence of a spirit. I enjoyed The Conjuring as an intriguing and clever work of fiction, as I’ve done with many a campfire horror story which one of the kids sitting next to me would later insist actually took place in real life.

I fancy tales like The Conjuring and I had a fun time experiencing its imagery, its lovable characters, its spooky atmosphere and its performances, even though it not always “scared” me. I will also say that, again, I do believe both the Perrons and the Warrens did indeed see what they claim to have seen and that some of it might defy currently established scientific explanations. Though on the other hand, I believe that science doesn’t need to discover one, as it would ruin the fun within the ambigious and mystifying nature of the supposed “Land of The Dead”.

4/5 whatever

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