Based on a true story, the film tells the horrifying tale of how world renowned paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren were called upon to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.
Be prepared, this is a long review. I have so much to say.
Horror fans must be very familiar with director James Wan. I wasn’t. I actually haven’t watched the highly popular ‘Saw‘ franchise because I’m not so fond of torture porn type of horror. I was actually surprised that the director of Saw series directed Insidious and The Conjuring. A few months ago I finally saw Insidious and I absolutely loved it. I should do a review of it here. Since I saw EVERYONE talking about The Conjuring, I got curious and when I found out it’s directed by the same director of Insidious, I got excited because I thought Insidious was scary as hell. Everyone has been talking about how scary this movie is… so scary that they can’t sleep at night.
When the movie launched in the Malaysian cinema on August 1st, all I’ve been hearing and reading on facebook was how awesome it was.. how scary it was… being a huge horror movie fan that don’t get scared easily, I’ve been very disappointed with all the horror movies that are not scary at all so I’ve been looking for the one that could scare me. I thought maybe this movie could based on all the comments I saw. Since it launched during fasting month, I decided to wait until after Hari Raya/Eid and luckily when I messaged my friend, she was still on holiday so I asked her to watch it with me.
We arrived a bit late, like about 10 minutes into the movie I think. Since most people have already gone back to work, I didn’t expect the cinema to be packed so imagine my surprise. When we reached our seats, I missed the intro before the credits so had no idea what it was.
The movie is based on ‘true’ story from case file of the paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson who investigated the haunting of the Perron family in Harrisville, Rhode Island back in 1971. There is nothing new with the plot. Before watching it, I tried my best not to spoil myself, although you are kind of spoiled already if you watch the trailer because apparently, it gave away most of the scares. The plot summary says that the case is so terrifying that they kept it locked up.. tell me if that doesn’t get your curiosity up! But it turns out… well… not scary at all to me.
The first thing that ran through my mind was that there’s nothing new. A haunting? Seen it in Poltergeist. Possession? Seen it in The Exorcist. For the first half, it was kind of slow to me.. I kept waiting for the scary part but it was so slow. There are a few jumps cares when you don’t expect it, so with the loud surround sound it would really make you jump, but that’s all. When there were times when I ‘thought’ it would scare the crap out of me, it didn’t.
However! The possession part creep the shit out of me. Maybe it’s because I’m a Malay and white sheet reminds me of ‘kain kafan’, the white cloth that we use to wrap dead bodies before burying them… and reminds me of ‘pocong’, which is the shrouded ghost resulting from the wrapped body coming back to life.
I love the cinematography. It was well done, and well captured. Another thing that I love about this movie is that even though it may not be scary to me, it was still quite creepy and James Wan managed to retain the creepy atmosphere without having to heavily rely on CGI that modern movies do. No gore, no torture porn shit, no nudity, just some old school scare. Yes, you do see ‘some’ CGI but it wasn’t enough to ruin the movie for me.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson did an awesome job as The Warrens. Even though I don’t know or have not seen or heard of the real Warrens prior to this movie but they made me believe their characters. I loved Lily Taylor, she’s such an awesome actress. I first saw her in the movie ‘Ransom’ (one of my fave all time movies). She did a great job. The kids did an awesome job as well, being haunted by something we all couldn’t see except for them.
But wait.. there’s a subplot.
This is like the main thing that creeps people out in the movie. You see, The Warrens also have sort of like a museum where they keep the things that they believe possess some sort of evil or the cause of a haunting or paranormal activity, something like that. Now I remember early this year when I was really sick, I turned on the online SyFy channel (US version) and they were showing a marathon of a show called ‘The Haunted Collector’ about a demonologist who helps identify items that may cause paranormal or poltergeist activity in a building… then he takes the item and puts it in his museum. I thought wow! What a great yet creepy idea! Having a museum of things that’s evil. Well, after hearing about The Warrens’ occult museum, it doesn’t sound like a great idea anymore. It’s been done before. Copycat.
I was surprised to see Annabelle to become part of the movie because a few days prior to watching this movie, I found out about Annabelle in youtube and said to myself that it’ll be awesome if people make a movie out of her story, something like Chucky. Totally didn’t know they had put Annabelle in this movie! I don’t really like the movie version of Annabelle. She is creepy looking, but not realistic. Who would wanna keep that creepy looking doll in the house? A Raggedy Ann on the other hand, is just a normal looking doll but evil so it kind of adds the creepy factor to it.
I feel Annabelle should have her own movie, not as a subplot in another movie because she didn’t get enough screen time. She needs her story told, not just as a creepy evil doll.
So in conclusion, I have a mixed feeling about this movie. I don’t hate it, yet I’m not super excited about it. I didn’t get scared like others say they do, at all, and some part of the movie is slow to me. I get scared about seeing the dead, so I had wish we would see dead people like in Insidious but no. Actually we do, but not much. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s just nothing new to me. My friends keep saying the scary thing is that they never knew evil could latch on to something and how scary that is and I say heh, that’s nothing new to me.
Here’s something very negative though, I HATE HATE HATE movies that involve animal that well.. becomes a victim. I DESPISE THAT. It ruins the whole movie for me. I get very sensitive when it comes to that, being an animal lover. It ruins the whole movie for me and makes me not wanna watch it anymore. It’s the one thing that really turned me off about this movie.
Well, I guess I would describe this movie as a brutal, more malevolent version of Poltergeist and The Exorcist combined together. Maybe throw in a bit of The Amityville Horror. But hey, I think James Wan did a great job. Can’t help but feel a bit proud that he was born in Malaysia but too bad he has Australian nationality instead. I heard they’re making a sequel of this movie. Feeling skeptical. Now I can’t wait for Insidious 2!
LDG’s Rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Director: James Wan
Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor, Joey King, Shanley Caswell, Haley McFarland, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, Sterling Jerins
MPAA: Rated R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror