Boy am I tired, but my blog is thirsty for an update and I have just returned from seeing The Conjuring at the cinema with my sister. Directed by James Wan who also directed Saw and Insidious I was expecting to get my fill of fear. This one is based on true events apparently.
The year is 1971 and the Perron family (consisting of Carolyn, Roger and their 5 girls) have moved into a creepy old house in Rhode Island that just happens to be haunted. With a whole host of supernatural hijinks going on the terrified family call in infamous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to help them stop the evil. A demonic force has latched itself onto the family and is not willing to give them up.
Insidious scared me so I was expecting good things here. The whole sub genre of supernatural forces assaulting a family (Insidious, Mama, Sinister etc) has on the most part been successful in creeping me out but I fear that much like the Paranormal Activity series of films this type is running its course as I found myself numb to a lot of the scares. Like others of its ilk The Conjuring follows the cycle of day and night, day time being investigations, night being when the true creeping dread occurs. It is genuinely unsettling and creepy at times, the house the family live in is old and creaky, the hidden basement is maybe the spookiest looking basement I have seen in a film yet. There are some great sequences here, an early game of a blindfold clapping hunt had some unsettling moments and the film does a good job of building up tension and atmosphere but usually fumbles the ball and gives a payoff that is often disappointing, the trick ending being a prime example. Jump scares are used, but sparingly and Paranormal Activity style sequences of characters being dragged about by nothing are rife, The Conjuring is at its best when it is giving new ways to produce chills.
Based on a true story it just felt like there was less danger, you knew right away the main characters survived the events and so you never got to properly fear for their safety. While the events of the film are bizarre and definitely supernatural I got the impression they were sticking to the reported facts so much that more fanciful stuff couldn't occur. A later demonic possession angle also mitigated the scares somewhat. Dealing with one person, even a possessed person is far less frightening than an invisible presence that could be anywhere.
At times chilling, at others predictable and by the numbers I nonetheless did enjoy The Conjuring and it certainly worked its magic on my sister who spent a lot of the film with her hands covering her eyes. Though it is showing early signs of getting stale I think there is still some life left in this style of film, Insidious 2 is on the way so I guess that will be the litmus test.