Quickie 07 – The Conjuring (2013)

or “The Amityville Jump Scare”

Well, if you’re reading this then you’re one of the survivors of the year that was 2018. It’s now a new calendar and with said calendar comes the annual attempt by people to shed aspects about themselves, or at least modify to improve their sense of self-worth. One extremely popular resolution people make is to exorcise more, so why not start off 2019 with one such topical movie!

And no, I did not resolve to make less idiotic puns, so go ahead and sandbag me! I like the sound of crickets! Shit, it’s my second most used sleep machine sound behind “chainsaws being plunged into cadavers”.

“Being haunted is like stepping in gum: sometimes you take it with you.”

As big a deal as The Conjuring has been since its release, I didn’t bother to put eyes to it until last year. I’ve always felt James Wan’s stuff was overhyped ad nauseam, especially when it came to Saw and Dead Silence. When you’ve got a vault of 2000+ movies you’ve yet to watch, you tend to let movies weighed down by pre-installed negative bias fall so far down the back burners that it ends up lost behind the stove. But, having recently cleaned out behind my stove, I figured why not drop an afternoon and throw together a Quickie. Open wide now, as I pour my frothy concoction down your throats like the hungry little bird babies you are!

Ed and Lorraine Warren are real-life, globally recognized, “paranormal investigators” whose spooky adventures have catalogued all manner of wacky supernatural happenstance that spits in the face of both god and science. They’re basically what you’d get if you combined scripts for ”Hart to Hart” and ”Friday the 13th: the Series” into a paper shredder and hired a tweaker on airplane glue to tape them back together. The Conjuring takes the tried-and-true Amityville formula and turns it on its head (or turns its head around like Regan MacNeil’s) by redirecting the focus from the story’s victims and instead making the ghost busters the main event. Though this seems like a modestly novel idea, it’s also how James Wan turns what would’ve been a one-off movie into an entire fucking franchise in today’s spin-off happy blockbuster culture that the Marvel Cinematic Universe hath wrought.

This particular tale adapted from the Warrens’ archives doesn’t take the easy route and attempt to carve its own simulacrum of the infamous Amityville house that spawned 40 years (and counting) of “everybody and their Uncle Fester” making their own in-name-only renditions of. Instead, we follow the couple (played by far more attractive movie counterparts, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) as they unfold an even earlier case, this one from the crumb in America’s beard – Rhode Island.

Oh wait, I’m sorry. Cue the Vincent Price voice; “Rhooooooooode Iiiiiiiiiiislaaaaaaaand!” **small burst of thunder** (Actually, that was my stomach. I haven’t eaten since the annual Lauren Bacall Bacchanal last week.)

Like any haunted house flick (I don’t care how many times they refer to it as “demonic possession”, by Osiris’ uni-brow, this is a haunted house movie!), it all starts with a family moving into their new home. The place is colder than a Republican’s heart and stinks of Satan’s unwashed tidy bowl, all of the clocks stop at 3:07 a.m., one of the kids finds an “ominous in an ‘inhabited by the soul of its previous owner’ way” music box, they uncover an “ominous in a ‘likely filled with Kandarian demons’ way” secret basement, and their movie issued family dog refuses to enter the sinister structure before winding up dead the very next day. Things only escalate when their own…personal…poltergeist levels up to jump scares and moderate physical abuse, terrifying them and prompting them to seek help. Who ya gonna call? Well, if you put 2 and 2 together, my money’s on 4.

Eddie and Quiche surmise that the catalyst of the chaos is a pissed off devil worshiper named Bathsheba. Seems that a century earlier, after her husband caught her sacrificing their week old daughter, declared Beelzebub to be her Valentine five-ever, then self-lynched in their backyard! People, this is why couples should live together for at least a year before getting married. Divorces are complicated enough without finding out your spouse has been cheating on you with the Christian embodiment of all sin.

WitchiePoo also hexed the entirety of their property (I guess demons function under local zoning laws?) so that any mothers who tried to live there would become her vessels through which she could sacrifice further children for Old Scratch. Her Cloutie’s Croft ended up subdivided, but several bizarre murders of children by their moms in the immediate area seemingly didn’t set off any alarm bells until the Warrens came along. Go figure. Anyway, fortunately for the Perrons, her hell-born powers and spooky special effects magic are no match for some first semester Latin, some holy hydration, a scalp massage from a medium, and mandatory maternal affection for their offspring. As Father Huey Lewis used to preach, the power of love triumphs over all. Technically, the Lord of Hell is ultimately undone by a literal day at the beach. Blart.

Despite its heaps of critical praise, the best I can say about The Conjuring is that it’s competently shot, well acted, and its special effects are up to par. On the opposite end of the entertainment spectrum, it’s also about 25 minutes too long and brings nothing new to the proverbial table. Throughout the movie, a demonically influenced dolly named Annabelle causes unrest for the Warrens’ warren and their young daughter (not the smartest idea to keep your collection of heretical curiosities in your fucking home!), conjuring little more than an obvious setup for the American Girl doll from Tophet’s toy box to get her inevitable spin-off. Her introduction in the prologue would’ve sufficed with a quick cameo in the end. SHE DIDN’T NEED HER OWN FUCKING SIDEBAR!

There are also numerous flashbacks to an exorcism gone bad that really fucked Mrs. Warren up that will probably end up as kindling for a prequel, so even without the benefit of IMDB and a 5 year head start, the sequel seeds being planted here are big enough for the rest of the movie to trip over.

But, hackneyed haunted house horror liberally peppered with generic jump scares a-plenty and lots of loud sounds and screaming can scare modern audiences to the tune of a $300 million box office, so what the fuck do I know?

Moral of the Story: Paranormal investigators make the best realtors! Unless of course you’re looking for a place around Salem’s Lot. They don’t believe in vampires.

Final Judgment:

Three Perfectly Adequate Realty Signs out-of-Five

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All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

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