Monday, June 20, 2016
Photo: the movie's poster, from t3.gstatic.com
My review of the first Conjuring movie is here.
I visited the house in the first Conjuring movie. You can read about that here. There are lots of creepy photos of gravestones and crypt doors, too.
This was a good scare of a movie, perhaps better than the first. I can't remember the last time I was actually spooked in a theater, but I exclaimed something out loud during one of the scenes. (I never talk during movies, and usually tar and feather those who do. And I never get jolted at them, either. I tend to figure them out pretty quick, too, like when I saw The Sixth Sense and knew right after he got shot that he was dead thereafter. I mean, the kid said he saw dead people, for God's sake.) James Wan, the director, is especially good, I noticed, at showing something you expect to be scared by, then not being scared by that thing (because nothing's there, but you're a veteran of these movies, so you expect there to be, but Wan knows that, so purposely doesn't put anything there), and then when the camera slowly pans back to where it had been, something jumps out at you. That's what happened when I said something out loud. The instant is when the little girl is watching television--and it's not when something was in the television, either. Just next to it.
The story starts at the home of the clairvoyants--or mediums, or whatever exactly it is they say they are. (Actually, it really starts in the Amityville Horror house. You know you've seen and read a lot about this stuff when you see just the outside of the house in the opening shot, and think, "Oh, it starts in Amityville, with Ronald DeFeo killing his family." I also remembered the house was owned by the Lutzes and that the book was written by Jay Anson. I really should go on Jeopardy one of these days. By the way, I also thought, "As you know, Amity means friendship," but of course that's another movie.) One of them keeps seeing this really spooky-looking nun with barracuda teeth and dirty smock--ironic, considering how Christian the two say they are. (In fact, they technically work for the Church in this movie.) This nun-demon is harassing one of them, and they agree to stop their investigations.
In Enfield, England, a really nasty old man of a ghost is haunting a woman and her two daughters and two sons. (The father abandoned them--all five of them! How come people like that are never the ones harassed?) This only happens after one of them messes with a handmade Ouija board, which I never recommend. Anyway, this old guy had died in their living room, in his favorite old recliner, which every old man has. (We called my father's black, held-together-by-thick-black-masking tape LAY-Z-BOY "The Knowledge Chair," for obvious reasons.) This old guy is in the habit of biting unsuspecting screaming people on their arms--though they find his retainer after the last one, and the biting stops. So he's harassing everyone, insisting the place is his--while others insist it's not anymore, because he's dead, and so will he please leave, and not let the door hit his arse on the way out?
He agrees to do that--without telling anyone--but then...Well, Houston, we have a problem.
So go see this one if you like this kind of thing. Like most decent scare flicks, this one won't make too much sense when you have a second afterwards to think about it, but it's a good scare while you're sitting there. I'd heard from a few reviews that the whole movie seemed a half hour too long. It didn't seem that way to me, and it didn't really drag, either, which is rare for this kind of thing.
One thing I really liked about it is that the movie doesn't pander to the audience. At the risk of sounding like a prude, there's no gratuitous violence, gore, or anything else. It has confidence in its ability to scare, and it doesn't assume the viewer's an idiot. There are the token nay-sayers (Franka Potente, from the first Jason Bourne film, and from Run, Lola, Run), and it's nice to see that they're smart as well, and not just token blowhards. In fact, Potente's character had a point: these things are often either fakes, or the person being possessed--usually an adolescent girl--has psychological or emotional damage and disabilities going on that have nothing to do with being possessed. (There's one on YouTube, a French girl from the 50s, that I play whenever I want to freak out my better half, who insists with vigor that I turn it off.) Anyway, these girls think they're possessed, so they're not faking, exactly, but the parents often know there's no actual possession going on, but they let the whole thing go on anyway because of a Munchhausen Syndrome, and...yeah, it's all a mess, and very hard to both prove and disprove. The girl in this movie looks and sounds like the one I'm talking about on YouTube, and I think some of The Exorcist is based on this girl as well.
I kept waiting for something else to happen, because the girl's behavior and voice mirrored the one I mention. When the slight twist happens, you may be a little let down like I was, as the movie comes full circle again, and if that was going to happen, why not just do so where they were, and not make these two have to travel across the Pond to get what they can get (and did get) just as well back home? Like I said, like most terror flicks, it's a house of cards if you think about it too much.
So don't do that. Go see it. You'll get your scare fix, and probably stronger than from the first one.
For more on the Enfield story, and for a fact vs. fiction article, go to http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/conjuring-2-enfield-poltergeist/
I'm most impressed by the tidbit at the bottom, which says that when the new family moved in, they almost as quickly moved out, staying for just a few months. This is unlike what the new families said of the Amityville house, and of the house mentioned in the first Conjuring, which I visited.
As a reminder, you can read about that here. There are a lot of pictures, including some creepy gravestones and crypt doors. My review of the first Conjuring movie is here.