I’m glad that Final Girl has established a regular-ish film club again because it gets me to watch movies that I wouldn’t normally give a chance. Like The Conjuring. I saw the trailer for it when I saw Sinister and thought it looked scary. But I also didn’t want to watch a movie about the Warrens or do anything that would give them money. You know how I feel about them. So I’m glad I gave this movie a chance because, while it isn’t perfect, it was scaretastic.
Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston star as Carolyn and Roger Perron. They’ve just moved their five daughters to an old farmhouse in Rhode Island.
It’s idyllic at first but then strange things start to happen. Their dog refuses to go inside and is dead the next day. They find a creepy cellar all boarded up. People, those are bad signs! Carolyn starts getting mysterious bruises. When the haunting escalates, they seek out Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.)
Ed and Lorraine use their knowledge of demonology and Lorraine’s clairvoyant powers to figure out what’s haunting the house. They’re all endangered when the haunting turns into a full-scale case of possession. The narrative is bookended by the story of the Warrens dealing with the case of Annabelle the doll, which you can read about at the Warrens’ page and ends with the Warrens receiving a call about a haunting in Long Island. That actually bothered me because the Amityville Horror was in 1975 and this movie was set in 1971.
Anyway, this movie is like a sandwich. The bread (the beginning and end) is kind of dry and stale but the middle (the meat) is delicious. It felt too long at an hour and fifty-two minutes. The movie is at its scariest when it’s establishing the haunting activity in the home. James Wan, the director, is good at building atmosphere and establishing tension. It lost me when you find out what’s haunting the family. It just felt so unimaginative. Of COURSE it’s the ghost of a Satanist hag, how unusual! I wish Satanic ghosts were real so I could ask them if they regretted not finishing the eighth grade.
I generally like James Wan’s work (Except for Saw, I really dislike that whole series) but, like Rob Zombie, I think he lacks discipline. I wish he had someone to tell him that this idea is stupid, this idea’s too trivial, etc. Something in the shadows is always scarier than the whole drooling face of a ghost hag. This movie had the James Wan hallmarks–a creepy doll (Annabelle is maybe getting her own movie) and a wacky paranormal team, Drew (Sharon Kook) and Brad (John Brotherton.) Am I the only on that thinks that Annabelle would be much scarier if she looked like a normal doll? The doll in the movie looks like nothing that any sane person would buy. But isn’t benign evil creepier?
I finally got frustrated with the exorcism at the end. Maybe the horror community is spoiled by how awesome the original The Exorcist is because it seems like no contemporary movie can match its horror. I like Lili Taylor as an actress and I think she was giving it her all but I was never scared during her possession scene. The whole thing just felt overwrought.
Even with my dislike of the final possession scenes, I still liked the movie. It’s not perfect but I think the scares in the beginning and the middle outweigh the weak ending. I also liked the performances of the principles, there isn’t a weak link among them. I recognized Vera Farmiga from Orphan but this movie pretty much made me want to be the president of the Vera Farmiga Fan Club.
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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