The Conjuring (film series)
THE CONJURING (15)
D: James Wan
Warner Bros/New Line/Evergreen (Peter Safran, Tony DeRosa-Grund & Rob Cowan)
USA 🇺🇸 2013
W: Chad Hayes & Carey B. Hayes
DP: John R. Leonetti
Ed: Kirk Morri
Mus: Joseph Bishara
Vera Farmiga (Lorraine Warren), Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren), Lili Taylor (Carolyn Perron), Ron Livingston (Roger Perron)
Audiences seemed to love this movie, but nowhere near as much as studio executives, who saw fit to franchise the fuck out of it, creating sequels and spinoffs based on props and backstories (The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, The Nun, etc.). Produced for a meagre $20m, the film more than broke even on its opening weekend, so from a business side of things, its a tidy film.
Studio finances aside, the plot doesn't mask the fact that it's taken elements from The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist and Poltergeist for yet another knock off from the Hollywood production line.
Set in 1971 and based on a "true story", the Perron family (mum, dad, five daughters) move into a country farmhouse where spooky goings-on wake them at night and the presence gets increasingly malevolent. The family recruit the help of the Warrens, who make a living investigating the paranormal despite Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) being dressed like an elixir salesman from the 1800's.
The rest of the film is made up of the usual horror cliches and tropes which have plagued the genre for the past few decades and any mystery is knocked out of the park by the production of all the needless spinoff movies.
From a technical point of view, the film is adequately done, with good cinematography and visual effects, but I found the editing didn't quite flow and the production design didn't capture the period at all.
Patrick Wilson aside, the rest of the performances are convincing enough, but the film still left me lamenting the golden age of horror- when these kinds of movies were actually scary.
THE CONJURING 2 (aka THE CONJURING: THE ENFIELD CASE) (15)
D: James Wan
Warner Bros/New Line/Atomic Monster (Peter Safran, Rob Cowan & James Wan)
US 🇺🇸 2016
W: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, James Wan & David Leslie Johnson
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: Kirk Morri
Mus: Joseph Bishara
Vera Farmiga (Lorraine Warren), Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren), Madison Wolfe (Janet Hodgson), Frances O'Connor (Peggy Hodgson), Lauren Esposito (Margaret Hodgson), Benjamin Haigh (Billy Hodgson)
This follow up to 2013's The Conjuring could well have been a stand alone film, since it doesn't continue the story from the original film despite bringing back the characters of paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren.
This time, the plot focuses on the real-life case of The Enfield Poltergeist, which transpired in the late 1970's in a North London suburb, becoming one of Britain's most notorious haunting stories and gained infamy when the events inspired a BBC recreation for a one-off TV mock-documentary in 1993 called Ghostwatch (the programme was the subject of many complaints, as has never been aired since).
Personally, I felt there was more than enough mystery in the real story to justify a spooky story, but this, being an American horror film, has to crank it up to the max and go full on with furniture flying about instead of merely inferring that a malevolent spirit was haunting the Enfield home, punctuated by a pathetic climax that has been done a fucktillion times before.
Of course, this was all an excuse to introduce a creepy nun character who would get her own spinoff, along with the Annabelle doll.
I'm really not a fan of this franchise. Horror should be better than this.
THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (15)
D: Michael Chaves
Warner Bros/New Line/Atomic Monster (James Wan, Gary Dauberman & Emile Gladstone)
US 🇺🇸 2019
W: Mikki Daughtry & Tobias Iaconis
DP: Michael Burgess
Ed: Peter Gvozdas
Mus: Joseph Bishara
Linda Cardellini (Anna Tate-Garcia), Roman Christou (Chris Garcia), Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen (Samantha Garcia), Raymond Cruz (Rafael Olvera), Patricia Velasquez (Patricia Alvarez)
The Curse Of La Llorona is another spin-off to The Conjuring series of films, this time the story takes its inspiration from a Mexican urban legend about the spirit of a weeping widow who abducts young children.
Unfortunately, the plot having a Mexican influence is given a disservice by relocating the story to a Los Angeles suburb for more of the same jump scare rubbish that's been seen and done in practically every Hollywood horror movie over the past few decades.
The cast do the best job with what they're given, but the film really could have been far more interesting and entertaining had it actually been set in Mexico.
It has little to do with the other Conjuring movies, but traded off the name to cash in. From a business perspective it worked, making over $100m back off a $25m production budget, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a tedious, boring movie.
THE NUN (15)
D: Corin Hardy
Warner Bros/New Line/Atomic Monster (Peter Safran & James Wan)
US 🇺🇸 2018
W: Gary Dauberman & James Wan
DP: Maxime Alexander
Ed: Michel Aller & Ken Blackwell
Mus: Abel Korzeniowski
Demián Bichir (Father Burke), Taissa Farmiga (Sister Irene), Jonas Bloquet (Maurice 'Frenchie' Theriault), Bonnie Arens (Valak/The Nun)
The Nun is a mess of a horror movie which seemingly ties into The Conjuring series of films (which I had not even seen at the time of this review).
Set in the early 1950's, a nun seemingly commits suicide at a desolate, creepy monastery in Romania and is subsequently investigated by Father Burke and his companion Sister Irene, still in her noviciate, are also accompanied by Frenchie, an irritating French-Canadian with a confusing accent.
Unholy goings-on around the Romanian convent can only mean one thing... the building is possessed by evil, explained with endless exposition scenes which lead up to a messy conclusion which is so poorly directed, it's almost impossible to tell what's going on.
The first act of film is quite atmospherically done, but it doesn't take long for the film to resort to jump scares to the point that the film merely becomes three or four quiet moments punctuated by the sudden and abrupt appearance of a heretic nun who looks like Marilyn Manson. Taissa Farmiga is fine in the lead, but the other performances are far from convincing and the attempts at comedy in the script fall very flat.
Perhaps the film should have been called The Nunjuring, so I would have done appropriate homework prior to watching.