Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Conjuring - The scoop and digest

This automatically attracts interest like a bee to honey as it’s another one of those ‘based on a true story’ yarns.

As long as the application is correct; supernatural horror always has the potential to be terrifying as dealing with spectral evil is a different kettle of fish.

For a film of this genre to have more clout than Covonia, the sounds you hear and the imagery you see must be effective and genuinely creepy.

Can James Wan build on the success of Insidious and exude unquantifiable distress or will it just tumble like a domino rally?

Plot details and/or spoilers may smell rancid.

Those learning that cellars and wardrobes manifest fear include:

Patrick Wilson – Ed Warren
Lili Taylor – Carolyn Perron
Vera Farmiga – Lorraine Warren
Ron Livingston – Roger Perron
Kyla Deaver – April
Shannon Drew – Kook
John Brotherton – Brad
Joseph Bishara – Bathsheba Sherman

The Annabelle case of 1968 is recalled to paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

This porcelain doll makes Chucky good looking.

‘Miss me?’ is written on a scrap of paper in red crayon and graffiti is extended in another room.

This naturally disturbs and the natural progression of hating something is to get rid, but is it as simple as throwing it in a skip?  Not really.

One night, loud thuds can be heard from beyond the door and that note is back, along with Annabelle.

The experts conclude that the doll was possessed by an inhuman spirit meaning it has never walked the Earth in human form.

Ed is a recognised demonologist and Lorraine is a gifted clairvoyant.  Together, they make a winning team.

Each object they successfully ‘cleanse’ is stored safely in a large room that includes the Annabelle doll in a glass container.

Burning the object will shouldn't be entertained as you’re only destroying the vessel.  It’s best to keep the genie in a bottle…

Okay, that was child’s play as their most horrific case is about to be revealed.

In 1971, Carolyn and Roger Perron, along with their five daughters move into a dilapidated farmhouse in Rhode Island which they got cheap at a bank auction. 

We quickly learn that the girls like to play a game called Hide and Clap.  It’s basically Hide and Seek with a blindfold as the person who’s ‘it’ asks for up to three separate sets of claps in the hope to find them.

The said game that we've all played at some point is also a 2005 thriller starring Robert De Niro.

Sadie the dog senses something dodgy and they accidentally stumble upon a boarded up cellar whose main attraction seems to be a piano and other ancient antiquities.

She may have already but whatever, daughter April finds an old but still working music box nearby.

The children complain of a wonderful smell as they struggle to enjoy forty winks and the next day, the woof woof is found dead.

Another odd thing is every night; each clock stops at exactly 3.07am...

Carolyn wakes up with a nasty and mysterious bruise that begs no explanation and when this becomes a common occurrence, she’s a tad concerned.

April talks to ‘Rory’ who lives inside the music box and hides in the wardrobe when unhappy.

Banging, creaking and doors slamming shut without invitation strongly suggests paranormal activity without a camera and protracted boredom.

‘Something’ also appears to be tugging at the girls’ feet while they sleep.  I guess it has a foot fetish.

This pressure cooker is brought nicely to the boil, courtesy of Hide and Clap.

Carolyn is eventually drawn to the wardrobe but unbeknownst to her, applause is not from April’s fair hands as she appears behind her.

She searches inside but nothing, not a goddamn thing.

Awoken by a late night game in progress, the already freaked out mother goes to investigate.

No, don’t do it love.  Okay, it would be boring if she didn't.

She finds everybody safe and dreaming a little dream, but the photo frames fall and when matches bring light in the cellar after the lightbulb blows, more ‘clapping’ brings slight unease.

The deal breaker is when the girls are ‘jumped’ by a female pensioner sat on top of the wardrobe.

Derogatory terms for such a woman include hag, crone and my favourite, a harridan.

Without Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, Something’s Gotta Give and attending a lecture hosted by the Warrens seems her family’s only hope.

During which, we learn that infestation and oppression occur before possession.

They reluctantly agree and after giving it the once over, the putrid smell points to demonic activity and legging it won’t help.

This is a hateful dark entity who feeds on the weak and the mentally vulnerable.

Along with the hired help of Kook and Brad, they set about going to work by rigging the house with equipment and cameras are set to go off when a certain temperature is reached, which is essential as evidence is required to receive the necessary authorisation for an exorcism.

Doing their homework, the hovel reveals something rather unpleasant.

Bathsheba Sherman who was suspected of being a bit witchy formerly resided here and after sacrificing her child to the devil, hung herself from a tree before cursing all who possessed the land.

She was pronounced dead at 3.07am.

Originally, acres of space existed but land has since been divided up and other houses in the surrounding area were host to a string of murders and suicides.

Her evil agenda consists of possessing the mother to kill the child.

If only this was Far From the Madding Crowd, we’d be dealing with Ms Everdene and narcissism.

Here or thereabouts, that nasty bitch, sorry witch, appears above Carolyn and projectile vomits blood which she swallows.

The daughter who has been sleepwalking throughout (I think April), leads them to a bedroom and vanishes.

However, Ed uses a UV lamp which reveals footprints leading to the wardrobe which contains a secret passage.

Lorraine finds a noose and places ‘Rory’ the music box back where it once sat.  Shortly after, the floorboards collapse and now inside the cellar, she and the spirits of Bathsheba’s possessed victims share the briefest of company.

Running in terror, her pendant is broken.

That allows the witch to appear at the Warrens who successfully scares the living daylights out of their daughter when it grooms Annabelle in a rocking chair.

Thankfully, the only thing that gets broken is the sitting apparatus which is thrown in anger.

It’s time to finish this, together.

Back at their ranch, Carolyn is now a woman possessed and although initially subdued from unleashing murderous rage, she’s on the move again.

They manage to handcuff her and Ed begins the exorcism.  As expected, this is a force that will and does eventually break free by levitating.

Her ears prick up when she hears that Kook has found April hiding place and armed with a pair of scissors; it seems Bathsheba’s spirit will claim another victim.

Lorraine tells Carolyn to fight and when she recalls a particularly happy memory from the past (as seen earlier), it gives Ed enough time to complete the exorcism.

As Carolyn and co leave the house, her bruises disappear confirming the nightmare that they've lived and breathed is over.

Ed takes the music box and adds it to his collection.  As the camera zooms in, it starts playing…

You don’t have to stay very long to see the credits display pictures of the actual Perron family, the Warrens and newspaper clippings of the case.

This combines every type of cliché possible together with the elements of Dark Skies, The Possession (2012), The Exorcist and Insidious.

Projectile vomiting reminds me of Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell only the ‘shamed’ hag prefers to take aim with maggots.

Much malevolence takes place during the day and brown trousers moments regularly persist courtesy of expert timing and a horrible looking antagonist.

I’m also pleased that he Saw sense and resisted to spill buckets of blood.

The unsettling atmosphere is compounded by distinctly drab looking participants as glamour definitely takes a back seat.

Patrick Wilson makes a winning return from Insidious and is believable as the real life investigator (who died in 2006).

Vera Farmiga is equally competent as wife Lorraine and no other performance deserves the scapegoat tag.

Getting caught up and embroiled in the legitimacy of fact is almost inevitable so let’s briefly touch upon this.

Apparently, the stink of rotting flesh wafted up nostrils at 5.15am and not 3.07am.

The real Annabelle was a rag doll and although Bathsheba was accused of witchcraft, she was never convicted by a court and died of natural causes.

Before a string of sequels, the 1979 original Amityville Horror was pointlessly remade in 2005 and as the Warrens took a passing interest, a reboot and/or reimagining with Wilson and Farmiga reprising their roles shouldn't be ruled out.
Regardless of whatever, horror gurus and supernatural hounds will be impressed by a plate served with menace, a side order of shocks and washed down with a beverage of discomfort.

Insidious: Chapter 2 is James Wan’s next attempt to traumatise and I’ll be there to bear witness…

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