So..."The Conjuring" happened. Twice. In case you didn't see my tweets about it, I absolutely LOVE this movie. It's a beautifully shot horror movie, hits all the scare beats perfectly, and is just full of win.
Like, a lot of win.
I was ridiculously excited when I learned about the movie! During my freshman year of college, Lorraine Warren came to my campus and spoke (it was on my birthday, which made it even better, really), and it was an amazingly intense experience. Whether one believes in the paranormal or not, some of the footage they showed and voice recordings they played were downright chilling (there's one of a supposed Civil War soldier that made me involuntarily cry). It was also pretty cool that, during a lecture in "The Conjuring," they recreated one of the actual videos of a supposed exorcism that I saw during Lorraine's lecture at my university!
I disclose this because I already had a bit of a bias going in to the movie. BUT I'm quite glad that it not only met but exceeded my expectations :D
With that person disclaimer out of the way, here's my breakdown of why I love this movie!
First and foremost, THIS MOVIE PASSES THE BECHDEL TEST. It's the second movie this summer I've seen that passes the test. I'm just gonna let that thought sit there for a bit. The only two movies to pass the Bechdel Test so far were "The Heat" (a wonderful female buddy cop comedy) and "The Conjuring" (an excellent haunted house movie).
Second, this movie was great because at one point a lady in the theater legitimately jumped out of her seat, screaming. She ran out of the theater, still screaming, and the movie hadn't even reached its highest level of scary yet. I had no idea that people actually jumped out of seats like that in real life (when I get scared I tend to slide down my seat, and usually end up on the floor). I think any movie that can evoke that kind of response from someone is doing something right (and she was fine, she came back and watched the rest of the movie).
Third, the movie reinforced the idea that imaginations really are our worst enemies. "Jaws" is one of my favorite movies, and the whole reason it works/scared so many people is because Bruce (the shark) isn't revealed for a good part of the movie. I know this was because Bruce wasn't working for most of the shoot, but it's hard to imagine that movie being so scary if the shark was shown from the start. Likewise, "The Conjuring" works best when it's not showing us what's messing with the family.
The shots of the antagonistic force inside the house are scary (and there's a bit involving that force and another creepy thing that made me actually fall on the floor). BUT there's a part where one of the daughters is just staring into the darkness, claiming to see something, and all the audience can see is, well, darkness. That was one of the worst parts for me, as my mind ran through a dozen different scenarios, and none of them were bright and sunshine-y. Our imaginations are awesome things, and are even better if we can tap into that dark part and turn it against ourselves.
This movie works because the director understands what makes something as innocuous as a broken clock terrifying, and all of the actors are also awesome at selling this intense, well-rounded 1970s haunted house story. I'm gad this was already greenlit for a sequel, because it certainly deserves it! I look forward to watching the next ghost hunting adventure with the Warrens. In the meantime, I might go see "The Conjuring" for a third time.
Even if I won't be able to fully leave my imagination at home...