This isn’t academic writing, maybe not strictly film journalism, and there’s little trace of a style guide; it’s a conversation or random musings upon the stories that have us talking. They can arrive at any time, but when they do please join the conversation. They are FIW THOUGHTS.
Words: Brody Rossiter
SCARED TO DEATH?
I’ve just had to type ‘The Conjuring‘ into a Google images search to format this piece under my own extremely rigid and not at all lax style guide framework. Once again staring at its ghoulish imagery was an exceedingly unpleasant experience, but ultimately not as unpleasant as watching the film itself on a rainy Saturday night.
Nevertheless, by unpleasant I mean unpleasant in the best possible, truly petrifying way. Armed with a girlfriend to my right – who is now somewhat desensitized to horror cinema after weeks of me exposing her to a whistle-stop tour of some of its highlights/lowlights – a beer to the left and a general fog of false sense of security (somewhat bolstered by the beer) shrouding the room in hubris, the pair of us continued our search to essentially scare ourselves witless.
It’s important to recognise those aforementioned highlights and lowlights with something of a scare-o-meter-esque scale ranging from ‘somewhat perturbed’ to “What the hell is that!?”. At the bottom we have Mama; Andrés Muschietti’s 2013 Guillermo del Toro sponsored ghost story. It was a mediocre horror film for numerous reasons: poor creature design, a forgettable mythology at its core, and a final third in which the narrative decided to jump of a cliff and never pull itself out of an abyss of silliness. In the middle we have The Exorcist and Evil Dead (2013), their overarching gory shock-factor earning enough brownie points to tip the scare scales in their favour. Teetering at the top we have the super 8 snuffathon, Sinister; a vehicle for Ethan Hawke to exhibit the terrifying perils of investigative journalism. The film’s blurring of the lines between found-footage “realism” and nightmarish urban myth, accompanied by great casting and a darkly robust aesthetic, made our skin crawl and caused me to fear my own home due to its similar layout to Ethan’s house of horrors. It also initiated a fun game in which we would txt and email one another pictures of Sinister’s “Boogieman“, because that’s how he finds you y’know…
Now, back to The Conjuring, after weeks of mild scares and for the most part disappointment, and despite looking pretty ropey due to its use of digital film (you can actually tell where the set designer just painted), the film is a near perfect example of the horror genre. Possessing (foreshadowing…) an engaging and deeply unnerving narrative foundation; an impressive cast including Ron Livingston, Vera Farmiga, and Patrick Wilson; a combination of slow-burn and jump scares; and some incredibly chilling set pieces, The Conjuring currently rests at the top of the patented scare-o-meter.
I’m not going to divulge any plot points primarily because it’s totally unnecessary if your sole goal is to be scared, and such procrastination can only detract from the shocks Saw director James Wan has created. I don’t particularly care if you think its full of tropes or overly reliant on jump scares because I’m writing this piece at 12am and fact checking these movies isn’t fun, just take the advice of two self-styled armchair horror aficionados who achieved their goal and have the sleepless nights to show for it, and experience The Conjuring first-hand – just remember the beer.