Let’s get one thing straight before I delve into this. I hate dolls. They creep me the hell out. By this, I mean china dolls, or old-fashioned dolls. Not like Barbie’s and stuff. I used to love them. But ventriloquist dummies and most types of dolls…my nan, when she used to go on holiday, used to bring back these big doll things. Because we visited her more often, I’d get first pick. I’d pick the least creepy looking one (I’m sure to most normal, sane humans they didn’t look creepy at all. They weren’t that bad), thank her with a smile and throw it in my cupboard once I got home, so I wouldn’t have to look at them.
So…yeah, I was really, really not into the first part of this film. Or any shot of ‘Annabelle’. Even looking up some of the images for this post were bad enough. They are scary, all right? Along with the previously mentioned dummies. (I can’t watch anything where there’s a shot of a dummy talking on its own. Puppets are fine. Dummies…no. Just no.) If you ever saw the Derren Brown where he convinced a guy he was a dummy, then just know that that in itself freaked me the hell out. Like, if that was me, I would have probably had nightmares and panic attacks for years.
The Conjuring tells the (allegedly) true story of a family who move into a large, spacious home, only to find that strange things begin happening. Firstly, their dog is killed shortly after moving in. Strange paranormal disturbances follow this, and eventually, the mother contacts Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators, and asks for their help.
There are countless films out there that deal with families moving into haunted homes, (not complaining, as I do have a tendency to love these films) but The Conjuring stands out from these as it deals with, not just the family, but the Warrens, too, a real life couple who investigated these sort of happenings, and whose recordings inspired the basics of the film. (They were also the couple to investigate Amityville, and there’s a reference to this towards the end of the film)
To me, it really was the Warren side of things that made things most interesting. As the family try to cope with what’s happening, we see how Ed is trying to protect Lorraine, after a previous exorcism went wrong. And, as he states, she takes on the pain of what she sees and feels. It’s easy to see why he was less than eager to take on the haunting, and why he tries hard to keep her out-of-the-way.There are some nicely done moments of real horror in the film, especially as it builds up towards the actual possession (because of course there’s going to be a possession). We get glimpses of the ghosts that haunt the property, and slowly, over the course of the film, we get hints and clues as to what is actually going on. It’s not thrust in our faces, and there are moments where we’re almost allowed to work out what’s happening, and what might happen, before the film’s characters do.
It’s an interesting plot, with an excellent build up, and one that is handled quite nicely. There aren’t long periods of time where nothing happens, but there’s not a scare in every scene. As well as that, the atmosphere really adds to the tension, and like in most haunted house films/novels, the house itself becomes a character in its own right.
Really good film, probably one of the best I’ve seen in a long while.
As a side note…they’re making a spinoff, based on Annabelle, the doll at the start of the film. To which I say…no no no no nope and hell no. I’ll be staying far, far away from that one.