Of Musings and Wonderings

{February 16, 2014}   The Conjuring [Films]

the conjuringLet’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.

*deep breath*

conjuring02The 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.the conjuring 2There 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.


imagesCAWJ4247 Like most of the Stephen King books I’ve been reading recently, I haven’t seen the film for this one. I had absolutely no idea what the storyline would be. I knew it involved pets, and I had some sort of idea that it would involve pet resurrection, but, as anyone who has read this would know, there is a hell of a lot more to this book. The Creed family move to a new home, and everything seems perfect. Physician father, starting work at a local college campus, beautiful wife and adorable children, along with the family’s pet cat. Their neighbour takes them for a walk on the land behind their house, taking them to the local Pet Sematary, where children have buried their pets for years. The family think no more on it, and Louis Creed begins work. However, on his first day, a young college student dies, a bad omen for what is about to come.

Louis Creed’s job involves helping people, saving people. And right from the start, he is presented with events that make it impossible for him to do anything, impossible for him to do his job and fulfil his role. As this builds up, it becomes easy to see why Louis makes the choices he makes, why he goes to such extremes to try to keep his family happy and together.

Although King is known as the master of horror, one of the things that keeps me coming back to his work, time and time again, are the emotions he pumps into his characters. He has a knack of really drawing you inside the head of whoever he is writing about, of laying out their thoughts and feelings and ramping up, not just the tension, but the emotions throughout the novel. Pet Sematary is a brilliant example of that.

After reading the introduction, by King himself, I did have a suspicion of what was going to happen to the little boy in the novel. But even that didn’t detract from the suspense built up before that scene. And the way King handles it, the way he draws you right into the emotions of the family and especially of Louis Creed, and the impact that one, single chapter has, where he manages to convince the reader that everything is actually okay…

I mostly read in work and on my way to and from work. And I had to put the book down, just for a few moments, just to stop myself from breaking down and blubbering in public.

Pet Sematary is a brilliantly written novel, dealing with death and grief and the extremes humans will go to when pushed. It’s a book that lingers in your mind afterwards, and really makes you wonder if you would do the same as Louis, if confronted with an untimely death of a pet or loved one, even knowing the risks involved.

It’s basically King doing what he does best; showing humans, going through human lives, but revealing the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves, those parts we don’t want to face, the parts we try to keep hidden. If it’s not a book you’ve read yet, I’d strongly recommend it.

{February 13, 2014}   Iron Man 2 [Films]

iron man 2I know, I know, I really should have seen this film before now. Ages before now. But I finally got to watch it! Yay!

After Tony Stark has revealed himself as Iron Man, he is urged to hand over his technology to the government, because, obviously, it will be much, much safer in their hands. Tony refuses, of course. In Russia, Mickey Rourke uses similar technology to Stark to build his own weapon, and is eager to get revenge against the Stark family. Tony discovers he’s dying, and appoints Pepper Potts as his CEO, to run his business, and hires a pretty redhead as his personal assistant.

Kind of wish I could go back and watch this before The Avengers, now, just to see if I could have worked out who she was beforehand. Anyway!

Iron Man 2 is your typical superhero fare, with a bit of added drama over Tony’s state of health. But, well, there’s not exactly a lot of tension in that. He’s the hero. Of course he’s going to survive. And win. No matter what sort of technology or how many guys the bad guy has, Tony will win. We know that. And the film doesn’t do a great job of really making us feel tense or worried. We do, however, get a glimpse at Tony as a more sympathetic, human character, rather than just a multimillionaire with some fun toys to play around with.

There are also some pretty cool action scenes, especially involving the fights, and, more importantly, some awesome scenes featuring Iron Man and Lt Rhodes, either fighting each other or fighting side by side.

It’s not a great film. Not even a really good one. But it is a decent superhero romp, and there’s plenty of Robert Downey Jr. to enjoy in it. More importantly, it is one of the many Marvel films feeding into The Avengers, and part of me thinks that it’s worth watching just for that.

et cetera