REVIEW: The Conjuring (2013)



The Conjuring B+

Take my word for it-whenever you round up a bunch of 8-year-olds and sit them around a table to do a dramatic reading of The Crucible, they will all mispronounce the word “conjure” and all of its variants. They all put the emphasis on the second syllable: “con-JURE”. It’s infuriating and they do it every time the word comes up, every time I have one of my table-reads!

So I…correct…them.

I can only imagine that all over this great nation, there are young Americans telling each other: “Let’s go see The Con-JURE-ing! It looks scary”.  They will have no realization just how dumb they sound. But not the ones whom I helped; they know better.

So I DID do some good. Take that, Officer Beetleson.

Why am I writing about The Crucible? Because Fuck You, that’s why. But there are some things that connect both works. First, they’re both true stories with real people and events shown EXACTLY AS THEY HAPPENED. Second, the ghosts and demons in The Conjuring are tenuously connected to the Salem Witch Trials, which lends credence to the “true story” claim.

Norma Bates and Nite-Owl are demonologists.  They get a request from the wife of the Office Space guy. She wants them to check out their fucked-up new house. Weird things started happening the first day they moved in. Things like: the dog won’t come inside, there’s random fart smells at night, and other stuff. And the mom has been getting weird bruises (all over) which she first assumed came from banging Office Space too hard. But they didn’t. Then things got worse.

This is a solid haunted house movie. It’s creepy, disturbing and has some non-telegraphed scares and smartly puts the lives of Office Space’s 5 daughters in mortal danger. I suppose I shouldn’t say “smartly” because that credits the writers and director but they didn’t have to do shit because this really happened.

One thing I like to see in a movie is something I’ve never seen before. We’re all familiar with that hallmark of American cinema called the “musical montage”. Like the “training montage” or the “learning montage” or the “they’re going to bang after this song is over” montage. You know.

Well this movie has a “setting up the scientific paranormal investigation equipment all over the house” montage. And it makes that seem exciting. There’s lots really involved equipment like black lights and bells on all the doorknobs so they can be heard opening. Now I realize why all my neighbors hang bells on their doors at night. They’re scared of ghosts!

I have some silly paranoid neighbors! This movie would freak them out!

This movie is nothing great, but there’s nothing it fails at either. See it if you like haunted house movies. You won’t feel cheated or pissed or ashamed or ugly on the inside if you do. Now, if you feel that way going in, you’ll probably feel that way coming out. Movies don’t solve your problems. Believe me.

REVIEW: Event Horizon (1997)



Event Horizon (1997): B-

The guy who directed Mortal Kombat, some Resident Evil movies, and that terrible Three Musketeers movie directs this one which is, in my opinion, his best work.

One of my close friends, who used to work at a video store with me, claims this is the scariest movie he has ever seen. For fun, coworkers and I used to cue up gruesome scenes from the movie and play them on the TV’s in the store just to mess with him. He would get really upset. There’s a great scene where all this gore dumps out of this guy’s eyes; it would make yelps (and maybe a little poop) dump out of my friend.

In the future, Sam Neil (who has some impressive horror credentials, by the way) and Morpheus take a crew of people to investigate this missing spaceship called the Event Horizon. The ship uses some fancy black hole creating technology that makes it move really fast. Sam Neil explains it to the crew using an extremely condescending diagram on paper. He folds the paper in half to demonstrate how space-time bends in the artificial black hole, allowing the ship to basically teleport. “Now the opposite sides of the paper are touching! Yay! I understand physics!” you say to yourself. Yeah. Just like you understood Chaos Theory when Jeff Goldblum dribbled water onto Sam Neil’s hand in Jurassic Park. You have seen some version of this scene in probably a dozen movies and it is all you get to legitimize the sci-fi technology and batshit intergalactic demonomania of Event Horizon.

It is discovered that the ship traveled to a foreign dimension where it was contaminated by evil spirits and gained a malevolent and homicidal sentience. Now it is back in our universe and it gets its jollies by torturing/possessing people on board. I liked this idea. It is a haunted house / exorcism movie about a spaceship and it doesn’t totally suck like some “In Space” movies. It’s a cross between Solaris and The Shining but directed by the guy who did Mortal Kombat.

The “rules” are sort of blurry. Is the ship possessed by a single consciousness or are there spirits automating functions of the ship? Is the ship a demon now? Does the ship have feelings? Why does it hate this crew of people? How are crew members getting possessed? Which things on board are hallucinations and which are real? What exactly happened to the original crew?

Some token “In Space” elements stick around. People are blasted into space, airlocks are manipulated, and black holes are a threat. Instead of a self-destruct sequence, we get the black-hole drive activated by the possessed ship which threatens to teleport everyone to the shitty dimension where the evil shitty spirits come from.

Not much in the “answers” department but the scares/visuals are creative and it was refreshing to see a space/horror movie that didn’t totally blow.