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Review: The Conjuring

Cinema Review

I have seen the trailers for this film since they have played them before nearly every film I watched at the cinema for the past few months. This meant I was already pretty familiar with I was going to get when I went to see this and the film delivered exactly what I expected: a haunted house story in the vein of Poltergeist, The Possession and Insidious. It is a film that manages to produce all the usual scares in the usual way without really trying to push the ideas into new territory. It makes a big claim to being based on a true story but that doesn’t mean much going by how often that claim is made for films. It also has one of those generic titles that don’t ave much to do with this film

The main focus of this film is Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren, a couple who have made a name for themselves in the world of paranormal investigations and we get introduced to them finishing off a case involving a doll possessed by what Ed insists is a demon. Another film based one of their case is the Amityville Horror though they don’t appear as characters in that story.

conjuringThe family that is being haunted are Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) Perron and their five daughters who have just moved into a new house out in the country. Of course they have put all their money into this new house which establishes why they don’t just leave when things start getting dangerous. Things start slow with things like the youngest daughter finding an old music box. Later she tells her mother about an imaginary friend that she says that she sees the mirror of the music box while the music is playing. At first it’s just things getting misplaced which are easily passed off as the sisters messing with each other.

Things move up to the next level and the girls are getting affected by ghosts appearing to some of them and attacking them. Carolyn is also waking up every morning to find her body covered in bruises. She goes to a lecture that the Warrens are giving at a local university and Ed is giving a lecture about the three stages of attack by a demonic spirit. After the lecture she asks them for their help and while Ed is reluctant Lorraine agrees to help.

They arrive to have look over the house and have another couple of people along to help: a nerd called Drew (Shannon Kook) to operate the recording equipment and Brad (John Brotherton) a cop  withe a porn ‘tache who is there as a sceptical witness (though I don’t see how bringing along your own regular sceptic witness helps their credibility). Lorraine uses her spooky super-sense to determine that there is a demonic presence haunting the place and now they have to gather enough evidence to convince the Catholic Church to allow an exorcism to be performed.

This film has a nice slow burn and lets us get to know the large number of characters. The girls playing the daughters have a natural feel to their interactions and feel like sisters. The rest of the cast are good enough. When it starts with the creepiness the film uses all the old tricks that fans of horror films will be very familiar with but they still seems to be as effective with the general audience as ever. Some of these have had their impact dampened by appearing in the trailer but they still work pretty well. I thought that the ending was very routine but that fits in with the fairly standard nature of the film and I would have been surprised if they had thrown in sort of gimmicky twist. I’m glad that this film is doing well at the box office but though I liked it I can’t say I found it as scary as other people have.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Grave Encounters

I did not have very high expectations of this film since I’d heard that “found footage” phrase being used. But REC and Trollhunter are good films and those are both shot in the same style so I decide to give it a chance. and I’m glad I did because overall I really enjoyed watching this film.

We get an introduction from guy who is supposed to be a suit at a TV company trying to convince us of how  authentic the footage is and introducing us to Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson, the star of the Grave Encounters reality TV show which is another of those ghost hunter shows where a TV crew and a bunch of dicks go to an old house, keep the lights off and pretend to be scared by the noises in the dark.

The footage does come across as authentic for the most part but I wonder where the shots of patients in a mental hospital came from since they’re certainly not part of the location footage. Preston films his introduction outside the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, a huge abandoned building complex with a dark history and several reports of hauntings. They tour the building and see all the spooky sights – the window that opens by itself, the room covered in crazy writing, the suicide bathroom and the vaguely creepy service tunnels.

They interview various witnesses about the things they’d seen or heard, including trying to interview a gardener who says he’d seen nothing so they bribe him to lie about it. By including this it makes the footage look authentic because it plays to our cynical expectation that these show are just a set-up. We also get the last member of the crew arriving, the phony psychic Houston Gray (Mackenzie Gray) and he gives all the usual spiel about dark energies and feeling of spirits. This footage is also unedited so we see him go out of character as soon his spiel is over.

The technician Matt (Juan Riedinger) sets up some stationary cameras at the so-called hotspots and has them connected to a computer at their base in foyer near the entrance. He shows of all the cliché ghost-hunter equipment, night vision cameras, EMF meters, electronic thermometers, tape recorders and a Geiger counter (just because its cool). From what I’ve seen of these shows on television this all note perfect. The team all gather at the base camp and pose for a group shot. Also in the team are Sasha (Ashleigh Gryzko) some sort of supernatural expert? More likely she is there to scream a lot. The cameraman is TC (Merwin Mondesir) and he has been behind the camera up until now. Preston makes a great show of the fact that are going to be locked in all night until six in the morning and he gives the caretaker the chain and padlock to lock them in. I wondered about this since this same caretaker and stopped Matt lighting up a cigarette earlier because of fire regulations and I’m pretty sure fire regulations also insist you don’t lock up a building’s only exit when there’s people inside. That turns out to a lot less significant later

Things are very slow to develop. In fact nothing seems to happen at all until about and hour before the caretaker is due to come back for them. TC wanders around the corridors upstairs and he gets freaked by a heavy door slamming shut. Minor as it is they are all very excited by it. They hear a scream and find a big heavy hospital trolley has been pushed over. Preston tries asking questions and hoping to hear the ghosts answer on a tape recorder. Preston is practically begging for the ghosts  to show him something. Then something invisible pulls at Sasha’s hair and she freaks and runs off.

Sasha wants to leave and Preston agrees that they should get their equipment packed up ready for the caretaker opening the door. It is significant that the first sign of anything supernatural they want to leave and there’s nobody wanting to stay. Preston takes some photographs which have been edited into the footage in post-production and they show spirit figures around the area.

The end of the film things start getting creepy and they get picked off one by one by ghosts and they can’t find any way out of the building. I thought that the ghost effects were a bit much and it might have been a better film if they had been avoided since they had been pretty good at creating tension without them in the middle section of the film.

I think this is pretty good film and although it wasn’t very original it is entertaining has a few nice scares but not really from the ghosts. When I saw the name Vicious Brothers I suppose I was expecting a blood-spattered gore-fest but this film delivers without that.

Rating 7/10

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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film Review: Ghosts Don’t Exist

Ghost’s Don’t Exist


 Brett Wilson (Phillip Roebuck), a TV ghost hunter, is persuaded by his father to do one last programme before retiring to wallow in grief after the tragic loss of his pregnant wife some months before. A man called Travis Garner (Joe Hansard) calls him and begs for help in investigating the ghost of Wilson‘s wife Nicole. What finally convinces him to investigate further are some intimate details of his wife that Garner reveals to Wilson.

Wilson sets off with his cameraman Ritchie (Frederick Cowie) and his assistant Jen (Devon Marie Burt). When they arrive at the house they meet another investigator David Sherman (Josh Davidson) that Garner has also called. Sherman is a professional sceptic who has made a career out of debunking paranormal investigators. He is an arrogant prick and a drunk and nobody likes him.

In Garner’s house Garner tries to tell them about the ghost of Nicole but he is confused and fails to convince them. They go to leave and Garner pulls out a gun. Wilson is still going to leave when Garner gives him message from Nicole then puts the gun into his own mouth and blows his brains out.

The message is secret code that Wilson and Nicole had agreed on it and convinces Wilson to stay and investigate. More than that he shoots the tyres of their cars to stop the others leaving too. They set up their equipment and start to investigate while Sherman snarks at their gullibility, rolling his eyes as they bring out EMF meters and start hearing voices in static interference from the computer speakers.

They all start hearing voices and seeing fleeting glimpses of other people. It becomes obvious that there really is something dangerous in the house, a slow silent killer.

This film is better than I thought it was going to be. I have seen films with sceptics included just so they could prove the arrogant prick is wrong and for most of the film it certainly looks like this was going down that road but they don’t. 

I can’t say it is an exciting film to watch but it is interesting enough. The budget is low so there’s a small cast and almost no special effects.

Rating  6/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1285219/

http://ghostsdontexist.blogspot.com/

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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