I was particularly impressed by Ole Bornedal’s The Possession (2012), so much so that in my review I mentioned how much I preferred it to the horror of James Wan’s movies, The Conjuring in particular.
There was a problem though, namely I haven’t seen it in quite awhile, so I was comparing Bornedal’s movie to the ghost of a memory, at best.
So I decided to remedy the situation, starting with The Conjuring (2013), then moving on to it’s sequel.
And while I still think that The Possession is a much better film, The Conjuring is better than I recall it being.
That being said, it’s still not very good.
One of the problems is that Wan has a fixation with the steadicam that’s really irritating, especially when a camera mounted on a tripod would work just as well because there’s nothing that kills suspense and tension more than a camera moving about as if on wheels.
It also makes it difficult to establish a particular location, because the eye never gets to settle.
The story begins with the Warrens solving case a that introduces us to Annabelle, one the dumber movie horrors to come down the pike in awhile.
The doll looks so garish and determinedly sinister that there’s no way on Earth anyone in their right mind would even consider owning it, but some people do (because ‘movie’) and it ends up being a conduit for evil forces.
When dealing with the nonsensical it’s important that story-wise it’s consistent, which makes it easier to turn off the logical part of your brain.
In this The Conjuring stumbles because Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) establishes early on that the doll isn’t possessed because malevolent entities – he doesn’t use the word ‘demon,’ though he might as well have – can’t possess objects, though they can use them to further their real goal (somehow. The movie doesn’t quite explain), which is to possess a human.
So, if an entity not of this earth can’t possess an object, yet somehow use it, why stop at a doll? Why not possess a toaster, a car or whatever else tickled it’s fancy?
Anyway, so the Warrens decide to keep the doll – not that it’s possessed – with the reasoning that it’s better in their hands (How!? And more importantly, why?) than destroyed, which might unleash the entity that has already been established isn’t there.
And what’s safer than a glass cabinet – though to be fair it does have a warning sign on it.
By the way, the “actual” Annabelle was a Raggedy Anne doll, which is a hell of a lot scarier than the monstrosity dreamed up by the movie’s producers because it doesn’t look like it has evil intent.
Though the main story revolves around a family that’s moving into a home that was the scene of murderous violence that reaches out to possess the family (literally and figuratively), which is actually sort of interesting because it plays out as if the entity is somehow condemned to forever repeat it’s crime.
Though it goes without saying that aspect of the story is paid little attention to, though we do get to see Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) spinning on the ceiling, so there’s that?
As I said, it’s a certainly watchable and has some interesting moments (it’s worth mentioning that as far as I’m aware this is the first time Wan has worked with Joseph Bishara, who does scary music like no one’s business) but over all it’s just not that great a movie.