The Prologue

I spent some time last week and this weekend watching all three of The Conjuring movies. Don’t worry, I watched other stuff too, I’m not crazy.

I thought I had seen one of The Conjuring movies before, but apparently not. Now the first one, I had obviously seen trailers for it, because as soon as I saw Lili Taylor was in it, I remembered the ghost hands clapping behind her scene.

I went into this adventure not having high expectations. Looking at the trailers at the time I assumed they’d just be more PG-13 “horror.” I’ll admit I was wrong, for the most part. All three were rated R, even though I think they could have pasted for PG-13… if this were the 80s.

Also, they weren’t that bad. They weren’t great and I didn’t like the sequels, but I liked the first one and although I ended up not liking the second and third movies… I’ve seen much worse.

The Conjuring movies are based on true events. How real they are, depends on what you believe to be real. Ed and Lorraine Warren were real people. Ed was a self-professed demonologist and Lorraine claimed to be clairvoyant and was a medium of sorts.

If you want to know more about them, I suggest watching Devil’s Road: The True Story of Ed and Lorraine Warren. I didn’t like it, not because I don’t believe in hauntings or anything (I honestly don’t know), but it was incredibly boring.

I don’t remember too much about it, but I do remember them going into the court case that the third Conjuring movie centers around. Some of it was interesting to learn about.

The Conjuring

As I said, I went into watching this with low expectations. I assumed it would be yet another hokey haunting movie, like many that have been churned out over the years. That’s how I felt back in 2013 when this first movie was released and how I felt now going into watching it.

One thing that made me like the first Conjuring movie, was the stars. Patrick Wilson portrays Ed and Vera Farmiga portrays Lorraine. I think both of them are really good actors, especially Wilson. I’d love to see him in a buddy Cop movie with Chris Pratt.

As I mentioned before, Lili Taylor is in it. I think she’s a fine actress, but unfortunately when I see her I think of The Haunting remake. Talk about one of the worst movies ever made. Then there’s Ron Livingston and when I think of him, I think of the Bobs and Michael messing up some mundane detail.

The two of them are husband and wife, with five kids. They move into a fixer-upper house and of course it’s haunted. The main premise is no different than many haunted house movies. It does feel like paint by numbers when thinking back on it.

It’s creepy, that’s for sure and that’s what I like about horror movies the most. I like being creeped out. That’s why I love The Shining so much or is it The Shinning? I don’t want us to get sued.

There’s also a few actually good jump scares too, which is rare for me to like. I find them to be lazy and over used most of the time in movies. The Conjuring makes them work, usually. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some predictability here, like I said, paint by numbers.

Not only does it tread on the same ground as other movies, but it’s repetitive within itself too. There’s a number of times were people are sleeping, something ghostly and/or creepy happens and someone is effected by it. Cue Taylor having ghost hands clap behind her head.

Of course by the end, everything is amped up to an 11 and the shit hits the fan. Let me just say I wasn’t a fa… *think of another word than fan* … I was non-plussed *nailed it* by the ending. Before you start commenting, “Shawn, but you love Poltergeist and that ending gets crazy!” I know, but that’s different.

I don’t want to spoil the ending for you either, but Poltergeist’s ending being batshit crazy makes sense. That’s it, that’s the paragraph.

The Conjuring was very middle of the road, but I enjoyed watching it. I really like the actors involved, the scares were mostly good (even the jump scares) and honestly the five kids didn’t really get annoying. Maybe a little when they were scared, but I think they acted pretty natural to what kids would do in this situation, I guess. The first Conjuring movie is worth a watch.

The Conjuring 2

I’ll admit right now, because I ended up liking the first Conjuring movie I started to have a little higher expectations for the second movie. I think expectations can really be a driving force for liking a movie or not. Of course, you can go in with low expectations and have them met and the same with high expectations. I don’t know, it just popped in my head… better than it being Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

Wilson and Farmiga are back reprising their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren. However the family is different and in a different country as well. The Warrens travel across to London for this haunting adventure. This time we have a single mom and she has four kids.

The Conjuring 2 has a lot of similarities to the first movie. Haunted house, creepy things happen, family scared to death and the Warrens show up to try helping. There’s one aspect that’s different that could have been pretty interesting. Two of the daughters for a moment play with a Ouija board, and no that’s not the different thing, although it’s not done in the first movie, so it’s different, but that’s not interesting.

It’s never said as far as I know if that’s the cause for the haunting. It’s implied, but I don’t remember if it’s ever stated. There are layers to the haunting. One of those layers is the possibility of it being faked. The one daughter is being messed with and apparently is possessed. Franka Potente shows up to play the sceptic downer named Anita, she believes it’s all fake.

This could have been interesting. They even set things up to make it seem like the mother is in on it a couple of times. However, that gets stepped on when there’s scenes like the police showing up to see what all the fuss is about. This movie takes place in the 70s, so UK police actually did real police work, unlike now, arresting people for mean tweets.

While the police are investigating, a chair slides down the hallway and into the kitchen, right in front of everyone. Please, explain how that’s the girl faking it. The faking stuff feels shoehorned in. Maybe they came up with it on a second or third draft of the movie? I don’t know, but it feels forced. So much so, that when they use it as you expect, it’s resolved by the next scene.

That leads me to my biggest problem with the movie. It’s almost two and a half hours long. Now to be fair, like the first movie they do a lot of back and forth with the Warrens living their life and the haunted family living theirs. This time there’s extra padding with the Warrens and a scary Nun.

The whole Nun thing turned into a spinoff movie, The Nun and I can’t help feel like that’s the excuse to have it be a thing at all in this movie. It could have been cut out completely and the movie would have been better for it.

Let’s wrap it up. The Conjuring 2 had some decent scares, but they were kind of a retread of the first movie, to the point of ramping up to a big finish that really isn’t that good. The ghost is an old man and I don’t know why movies try to make old people as scary a thing, they’re not. The length of the movie hurt it too. Make a director’s cut next time would ya.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Okay. I feel weird calling this a “retrospective” when this third movie just released. We even have a review of it. However, I can’t not talk about the third Conjuring movie if I’m doing a retrospective on the franchise.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is by far the worst of the movies. That being said, it’s not a horrible movie. It’s just unbelievably dull. I do have to give this movie some credit, they went a different direction. Instead of a house being haunted, a demon is brought back and a curse is put on a few people for their souls.

Outside of that, there’s not much else new here. The Warrens are back of course with the same actors playing the parts, but the chemistry they had in the previous movies, especially the first, feels like it’s lacking. Hey, maybe that’s where the marriage was by this time (this movie takes place in the 80s).

The scares this time are simply garbage. Even when they’re trying for the creepy factor, its all stuff they did in the last two movies. To the point, at one time a decently lit room somehow has a dark corner.

The rules of the curse are not well explained and I was unsure about the person doing the curse. They seemed to have super powers. Which lead me to wonder if that was part of the deal with the demon? I even thought maybe they were dead, but that wasn’t it. It didn’t really make sense to me. However, maybe I missed something. The movie was boring and I found my mind wandering from time to time.

The movie is mostly focused on the Warrens this time, were the other two movies were more about the family being haunted. The movie starts with a kid assumingly possessed (not cursed). That’s another thing, kids are not scary and trying to make them scary is worthless. Two things never scary, kids and old people. Stop it movies, do better. The demon ends up jumping to Arne, the boyfriend of the kid’s older sister. Everyone thinks the exorcism was a success, except Ed who saw what happened, but he ends up in a coma. The young child attacked him, give me a break.

The acting overall isn’t great in this. The Warrens are fine, but again, lacking. The people when possessed felt… I don’t know. There was so much CGI work on making the bodies contort in crazy ways that it just seemed completely unrealistic and pulled me out of the movie.

Someone tell me if any of that is real. In movies when people get possessed, they seem to do all this crazy stuff like spinning their heads in circles, bending completely backward, twisting their arms and legs in ways you’d think would impossible. I know people can do weird contortionist things, but a lot of this seems unreal, at least to the point of just going back to being normal afterward.

I got way off track, but there’s a lot to bitch about in this movie. The boyfriend Arne, after he gets the demon inside him (wink, wink) he stabs a guy and kills him. It’s around this time that Ed wakes up and they try to get the police involved, but it’s too late and Arne ends up in prison. We don’t see much of the case or courtroom stuff, except pleading ‘Devil made me do it.’ Roll credits.

The interesting aspect is the Warrens looking into the idea of a demon forcing Arne to kill. This is in their wheelhouse and I like investigation movies. So there is something there I enjoyed. It’s not at all enough to make the movie good though. They do uncover a plot that the curse is used by someone on others in the same way. The last being Ed himself.

The part of Ed being cursed that was so stupid, and it was the ending. Of course right? They can’t do good endings to these movies, although this one is a little more subtle. That said, they wind-up in these tunnels under the town. You have Ed completely brainwashed by the curse. He’s limping around with a sledgehammer, literally acting out the maze scene at the end of The Shining, err Shinning! Close one.

It was such a blatant ripoff. I’m sure they’d try saying he was paying homage or some crap, but it was exactly the same. He’s chasing his wife around. I groaned, I literally groaned at that. There’s also a scene at the beginning of the movie, with a priest that shows up and looks up at the house, obviously “borrowing” from The Exorcist.

The third Conjuring movie doesn’t do much new and what it does new isn’t great. I have to say, at least they made some changes. I think they knew they had to. I mean three movies exactly alike in a franchise? What is this, Back to the Future?

The Epilogue

So there it is. my retrospective of the Conjuring movies. Over all I’m surprised how well made they were. Even the third one. I didn’t like it, but compared to what I assumed all the movies would be like, it’s better than I initially expected.

Maybe I’ll do something like this for the Annabelle movies. I haven’t seen any of those and never intended to, for the same reasons I wasn’t interested in The Conjuring movies. Maybe I’ll add the aforementioned The Nun as well. I think I better keep my expectations low though.

On a final note. One thing I really liked about all three movies was the end credits. They showed real photos from the events that actually took place, the people that were involved and did some side by side comparisons. They also played audio from taped conversations and such over top of showing the pictures.

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