|Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring|
I wasn't a great writer to start with, in spite of what my few well-wishers may have you believe. At best, I might have been or rather would have been a mediocre writer. As I see, there is ample room for mediocre writers in this town. Mediocre has seemingly become the new exemplary. Sticking to that notion of ordinariness, I have now mustered the courage to pen what I believe are my thoughts concerning a brand new spook fest that goes by the suspicious title of The Conjuring. It's an extraordinary little film that I had been warned against watching on the big screen. And as is customary, I had summarily dismissed the warnings as all too inconsequential. BIG mistake.
The Conjuring ended up giving me a Big Kahuna migraine bang in the middle of the night, and ensured its images stayed with me for the better half of the day that followed. When people tell you that the film is replete with old school scares, you might do well to brush up on your fundamentals of fear, in case you've gone rusty. Maybe you could go back and revisit the horror flicks that scared the pants off you at an age when fear still meant something. I had entered the theater with trepidation. In fact, I did want to experience fear. And the film dished it out in spades, and then some.
As usual, there are going to be no spoilers here. Those hoping for a quickie can stick around. I am also aware that revealing too much about the film would ruin your experience. So please forgive me if I veer off from telling you about the bare bones of the plot. I'd still suggest you go in with as minimal information as is humanly possible to garner prior to such screenings. The opening tells you that the film is based on actual events that took place in the 70s. How much this affects your interpretation of what transpires on screen, is purely relative to your belief in the supernatural.
Skeptics might have a field day and theologians may argue their socks off. But it's the unsuspecting viewer who might end up as the biggest casualty here. The film is a potent testament to the power of manipulation as employed by those behind and before the camera. By the way, for those who haven't even caught the trailer of the film, stay away from it. There's a huge boo moment in the trailer which ranks as one of the spookiest moments in The Conjuring. You'd be doing yourself a great disservice if you happened to catch that scene on anything other than a 70 mm screen.
One of the epiphanies that I have had during and post the screening of the film is that a good horror film is as hard to construct as it is to create a great work of comedy. Knowing what makes people laugh is hard enough. But knowing what genuinely scares people is even harder. It’s not torture porn or gorno that I am referring to here. It’s a genuine sense of being unnerved, a notion of being unsettled, the idea that pure evil lurks around the corner, devoid of a tangible demonic or quasi humanoid form that dispels any notion of comfort or closure. Isn't it just a fact that what we fear most is what we do not understand?
Now I realize I haven't even scraped the surface of the film and I have been ranting on about everything but the story. But I guess that's something I'd prefer leaving to the viewer to discover for themselves. But I must leave you with one observation. Looking back in hindsight, I might regard the proceedings as the figment of a very febrile imagination. However, while you’re there in the theater, I can assure you, none of it will appear to be a make believe concoction. You will sincerely pray and wish for a speedy resolution, when the time comes. I can only hope that it’s a swift and possibly amnesiac trip for you.
PS: For the geeks in the crowd, there's a certain prop/visual reference used in The Conjuring that had served as a leitmotif in director James Wan's previous work of horror. It's a sitting duck of a clue, but do leave the answer in the comments. Would be fun to see if you found it.