Holy Ghost-hunters


When I wrote my review  of James Wan’s THE CONJURING for Electric Sheep Magazine, I was under the impression it was a simple work of fiction. This in spite of the warning at the beginning of the movie saying “based on a true story.” The hep Edinburgh audience laughed at that, all of us assuming this was simply a piece of FARGO-style hucksterism.

Apparently it isn’t — the Christian ghost-hunters depicted in the film are real people who claim this stuff really happened, and they’ve got the family depicted in the film believing it too. Which makes the movie’s slightly worrisome fundamentalist subtext slightly more worrisome. So when reading the review, please add italics in your mind to the more critical passages to try to intensify the concern.

5 Responses to “Holy Ghost-hunters”

  1. Good review. I loved the film but agree with all your quibbles, the Salem thing is incredibly stupid and crops up with suprising frequency in modern horror films. I’m suprised you hadn’t heard of Ed and Lorraine Warren, they enliven the extras on the Amityville Horror DVD. Here’s a video exploring their real occult museum which is much kitchier than its onscreen equivalent. The Annabelle doll in particular is a hoot: http://youtu.be/g5O3ZydB1xo

  2. Hah! Thanks for that. Reassuringly bogus. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never watched any of the Amityville films, but do intend to watch number 3 in 3D as it’s directed by the estimable Richard Fleischer.

  3. Forgive a stuffy minister for adding her input… the Roman Catholic Church does NOT allow laypeople to perform exorcisms. And certainly not whilst wearing a Protestant cross.

    I had to add that to the list of quibbles.

    Also, I laughed a lot during the scenes where folks were dragged around by the invisible demons.

    Most of the “jumps” didn’t phase me.

    My friend (the fellow who tattooed Jimbo Villiers on my arm) was angry that I watched a rather illegal copy, in a somewhat brightly lit room and not at home, alone in my basement, at night. To THAT quibble I say this:

    I have watched Claude Rains in “Deception” whilst home alone in my basement; I have watched it at the tattoo shop; I have watched in the daytime and the evening. I have watched it at friends homes, alone and with them. I have watched it whilst cat sitting… I have watched it drunk AND sober… no matter where, when, how or with whom… Claude Rains is perfection as Alex Hollenius.

    And “The Conjuring” was no where nearly as creepy as “V/H/S”.

  4. V/H/S is partly creepy because a lot of the filmmakers seem horrible — any repulsive thing could happen. I did find it foolishly repetitive and frequently ugly in its sensibility though. But the Swanberg episode is brilliant.

    The Conjuring is basically benign to its audience: it wants us to have a good time and not be traumatised. I kind of like that about it. The lack of clerical verisimilitude attests to the fact that they don’t take their “true story” that seriously. I do think Wan ought to invest intellectually and emotionally in some aspect of his films though — he needs to engage with meaning.

  5. […] real-life ghostbusters established in the first film, Lorraine & Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) visited the afflicted house, very […]

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