Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

{The Conjuring opens in Seattle on Friday, 7/19, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle, AMC Oak Tree, and AMC Pacific Place} 

Well, it seems like James Wan has found his official ghost movie shooting style, because other than the presence of paranormal/demonology experts Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren, I feel like this film is almost indistinguishable from Insidious

Along with hundreds of other supernatural mysteries, The Warrens are the famous real-life husband and wife team who investigated The Amityville Horror, and The Conjuring is based on one of their most disturbing cases, The Harrisville Haunting: about a family named The Perrons who move into a creepy old farmhouse and discover some not-so-nice spirits there. 

The film starts with the story of one of Ed and Lorraine's other cases, a possessed doll called Annabelle, which the Warrens now keep locked up in their household museum of psychic curiosities (WHICH I AM DYING TO VISIT!). 

Herein lies my first problem: Wan's manipulation of the doll in his adaptation is comically over-the-top. The real Annabelle doll is a giant Raggedy Ann which is actually CREEPY AS SHIT, but the doll in this movie is constructed to look so creepy, there's no way you'd ever believe anyone would bring it into their house. Too much, Wan! Too much. 

But. Anyway. 

The Perrons move into this giant old crusty house, where the littlest girl finds a music box which is OBVIOUSLY evil, ghosts play hand-clapping games with the family (oh how I wish I was making that up), and Carolyn Perron (Lily Taylor) starts getting insane bruises all over her body, which she attributes to an "iron deficiency." Mostly all of the ghostly happenings are produced with jump scare effects, so if you're a fan of that, you might think it's scary — as several people in the audience did. But I honestly felt like Wan set them up SO long before they happened, that there was no way you'd be scared by it when it did. 

Once Ed and Lorraine get involved, their discoveries stir up more than just the devious trickster ghosts, and reveal a demonic spirit roaming around The Perrons and trying to get inside one of them. And form there, the film devolves into kind of a lame Poltergeist/Exorcist hybrid with a resolution that seems too easy and too predictable. 

The parts of the story that focus on The Warrens are pretty awesome, partly because I've been fascinated with the RL duo for a long time, and partly because they're the only leads who seem to be playing it straight. Though the kids that play the Perron girls were also pretty good, Taylor (whom I normally love) was hamming it up like crazy in this film, making the audience laugh at times when they were supposed to be terrified. And poor Ron Livingston … aw, geez. That guy. All he did was look bewildered and cock one (cute!) eyebrow from under his terrible 70's bangs. 

Even full of the many drinks I consumed at Happy Hour, I couldn't let go and have fun with this one. I guess I'm just not  a fan of Wan's (though I still appreciate Saw — and let's face it: I will be going to see Fast Furious 7), which is sad since he apparently plans to make several more movies based on The Warrens' experiences. I'm just not up for yet another ghost movie of a simliar tone with wrinkled old female ghosts sporting white contacts and blackened teeth. 

My advice? Skip this one and rent The Others instead. Or, you know, just watch the original Poltergeist because it is AMAZING. Yes, still.