The power of Christ compels me... to watch this demon movie.
If you've been reading this blog since its inception... then you are undoubtedly my first and only stalker because no well-adjusted biped would give a sack of guano for my opinion regarding anything. However, given the remote possibility that you dear and most likely singular reader are not in fact a Google bot who drew the short straw, I shall proceed to da crux of dis blarg post ...
If you've been keeping up with my mind splatters, you may have noticed a boring but persistent theme. Thus far, I've written about a terrible Canadian murder mystery novel I didn't finish, "Westworld" a la HBO, a 1940's whodunit noir called "Laura", and the reboot (of sorts) of "The Exorcist" on Fox.
I promise you that I do have interests other than macabre but right now, that's my jam. And jam I must.
My wife and I are suckers for exorcism narratives probably because there's something euphoric about distilling evil down to its worst possible base and then conquering it with some great religious/existential truth -- as if all those felt board stories you were told as a child in Sunday school were actually true -- even if your teacher had composition issues.
Nothing is more emblematic of this than the priest's primary weapon against the damned. The crucifix. All that is needed to send the tormenting spirit into writhing pea soup agony is the mere symbol of Christ's victory over death. If you're someone who wonders what goes on behind the veil, this visual can be extremely heartening and incredibly unsettling at the same time.
I know. How unscientific! Matt is a religious fanatic rube who believes in things that go bump in the night! Ha! How ridiculous! Matt, this is the 21st century for Pete's sake! We worship Beyonce now, you fool!
Mock you may. Spit-take you might. But yes, yes I do. And the reason I do is because I believe that God is something and that evil is something. And if God is as good as I believe God to be, then evil has at least the potential to be more terrible than anything I or you can imagine.
I'm basically the target audience for this stuff. Shut up and take my money!
Film-wise this narrative is in full glut mode, and a precious few are worth your time. One of our favorites in this group is "The Conjuring" which follows real-life Catholic paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively as they investigate the strange occurrences at the Perron family home -- based on an actual case file.
The slow creepy crescendos and sudden jumps are terrific, mostly due to the deft handling of director James Wan, but what really makes the film is the utterly fearless disposition Patrick Wilson gives Ed Warren. He's the rock you find yourself clinging to when the story descends into demonic madness, particularly as [spoilers] Carolyn Perron, played by the fantastic Lili Taylor, is ultimately possessed and rips through the house trying to murder her children.
Take an exchange with Roger Perron after Lorraine has detected the presence of the home's malevolent spirit. As they're leaving, Ed turns to Roger and asks if their children are baptized to which Roger shrugs and replies that they aren't really the church-going type. Ed then hits him deadpan with "Well, you may want to rethink that."
I actually laughed out loud. It was so frank and confident. Nothing much left to hem and haw over when you're house is chock-a-block-full-o' demon.
Given our extreme satisfaction for the first round, we eagerly awaited the Red Box premiere (otherwise known as the Parents-with-small-children Premiere) of "The Conjuring 2" -- this one exploring a well-documented case in working class England.
While this venture was still pretty great, it paled in comparison to its predecessor (Annabelle excluded). The reasons are mostly stylistic [spoilers]:
- The primary antagonist was not scary in the slightest. The demon basically looked like Marilyn Manson on laundry day.
- The dark corner shots established with great care in the first film were handled clumsily in the second. If you're going to revisit the same device, you need to honor the success of the first attempt and then top yourself.
- CGI ghouls are not scary. The Crooked Man was a great idea but he came off a bit like the villain in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."
- The Bill Wilkins story line didn't fully resolve.
I heard there's a spin-off in the works called "The Nun", much like the spin-off of the first film that focused on Annabelle. I'm not enthused.
However, if "The Conjuring 3" becomes a thing, and the Warren's are back in action, I'll be there (at the Red Box) with bells on. And a crucifix.