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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Conjuring: 2013

Release date: July 19, 2013 (USA)
Director: James Wan
Running time: 112 minutes
MPAA rating: R
Cast: Mackenzie Foy

   James Wan, director of the acclaimed "Saw" series, has attempted to give the haunted house/possession genre of horror a new paint job with his latest (and not to mention greatest) film yet. This director had audiences saying, "ehhh, it was okay" with his previous film entitled, "Insidious." It dealt with a small child who fall into a comatose state of sorts, and becomes trapped in a place known as the further. His father is apparently the only one who can save him. I was really happy to find that I didn't hate "Insidious". In my experience, modern day horror films are more focused on torture porn than the situation or story. And it's quite ironic that the man behind the most beloved torture porn series of films is the very same man to direct one of the most impressive horror films to date. Yes, I said it. This is, "The Conjuring." 

   Our story follows a couple who specialize in ridding places and objects of those that possess them. They come across a very interesting case in the Warren household, where the mother of the family is has fallen prey to demonic possession, and the rest of the family is haunted by similar supernatural occurrences that plague their home. And...that's it. I'm surprised that such a recent release from a seemingly renowned horror film director is so simple. Granted this sort of thing has been done before, and the genre of horror that is demonic possession has recently become popular with general audiences. However, it's "The Conjuring" that takes this idea (or actually "Insidious") and does everything mostly well. The key word here is mostly.   

  James Wan is very good at making very effective horror films (for the most part). However, it's the third and final act that falls short. Throughout "The Conjuring" there are many subtly moments that are very effective and VERY scary. He's very good at making a house seem claustrophobic, and inescapable (even though the character probably could have left the house at any time...) However, the main problem that arises during the film is...well...let me explain something first. In a horror movie...or at least in any GOOD horror movie you have the horror aspect of the film which can be implemented at virtually any point as long as it is done well, and the characters that interact with the situation at hand. Sometimes the characters in the story can be the cause or BE the horror aspect and we not only learn more from each character but also the horror related plot device. Long story short the characters in the movie need to bounce off of the plot in a clear, and concise way. That is how it works. And to be perfectly frank, the dialogue in "The Conjuring" is abysmal. I just. I can't! Why in almost every single James Wan movie is the dialogue so...JUST OH MY GOD! I just can't! It's so hard to focus on the good aspects in his movies when I'm constantly being taken away by realllllyyyy badddd writing! But I'm just a stupid critic. What do I know?

   Despite the film's lack of engaging dialogue, I did actually find this film very scary. There were many moments where I saw great use in set design and ambiance. "The Conjuring" is in no way a perfect movie. I thought that James Wan had missed an opportunity when casting so many Warren children, but not really using that number to make an excessive body count. But I suppose that isn't necessarily what the movie wanted to have accomplished at the end. "The Conjuring" is no body count film, like "Friday The 13th" or "Halloween" and I'm thankful for that. I encourage a deviation from trendiness from time to time, and I know that soon every genre and type of horror film will be done to death and I'll have to find something new to waste my time with. It's just nice to see that, for the most part, someone did something right.


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Next Review: Carrie 1976


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Trainspotting: 1996

Director: Danny Boyle
Release Date: July 19, 1996
Producer: Andrew MacDonald

Who here likes Danny Boyle? I know I do. With such renowned movies under his belt, like "Slumdog Millionaire" and "127 hours", you have to appreciate his filmmaking ability.

"Trainspotting" tells the story of Edinburgh scum Mark Renton. Renton is a avid heroin user who lives a trashy life. Everything he does is for the dope. Through a course of events Mark begins to come off of junk, but like coming clean from any serious addiction, it's easier said than done.

Okay, so let's break this down. For a movie about the struggles of heroin addiction "Trainspotting" does a surprisingly good job of keeping its audience happy and not feeling like they want to slit their wrists. *cough* requiem for a dream *cough* Even if the character interactions are not as realistic as some people may prefer, Boyle is able to achieve a semi-realistic, yet comically balanced scene.

As the film progresses, you get a firm sense of the time that has elapsed since its beginning. If I were to call "Trainspotting" a "coming of age" story, many people would probably go into it expecting the wrong thing. It is however, in its most basic definition, a coming of age story: boy is troubled, boy comes clean, boy struggles, boy comes clean. Is that any different from the intended messages of "Stand by Me?" People love being retold the story of the screw up kid who is finally able to come through and beat his original faults, it makes us feel good. (and it usually makes for a helluva movie)

The more technical viewer may note that the film exhibits an awesome array of cinematography. Brian Tufano, the man in charge of the camera was able to achieve a wide variety of shots. Small, enclosed scenes show the darkness that is heroin addiction, while wide angle landscape shots illustrate the feeling of cleanness experienced by a junkie who has just overcome heroin. 

"Trainspotting" has definitely secured a spot in my top 25 movies list and I hope to see more of Danny Boyle's films in the near future. I also look forward to the newly announced 2016 release of "Trainspotting 2: Revenge of Renton." Okay it's not actually called that, but Danny Boyle has actually announced that there will be a "Trainspotting" sequel. Some might be skeptical of the sequel's quality, but I'll stay optimistic until a trailer is released. 

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Next Review: Rush 2013