Here’s a look at this weeks movies.
The Conjuring: Old School horror movie done well (with a small side of gore)
By A.C. Hall
FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS
This movie is rated R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror
It takes a pretty impressive trailer to convince me to go see a horror movie. The horror genre has long been my least favorite genre, but lately I’ve seen signs of horror films getting better. Much to my discomfort and terror, those signs were right when it came to The Conjuring. This is a truly spooky movie that relies more on tried and true horror elements from decades ago, and less on the blood and guts torture-focused horror films of the past decade.
The movie is set in the early 1970’s and follows a case taken on by the Warrens, a husband and wife team of paranormal investigators. When a big family moves into a rickety old farmhouse, they soon start noticing disturbing things about their new home. As the situation escalates, they bring in the Warrens, who try to help deal with the dark presence in the home.
To me, horror movies are at their best when they’re not showing you what’s happening. Seeing a monster creep around and kill people is disturbing, but I wouldn’t call it scary. Hearing an unknown something creep down a hallway, or close a creaky door, or whisper from a darkened corner, that’s scary. When done well, like in The Conjuring, it’s downright terrifying.
The quality of the actors involved in a horror movie isn’t always high, but one thing that makes The Conjuring work so well is the high caliber of people involved. Criminally underrated actor Patrick Wilson plays Ed Warren while Vera Farmiga does a fantastic job as Lorraine Warren. Then there’s the always awesome Ron Livingston, who along with Lili Taylor plays the parents of the family that is having trouble. These four are awesome at pulling you into the story and making you care about what’s happening.
The Conjuring isn’t a perfect film, and it especially stumbles when it tries to add in some modern touches to the horror. Without giving too much away, I will say that every time it tries to conform to modern horror the movie gets a little bit worse. Luckily, these moments are few and far between, but it would’ve been great if they weren’t present at all.
If you’re a fan of the way horror movies used to be, then you’ll likely want to check this one out. It’s still plenty terrifying, and there are some disturbing elements, but if you’re like me and looking to avoid seeing constant gore and murder in your horror movies, then this is the horror movie for you.
Home Video Spotlight On: Dead Man Down
FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS
This movie is rated R for violence, language throughout and a scene of sexuality.
There are few things I love more than a well done revenge movie. I missed this one in theaters, but checked it out on home video and found it to be an awesomely done revenge film. It’s got all the elements that make a movie like this great, from the story to the action, all brought to life by three top notch actors.
Collin Farrell stars in the film, which was the first thing that drew me to it. Somewhere along his career, Farrell became disliked, and I have no idea how or why that happened. One too many bad movie roles, maybe, or one too many tabloid stories, I don’t know. But I’ve always thought him to be a greatly talented actor, and he shows that with a very strong performance in Dead Man Down.
The other main star of the film is Noomi Rapace. Known mainly as the star of the European version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films, Rapace is super talented. In Dead Man Down, she brings to life a highly damaged woman who finds the right highly damaged man. It’s an oddly romantic story, despite the fact that each of them have dark intentions.
Finally, it’s all held together by Terrence Howard, who portrays a small time crime lord. Howard may not be at his very best here, but he has a screen presence unlike any other. Something about his quiet coolness can adapt to any role, and in this film it makes for an unspoken threat. He’s perfect as the bad guy here, and should think about playing more villains in the future.
Revenge movies are only as good as their stories, and I love how the story in this movie comes together. It’s smartly paced, and balances a lot of layers without ever feeling complex. Films like these try to overexplain themselves normally, and I really admired the filmmakers decision to just let this movie unfold naturally. Sure, they could’ve given you a flashback or two along the way, but instead the characters tell you their story at their own pace. It’s a bold storytelling decision that may lose a few viewers that like things better explained, but I really thought it was a stroke of brilliance that helped keep the movie feeling mysterious and interesting.