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The F*cking Black Sheep: The Conjuring (2013)

12.05.2013by: Ryan Doom

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

The Conjuring (201)
Directed by James Wan

“It works about as well as a Disney Channel Halloween Special.”

I’d classify myself as a James Wan fan. Fans gave the dude plenty of love for co-creating one of the most profitable horror franchises ever in Saw, but I’ve dug most everything else that he’s tackled from Death Sentence to Dead Silence to Insidious.

This past summer, Wan bitch slapped the mainstream with his most successful film (so far) with The Conjuring, which will more than likely evolve into his third freakin’ franchise. The guy has established himself as the new Master of Horror. How can’t he be? If studios continue to make Saw and Insidious sequels (and more Conjuring) then he’ll have more franchises than any other horror icon before him. Hell, he’ll have more franchises rolling in cinemas than DC Comics. That’s damn impressive.

However, Wan (or whoever directs Part 2: Conquering the Conjuring) better come back with something a hell of a lot more than what was previously done because The Conjuring is one of the safest, dullest, and family friendly horror films since perhaps Poltergeist. Ok, so family friendly may be a bit of an exaggeration, but for a director known for pushing the boundaries of gore and taste, this isn’t the James Wan fans dig. In fact, The Conjuring represents the sell-out moment of a director. Well, I suppose that’s somewhat incorrect with his latest director assignment to the billion-dollar Fast and Furious franchise. Now that’s selling out, which I don’t care about. A guy has to make a living.

My issues comes from tracing the moment when beloved horror filmmakers lose their stuff. For example, Carpenter basically disappeared after Memoirs of the Invisible Man. Craven ruined his career with Vampire in Brooklyn (though returned with more comedic Scream). Raimi left horror for Spider-Man and that stupid Oz movie (it remains to be seen if he can come back). Obviously, we can’t blame them for wanting to do something else creatively or grab a solid paycheck, but horror fans are greedy, and usually once a director leaves a genre, it’s difficult to recapture what they once had.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. The Conjuring is more or less a safer, duller version of the tired, cliched haunted house story. I really don’t even understand why it was rated R. There's no gore, no f*cking cuss words, and not even a side boob. It's near Disney safe. The story doesn't even attempt to reinvent the genre. Someone was killed in the house long ago and the ghost must right the wrongs of the past because blah, blah, blah. Seriously, is there no new way to spin the haunted house story? And yes, I know it was based on a true story, but this is a tale we’ve all seen over and over. The only inventive element comes from the clapping of the hands in the dark. It’s a good gimmick, but will it become an icon horror stable? Eh…let’s hope not. 

There’s a lot about the film I like actually. I love the doll, Annabelle. Now, as any fan of Wan knows, the dude loves creepy dolls, but here it felt so tacked onto the story that it didn't do what it could have done. It reeked of the Hollywood system of setting up the sequel. If the doll isn’t part of the story, what the hell is it doing there. Give us the killer doll. Don't tease.

I also have an issue with Lily Taylor. I don’t know what it is about her, but she was the weakest link to The Haunting, and once again, she plays another weak character. She just bothers me. Her character reminds me a slightly stronger version of Wendy from The Shining. Flat and uninteresting. Instead of focusing on her, the flick would have been a hell of a lot more effective to focus on the investigators, Ed and Lorraine. She's the one who sees the horror. She's the one who feels the pain. They end up the only the interesting characters because they venture into the dark shit. That’s the story. That’s how The Conjuring could have felt more original. Instead, well, it works about as well as a Disney Channel Halloween Special.

 

 

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3:21PM on 12/06/2013

Bummer

i saw this black sheep on twitter and rushed to a computer to read it. I was excited to see an educated counter opinion to such a popular horror movie and i got "not even a side boob" as a defense. Jeez man, we all like to goods (blood and chicks) but horror nerds also enjoy HORROR. you can't appreciate that aspect of this culture go watch a movie about male teens going on a road trip to get laid.
i saw this black sheep on twitter and rushed to a computer to read it. I was excited to see an educated counter opinion to such a popular horror movie and i got "not even a side boob" as a defense. Jeez man, we all like to goods (blood and chicks) but horror nerds also enjoy HORROR. you can't appreciate that aspect of this culture go watch a movie about male teens going on a road trip to get laid.
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6:03AM on 12/06/2013
Another Disney Halloween special? If this was actually Disney Halloween Special, kids who saw this movie would have heart attack. This movie is really scary. Since that yellow title card was on the screen, the horror doesn't let go. This is my most favorite horror movies since The Changeling with George C. Scott. .
Another Disney Halloween special? If this was actually Disney Halloween Special, kids who saw this movie would have heart attack. This movie is really scary. Since that yellow title card was on the screen, the horror doesn't let go. This is my most favorite horror movies since The Changeling with George C. Scott. .
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+4
8:01PM on 12/05/2013

Thought it was Wan's best

I'm tired of possession/haunted house movies. I thought insidious was awful. Started off OK...but spiraled into a boring stupid mess. I thought Conjuring was a really well made horror movie. Nothing new.....and it didn't creep me out....but I enjoyed it.
I'm tired of possession/haunted house movies. I thought insidious was awful. Started off OK...but spiraled into a boring stupid mess. I thought Conjuring was a really well made horror movie. Nothing new.....and it didn't creep me out....but I enjoyed it.
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6:04PM on 12/05/2013
I agree the film is wildly overrated but, it was still a decent if not derivative horror flick. Nothing new and the exorcism finale was cliche' but, it's still a well made movie, though for me, it didn't hold up upon a second viewing. Found myself getting bored watching it again as a rental. I've seen a lot worse but, wasn't that impressed.
I agree the film is wildly overrated but, it was still a decent if not derivative horror flick. Nothing new and the exorcism finale was cliche' but, it's still a well made movie, though for me, it didn't hold up upon a second viewing. Found myself getting bored watching it again as a rental. I've seen a lot worse but, wasn't that impressed.
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4:27PM on 12/05/2013

Ridiculous

"this isnít the James Wan fans dig"

All the Wan fans I know love this film. Maybe you shouldn't make untrue generalizations just to get your point across?
"this isnít the James Wan fans dig"

All the Wan fans I know love this film. Maybe you shouldn't make untrue generalizations just to get your point across?
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3:22PM on 12/05/2013

Somewhat agree

I liked the film but it was WAY overrated. Safe is a great word to describe it. And that doll, I rolled my eyes when that doll showed up. It is beyond unrealistic that a parent would buy a doll that looks like that for a child they loved AND that a little girl would want play with that creepy ass looking piece of plastic. The clown doll in Poltergeist is not overtly creepy and it makes sense, Annabelle does not. In 30 years will people be championing The Conjuring or Poltergeist? My bet
I liked the film but it was WAY overrated. Safe is a great word to describe it. And that doll, I rolled my eyes when that doll showed up. It is beyond unrealistic that a parent would buy a doll that looks like that for a child they loved AND that a little girl would want play with that creepy ass looking piece of plastic. The clown doll in Poltergeist is not overtly creepy and it makes sense, Annabelle does not. In 30 years will people be championing The Conjuring or Poltergeist? My bet is Poltergeist, it is iconic whereas The Conjuring is another good haunted house film like The Woman in Black (which I like more).
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1:10PM on 12/05/2013

"this isnít the James Wan fans dig"

"but for a director known for pushing the boundaries of gore and taste, this isnít the James Wan fans dig.."

Speak for yourself. There are so many things wrong with that sentence. How can you like Insidious (PG-13. No gore), and then go on using The Conjuring's lack of gore as one of your main points for disliking the movie?

To each his own, at least you're getting us talking!
"but for a director known for pushing the boundaries of gore and taste, this isnít the James Wan fans dig.."

Speak for yourself. There are so many things wrong with that sentence. How can you like Insidious (PG-13. No gore), and then go on using The Conjuring's lack of gore as one of your main points for disliking the movie?

To each his own, at least you're getting us talking!
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12:56PM on 12/05/2013
My disagreement with this article cannot be expressed properly. It's almost like this guy didn't even see this film.
My disagreement with this article cannot be expressed properly. It's almost like this guy didn't even see this film.
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+14
12:49PM on 12/05/2013
Ya this movie was not supposed to be a gore-fest like the majority of Wan's other horror films. It was the subtle approach that made it good. If anything this is Wan at the top of his game.
Ya this movie was not supposed to be a gore-fest like the majority of Wan's other horror films. It was the subtle approach that made it good. If anything this is Wan at the top of his game.
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12:27PM on 12/05/2013

Fail

This movie rules.
This movie rules.
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