The Conjuring franchise has been one of Blumhouse’s biggest successes and is a key reason for it’s ability to invest in such a wide variety of upcoming horror films. Personally, I hadn’t seen any of the other Conjuring films, so went into this film fairly blind as to what to to expect; however, the trailers seemed pretty explicit in displaying the type of film that was on offer. I felt my expectations rising with the general growing excitement approaching this film’s release date. However, when the reviews started to be revealed, my optimism began draining at a rapid level. With just 46/100 on Metacritic and a terrible 6/10 on IMDb, at the final time I read from the site before the film, I was not holding out high expectations, going in, like I had before. Regardless, I wanted to see it anyway to make my own mind up…
What is it about?
In 1952, Father Burke (Demián Bichir) is called to investigate the suicide of a young nun in a secluded abbey in Romania. Generally, he is called whenever supernatural forces threaten the church and this is treated as a very real threat. The church also requests the help of Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga,) a nun on the verge of her final vows, who it is initially said “knows a lot about the area”, despite claiming never to have been to Romania. Finally, their reluctant guide to the abbey, Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet,) soon becomes friends with the pair; however, when he is asked to leave on the night he takes them down there, he thinks he is leaving two people to die.) Father Burke and Sister Irene discover a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries that explicitly seem to determine that the site of the abbey is no longer holy. However, will they manage to suppress the evil, or end up succumbing to it’s malevolent force.
What did I think?
This film is beautifully shot: with contrasts between the the light, and hope, of day; intertwined with the dark and dread of the night, and darkness. Although unfortunately the story and soundtrack did not have the quality to back it up; a clear contrast in atmosphere could be felt just off the back of these images. Specifically, the use of red as a colour in the dark was really powerful as: it was used sparingly and it was quite often the only light in the room; this meant it’s effect was much more profoundly felt, when it was present in scenes. Finally, I thought the acting was good. It relied heavily on the strength of Bichir and Farmiga for most of the film; however, I felt that Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) brought great intrigue to every scene he was part of. His energy didn’t always hit the mark; but when it did, it worked much better than the others, often conservative, attempts.
A big part of a horror film is to scare; and unfortunately, this film did not. As the demon nun is revealed almost an instant into the film; I got comfortable pretty quickly with that hellish image and potential derisions of it, that I thought may occur throughout the film. Therefore, with a poor attempt of a tense atmosphere failing to evoke dread for forthcoming scenes, I began to develop an unwelcome sense of calmness. Subsequently, upon the imminent arrival of jump-scares, which were glaringly obvious in their timing, I was not really moved from my relaxed state. Also, on a very different note, although this is a horror film which uses elements of the supernatural- it still needs to make some sense. I can get on board with a demon nun stalking an abandoned, unholy abbey; however, when the story flies from random plot point to plot point, with characters missing seemingly obvious signs of danger, I find it harder to comprehend. Moreover, for such an abundance of non-sensical build-up, I felt I deserved a much more rewarding payoff than the rushed climax I received.
My Rating: 4/10
This film may have a couple of good components within it; but that doesn’t mean by any stretch mean it’s a good film. For me, the two most important component parts of a film are story and emotion; and I didn’t feel this film managed to manipulate either effectively. From the start, something just felt quite odd and I didn’t like it. It wasn’t scary; or tense; or even slightly exhilarating; and for the first time while watching a horror film, I wanted it to end because I was bored (and not because I was scared.) However, I do look forward to seeing the other films in the Conjuring series as things can only get better, right? Comment your favourite film from the series below and let me know what you thought about this one. Thanks for reading.
P.S- There’s one thing you can’t argue with, this film has been HUGE financial success.