Film #1: The Conjuring

Year
2013

Starring
Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor

Directed by
James Wan

Tagline
Based on the true case files of the Warrens.

Synopsis

Famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren help a family of seven combat the evil in their Rhode Island farmhouse.

Film #2: The Conjuring 2

Year
2016

Starring
Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente

Directed by
James Wan

Tagline
The next true story from the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Synopsis

The Warrens travel to England to investigate The Enfield Poltergeist, a series of paranormal happenings at an English council house and one of the most documented paranormal cases in history, touted as “England’s Amityville.”

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The Double Feature

Many of the horror films I love the most come from the 1980’s. To me, the modern horror scene of the 2010’s was leaving much to be desired. Things were beginning to look cookie-cutter and heartless. For better or worst, the genre abandoned the charm of past generations as major studios tried to make their genre films greater and greater computer generated, spectacle films devoid of character. No movie embodies what I hated about modern horror more than 2014’s Ouija. If I had seen Ouija before the Conjuring, I may have lost hope in the modern horror scene. But it was not so…

The first time I saw The Conjuring I was still stationed in Germany. My barracks was a pretty tight-knit community; the people I worked with essentially a second family. Many weekends we would party all night in the community kitchen and the next day we would make a big breakfast(usually in the late afternoon or even around dinner time) so we could all recover together. One day we decided to watch a movie after one such breakfast/dinner and I suggested The Conjuring, a movie I’d been wanting to see. I knew next to nothing about it. I simply took a chance.

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As I joyously bathed in the glow of my friends’ hysterics, as we tried to project our warnings to the family through the TV in futility and as a genuine sense of dread crept up my spine, a single thought came to me. “This is why I love horror. This is what horror should be.”

While The Conjuring movies don’t add anything revolutionary to the “Haunted House” genre, there are many reasons why these films stick out to me. First, let’s talk about some of the people who were never on camera. Writers Chad and Corey Hayes delivered real, believable characters. I have seen a few interviews with them and it was apparent that they wanted to do right by the people the events were based on. For them, these movies are about real people where real paranormal things happened to them and it shows on screen.

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Another reason why these films work so well is James Wan. While all the actors in front of the screen are a credit to the movie, James Wan’s directing is the star of this franchise. There are whole sequences, especially in The Conjuring 2, where I felt my jaw literally dropped. What that guy is able to accomplish with a camera is a true testament to his talent and should excite everyone about all of his future projects. Aquaman is in good hands.

If James Wan is the soul of the franchise, Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren and Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren are the heart of the franchise. Their chemistry on screen is engaging and you believe that they are going to help this family because it’s the right thing to do. Because we care about The Warrens and this family, the scares are that much more elevated. As long as these two actors are enthusiastic about the roles, I believe the film series will have a long lifespan.

Lastly, I’d like to take a look back at how the release of The Conjuring affected the way major studios approach horror movies. While we still get unimaginative duds like Ouija and The Bye-Bye Man, some really interesting horror has been popping out from the major studios in the last couple years.

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The Witch, Lights Out, Get Out, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Green Room, etc… Some quality, entertaining movies have been turned out in recent years. Studios saw the success of The Conjuring and its potential for a franchise(Hollywood’s favorite word). Essentially, the more demand they saw in the market, as more of these cheap-to-make horror films turned out some serious cash, they began investing more in the genre and we’re getting some great stuff these days. I just hope this positive trend continues for a while yet.

What do you guys think of The Conjuring Franchise? What are some of your favorite scary movies to come out in recent years? Let me know in the comments below.

Here’s an interview from the Schmoes Know Show I think fans of The Conjuring franchise would enjoy. Highly recommend checking out their channel, especially if you are a cinephile like me!

The Schmoes Know Interview Conjuring Writers Chad And Corey Hayes:  50 mins