Ghost stories, haunted houses and demonic possession are the stuff of nightmare for me. As a horror fan I can tell you the movie that give me the most chills are those involving these topics. Demon possession is probably high on the list.
I have been watching horror movies ever since I was a child. I have recently been on a retro kick where I’ve been exploring the hidden gems from the 70s and 80s that I might have missed out on for one reason or another. I’ve been mostly avoiding the newer stuff for a number of reasons. My main reason is I have been told modern horror isn’t as good as the older stuff. I am not sure I agree with that sentiment.
In the past few years I have come across a handful of horror films that have really impressed me in ways few of the so-called classics have. Sure movies like The Last House on the Left, Hellraiser and Needful Things are among the scariest and thought provoking horror films I have come across. That hasn’t stopped me from discovering movies that I enjoyed as much, if not more than, those fantastic films. Sure I really dug Oculus. It Follows reminded me that teen horror can still captivate me even as I age into their parents demographic. And even something like We Are What We Are comes along and delivers a shocking ending that delivers on the promise of the slow build. And yet despite these modern classics I have been turned off by the barrage of low grade movies shot with a cheap camera or those infamous found footage licks I detest. Along came The Conjuring.
This is a movie that based purely on the trailer I knew if I watched it I would find it frightening. The 80’s have often been regarded as the golden age of horror films, especially the slasher among others. But I am here to tell you right now The Conjuring is the sort of movie that restores my faith in the genre. Now truth be told I am legit afraid of demonic dolls. So the idea of watching Anabelle gives me chills, and no in a good way. Except, that’s what I love about horror. A movie that can keep me interested and scare the bezjeesus out of me is the type of horror film that is going to grab my attention. Despite the terrible sequels The Ring remains one of the few horror movies that can still cause me to tense up when I revisit it. The Conjuring has that in spades.
The first thing I will say about this movie is it really delivered. Now this isn’t exactly a review of the movie itself. Rather this is intended to be a discussion of modern horror and my discovering basically what I have been missing out on. Now that I have seen this first entry you can bet your ass I am going to explore the rest of this universe as much as I can. At least for the time being.
It is rare for a movie to leave me wanting more. This was that movie. Not so much more from the same cast or within the same mythology but more movies in this style with this tone. Sure the Saw movies deliver on the gore and Human Centipede has the shock value but most modern horror movies I have seen, even those that came highly recommended, have been lackluster for the most part. For every fantastic film like Midsommar, you get three more Saw flicks, five found footage films and terrible movies like incredibly boring Would You Rather. It’s movies like that last one that really make me roll me eyes. So many Saw copy cats and not one of them worth a damn. That’s not saying anything about whether or not I even enjoyed Saw, that’s a story for another day. But I have realized most horror movies today come in two flavors. Those trying to out gore the movies from decades past, i.e. Human Centipede, or those trying to appeal to a younger audience that grew up with cell phones such as the annual Paranormal Activity release. I see films like that advertised and I wonder what happened to horror.
I want to take a deeper look at the modern films I have been avoiding. I also want to touch on one aspect of the horror world that has been shining bright lately and that’s TV. With shows like The Walking Dead, Lucifer, Supernatural, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and of course Stranger Things, horror has been enjoying some tremendous success lately.
Let’s take a step back and hone in on The Conjuring for a moment. I promise I will do a legit review in the near future. You can expect it to be a video review on my YouTube channel. In the meantime I will tide you over with a quick reminder that I rather enjoyed this movie quite a bit. In fact I will go so far to say this has easily propelled itself to my top possession films. It might not attain the number one spot quite yet, I have to do some deeper thinking on that first. But it is absolutely going to be a film I revisit frequently.
This takes me to my first impression. A bit ago I dismissed Paranormal Activity. Why? Well frankly it’s low budget, low production values aesthetic. It looks like something I wouldn’t enjoy watching. When I saw trailers for Oculus I knew I would enjoy that movie. While I did, it was not a fraction of how pleasing The Conjuring was. This is a movie I can sum up with a single word, satisfying.
There’s a lot of reasons why I tread lightly when going into demonic movies, ghost stories and haunted house films. I am a Witch. I believe in the power of evil spirits. Thus for me these are the movies that hit closest to home so to speak. Now I won’t even touch the way witches are portrayed as purely evil devil worshipers in this movie. Rather I will sidestep that for now and focus on the rest.
I often find myself thumbing through the endless thumbnails on Netflix looking for anything that catches my eye. Naturally I dive into the horror section first. Normally I flip through, decide I don’t see anything I want to invest my time into and return to good old faithful Shudder where I am nearly always met with something that will deliver the goods. This was one of those rare instances where Netflix just happened to have a legit horror movie that was new and not one I had seen a dozen or more times or something that reads like it was written by an 8th grader discovering horror for the first time. And that’s how most of the so-called horror movies I have discovered on Netflix felt. Like they were made by or for kids who have no appreciation for the art. That is absolutely not the case when it comes to this movie.
By far The Conjuring proves two things to me that I had been questioning. The first was that modern horror that captivates me and terrifies me at the same time does exist. It also cemented the reality that despite the love for indie horror, every once in a while Hollywood knocks it out of the park.
What gives me pause is if I decide this movie was a rush of terrifying brilliance how disappointed will I be when the next film I explored is a dud? Well at the end of the day I enjoyed this movie. It rekindled my love of horror while showing me there can still be good horror movies made in modern times. It also scared the living daylights out of me which is absolutely what I want in a scary movie.