Welcome to the latest edition of 24 Frames. Andrew Jamieson will be guiding you through the exciting, confusing and often brilliant world of 'film'. Expect news, trailers and plenty of opinion.



The 'Conjuring' Edition

Well the year is coming to an end and in a few weeks and 24 Frames will offer our choices for the top ten movies of the year. As UK general audiences have yet to see Gravity (2013) or Ridley Scott's latest opus The Counselor (2013), it would be superfluous and stupid to attempt to create a top ten list having not seen what is seemingly two of the best movies of the year. So instead I will offer up my opinion on what is the worst movie I have seen this year: The Conjuring (2013).

This movie arrived with quite a fanfare behind it, with critics describing it as a nostalgic picture that was a glowing tribute to the older horror pictures that graced our screens in a bygone age. These reviews grabbed my attention as I have grown tired of most modern day horror movies that seem to revolve around attempting to make the audience fall asleep in the cinema before making a loud noise to wake us up in a failed attempt to scare us (yes Paranormal Activity I blame you). I was excited by the cast and especially the fact that Vera Farmiga was in it as she is a great actress. So I went to the cinema expecting to be thrilled and terrified by a movie that all of my friends were talking about. Well my expectations were not met.

My main problem with the movie was the fact that it purported to be a true story based around the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren who supposedly investigated over 10,000 hauntings. Firstly I must say that there is no problem with adapting a true story and manipulating it to fit the fiction that a film maker wants to put on the screen, but what the Conjuring manages to do is to factor in the true story against a narrative that shamefully invokes real history. An example of this is the choice made by the scriptwriters to use the Salem witch trials as a base for the horrors being experienced by inhabitants of the haunted house. The witch trials are a sad moment in human history and the movie uses the trials in a flippant manner that shows little or no understanding of their historical context.

A more intelligent writer could have used the memory of these trials in a subversive way as to show how human horror can contribute toward the spiritual horrors of the future, but they choose instead to modify history for the sake of telling a story that isn't true. This sleight of hand is shameful and boring, what is worse is the fact that the movie acts as some kind of evangelical horror film in which we are advised at the end of the movie that there is a battle going on between good people and the devil and we need to pick a side. This rhetoric was misjudged and offered a simplistic resolution to a boring movie, while there is a superb story to be told about these people and the encounters they experienced, this movie does not want to use the real life events to provoke religious debate or even a debate about the ideals of the main protagonists. All the writers want to do is make us sit through two hours of bad dialogue and screaming demons all of which can be explained by a simplistic statement at the end of the movie. None of these flaws would be as paramount to me if the movie hadn't said that it was a true story. Surely the real events had more drama and human emotion than this movie is able to convey.

  • Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring

While admittedly I was occasionally scared while watching the movie, I noticed that in the cinema everybody was falling over themselves to appear scared, a few teenagers were taking 'selfies' of themselves screaming and acting like terrified pigeons by waving their arms around in a manic fashion. Clearly the marketing for the movie had succeeded as the audience had almost pre-determined their fear factor before the title card went up for the movie.

As it is Halloween next week I will be reviewing one of my horror favourites in The Blair Witch Project (1999), which is the horror movie that made me call a family member and ask them to sleep over as I was that scared. After this movie I only wanted to call home to ask if anybody needed milk. Kind of tells me something about the true horror I had just seen.