All posts tagged ghosts

The Conjuring: Old School Creep Fest!

Published August 4, 2013 by vfdpixie

the conjuring

The Conjuring (2013, 1 hr 52 mins)

As you may know, I have a great love for paranormal reality T.V shows like Scariest Places on Earth (with host Linda Blair), Most Haunted, Paranormal State, and more recently Ghost Mine, Paranormal Witness, and American Haunting .  Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (most famously known for investigating the Amityville house) were consultants on a few of these programs in the early 2000’s and Lorraine more recently, giving their insight and advice on many haunted or paranormal incidents.  This was my first exposure to the paranormal duo, and I was so excited when I heard there was a movie being made about them by James Wan (who also directed Saw, Insidious and their sequels), a worthy director in my eyes.

Even though The Conjuring is a re-enactment of true events, this film is special because it goes for broke and is incredibly authentic.  I’m going to rank it in my top 5 films of this year and also the top 5 for darn good scares. We are taken to 1971 where a series of paranormal events plague the Rhode Island home of the Perron family.  Ed and Lorraine (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively) are portrayed as seasoned investigators, with Lorraine’s clairvoyant abilities and Ed’s demonologist expertise taking them from lectures, haunted objects and homes where they debunk or confiscate “conduits” where needed (if you have a doll phobia, this movie will freak you out).  When they are approached by a terrified wife and mother Carolyn Perron for their help, they can’t say no, and descend into a world of classic haunting fare, major creepiness and a battle for innocent souls.

This pixie is a stickler for details and so was the production team for this film.  Having grown up in the 70’s immediately makes me nostalgic for that era and all its trappings.  The Perron home was reminiscent of every house I’ve lived in during my childhood:   old plaster walls, bad lighting, and creaky wooden floors.  Oh yes, and the creepy, cement floored cellar.  The wardrobe was spot on, down to the high collared, embroidered nightgowns that I got every Christmas, and Vera’s wardrobe really represented Lorraine to at T since I have seen her wearing ruffled shirts to this day.   I also remember having those weird ceramic-like mugs with the screened florals on the side which were staples in every kitchen in the 70’s, including the Perrons’.  The movie almost felt like it was made in that era.  That helped set the tone for a classic horror film, as well as the creepy scoring by Joseph Bishara (who also played the angry entity Bathsheba) which included the old school “horror tuba” (my name for it) that I love so much.

The performances were pretty incredible.  In my eyes, Lily Taylor can do no wrong.  My sis and I were talking about her career, and we remember her in Mystic PizzaSay Anything,  Six Feet Under, and more recently Hemlock Grove.  Her heartfelt portrayal of Carolyn Perron was convincing and made me cringe with anticipation when the shit hit the proverbial fan. Vera Farmiga got Lorraine’s tone of voice and mannerisms down pat, and Patrick Wilson?  So dreamy, and I can’t say I didn’t like him saying my name with such intensity.   Just wished it wasn’t under such um, soul sucking circumstances .  The girls who played the 5 daughters were pretty amazing as they kept the fear and intensity at a constant, and Ron Livingston held his own as the bewildered father and husband Roger who just wanted his family safe.

I don’t shriek and tell, but if you are sharp, you will see the real Lorraine Warren’s cameo somewhere in the film.  I am also so glad that she was a consultant on the film and met with the lead actors.   Sadly, Ed Warren is no longer with us on this plane after his death in 2006,  but Lorraine has said that he wanted her to continue the paranormal work.  That little lady has a lot of spirit (please excuse the pun) and wisdom, and I believe she is still doing the occasional investigation (the last one I saw was on Paranormal State).   You can check out some interesting links here:

Andrea Perron, the eldest daughter from the Perron family, discusses the happenings and her book House of Darkness, House of Light.  Very interesting background on the actual events:

I highly recommend seeing The Conjuring as I think it harnesses old school horror with conviction and from what I’ve gathered, stays respectful to all involved in the actual events.

Mama’s Monstrous Wig

Published May 12, 2013 by vfdpixie


Mama (2013, 1 hr 40 mins)

Remember how jazzed I was to see Mama, the short film expanded to full length by brother and sister team Andy and Barbara Muschietti? ( Well, I finally saw it, in the wee hours of Mother’s Day, no less.  This was not planned, but it’s fitting for obvious reasons.

Mama tells us the tale of 2 little girls, Victoria and Lilly, who, after their father Jeffrey murders some colleagues and his wife, are taken to a remote cabin where he intends to end their lives as well.  Before he can finish his heinous deed, a ghostly figure makes short work of dispatching him from this earth.  This thing, or Mama, takes care of the girls for five years, feeding them cherries as they run wild in the forest.

Jeffrey’s brother Lucas (both played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) , has been relentlessly searching for his nieces since their disappearance, and his hired trackers finally hit pay dirt.  Literally, as they find the grimy little girls crouching and growling in the filthy, abandoned cabin.

They are taken to a clinic where they are looked after and studied.  Lucas, with the help of their psychiatrist, Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash), gains custody of the girls, much to the chagrin of their dead mother’s sister, Aunt Jean (Jane Moffat), and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain),  a tough, chick in a rock band living the rock band life.  It is a time of adjustment for the girls, as they learn to speak and deal with normal behaviour.  Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse), the younger of the two, is quite feral, walking on all fours with a bug-like speed; hardly speaking at all.  Victoria (Megan Charpentier) remembers more of her life before the kidnapping and adapts faster.

Weird things start to happen, their behaviour is obviously still weird, and the girls hang on to their secret of Mama, who has followed them to their new home.  When Annabel swears she sees someone in the house, Lucas investigates only to be seriously injured after Mama shows herself to him.   He is taken out of the game, and we learn through Victoria that Mama has had a terrible history, and is very protective over the girls.  The story becomes a battle between Mama, Annabel, and anyone that threatens to take the girls away from her.

I was expecting a really great movie.  I really loved the short film by the Muschietti duo.  It looked so promising and really scary.  Mama is their first big budget film produced by Guillermo Del Toro, and it was a good attempt, but only o.k. by pixie standards.  Jessica Chastain worked her magic as Annabel and was really believable as a tough woman who is reluctant to be thrown into a mother role.  I was also impressed with Isabelle Nélisse who played Lilly.  This kid gave me the creeps, with her rotten toothed, bug eating, creepy smiling demeanour.  I love Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones, and he looks particularly delicious in Mama, but is not really stand out here.  My problem lies with Mama herself.  I know from monsters, and the C.G.I charactization was not that great.  I would have preferred her to be more  life-like and less cartoonish.  Aside from a few surprise moments, she became less and less scary and kind of ridiculous, especially when she is reduced to a long scraggly wig ominously skimming the floor after its prey.  There was also a scene where the psychiatrist is getting information from his secretary, and she hands him a box of remains, speechifying about ghosts and how to put them to rest.  And you are…a shaman?  A wiccan?  A seer?  Or just a story device to throw in some clarification.  Kind of slap-dash.  The ending was also a tad drawn out, and well, not good.  In the real world, those people would have lots of ‘splaining to do for sure, crawling around all bloodied in the forest.

The moral of Mama is:  don’t wig out and murder a bunch of people, then kidnap your kids and try to kill them too.  Because wigging out and murder is generally a bad idea, and may lead to ghosts with bad wigs and a killer maternal instinct.  Just get cats….lots and lots of cats.  But I digress.  I will give this film props for the eerie mood and an interesting story, but the second half was kind of a mess.  I would love to see the next project by this brother and sister team, since they have promise and big name backing.  Onwards and upwards, I say!

Most Memorable Line:  When Aunt Jean drops by unexpectedly to visit the still somewhat feral girls, she asks, “How are they?”  Annabel replies, “Outdoorsy”.  Best line I’ve heard in a long time.

Favourite Scene:  When the trackers find the girls in the cabin.  They skitter around like creepy giant spiders, covered in dirt.  Pretty much a nightmare for me.  Fast, dirty children snarling at me.  Yikes!

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