CWRU's humor magazine, est. 2000
Curmudgeons on Parade: a Column by Hallie Dolin
I took a big step last weekend, making a choice everyone faces at some point: to scare or not to scare? For one of the first times in my life, I chose scare and spent the ensuing two hours in front of “The Conjuring” biting my fingers and clinging to my significant other like a complete weenie. Clearly, the abject fear I experienced upon viewing “The Haunted Mansion” at age twelve was not a fluke.
Since seeing the movie, I’ve regained control of my functions and have had time to think about the plot points – the ones that didn’t make me pee myself, that is. First of all, I know the whole demon-possession storyline is powerfully frightening, but modern medicine has really debunked the idea that your brain can be taken over by a malevolent outside entity. Since “The Conjuring” is rated R (meaning that basically only kids under five can’t see it), we really don’t need to be scaring people into fleeing their beds after midnight.
Demon possession is bad, m’kay? Been there, done that, got the souvenir T-shirt. It might be time to make more mundane things the focus of horror. The toilet clogs right before the Big Important Party, for example; this occurs in real life a lot more often than traditional horror plots do, and I can say with accuracy that it’s just as frightening. If viewers want to be scared in a more standard way, the glowing eyes in the middle of the night could belong to the cat. She’s just gotten into the yarn the protagonist was about to use for a big knitting project…and it costs 200 dollars that he doesn’t have.
Apart from the Satanism angle, which I can guarantee amazed no one, the movie was surprisingly entertaining. The eerie violins grated on the nerves and kept me on the edge of my seat, and the score’s juxtaposition of happy music during non-terrifying moments made me let down my guard just enough to scream when the ghosts inevitably reappeared. My terrified shrieks of “Don’t go in there!” could probably be heard well into the next county.
I also gotta say that Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga make a damn good-looking pair of demon hunters. No offense to the original Warrens, but they looked like a couple of frumps; definitely not the type I’d want to see hunting for child-sacrificing ghouls on the big screen. The chin-high blouses Farmiga’s character is fond of wearing are more reminiscent of the 1930s than the movie’s 1971 setting, but she makes them work like nobody’s business. Wilson’s pouty lips and smoldering stare create such a believable chemistry with Farmiga that, if it weren’t for the possessing ghost interrupting, I would have considered their laundry scene one of the more touching pieces of romance I’ve seen this year.
It was a little shocking to see Joey King star as one of the tormented daughters, since she’s only fourteen and recently played a ten-year-old in Oz, the Great and Powerful. In fact, on the whole, I was disturbed that they used actual kids for the kids’ roles. This movie is so scary that they wouldn’t be able to see it by themselves, so wouldn’t some kind of CGI swap work?
If it worked for “The Polar Express,” it’ll work for horror movies. I’m not sure how to contact my nearest friendly neighborhood animation company, but anyone who has the information should send me the company’s address forthwith. I have a Goodyear Blimp with a message painted on it all ready to go.
Hallie Dolin is spending her summer in an entomology lab, redefining the world’s use of the word “superbug.” She wants to change the world for the better, but isn’t yet sure how.