10 September 2017



Well, this one scared the living daylights out of me anyway, and I really wasn't expecting that. Directed by cute young horror wunderkind James Wan (SAW, INSIDIOUS, AQUAMAN) and based on true events, it's the story of a family who move into a fabulous old house in Rhode Island in the early 'Seventies and immediately start experiencing supernatural phenomena. The bad kind...

The house and story are very similar to the house and story from the AMITYVILLE HORROR books and movies, and that's no coincidence. The two demonologists//ghostbusters called in to help in both cases are Lorraine and Ed Warren. Lorraine is still alive and even played a cameo role in THE CONJURING.

In the film, we see Lorraine and Ed come out to the Perron house and instantly decide that it's haunted to buggery by a witch from the days of the Salem Witch Trials, among other entities. Apparently, the house has a long history of people being killed or committing suicide there. The Warrens say it's no surprise that the gaff is filled with some seriously bad mojo.

Let's look at some of the individual incidents that happen in the film. The daughter of the house being pulled and yanked about in her sleep by unseen hands was pretty scary. Even more scary was the time she could see someone standing behind her bedroom door but no-one else could see anything.

I don't like when ghosts target you in your sleep. That's when you're at your most vulnerable and it seems like they're taking unfair advantage. Naturally though, it makes perfect fodder for the scariest scenes in horror films.

The house itself is just fabulously big and creepy and totally lends itself to being the star in a haunted house movie. If I moved into a house like that and it wasn't haunted, I'd be straight on the phone to the realtor demanding my cash back. 'Hey lady, where the f***'s my ghost?' Yes, it's always a woman, haha.

The hidden room in the cellar which the family only uncover by accident is extremely spooky-looking. The scene where the Mom of the family gets pushed down there and locked in by- again- unseen hands is flippin' terrifying.

I always figure that if a room in a horror movie is hidden from view or someone's taken great pains to conceal its very existence, then there is some bad shit in there that is not meant to be seen/felt by human beings.

House-hunting morons, take note. Don't just wander about the hidden room like lambs to the slaughter saying things like: 'This secret basement room is the perfect place for my man-cave/book group meetings/kiddies' playroom.' Fools, you gonna die there, you not careful...

The family in the house keep playing this stupid game of hide-and-clap. No wonder the Mom is covered with 'unexplained' bruises. Unexplained my ass. She keeps wandering around the massive old house with a blindfold on bumping into shit. Mystery solved, Ma...!

Vera Farmiga (THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS) is wonderful as the ghost-hunter Lorraine Warren. Ms. Farmiga has such a gentle sweet face and an appearance that lends itself marvellously to dressing as a wife from the 'Forties. Yes, I know this is the 'Seventies...! Me not fool.

She's super-sensitive in this film as the clairvoyant/psychic half of the ghostbusting couple and it's obviously that she really feels the witch's evil presence and aura. As her husband Ed keeps telling us, each experience takes it out of her, a little bit more each time.

She's determined to press on with the ghost-hunting, though, thinking as she does that it's the reason that God brought the pair of them, herself and Ed, together. To do good for people in need like the Perrons. It's an admirable trait. You've gotta admire her courage.

She certainly puts her life at risk over and over again to help the Perrons, whose cobwebbed crawl-spaces and closets are seemingly all filled with death, despair and decay. Lorraine Warren is the star of the film and my favourite character.

I laughed out loud at the bit where one of the kids screams at the Dad: 'Mom's taken the car and she smells like rotten meat!' Is your own hygiene so impeachably beyond reproach, Missy, I wanted to ask her in return. Cheeking your mother like that and casting aspersions. Tsk tsk.

A word about that ugly doll Annabelle, who actually got her own spin-off film, I believe. She's not really anything to do with the film, except that she was a relic from a previous case of the Warrens' and now they keep her in a glass cabinet in their 'forbidden' room to prevent her from doing harm to anyone else. Or maybe they just wanted to hog the doll themselves, did anyone ever think of that...?

That scene where the witch from the Perron's house and Annabelle team up to terrorise the Warrens' small daughter Judy is pretty terrifying. The DVD box would lead you to believe that this is a film about Annabelle, but she's only a small part of it. Thank God. What a seriously ugly doll. I'd as soon take a piece of stuffed roadkill to bed with me.

The film will remind you of all manner of other great horror films. The AMITYVILLE HORROR films, of course, and THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT, another real-life case in which the Warrens were involved.

Then there's POLTERGEIST, THE ENTITY, THE BIRDS, AN AMERICAN HAUNTING, THE INHABITANTS by my good friends the Rasmussen Brothers, and a few others as well. It's such a brilliant horror film. The scares come thick and fast and there's no let-up in the action. I wasn't bored once and my mind never wandered. I appreciated that and I'm looking forward to watching the sequel, THE CONJURING 2: THE ENFIELD CASE, later on today.

A few final observations. An upside-down cross is only upside-down if you're looking at it upside-down. The other way up and it's just a regular cross. Think about it. Also, all the horror movie staples are present and correct in this film, so present and correct that I swear a movie technician was ticking 'em off a list according as they showed up.

'Self-playing piano? Good to see you, you're over there with the haunted music box and the eerie windchimes, Trudy will be over in a bit with your cobwebs, just take a seat for a bit and make yourself at home. You know everyone, right? Great, great. Where the fuck's Trudy?

'Self-bouncing ball, where are you, we need the self-bouncing ball over here right away! This is a fucking joke, it's the third time he's been late this week! You'd think that a ball that hadn't worked since THE fucking CHANGELING would at least get here on fucking time.

You can't rely on just having that on your CV for all fucking time, can you, I bounced down the stairs in THE CHANGELING a hundred fucking years ago? And where's the enchanted wardrobe? He's normally more reliable than this. We've got to get him up to the third floor right now and I'm down two men today. Two floor managers are down with the flu, can you believe it?

Trudy! Trudy! Will you please get your arse over to the self-playing piano and dust him up a bit, you know what to do. And where's the rocking chair? If I don't have the self-bouncing ball and the possessed rocking chair over here in two minutes, I'm gonna have a stroke, I swear to God. Haunted music box, who the FUCK said you could smoke in here? If Mr. Wan catches you... TRUDEEEEEEEEE...!'

And so on and so forth. It's a fantastically scary film. Enjoy it.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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