REVIEW: THE CONJURING

 

CAST

Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Patrick Wilson (Watchmen)
Lili Taylor (American Crime)
Ron Livingston (Swingers)
Shanley Caswell (Detention)
Joey King (The Dark Knight Rises)
Mackenzie Foy (Interstellar)

In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron move into a dilapidated farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island with their five daughters Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April. During the first day, their move goes smoothly, though their dog Sadie refuses to enter the house and one of the daughters finds a boarded up entrance to a cellar.
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A few paranormal events happen within the first few nights, including all of the clocks stopping at exactly 3:07 AM and Sadie being found dead in the back yard. One night, while they are both in bed, Christine feels a tugging on her leg, which she first expects to be Nancy, but is a spirit only she can see. She begins to scream and tells her family that the spirit wants the family dead. Carolyn is folding laundry in the night when she hears clapping in the hallway. When she goes to investigate, all the picture frames along the wall fall and shatter on the floor. She goes downstairs following laughter and finds the basement door opening slowly. When she goes inside to investigate, she’s trapped there by the spirit who claps beside her as her matchstick flickers out. At the same moment, Andrea and Cindy are attacked by a spirit on top of the wardrobe.

Carolyn decides to contact noted paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who agree to take on the case. The Warrens conduct an initial investigation and conclude that the house may require an exorcism, but they need authorization from the Catholic Church and further evidence before they can proceed. While researching the history of the house, Ed and Lorraine discover that the house once belonged to an accused witch, Bathsheba (a relative of Mary Towne Eastey), who sacrificed her week-old child to the devil and killed herself in 1863 after cursing all who would take her land. The property was once more than 200 acres but has since been divided up into smaller parcels. They find reports of numerous murders and suicides in houses that have since been built upon parcels that were once part of the property.

Ed and Lorraine return to the house to gather evidence to receive authorization for the exorcism, placing cameras and bells around the house. A bell goes off near Cindy after they finish setting up. They catch a glimpse of Cindy sleep walking into Andrea’s room, and from the EVPs coming from the radio, they hear a spirit luring Cindy into the wardrobe, where she reveals a secret passage inside. Lorraine enters the passage and falls through the floorboards into the cellar, where she sees the spirit of a woman whom Bathsheba had long ago possessed and used to kill her child. Another of the Perron children, Nancy, is violently dragged by her hair along the floor by an unseen force.
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The Perron family decides to take refuge at a hotel while Ed and Lorraine take their evidence to the Church to arrange an exorcism. While the Warrens are on their way home, their daughter Judy is attacked in their own home by the spirit of Bathsheba, along with the haunted Annabelle doll from the Warrens’ previous case, though Ed arrives in time to prevent her from being harmed. Carolyn, now possessed by the spirit of Bathsheba, takes two of her daughters, Christine and April, and drives back to the house. Ed, Lorraine, Roger, their two assistants, and a police officer rush to the house where they find Carolyn in the cellar trying to stab Christine with scissors. After subduing Carolyn and tying her to a chair, Ed decides to perform the exorcism himself. Though Carolyn escapes and attempts to kill April, who is hiding under the floorboards, Lorraine is able to temporarily distract the possessed Carolyn from killing her daughter by reminding her of a special memory she shared with her family, allowing Ed to complete the exorcism, saving Carolyn and April and lifting Bathsheba’s curse forever.
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Returning home, Lorraine tells Ed that the priest whom they sought for the exorcism had called back and left a message, saying that he had gained approval from the Catholic Church to perform it. In addition to this, he also has another case for them to investigate on Long Island. When they leave, the music box that April had found opens and plays music as the camera lingers on it. Once it stops, the screen cuts to black.

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Based  on a haunting investigated by real-life paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren whose body of work also inspired the Amityville Horror. The Conjuring” is an exceptional piece of film that pulls all the right stops to frighten the audience, leaving a lasting impression on your mind as well the recently tired genre of horror.

 

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REVIEW: INTERSTELLAR

CAST
Matthew McConaughey (Two For The Money)
Ellen Burstyn  (Mom)
Jessica Chastain (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
Mackenzie Foy (The Conjuring)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Timothée Chalamet (Homeland)
David Oyelowo (Rise of The Planet of Rhe Apes)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games)
William Devane (Stargate: Continuum)
Michael Caine (Inception)
Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity)
A catastrophic crop blight has made farming increasingly difficult and threatens humanity’s survival. Joe Cooper, a widowed former NASA pilot, runs a farm with his father-in-law, son, and daughter Murphy, who believes her bedroom is haunted by a poltergeist. When the “ghost” creates a pattern in the dust, Cooper realizes someone is using gravity to communicate, and interprets the pattern as geographic coordinates, which Cooper and Murphy follow to a secret NASA facility.
There, they meet Dr. Brand, Cooper’s former professor. Brand reveals that a wormhole, apparently created by an alien intelligence, appeared near Saturn 48 years before and leads to a distant galaxy, with numerous potentially habitable planets. Twelve volunteers have gone through it, knowing only a few can be retrieved, each to assess a planet’s suitability as humanity’s new home. Miller, Edmunds and Mann have sent encouraging data from planets near Gargantua, a supermassive black hole. Brand recruits Cooper to pilot the spaceship Endurance to evaluate as many of the planets as possible, while he works on “Plan A”, a theory to harness gravity for propulsion, which would allow humanity to leave Earth. The Endurance also carries 5,000 frozen embryos as “Plan B”, to provide for humanity’s survival. Cooper agrees to go, alienating Murphy.
Cooper’s crew consists of scientists Romilly, Doyle, and Brand’s daughter Amelia and robots TARS and CASE. Traversing the wormhole, they head to Miller’s planet, an ocean world where time is severely dilated due to its proximity to Gargantua; for each hour there, seven years pass on Earth. While Romilly and TARS remain aboard, the rest descend to the surface, where they find only wreckage. Amelia retrieves Miller’s data, before a gigantic tidal wave kills Doyle. Cooper, Amelia, and CASE manage to return to Endurance, but 23 years have elapsed on Earth.
Murphy, now an adult, has been assisting Dr. Brand with his research. On his deathbed, he admits to her that he solved the gravity equation long before and deemed Plan A impossible, and that he lied to everyone, pinning his hopes on Plan B. Murphy notifies Amelia of her father’s death, then accuses her and Cooper of abandoning Earth. She continues working, believing Plan A might work if she could somehow get more data about singularities.
With limited fuel, Cooper decides to go to Mann’s planet, rather than Edmunds’, over Amelia’s opposition; both have sent promising data, but Mann is closer and Amelia admits to being in love with Edmunds. After being revived from cryosleep, Mann assures the crew that while the frozen planet has an ammonia-laden atmosphere, the surface is livable. However, when they are alone, Mann attempts to kill Cooper, revealing that he falsified the data so he would be rescued. Mann then heads for Endurance. Meanwhile, Romilly is killed by a booby trap. After Amelia rescues Cooper, they race to Endurance, where Mann is attempting to dock despite being locked out of the autodocking system. Mann ignores Cooper’s plea not to open the airlock, which fails catastrophically. Mann is killed and the severely damaged Endurance begins falling out of orbit. Cooper uses the landing craft to stabilize the ship.
Using Gargantua’s gravity as a slingshot, they head to Edmunds’ planet, but their nearness to the black hole means 51 years will elapse on Earth. To shed weight, Cooper jettisons himself and TARS towards the black hole, so that Amelia and CASE can complete the journey. Cooper and TARS pass the event horizon, but emerge in a tesseract, which appears as a stream of bookshelves that look into Murphy’s bedroom at different times. Cooper surmises that the tesseract and wormhole were created by five-dimensional beings to enable him to communicate with Murphy and that he is her “ghost”. He relays in Morse code quantum data that TARS collected from the black hole by manipulating the second hand of a watch he gave to Murphy before he left. Murphy is able to solve the remaining gravitational equation.
Cooper is ejected into normal space and awakens in a space habitat orbiting Saturn. He reunites with an aged Murphy, now near death. At Murphy’s urging, Cooper leaves to rejoin Amelia on Edmunds’ habitable planet, the future home of humanity.
Interstellar is a terrific film, and may come to be regarded as one of the best ever from this genre.