26
Oct
13

Room 237, Insidious, The Conjuring

Room 237

Whacked out conspiracy theories await…

If you are a fan of The Shining, then you will probably be interested in watching Room 237, a “documentary” about Stanley Kubrick’s most famous film. Room 237 isn’t so much a documentary as it is a collection of various fan interpretations about the actual film. There is no behind the scenes footage, there are no actor retrospectives, hell, the people talking about the film don’t even show their faces. What we see are various scenes from The Shining and the fans providing voice-overs as they describe their interpretations.

The thing that makes Room 237 great is the interpretations themselves. These aren’t just any run-of-the-mill kinds of things. These people go fucking crazy with what they believe the film is about. One person believes the film is a metaphor for the massacre of the American Indians, another that the movie is really about the WWII holocaust of the Jews, and yet another that the film actually exists as a subtle message to the world that the moon landing was fake and Kubrick himself had directed it.

There are several more interpretations than the three I mentioned above. Some of the theories make sense, while others are hysterical in their ludicrousness. My favorite part was when someone decided to overlay a copy of the The Shining running normally and a copy running backwards. You see some eerie correlations, such as the scene where Danny asks Jack if he would ever harm him playing at the same time as the scene where Grady tells Jack he must kill his son. Things like that certainly seem intentional on Kubrick’s part. The moon landing? Eh, doubt it. While this isn’t exactly riveting filmmaking, it makes for a fun evening, but only for those who are fans of The Shining. Also, alcohol enhances the experience.

Verdict: Average

Insidious

“You gotta pay the Troll Toll if you want to get into that boy’s hole.”

Insidious is probably the most elaborate fan-fiction of all time. My favorite episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is The Nightman Cometh. Charlie writes a musical about a fictional character called “The Nightman.” Mac plays The Nightman, dresses in black, wears facepaint, has cat eyes, and his goal is to get into a young boy’s hole (i.e. rape him). Insidious is essentially the exact same thing.

A family learns that their son is really good at astral projection. So good, in fact, his soul lost track of his body and now it can’t come back, leaving the corporeal body in a coma. So, actually, he’s terrible at astral projection. Anyway, with his soul gone, a lot of other ghosts start haunting the house in the hope they can inhabit the unoccupied body.

The main demon looks exactly like The Nightman. He wears all black, he has face paint, and he has cat eyes. But if that wasn’t enough for you, well, his goal is the same, too. He is literally trying to get into a young boy’s body. If that isn’t paying a Troll Toll to get into a boy’s hole, well, then I don’t know what is.

Clearly, the makers of Insidious were big fans of The Nightman Cometh. Why else would they make such an elaborate fan-fiction based on a single episode of TV comedy? At least they got the comedy part right. Insidious is one of the most hilarious comedies I have seen in a very long time. Despite being marketed as a horror film, there is no way this wasn’t supposed to be a comedy. From the goofy-looking smiling ghosts, to one of the demons looking like Tommy Wiseau from The Room, to the generic haunted house “scares” happening every 1-2 minutes, to the spiritual medium using a gas mask to communicate with the dead, to the completely predictable “twist” ending, everything in this movie is a laugh riot! If you are looking for a great time, look no further than Insidious.

Verdict: Shitty

The Conjuring

They forgot their Proton Packs.

Comparing The Conjuring and Insidious directly, you would never know these two films had the same director. While Insidious was cliche, shlocky horror crap, The Conjuring was quite good and actually a bit scary.
The Conjuring takes place in the 1970s, and tells the “true story” (I love this moniker) of a family living in a haunted house, and a team of paranormal investigators who try to save them. Sure, this story has been done a million times before. Honestly, though, what story hasn’t? What really matters is how the story is executed. The Conjuring takes its cues from horror films made in the era in which it takes place. 1970s horror films (before the slasher craze of the 1980s) tended to start out as slow-burns, create an aura of dread, and gradually build up the tension and scares as the movies progressed. The Conjuring does pretty much exactly that.
The problem with most horror movies is they try to startle you every five minutes. They aren’t actually scary, because they don’t imbue the viewer with a sense of dread. The “scares” are just things jumping out at the audience to startle them. And after 90 minutes of this, the startles don’t even surprise you any more. The Conjuring understands that this kind of shit just doesn’t work. In order to be scary, the movie needs to build atmosphere first and populated the world with characters you care about. Slasher films aren’t scary because nameless teenagers die by the boatload. The Conjuring is scary because the family is believable, and you don’t want bad things to happen to them. Well, maybe you do, you psychopath.
Most of the scares in The Conjuring aren’t startles. We may be shown something unsettling, or a creepy looking ghost, or something to that effect. It’s more in the vein of The Shining than anything else. There are some startles peppered throughout the movie, and they don’t really work. For the most part, though, there is a great balance of atmosphere and dread that allow you to overlook the cheaper scares the movie tries to elicit.
The third act is a bit over the top. However, I feel like this can be overlooked. The movie earned it. It did a great job building up to the final act, and if they wanted to go slightly overboard, then fine.
The acting holds the movie together, as well. If you have shitty actors, horror films only accentuate how bad they are; they make you laugh rather than feel afraid. All the principles here turn in good performances, and help sell to the audience that this house really is haunted. Also, it uses a lot of practical effects and minimizes CGI. CGI is never scary, so this is definitely a good thing.
While I’m quite certain that the “true story” in The Conjuring is nothing like the movie, that doesn’t matter. The Conjuring is a great horror film in its own right. I’d like to think it will be remembered as a classic years from now, just like The Shining or The Exorcist. I find it hard to believe James Wan directed this. Not after seeing that shit-pile called Insidious. Maybe he learned from his mistakes? Then all the better.
Verdict: Awesome
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5 Responses to “Room 237, Insidious, The Conjuring”


  1. 1 hugo
    February 19, 2014 at 6:39 am

    How can you rate those two movies so differently? They are practically the same


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