Stunt Granny Movie Review: The Conjuring

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There’s something to be said for being attracted to a movie on its own merit.  No research via movie magazines or internet sites.  No reviews or box office projections to color judgment or create expectations….just a simple trip to the movies based on a trailer and performers.  It’s a rare occurrence in today’s oversaturated environment of information & prognostication – it seems as though an opinion is fully formed before the movie even begins.  We decided to see the Conjuring because we wanted to see a horror movie.  And we were fortunate to see an entertaining film.

Based on “true events”, a demonologist & clairvoyant husband/wife team (Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga) travel throughout the eastern seaboard during the 1970’s to investigate paranormal cases.  In most cases, they find practical solutions to otherworldly problems (expanding pipes, creaky wood paneling, etc).  In other cases, they serve as actual ghostbusters, with the full sanction and backing of the Catholic Church.  Their most famous case was apparently the basis of the Amityville Horror – another recommended film for any fans of suspense & horror.  When they receive a call from a family suffering bizarre occurrences after recently obtaining ownership of a secluded cabin, they reluctantly begin an investigation, along with a camera technician and skeptical policeman.  You can make a reasonable guess as to what happens next.

It’s difficult to make an entertaining horror film these days due to the fact that every facet has been thoroughly examined and bought to life.  The plot is basically a child of the Exorcist, and this movie doesn’t reach that level.  But The Conjuring is an effective movie nonetheless, and succeeds based on its professional execution of story, setting and characters.  James Wan, who was the director of Saw and Insidious, is a master of using simple effects and pacing to build dread.  Unlike Saw and other gory films which bludgeon with violence, The Conjuring earns its thrills via proper use of implied fear.  Often times the fear of the potential boogeyman behind the closet or under the bed can be far more terrifying the actual monster and Wan uses this tactic in increasingly effective occurrences throughout the film.  There are pacing issues involved in the film; there’s a slow initial climb as well as some noticeable dead spots in the middle of the film.  But overall, the film does a solid job of presenting a story worthy of investment by the viewer.  And yes, it will definitely scare the taste out of your mouth, and not in a cheap way.

A large part of that success is due to the excellent casting.  Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, The A-Team, Lakeview Terrace & Insidious) is a perfect example of a utility actor.  He has an effective combination of non-threatening handsome looks, as well as range to play a myriad of characters in a believable fashion.  Watching him rock 70’s sideburns and a checkered suite while earnestly explaining the power of demons never felt like BS.  Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air, The Departed, Bates Motel) possess two qualities as an actress – grown-woman sexiness (which is always a positive) and soul.  She has a rare ability of allowing you to feel her emotion and witness her emotion on the screen, and believably plays the vulnerable yet determined clairvoyant.  The two also benefit from having wonderful chemistry together; the movie does a good job building their relationship, to the point in which you are emotionally invested in their plight.  The true stars, however, are the tortured family, in particular the doomed mother played by Lili Taylor. It’s always a slippery slope when portraying families in horror movies; either you don’t care or oftentimes you wish demise upon them.  But I could feel the pain of the father (Ron Livingston), as he slowly dealt with the deteriorations of his wife & five (yes, 5) daughters.  From skepticism to dread to fierce rebellion, the family effectively draws you in to their plight, without smarmy cynicism or overly precocious behavior.  By the end of the film, you definitely root for their survival, while still being terrified by the potential of failure.  That’s always a win in my book.

Bottom line – if you enjoy suspenseful horror movies light on gore (still wondering how it obtained an R rating) but heavy in mood, then The Conjuring is recommended viewing.  James Wan has transitioned from his earlier violence and gore to his current master of suspense & slow build.  If you can, try to watch this with a large group – you’ll definitely be scared, as well as have a few laughs.  And you will have a great time.  Just don’t go down any dark steps to explore a boarded up basement…. -Shahid

Stunt Granny Conversation: Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 16: Welcome To The Tombs

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Sixteen episodes have come and gone and we covered every single one of em, at least we think, maybe not. Anyway, the season finale is over and after a whole lot of bullets what did our guys think? How were their survival predictions? Just how awful were Kevin’s picks? Did Andrea finally redeem herself? Was that a different face from Michonne? Will someone grab Hershel a comb or a brush already? How badass is Carl now? Is he right in his actions? Have we finally seen the last of ghost wife? How about that twist form The Governor? No one saw that one coming huh? Who is running Woodbury now? Keep on reading after the “more” and find out.

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The Walking Dead Survival List

Some of us aren't going to make it. Right T-Dog?

Some of us aren’t going to make it. Right T-Dog?

This Sunday brings us the season three finale of The Walking Dead. If you have been watching or just reading our coverage here then you know that business is about to close for the group. All season long has been the build to a final, probably, battle between the residents of the prison and the militia from Woodbury. Kevin and Jeremy give their predictions without knowing any of the spoilers so check it out and use it as a scorecard for Sunday as characters get bumped off. Well, I mean there should be people dying Sunday. Jeez, I sure hope so or we are going to look really silly.

The Prison

Rick

They have knocked off some big names on this show but he’s the main character even if the show is more of an ensemble cast. – 100% Survival Chance. -Kevin

Early in the season there were rumors that season three show runner Glen Mazzara had intended to kill off Rick and that is what led to his dismissal. It would have been a risky move since he seems to be one of a few untouchables in the series. There is 1% chance Rick gets the axe during or after the battle. He is the rallying point and the group’s core. Although it may make for interesting television the move would be too unpopular.  99% chance of survival. -Jeremy

Carl

This kid has been chomping at the bit to see more action. He’s finally going to get it. There’s a new kid on the block so he’s expendable. – 70% Survival Chance.-Kevin

Carl has slowly grown from season to season and there is just too much story left for him. His relationship with his father has yet to be explored fully. How does a boy come of age in a zombie apocalypse?
85% chance of survival.-Jeremy

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Stunt Granny Conversation: Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 15: This Sorrowful Life

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Spolier. Bwahahahahah too bad.

Well, all of that just happened.  The Walking Dead last night just kicked us all in the nether regions and then took off on us like a common mugger. “This Sorrowful Life” had a little bit of everything; Death, redemption, love, hope and a lot of failure. In yet another “quiet” episode a lot sure happened and Jeremy and Kevin are here to discuss most of it. Yeah we are supposed to say all of it but come ne some things will fall through the cracks, cough, Carol, Hershel and Rick. It is all lead up to next week’s season three finale and potential showdown between Rick and The Governor. Is that the battle we even want to see now? Has last night’s events changed the main event showdown? How does one man cause so much havoc on a whim while the leader of a group can’t come up with the same idea? Who had Zombie kill of the week? How do you hotwire a car with one hand? What laws exist regarding divorce in the time of the zombie apocalypse?  Just keep reading to find out.

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Stunt Granny Conversation: Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 14: Prey

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We are two episodes away from the season finale of The Walking Dead and boy o boy have things turned up. Did this episode finally redeem Andrea at all? Is she still a moron or was this finally the opportunity for her to become more than a one dimensional character? Is it worth saving Milton for another season if this is indeed the end of The Governor arc? Why is he the only person who routinely calls The Governor by his first name? Wasn’t that confidential information as well as a big plot point earlier? Is it time for betting odds on who does and does not make it out of this season? As always spoilers abound so don’t read if you haven’t watched. Well, feel free and read if you want but no complaining afterwards.

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Stunt Granny Conversation: Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 13: Arrow on the Doorpost

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Yeah it is a day late but we needed some time to recover from our journeys in Nashville so calm down. This week’s episode of The Walking Dead: titled Arrow on the Doorpost was another place holder episode but it allowed viewers to get more involved with some of the peripheral characters before all hell eventually breaks loose. Who thinks Rick is still having lingering effects from his crazy spell? Did Hershel agree to war or was his silence a hook for next week? Who knew Beth knew how to shot a gun? Who is sacrificing her friends for some lovin? You ever screwed in a shed with zombies at the door?  Was there enough Daryl this week? Where did Maggie learn her MMA? How much do strategically lit sex scenes blow? Yeah there is more and beware of spoilers but really it is Tuesday afternoon; you should have watched already.

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Stunt Granny Conversation: Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 12: Clear

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As the season winds down this week The Walking Dead took a break from the conflict with the governor and Woodbury to bring us some good ole fashion character development. It also featured the return of a nearly forgotten character. How did this go over with Jeremy and Kevin? Was this the right thing to do or the show? Is it the best part of The Walking Dead? What was the zombie kill of the week? Who made the biggest leap as a character finally? Is there much of a chance for more character development going forward this season? As always spoilers abound so if you haven’t watched yet it is your own fault!

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