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Non-Review Review: The Conjuring

The Conjuring feels like a culmination of the nostalgia trip that we’ve seen with recent horrors like Insidious or Sinister, a conscious attempt to move away from the gore-laiden or found-footage-heavy approach to contemporary horror. Indeed, The Conjuring owes a fairly sizeable debt to director James Wan’s previous horror effort, Sinister. Not only does the film inherit leading man Patrick Wilson, it also follows roughly the same structure, right down to “paranormal investigators explore the house in a briefly humourous interlude.”

However, The Conjuring flows a lot easier than Insidious and is spared the third-act problems that plagued Sinister. The film is stronger for the honesty of its nostalgia. Even the title card is rendered in a font that looks like it could have been used for a forgotten seventies possession horror. The Conjuring doesn’t really push the boat out, and there’s nothing that will startle hardcore horror veterans, but there’s a very clear skill in its construction, an honesty to its affection and a sincerity to its charm that helps the film rise above so many contemporary horrors.

They ain't afraid of no ghosts...

They ain’t afraid of no ghosts…

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Non-Review Review: When the Lights Went Out

At its best, When the Lights Went Out feels like a cinematic throwback, almost like The Woman in Black. While The Woman in Black harked back to a period of classic British horror, the height of Hammer’s gothic schtick, When the Lights Went Out feels like an affectionate homage to the urban haunting movies of the seventies, like The Amityville Horror with a Yorkshire accent. Although the final third comes off the rails in a fairly massive way, there’s enough charm and nostalgia to keep When the Lights Went Out entertaining for most of its runtime. It’s not just the setting and the aesthetic that hark back to the seventies, but also the tone and the mood.

I hope she’s not left hanging…

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