SINISTER vs. THE CONJURING
Friends, I am not here to bury The Conjuring. Heaven knows many of you out there in the Virtual Lands Beyond love that dang movie and that’s totally cool with me. In fact, Rotten Tomatoes is in agreement with all you fans, giving it an 86% positive rating, which is pretty unheard of for a horror film. That being said, I personally DO NOT GET THE FUSS. I wasn’t scared once during The Conjuring’s entire runtime, and though I do agree it has some great moments (clapping game, ahoy!), overall I thought it was more of a missed opportunity than a horror classic.
One year before that acclaimed piece of boredom came out, there was another mainstream horror movie unleashed upon the unsuspecting public that was, for me, much better and MUCH scarier. Sinister is its name, ladies and gentlemen, and ladling out 110 minutes of scary-ass shenanigans is its game. Though it only boasts a 63% positive Rotten Tomatoes rating, to me it makes The Conjuring look like the unscary, goofy period drama that it really is.
Here are my Top 3 reasons why Sinister mops the floor with The Conjuring:
The Conjuring busts out some pretty impressive period production design, with just about every set and costume looking like it was stolen directly from 1971. An example (you can click on any and all photos to get a better look):
(Look, I’ll be honest here: if you’re scared of sideburns, this movie is gonna mess you UP!)
Sinister, on the other hand, has some of the darkest cinematography in a mainstream movie possibly ever (or at least since Pan’s Labyrinth). Thus, a lot of the film looks like this:
Hmm… brightly lit kitchen versus the inky depths of a seemingly haunted murder house? Which one is scarier? OH COME ON! GROW UP! Everyone knows kitchens are only scary when mayonnaise-based recipes are being cooked in them…
2. SCARY IMAGERY
Say, I just thought of something–both of these movies feature gruesome onscreen hanging deaths. By comparing images from these sections of both films, we should be able to determine which is more spookified, right? I’m making my point using SCIENCE!
Sinister’s horrific hanging:
And The Conjuring’s (sorry, I could only find a BW version):
Anyone want to argue the fact that a child swinging from the legs of one of her parents THAT SHE JUST LYNCHED ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE IN HER FAMILY is less scary than a tasteful crane shot of Mr. and Mrs. 1971 and the dead mean witch lady? I didn’t think so.
(For the record, Sinister opens with its hanging scene, shot on über-creepy vintage home movie film. It gives me the hooblies just thinking about it…)
Sinister is a work of fiction that knows it’s not a true story, nor does it ever pretend otherwise. It’s about a true crime writer who moves his family into a house that was the scene of something REALLY AWFUL, so that he can write a book about it. Ethan Hawke’s writer main character isn’t based on anybody and neither are the crimes he looks into.
The Conjuring, on the other hand, purports to be the TRUE STORY of a husband and wife demon-fighting team named Ed and Lorraine Warren. It is true that these are real people (Ed is deceased, but Lorraine is still alive) and that they made their living being (in)famous battlers of the supernatural since the early 1950s. BUT, it doesn’t take more than a cursory glance at their website and a few online articles about them to understand that they were full of beans. I’d go so far as to say they were charlatans, but am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they might have been either very deluded or high-strung to the point of hilariousness.
In the movie “the Warrens” (as they are constantly referred to), are played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, and frankly they are the most fun part of the film for me. Kinda like if Mulder and Scully were a really square married couple from the late sixties. The plot involves the supposedly genuine case of the Perron family and their witch-haunted Rhode Island home, circa 1971. Except that the entire thing is pretty much fabricated. Much like the Warrens’ much more famous “case”, a little something you may have heard of called The Amityville Horror. (For the record, any of you out there who think Amityville wasn’t a huge hoax would probably really enjoy the TV show The Curse of Oak Island.)
Here’s a good example of the less-than-truthful embellishing going on here. Annabelle THE EVIL DOLL FROM HELL WHO IS SO EVIL MAN IS SHE EVIL was part of another infamous investigation by the Warrens and has a special guest appearance at the beginning of The Conjuring for some damn reason (he says, willfully ignoring the fact that the movie Annabelle opens this Friday).
Here is how Annabelle appears in The Conjuring:
Do you notice the difference? If not, take your time and really pore over the two photos. I’ll give you a hint: one of them is the DOLL EQUIVALENT OF HAVING YOUR FACE DEVOURED BY ANTS WHILE YOU CAN’T MOVE and the other is a Raggedy Ann.
I’d just like to say, once and for all, that we as a movie-going public DON’T NEED TO BE TOLD THAT STUFF IS BASED ON TRUE STORIES WHEN IT OBVIOUSLY IS NOT. Disingenuousness isn’t scary, dammit. Why not just be honest about making it all up? Is that so hard?
Does anyone have any questions?
But Brian, how can Sinister be better than The Conjuring when The Conjuring was a HUGE hit at the box office?
Oh, you silly misguided theoretical questioner, do you really think box office is the best measure of how good a film is? Is Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel REALLY better than L.A. Confidential? Alas, though, if you gotta go there The Conjuring cost around 20 million and made around 140 million, or about 7 times its budget. Sinister cost 3 million and made about 48 million, or 16 times its budget. One of those was a profit juggernaut. And the other was called The Conjuring…
I could go on, but will stop here. Beating up on a movie is a lot like yelling at a glass of water–it doesn’t accomplish much (and truthfully, some people don’t really want to be scared by the horror movies they watch, which is fine). BUT, if you haven’t seen Sinister, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Check back tomorrow, IF YOU DARE…