Thursday, February 6, 2014

Women in Horror: The Conjuring

In 1971, Roger, Carolyn, and their daughters move to an old farmhouse in Rhode Island. Everything is fine and dandy on the first day, but the next day brings odd events. Carolyn wakes up with weird bruises and the family dog is found dead outside. The weird happenings increase and Carolyn is attacked in the middle of the night and locked in the cellar. The family contacts paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren,who ascertain that an exorcism might be needed. They need to collect proof to send to the Catholic Church before anything can be done. It looks as if the church won't respond in time to save the family, so the Warrens and the family are on their own to save themselves.

The Conjuring is set in the 70's and a throwback to 70's horror films. It doesn't bring anything new to horror and relies to much on cheap jump scares for my taste. Parts of the film are very atmospheric and scary. My favorite part is where Carolyn is awoken in the middle of the night and lured into the basement by disembodied clapping only to be attacked. The scene was used as an extended trailer and made me excited to watch the film. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the only part of the film I really liked. The film was quite predictable and wasn't surprising in any positive way.

The film was surprising in a number of negative ways. First of all, the writers of the film, Chad and Carey Hayes, wrote this film as religious propaganda and it definitely shows. Faith is brought up in extremely obvious dialog multiple times and the entire film just boils down to a very simple good vs. evil story where faith triumphs over evil. The treatment of women is painfully apparent that the lens of the film is one of conservatism and religion. The evil spirit only directly attacks women. Women have been known in the Bible to be weaker then men and more susceptible to evil, causing original sin and things of that nature. On the night the evil starts, Carolyn initiates sex with her husband and we all know how well the Bible treats seductresses. This act basically ushers the evil in to her and of course the husband is merely an innocent bystander in the situation. Watching the misogyny on the screen was infuriating.

The villain of the film is Bathsheba, an evil witch who sacrifices children to Satan. Even after her death, she has been possessing women and manipulating them into killing their children and/or themselves. It's fun to look at the biblical Bathsheba. King David spied her in her bath, fell in love with her, and seduced her. Then he tried to cover up his sin by ordering the death of her husband. I find it particularly ironic that this evil, child-murdering female is named after a woman who was objectified and victimized by a powerful man and probably raped.

The last offensive thing about the film is the treatment of the Salem witch trials. The film puts forth that real witches were killed for the greater good. Not one little comment was made to say that innocent people died at all. Bathsheba could have committed suicide to save herself from a much more agonizing death being burned at the stake. I understand making history fit a story, but justifying the deaths of innocent people is pretty disgusting.

The Conjuring is a misogynistic and offensive film. Even without reading anything into the story, it's merely derivative of so many other things out there and doesn't do anything new or interesting. I don't understand why so many people seem to love this flat propagandist film.

My rating: 2/10 fishmuffins

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