I just saw the new haunted house film The Conjuring. I thought it was pretty good, frightening even, save for the ridiculous ending with all the Catholic Christian cliches about the Satanic evil in the world thrown in. I even wrote a review of The Conjuring saying that the film might draw a comparison with some of the classic ghost films à la The Innocents by Jack Clayton. The director of the film, James "Saw" Wan, showed remarkable restraint compared to his earlier films, and some of the scenes in The Conjuring are quite chilling.
I shouldn't've said that, since I hadn't seen The Innocents! I just watched it for the first time last night, and I must say that The Conjuring is pretty far from away from Clayton's film in restraint. In The Innocents, we are merely being shown two figures from a distance. There are no tricks James Wan is fond of, it's all in the mind. And we are never really told whether the ghosts of the film are true or whether they are imagination of the protagonist, the tutor (played by Deborah Kerr). The film might be even more scarier of that.
Beware of a slow pace! This is not your typical fast ride through nightmares all the horror films are now bound to be.
Based on a Henry James novella "Turn of the Screw". Now that I mentioned that, I might add that I finally finished the translation of H. P. Lovecraft's essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature" and sent the final edits to the publisher yesterday. Another one goes down!
Here's what Lovecraft writes of James's story: "In The Turn of the Screw Henry James triumphs over his inevitable pomposity and prolixity sufficiently well to create a truly potent air of sinister menace; depicting the hideous influence of two dead and evil servants, Peter Quint and the governess Miss Jessel, over a small boy and girl who had been under their care. James is perhaps too diffuse, too unctuously urbane, and too much addicted to subtleties of speech to realise fully all the wild and devastating horror in his situations; but for all that there is a rare and mounting tide of fright, culminating in the death of the little boy, which gives the novelette a permanent place in its special class." (Hey, no one said Lovecraft is easy to translate!)
More Overlooked Movies here.