Leon van Nierop
1 minute read
20 Sep 2013
6:00 am

Spirited resistance

Leon van Nierop

This is the best horror film I have seen in ages and takes its place with The Exorcist, The Shining, Black Christmas and When A Stranger Calls as one of the most terrifying films ever.

So be warned: if the recent slew of scary films robbed you of sleep, this one will haunt you for many dark moons to come. Based on a true story, it is about an ordinary family whose house is haunted by malevolent spirits. Two paranormal investigators, the Warrens, are hired to cleanse the house of devils. But they have no idea what they are in for.

The film succeeds because the audience identifies with this normal family (great performances from Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston). When brutal evil infests their souls, it also happens to us because the family is so vulnerable and average. In this way, the attacks are made to feel personal.

James Wan, who is becoming an expert in scaring people (his Saw and Insidious are classics) displays impeccable timing because as in comedy, timing is of the essence in horror films.

What you show when and how the director reinvents clichés counts at the box office. And the recent $136-million (R136 billion) triumph at American cinemas proves that hardened audiences were scared witless by this piece.

Playing blind man’s bluff and the scariest haunted cupboard in the history of cinema will make your blood run cold thanks to the way Wan applies his ideas. These scenes will tear your nerves in shreds and pour acid over them.

As is usual in horror films, victims venture into a cellar in spite of warning cobwebs and they always open haunted cupboards. These are golden rules in horror filmmaking, but here they are given a fresh twist. Ultimately, it is the relentless tempo, combined with breathing spaces for the audience (absolutely essential in good horror projects) that finally turn this gruesome and spine-chilling story into a winner.