Just in time for The Nun, the latest entry in Screen Junkies' Honest Trailers series puts haunted house cliches front and center with the first two entries in the Conjuring franchise. The "100 percent true ghost stories of Ed and Lorraine Warren" are given no mercy, with comparisons to X-Men, Ghostbusters, and the MCU.
In 2013, director James Wan released The Conjuring, a horror movie based on real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. It has since spawned an entire expanded cinematic universe (a rarity in the horror genre), with a direct sequel, and two spinoff franchises of their own - Annabelle and The Nun. The Conjuring Universe shows no signs of slowing down, with more sequels and spinoffs in the works, and though these movies have been critical and commercial successes, Honest Trailers has targeted their most vulnerable features (not unlike most of the demons featured in said cinematic universe).
In the Screen Junkies Honest Trailer for the Conjuring series, the first two movies are accused of relying on cheap tricks and gimmicks long associated with haunted house movies, regardless of them being effective or not. It touches on sequences that rely on "tension building silence" (like the scene in which Lili Taylor's Carolyn Perron is staring down a candlelit cellar staircase, only to have a ghost clap suddenly just beside her), the fact that characters in horror movies never get rid of haunted furniture, and "every haunted house cliche in the book" (ouija boards, fog, possessed dolls, etc.). The trailer also accuses the Conjuring movies of including "enough creepy history to fill an actual history book," featuring a supercut of every time Ed or Lorraine refer back to the history of whichever of the two haunted houses they're investigating.
Between the first Conjuring and The Nun, the movies in the the Conjuring Universe have tackled a wide array of demonic forces. However, the Honest Trailer points out that there are significantly more interesting and intimidating "epic demons of myth and legend" that outshine the evil spirits investigated by the Warrens. At the very least, though, the trailer does give The Warrens some credit, insisting that they must be more reputable than some recent ghost hunting reality shows like Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters.
At their worst, The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 don't exactly shy away from certain haunted house cliches, which can certainly reek of unoriginality to critical viewers. That said, the creative team behind these movies incorporates enough care and attention to detail to set them apart from some of their lackluster competition (which, to be fair, is pointed out in the Honest Trailer). So, while there is plenty to poke fun at in these movies when it comes to cliches, the Conjuring series has helped set a new precedent for modern popcorn horror that ought to be admired.
Source: Screen Junkies
- Annabelle Comes Home (2019) release date: Jun 26, 2019
- The Nun (2018) release date: Sep 07, 2018