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Just ahead of Halloween, what works in The Conjuring – and yes, this film really does hit the mark – is that all special effects are kept to a minimum. What we have here are old fashioned creaky doors, objects that move, something hiding under the bed, and the creepiest looking doll in recent movie history. In many ways, this is old school, haunted house movie-making and it shreds your nerves. What you can’t see is worse than what you can. There are ‘Boo’ moments – moments where you anticipate something might happen, and it does, and you jump – but they’re not cheap. The Conjuring earns its scares. And in case you were wondering about the validity of the situations, during the end credits we see pictures of the real people, the Perron family and the investigators. Names have not been changed, and the place really does exist. Whether the events occurred in the manner in which the film presents them, I don’t know, and I’m not sure I really want to know or even think about it for too long. All I can say is that director James Wan (Insidious) has achieved his aim. The Conjuring is one genuinely scary ride. Available in DVD and Blu-Ray.
The coming-of-age comedy, The Way, Way Back was written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash and they have truly captured the essence of what it’s like to be the young outcast when all you want to do is spend your summer somewhere else. The film’s template is Meatballs. There’s a similar feel to the humor and to the development of the central character, Duncan, that can’t help but remind you of the 1979 comedy with Bill Murray. In fact, Sam Rockwell’s Owen could well be the next generation to Bill Murray’s Tripper, outgoing, humorous and a gentle rebel without much of a clue. It’s a very funny performance, and Owen is exactly the kind of buddy someone like young Duncan would need for the summer. And in case you were thinking that the comparing of The Way, Way Back to Meatballs was a criticism, quite the opposite; it’s a compliment. In truth, despite the popularity and nostalgia felt for the late seventies camping comedy, The Way, Way Back not only has the feel of Meatballs, it’s also considerably more accomplished. Available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
The new, amiable enough comedy from Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, The Internship, taps in to something many of us fear – unemployment and the difficulties of finding something new. Even though the theme of being out of work in a world with fewer opportunities is both a timely and serious one, The Internship is nothing more than good natured fun and attempts to be nothing more. The language, with the odd, minor exception, is relatively clean, the jokes are obvious, and there’s basically little to offend. The end result coasts on mild, innocent charm that kind of wins you over, and even though Vaughn’s motor-mouth delivery can, like the film itself, often run too long, the important thing about The Internship is that it’s actually quite funny. And in a film like this, that’s really all that counts. Available on DVD and an unrated Blu-Ray edition.