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Insidious' James Wan dips his feet into the haunted house game once again with this New Line Cinema production telling the real life tale of of Perron family, who claimed to have been haunted by a series of ghosts. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as paranormal investigators who reached notoriety with their investigation into the Amityville Horror house.
Well-made and acted, this film is also sneakily and deeply conservative. The family at its center is struggling to keep it together with a trucker Dad, homemaker Mom, and five daughters. When they move into an old farmhouse and overactive demonic spirits start to wreak havoc, the obvious question that haunts most haunted house movies (i.e. "why don't they move out") is answered simply: they can't afford to. The family is also pointedly non-religious, which presumably makes them fair game for the spirits. They are saved by a spirit-hunting husband and wife team who come off like lone crusaders in a sea of post-60s skepticism and secularism. It all climaxes with an exorcism which must be improvised by the spirit hunters without the assistance of priests, who, the movie suggests, are beholden to a slow and unwieldy Catholic bureaucracy. A nice bit of spooky hokum in the spirit of New England spiritualism thus functions as a rhetorical plea for the power of evangelical Christianity to redeem the American working class.
Nothing new, but well executed.
Well done. Lots of suspense. I liked it.