I recently went to a screening of one of this year’s most appreciated and critically acclaimed horror film The Conjuring. The callous, indifferent attitude of a friend had us arrive 20 minutes late. Unsurprisingly, the theater staff had been punctual regarding the time the movie started and this apparently surprised my friends. Furthermore our last line of hope, the preceding trailers, had finished playing quite an unknown while back.
I was assured that only the initial “character development”, settings and other such unimportant scenes had been missed. This was acceptable. Really. I can watch a 90-something minute movie having missed the first few minutes.
I began to weave together the story with what bits of information I could gather. I took in a long breath of relief, excited about the adventure sure to follow. The depressing old mansion seemed restless to send chills down our spines. Soon enough, anticipation began to creep in. And as soon as that someone’s phone started ringing. The conversation continued for a few grueling minutes. Meanwhile sufficient character development had taken place for them to start getting haunted. They moved from one room to the next, completely clueless. As the suspense build up, weird things began to happen. Inside the theater, not the movie. An Indistinct buzz moved from one end of the hall to the other, randomly hovering above each set of two or three seats as it passed. The intention might have been to whisper, but it didn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, I was just as anxious and scared as before. However, now I was anxious about the horrors the theater had to offer. What other mockery of conduct could the theater possibly throw at me next?
Soon barely audible fits of giggles preceded most scary scenes from somewhere or the other.
A few minutes into the movie I told myself that this is a test. It’s a test to see if I could ignore all distractions, and tune my focus towards what I wanted. I could not. Jumping to my attention repeatedly was a group of six or seven girls in a row right behind me and honestly I felt that they were more frightening than any demon the movie had to offer. The thought of their impending squeals and chuckles ruining my movie had me really worried. With dwindling optimism I continued to watch as weird things (finally) began to happen in the movie. The scene where the mother and daughter play Clapping Game approached. For those who haven’t yet seen the movie, it’s a game where a child hides as the mother counts down to zero, blindfolded all the while. She has to ask the kid to clap as she searches for him but only 3 sets of claps are allowed. The hall quieted and tension mounted as the mother began her search. The silence was like a treasure I wanted every penny of. Clearly not many, not even the sissy’s, had seen this before even in the trailers. She asked her daughter to clap. She did. As did a smartass sitting four seats down. The trend caught on.
The horror continued. I was appalled at the lack of civic sense that seemed to infect quite a few people there. I wished there was a way to exorcise the stupidity out of them. I imagined the devil of pandemonium screaming and gnawing at the air as he was torn off from his victims, going berserk due to the forced separation. I realized there was no more than twenty minutes left for the intermission. Now every horror scene was promptly accompanied by an equally chilling squeal from the row behind me, followed by fading giggles and a mix of voices. I realized the worst of my fears had finally come true. The demonic row behind me had come alive. I shrunk an inch or two into my seat and accepted my fate.
I can safely agree with all the critics and confidently tell you that The Conjuring is an exceptional film. It is one of those unique horror films you can also (only?) enjoy alone. Even (because) with people all around I was frightened from twenty minutes in and often prayed to the lord for support. My fear as the movie progressed turned to anger, which slowly faded away, leaving a dead hopelessness. Is it not the aim of all horror movies to take the audience for such an emotional roller-coaster ride? How many movies can you claim do that? Now the fact that what was happening on screen had little effect on me should be of no concern. Such horror, I believe, no one deserves to go through,