This preposterous gothy fairytale contains a fairly solid premise (two abandoned girls are raised by a ghost) which is squandered thanks to clunky, gimmicky direction; a silly, melodramatic score; disastrous logical leaps (Coster-Waldau waking up from a coma to go wandering around a forest at night, without telling anybody, for no reason at all springs to mind) and one of the stupidest endings I've seen in quite a while.
The film shoots itself in the foot from the off, declaring definitively "yup, there's a ghost and it's real" before the opening titles have rolled, and you spend at least the first half of the film waiting for everyone in the film to catch up. Frustrating. Several ancillary plot threads go nowhere at all, or are introduced by way of some awful contrivance - indeed, there's an entire character (Daniel Kash as Dr. Dreyfuss) who is singularly a nowhere-going contrivance, and his merciless hamming nearly sinks the film. Both Chastain and Coster-Waldau are slumming it quite horribly here. Mama seemed to have all the ingredients, but the result is an overbaked, overrated mess.
The Conjuring is, for the most part, a formulaic but fun melange of Poltergeist and The Exorcist, and it is nothing seasoned horror fans will find to be new. Whilst undoubtedly stylish, I'm still not sold on James Wan as a visionary director (Insidious was deeply stupid, and he repeats a few of the same mistakes here; the old 'door-slams-on-its-own-and-then-you-can't-open-it-to-save-your-screaming-kid' trope standing out). The title makes no sense. Aaaand the whole subplot with the doll (carefully set up during an abysmally-acted pre-credits sequence) is totally pointless - in fact, this would've been a better story without it. All that being said, this is a very well-acted little film (especially Vera Farmiga), the score is very well-used and, of course, there's a LOT worse to be found in this genre, where originality is very, very thin on the ground these days. With expectations low, this is a fun enough ride, and probably about as good as a totally derivative film can be.
I had this at four stars based on my first and only viewing several months back. I feel I'll need to see it again to verify this, as I'm now struggling to remember any of the parts that weren't in the trailers.
This is such a devastatingly simple film that it's kind of hard to describe. There is almost no plot. It's a series of increasingly hair-raising suspense sequences involving George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, who happen to be in orbit. Clooney plays himself again - to good effect - but this is the best thing Bullock has ever done by about a zillion miles. It's a totally unique experience - the 3D, for example, is used perfectly, not as a gimmick but as a genuine storytelling aid. You really do feel like you're out there with them - it's one of the purest and most absorbing sci-fi experiences I can think of. I would say this is a must-see on the biggest screen you can find - unless you have issues with motion sickness or heights or the remorseless infinite void of space. In which case, avoid.