The Summer box office season is officially underway and after last weekend gave us a Disney live action prequel and a highly anticipated horror sequel, we get another highly anticipated horror sequel in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and a spinoff to a nostalgic animated property in Spirit Untamed.
But first, a reminder of what my grading system for movies works like
- S Grade; 5.0 Stars: The Best Film I’ve Ever Seen, Everyone Has An S Graded Film
- A+/A- Grade; 4.0/4.5 Stars: One Of The Best Films Of The Year, If Not All-Time
- B+/B- Grade; 3.0/3.5 Stars: Worth A Trip To The Theatre For First Viewing
- C+/C- Grade; 2.0/2.5 Stars: Watch From Home For First Viewing
- D+/D- Grade; 1.0/1.5 Stars: Don’t Bother Watching This At All If You Can Help It
- F Grade; 0.5 Star: One Of The Worst Films Of All-Time
- Reminder: Reviews For These Films Can Change Over Time And Will Be Reflected Over At Our Letterboxd
With all that out of the way, lets get to the reviews already...
- The Plot: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren encounter what would become one of the most sensational cases from their files. The fight for the soul of a young boy takes them beyond anything they’d ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense.
- The Review: I should be forward about a few things when it comes to The Conjuring franchise. For one, even as someone who is personally open to the supernatural I’ve never been fully sold on the Warrens’ claims of paranormal cases they’ve dealt with which immediately colors my feelings about turning their potential true life grift into a blockbuster horror movie movie franchise. And the fact that I can’t say I’ve been as blown away by these Conjuring films as some others have.
The biggest pluses of these movies are, ironically given my previous paragraph, the Warrens themselves thanks in large part to Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s commendable performance of what are obviously two roles they have grown to enjoy playing. They really suck you into their cases and the lore behind their investigations and beliefs in the supernatural and this one is no exception. Without them these movies would fall apart even worse for me.
That said the cases themselves can be a bit over the top silly even with the freaky imagery these films employ, and I feel like they play out as a mindless horror plot filled with disturbing images and jump scares instead of triying to employ more genius attempts at scaring the audiences like say the Quiet Place films or even the IT films did. I just come away feeling like I just saw a pretty generic horror plot that happen to have some really interesting protagonists but nothing more than that to elevate the film to an above average tier for me.
Overall just like last weekend’s A QUIET PLACE PART II, how you feel about the overall franchise will shape how you feel about this movie. And for me it just feels like a generic horror thriller meant more for an at home watch than something I need to take my time with to see on the big screen at a time a better horror film is out there. Its not a bad film, but its nothing special either that I’d say you need to rush out and see it. C+ for THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT. If anything, catch this come Halloween season as a bored at home Friday night movie rental.
- The Plot: Lucky, a gutsy 12-year-old girl longing for a place to belong, befriends a wild mustang she names Spirit. With her two best friends Abigail and Pru and their horses by her side, they explore a world filled with endless adventure, magnificent horses and never ending fun.
- The Review: The biggest props that you can give to a film like this is what a positive story it tells for young girls without having to beat you over the head with a message or having to enact certain trope interactions for such films. I think this movie will be a blast for the kids, especially the little girls, and I wish I could have taken my nieces to see this instead of just awkwardly watching this as grown man looking to review a new film. Unfortunately for all that goodwill I’d give it, it does feel like this should have just come out via a streaming service than an outright theatrical release right smack in the middle of various highly anticipated big event films releasing at the same time.
I’ve seen some harsh criticisms of the animation in this which can admittedly be hit or miss, and I’ve seen some claims that parents would be put to sleep which I have to confess is entirely plausible depending on the parent’s tastes. This very much feels like the kind of kids movie you’d see show up on a Netflix or even on a kids TV network, but in a day and age where there’s so much squabbling over how to present positive films for young girls, I have to give this movie props for nailing that part of it down even if the rest just feels like a film punching above its weight.
C+ for SPIRIT UNTAMED. My ultimate recommendation would be barring your daughter or niece begging you to take them to see this at the local theatre, just wait the next two months or so when you can save your money and rent it for them. It really is a film for that demographic.