Battle of the Films: ‘The Conjuring’ versus ‘You’re Next’

When two major horror films are released within weeks of each other, rivalry inevitably surfaces as with James Wan’s ‘The Conjuring’ and Adam Wingard’s ‘You’re Next’ which are both currently screening throughout UK cinemas. ‘The Conjuring’ is based on a real-life family’s accounts of supernatural happenings whilst ‘You’re Next’ is a fictional slasher yet both films share a mutual aim to obtain the identity of a ‘good’ horror film and furthermore to prevail over one another in doing so.

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During my intricate studies of the modern horror film throughout my second year of university, I collaborated a list of what I feel contributes to the identity of ‘good’ horror. The most primitive aspects that I feel a good horror film uses effectively are setting, plot, soundtrack, cinematography, killer image, ending, and of course, fear factor. Read on to find out my opinion on whether ‘The Conjuring’ or ‘You’re Next’ does it better in terms of these aspects, and ultimately steals the title of the better horror film.

Setting: Both ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘You’re Next’ use domestic settings to amplify horror but while ‘The Conjuring’ chooses to regurgitate the typical location of a haunted house, ‘You’re Next’ uses a beautiful decadent estate home that breaks free from standard horror settings and therefore makes the impending violence more visually brutal. ‘The Conjuring’ is more classic in terms of its horror location, however ‘You’re Next’ is both experimental and ultimately more unique.

Plot: ‘The Conjuring’ presents a classic supernatural story in which a previously harmonious family are tainted by unwanted, evil spirits that latch onto them in their new home and proceed to ruin their lives. Despite borrowing heavily from other horror films such as frequent blatant nods to classics like ‘Child’s Play’ and modern examples like ‘Insidious’, the storyline itself is good. However ‘You’re Next’ is certainly more original with less predictable twists and turns, and is therefore more exciting.

Soundtrack: Both films have exceptional soundtracks and both use sound in general effectively. While ‘You’re Next’ cleverly uses repetitive plays of loud pop music to intimidate audiences and create discomfort amongst them, ‘The Conjuring’ manipulates traditional eerie sounds to amplify scary moments and to build tension more gradually. I would say that the soundtracks for both films are as equally as good as each other for opposing reasons.

Cinematography: ‘You’re Next’ uses some awesome extreme close-up shots and presents intriguing plays on focus throughout the film which effectively misleads viewers, however the cinematography in ‘The Conjuring’ is far more adventurous with numerous long shots, complex tracking shots, and shots that even involve upside-down flips. The cinematography in ‘You’re Next’ is edgy and exciting but particularly outstanding in ‘The Conjuring’.

Killer Image: The killers in ‘You’re Next’ are visually terrifying, sporting hideous animal masks and in possession of extremely large, intimidating cross bows. The ghosts in ‘The Conjuring’ are less visually dependent. Although they are unsightly, they appear quickly and suddenly without weapons, and rather rely tense music and loud sound effects to instil fear. In that respect, killer image is less of a prominent factor in ‘The Conjuring’ than it is in ‘You’re Next’.

Ending: I won’t go into great detail for fear (ahem!) of ruining either film for anyone that hasn’t yet seen them but I will say that whilst ‘The Conjuring’ bares a satisfactory ending in being left open to the audience’s preference, ‘You’re Next’ concludes more powerfully both with revelations and a build up to climatic final shot that clarifies any uncertainty. Personally I feel that ‘You’re Next’ ends more cleverly than ‘The Conjuring’ and therefore boasts the better ending.

Fear Factor: ‘The Conjuring’ is certainly scary and jumpy. It uses classic tools to scare audiences: an extremely creepy (and supposedly true) ghost story, creaking doors and repeated bumps in the night. However, ‘You’re Next’ uses unpredictability more effectively to create more unexpected, frequent scares. Whilst ‘The Conjuring’ definitely made me feel uncomfortable, ‘You’re Next’ caused me to look away on several occasions and more significantly prevented me from even wanting to look back to the cinema screen.

So which is the better horror film overall?

MY VERDICT:

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Unlike every other genre, I review the quality of horror films in relation to the extent to which I don’t want to watch the film again. Not only does ‘You’re Next’ present a fresh and unique setting and plot and a far stronger ending than ‘The Conjuring’, but the terrifying killers, relentless gore and overall fear factor are certainly enough to prevent me from even wanting to watch the film again. ‘The Conjuring’ certainly tops ‘You’re Next’ in terms of cinematography and has a much better marketing programme, but for me, ‘You’re Next’ well and truly steals the title of the better horror film overall! It’s guaranteed to terrify and overtakes ‘The Conjuring’ by one star in my opinion!

MY RATING:

5-5

If you’ve seen both films, what do you think?

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