Why do I see horror movies in theaters? There will always be that 15-year-old girl who screams at every sound and that jerk who’ll take out his incredibly bright cell phone. Ironically, horror is the one genre better seen in a quiet, tense setting; so, you know, bring the kids. That nightmare aside, however, “The Conjuring” is a horror movie that still maintains an incredibly tense atmosphere and well-executed scares.
“Based on a true story,” Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) have just moved into an old farmhouse in Rhode Island with their five young daughters. Everything seems fine at first; all but the obligatory eldest daughter’s love of the rural atmosphere. But after a few terrifying, unexplainable experiences they call in Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), a pair of paranormal investigators. Through Lorrain’s own paranormal abilities, she learns that the home the Perron’s bought has a history of tragedy that threatens to consume the new residents.
Something that always bugs me about horror movies involving ghosts and demons is they feel the need to add in personal drama between the living characters to balance everything out. I mean, who cares about the demon possessing the youngest son’s body when his parents are having marital issues? Fortunately, the characters in “The Conjuring” get along well, which actually makes them worth rooting for. And it’s pretty refreshing to see the characters realize something inhuman is going on instead of unrealistically denying everything. The back story of the haunting is also well done in that the audience gets enough to know the spirits’ motivations but still leaves a little bit of a mystery.
All four of the lead actors do a great job, which is good considering the two couples spend a good chunk of the film unrelated to each other. Ron Livingston looks like he’s powerless to protect his family, as he should be, while Lili Taylor adapts to the increasing anxiety in her character. Vera Farmiga comes off as both a loving wife and a mysterious psychic at the same time, and Patrick Wilson does great as her husband and as the more public-friendly part of the paranormal team. There were times, however, when Wilson came off as a little antagonistic. John Brotherton as the skeptical Officer Brad was a personal favorite. The rest of the cast do fine, with the exception of the two women in the introduction, but there were so many daughters that I was forgetting which one was which aside from the youngest. And don’t make me judge the acting of the youngest; she’s only a kid (which means she was bad).
It always bugs me when haunting movies supposedly based in the real world turn into a fantasy with over the top ghosts and “dream worlds.” While there are indeed the zombie-like ghosts that are in almost everything nowadays, the movie does not focus on them entirely. There are more “subtle” scares like sounds and voices, which are given some good build-up with a good pay-off.
Orchestral strings, which I’ve grown to hate since they can take away from the scare, are actually used pretty well: in a few scenes, the music seemed to play along with my train of thought, coming in loud when the situation dawned on me. The props and sets look creepy, but even though they seem a little contrived at times (it has the most terrifying doll I have ever seen), they didn’t distract me.
“The Conjuring” shows a good turn in horror movies as of late, where the focus is on the tense atmosphere and suspense rather than gore and jump-scares.
“The Conjuring” is rated R for frightening and disturbing scenes, and violence.
‘Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles’
Friends and coworkers have been recommending different places to eat since my wife and I moved to Arizona.
Our latest food adventure brought us to “Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles” at 1220 S. Central Avenue in Phoenix. With another location in Scottsdale and a third planned to open at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport by the end of this year, the family-owned restaurant offers a nice break from the dime-a-dozen Mexican restaurants and commonplace Chinese super buffets.
For our first taste of “Lo-Lo’s,” we started with the basics and ordered a chicken and waffle plate. We also ordered a side of collard greens, mac and cheese, and beans over rice.
The chicken is served southern style, meaning “fried.” It’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, the way good fried chicken should be. The flavor is simply the taste of fried chicken not loaded down with salt and other spices, but don’t let this stop you from adding a splash of hot sauce to your chicken.
The sides we ordered tasted great and complimented our meal pretty well. I was slightly disappointed with the beans over rice since I expected Louisiana-style red beans and rice. Instead, “Lo-Lo’s” version tasted like a very mild chili, but this fact is easily forgivable.
Other side items on the menu include traditional soul food such as fried okra, rice and gravy, and potato salad.
For my second trip to “Lo-Lo’s,” I decided to try “Bubba’s Shrimp and Grits,” which was recommended by my supervisor.
This dish features seven pieces of jumbo shrimp sautéed with mushrooms, scallions, bacon and a shot of Tabasco sauce for a small kick of flavor, all served over a bed of grits with cheese sprinkled over the whole deal. This is comfort food at its finest.
“Lo-Lo’s” menu offers more than chicken and waffles, several items bearing colorful names such as “Stupid Fries,” “Aunt Hattie’s Salmon Croquettes,” and “Yo Mama’s Biscuits and Gravy.”
No southern meal is ever complete without an ice cold beverage to wash it all down. “Lo-Lo’s” serves up “A Jar of Drank” in a large mason jar. Beverages include homemade lemonade, sweet tea and “Kool-Aid” in various flavors. A drink menu is also available, offering a variety of alcoholic beverages. Bottled beer is served in a brown paper bag for an amusing albeit authentic touch.
In a very clever marketing ploy, “Lo-Lo’s” staff members sport black T-shirts bearing witty phrases. These shirts are available for purchase along with other merchandise offerings such as their signature waffle mix and hot sauce.
Overall, “Lo-Lo’s” offers delicious Southern comfort food at affordable prices. The staff is very friendly and the restaurant is very clean, both contributing to a family friendly environment and its appeal.
“Lo-Lo’s” is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
Catering services and whole cakes and pies are available. For more information, call 602-340-1304.
“This place is the B.O.M.B.
The red Kool Aid ROCKS!
The chicken is oh-so amazing but the best is
the waffles and the honey BBQ wings.”