The methods used by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to determine the rating given to a film have always been shrouded in mystery, despite the efforts of Kirby Dick in his documentary THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED. We at Daily Grindhouse are pleased to bring you, at long last, a transcription of the audio of members of the MPAA discussing the rating process, in this case the rating of James Wan’s new film, THE CONJURING. The audio was recorded at a hidden underground complex earlier this year. We deeply thank the efforts of Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and Oscar winner Linda Hunt for their help in acquiring such a deeply sought-after peek into the mysterious world that is the MPAA ratings system.
[Creepy music plays. A door opens.]
Younger voice: Hey, everyone! I’m Todd, I’ll be replacing Eric for today, getting all of your thoughts and helping you guys decide on a rating.
Older, high-pitched male voice: Where’s Eric? I want Eric.
Todd: Eric’s having some… psychological issues. I’m Todd! I’m the new Eric!
Older, Selma Diamond-esque female voice: Is Eric not coming?
Todd: No, Eric’s not coming. I’m Todd.
Older, throaty male voice: Who are you?
Todd: I’m Todd. And you are?
Older, throaty male voice: Gus.
Older, quivering female voice: Gus, ask this man when Eric is coming.
Todd: Eric’s not here. I’m Eric, er, Todd. So, what did you all think of the movie? It was pretty scary, wasn’t it? What did you think, uh.. [pause] Gladys?
Older, quivering female voice/Gladys: It was too scary! I don’t like movie that are so scary. And it seemed so old. Is this an old movie?
Todd: No, it’s just very much in the vein of horror films from the late ‘70s, like BURNT OFFERINGS or THE CHANGELING. The director even makes subtle reference to this with a long, vertically-scrolling opening credit like THE SHINING and a lingering shot of static on the television, like POLTERGEIST, but they’re not too obvious to be distracting.
Gladys: I liked the actors, they were all very good in their parts. I liked the lady from PSYCHO, Vera something.
Todd: Vera Farmiga? From “Bates Motel?” Yes, she was very—
Gladys: No, I think her name was Miles. From the PSYCHO.
Todd: No, I… I think that was a different actress. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson played the parapsychologists who investigate a family that moves into a house that has a demon.
Gladys: Yes! With that nice lady from that other nice haunted house movie.
Todd: Lili Taylor? From… er, THE HAUNTING?
Gladys: Yes. I liked her in that! That wasn’t scary at all. Not like this. And the husband was that nice man that was on “The Practice” for a while. I liked that show, with that nice Linda Hunt. I ran into her the other day, and she gave me this nice pen. [voice volume increases] See? [voice volume decreases]
Todd: That’s… very nice, Gladys, but I think we’re starting to get off-topic.
Older, Selma Diamond-esque voice: Who directed it? Was it the guy who did those movies?
Todd: Er, no… [pause] Edith, it was James Wan. He made DEATH SENTENCE, and INSIDIOUS, and the first SAW film.
Older, Selma Diamond-esque voice/Edith: That was torture porn! X for this!
Todd: Well, I don’t think it was technically torture pornography, that seems to imply that those actors were really being tortured and that there wasn’t any plot—
Edith: They were! I haven’t seen that nice man from PRINCESS BRIDE since! They killed him!
Todd: Also, we don’t do the “X” rating anymore—
Edith: I don’t care! He gets all “X” ratings from me for that!
Todd: Also, we don’t give movies ratings based on what the director did before.
[the older voices begin laughing until the older male starts a coughing fit.]
Older, high-pitched male voice: Oh, Eric, you’re so cute.
Todd: I’m Todd, actually. And you must be… Ibraham.
Older, high-pitched male voice/Ibraham: I am, and I’ve got to say, I thought this was a very good movie. It was well-made, and had some good actors, and while it could have used a more little moments of character development, I really liked the fact that it made everything very scary without all that blood or violence or sight of the human body in its unclothed form.
Todd: I appreciate that, Ibraham. So, it would be a PG-13, then?
Ibraham: Oh, heavens no.
Gladys: Then you’d have teenagers watching this!
Todd: Well, I.. that’s true. I’m not sure I understand. So there’s not really any blood or gore or nudity or language—
Gus: There’s language!
Todd: Well, yes, but not much profanity.
Gus: What profanity? I’m taking about language!
Todd: So, wait. You don’t want movies to have any dialogue in them?
Gus: No, they’d still have the language of editing! I only want my movies to be a series of unrelated images, like UN CHIEN ANDALOU or BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER. Write down “language.” It’ll warn parents that the movie has a narrative structure! Kids don’t want to follow that, hurts their heads!
Gus: Look, you’re new here, just write down “language.”
Todd: I’m not writing that down. So, what exactly is everyone’s objection to this movie being rated PG-13? It’s certainly no more graphic than THE POSSESSION or THE LAST EXORCISM.
Edith: Yes, but those films weren’t scary!
Gladys: This one was like a rollercoaster.
Todd: But that’s good, right? It’s a horror movie, you want it to be exciting?
Gladys: I don’t. I hate rollercoasters. I got scared when I rode the Cyclone when that opened at Coney Island, and I haven’t been on one since.
Edith: I agree, Gladys. “R” for me. A hard “R.” Children would be scared!
Todd: But.. [sighing] What should I put on the form?
Edith: Well, it terrified me! Say that it’s got terror!
Todd: Of course it’s got terror. That’s like rating a Kate Hudson movie “R” for romance.
Gladys: You can do that, too. That woman’s mother is a strumpet.
Todd: I can’t seriously put down “terror.” What happens when they try to appeal?
Ibraham: You tell them NO.
Gus: Tell them their movie scares the ladies, and that they shouldn’t show it to good people. I wouldn’t let my granddaughter take her grandkids to see this filth.
Todd: But it’s not..
Gladys: Maybe if they hadn’t put the fact that the family that gets possessed has five young girls. Tell them to take out the girls.
Todd: They can’t take out the girls, it’s based on a true story! They had five girls, and they’re a big chunk of the movie!
Gladys: They should take out the girls. Or make it not so scary!
Todd: Ugh, okay, fine. Rated R. For… terror.
Gus: At least it didn’t have none of that weird or irreverent humor. Kids don’t need confusing.
Todd: [sighing] Okay, next up, GROWN UPS 2, in which an elk urinates on a masturbating teenager and a man is smothered by another man’s scrotum.
Ibraham: PG! It’s funny when they farted! And then it’s funnier when they farted again! That’s called a “callback!”
Gladys: PG-13, because of the homosexual.
Todd: I hate you all.
Gladys: That’s not very nice. I’m writing your name down, Eric, and I’m going to tell Todd when he gets back.
Todd: [shouting] Give me that pen!
[Sounds of a struggle. Audio ends.]
THE CONJURING opens in theaters this Friday.
- Paul Freitag-Fey