The Conjuring

The Conjuring
The Conjuring
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Movie details

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Length: 112 minutes
Release Date: July 19, 2013
Directed by: James Wan
Genre: Horror/Thriller


Overview – The Conjuring

The opening scene of “The Conjuring” is among the creepiest and scariest of any horror film in recent memory. It features Perron family matriarch Carolyn (Lili Taylor) playing a game of hide and seek with her daughters.There are also occasional strange smells that make the house an unpleasant place to be. When some of the girls begin getting bruises on their bodies, that is when Roger calls on the Warrens.

Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are a married couple who have dedicated their lives to the study of ghosts and demons. The story the Perrons tell them might sound crazy to anyone else, but to the Warrens, it sounds like an everyday occurrence. It turns out that the demon wants to possess the family, so the Warrens must hurry and devise a plan to vanquish it before the demon gets what it wants.

Director James Wan is the horror auteur behind the original “Saw” in 2004, which combined elements of suspense, desperation, and claustrophobia to create a mood that was intoxicating. The film was wholly original at the time and earned back its modest budget easily at the box office, making Wan into something of an overnight directorial sensation. After experimenting in gore and shock films, Wan has abandoned blood and guts in favor of going back to his roots by setting a mood to help sustain the horror.

The mood and tension he creates in “The Conjuring” hearken back to old-school horror movies where shadows and noises were used to scare people much more than an actual boogey man with a weapon. Wan seems to realize all too well that what the audience doesn’t see can be far more frightening than anything he can put up on the screen.

The film is based on a case out of the files of real-life couple Ed and Lorraine Warren. Though Ed died in 2006, Lorraine is still very much alive and even served as a consultant on the film and has as small cameo in one scene. The couple investigated paranormal activity for fifty years, so Lorraine is well-versed in the types of occurrences that can happen when a house is haunted.

Wan passes off the case as a true story, though some detractors who don’t believe in demons think that the haunting depicted in the film is all a hoax. Screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes don’t treat it as a hoax, and they depict Ed and Lorraine as a loving couple who believe in God and demons at the same time. While many horror films might treat paranormal investigators as stooges that are the butt of many jokes, the Warrens are treated with nothing but respect, which helps set the tone for the film.

The great thing about “The Conjuring” is that it doesn’t matter whether viewers believe in ghosts in real life or not. The things that happen in the house are scary either way because Wan has built up so much tension that it can be cut with a knife. When that tension finally builds up to the climax of the film, it will scare even the most jaded of horror fans.

The frights and chills come often in the second half of the film, but the first half wisely builds up the characters and lets the audience really get a feeling for who these people are. The audience quickly gets on the side of the Perron family and root for them to come out of this alive as they cover their eyes and wait for the next big scare.

From the way they seem to target small children, the way they just toy with whoever new comes in contact with them, and, especially, in the case of “Paranormal Activity”, the fact that they’re the most predictable camera-whores around. But probably even more so in “The Conjuring” because they can vomit into the mouths of human characters, and apparently still have the ability to fart in someone’s face.

Their target here is the Perron’s, Roger, Carolyn, and their army of daughters who seem to multiply more and more in every scene. “The Conjuring” is supposedly a true story that took place in 1971 of what happened to them when they moved into a secluded Rhode Island farmhouse, which can neither be confirmed or denied, but based on how many familiar sequences there are in this movie, you would think they sold the story years ago.

Carolyn gets mysterious bruises, birds fly into the house, doors move on their own, there seems to be another presence involved when the girls play their hide, seek, and clap game, there could be something under the bed, there is a creepy doll that always hangs around. Director James Wan, known for the “Saw” and “Insidious” horror films, seems more concerned with mood in the early going, too bad that mood is a feeling of déjà vu.

But the bigger deal here is real life ghost hunting couple the Warrens, Ed and Lorraine , who supposedly have a room in their house filled with nothing but possessed artifacts from their paranormal adventures dating back to the 1960’s. These two were also involved with “The Amityville Horror” case, which has been refuted by quite a few critics and even forensic evidence. It’s easy to be skeptical about them and here, when they say things like bad smells in the house represent demonic activity, they seem even less genuine. But soon they’re outfitting the Perron house with cameras, hoping to catch a glimpse and exorcise the witch family that inhabited the house before.

Is any of it scary? Well much of the bigger shocks have been shown in the trailer, most others seem telegraphed in advance, and the ending is over-the-top ridiculous as people are thrown around and every horror movie from “The Exorcist” to “The Birds” is put into play. The ghostly makeup, when you can see it through the dark or in the too-brief close-ups, looks pretty good though.

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