The Conjuring Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 28, 2014
While "The Conjuring" definitely isn't an original concept, and for sure isn't as scary as it tries to claim to be, it's quite entertaining. Taking the best aspects of "The Exorcist" and "Paranormal Activity," this narrative is supposedly based on a true story. This was made apparent by the way the facts of the film were presented. The actual family who is harassed by these demons are all flat characters who we really don't get to know all that well, while the husband/wife paranormal investigators get their own backstories and continual narrative, centering them in the film. There are also many Christian overtones to the storyline, probably insisted upon by the people the film is based on. I thought the scares were pretty great, and rose in tension over time, though they were obvious. The action of the film seemed in keeping with traditional myths about how ghosts haunt houses, including the strange noises, the pictures dropping off the wall, and the door creaking open, all of which have been seen in other horror film narratives. The actual backstory though, was too convoluted. Are we really supposed to believe that a Satanic witch did all those things, and then drove generations of families to do the same? This seems drastically evil, even for a story about a demonic presence. Even though many aspects of the story were assuredly contrived, there is now iconic imagery linked to this film, which is what makes the best horror movies. We now have the Annabelle doll, the hanging noose on the crooked tree, and the whirling toy music box in the horror canon. While there are many problems with the story, "The Conjuring" feels fresh and feverishly frightening.
Super Reviewer
½ October 9, 2014
The Conjuring is a testament to all non-believers that creaking doors, dead silences, noises coming from other rooms, and dark cellars can still be creepy when done well. Director James Wan has always been very technically proficient, especially with creating tension. Here he's been given a great script that explores its characters, and exceptionally strong actors who not only have great chemistry together, they actually look terrified (this goes a long way for the audience).
This well told little horror film does not do anything particularly new. It's got ghost elements, a doll, and even an exorcism, but what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in being the most effectively scary film in recent memory. I had a blast watching it. There are images so expertly crafted, I actually gripped my theatre chair a few times. Plus, that Annabelle doll.....freaky! Great job all around. Finally a studio horror film that shows real ingenuity, craft, and respect for the horror genre.
Nikhil N.
Super Reviewer
½ August 7, 2013
It is certainly frightening at moments, but the Conjuring plays it safe. Nothing here is new. Nothing here hasn't been done better by someone else. It delivers on an atmospheric level, and satisfies as far as the story goes. But the Conjuring still fails to do something which I desperately want from a horror film. A good horror movie will scare you for a few hours. The Conjuring is a good horror movie. But a great horror movie will last forever in the darkest corners of the mind. See Se7en (Seven), a movie that isn't even characterized under the horror genre, if you want to watch a movie that will truly horrify you.
Super Reviewer
March 17, 2014
I've been a little leery of the horror genre over the past few years, only once in a while finding something I liked, but mostly just not giving hardly any of the movies the time of day just because they didn't seem appealing or worthwhile to me.

That applied to this movie initially, but, after hearing so much about it (almost all of it good), I decided to give it a chance, and found myself pleasantly surprised.

Based on the actual case files of infamous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, this is the story of their efforts to aid a troubled family in a troubled home in New England...a case that took place before their legendary work on the Amityville Story.

This came out in 2013, but, true to it's 1970s setting, this feels like a 70s film, and I mean that in a very positive way. It's a major throwback to haunted house ghost story films of that era, and, other than a few moments here and there, relies primarily on mood, tone, and atmosphere to generate tension, suspense, and scares-something I highly commend James Wan and Co. for.

And, while I don't think it's one of the scariest films ever, it is quite intense, creepy, and unsettling. I like too, how it does all that in largely subtle ways. It doesn't try too hard to be scary. It just is.

The story is very engaging, and, while the pacing is unhurried, it's never boring or drags. You care about the people and what happens, and a number of the characters are decently well developed and sympathetic. I know, everything I'm praising this film for is stuff that normally should be a given, not an exception, but unfortunately that's just how things seem to be these days.

The cinematography and editing are terrific, I loved the sound design and tone, and, also rare for horror films, we get some pretty solid performances, especially from Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Ed and Lorraine Warren. Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor are also fine, as are the child actresses, but this is by and large the E and L Show.

Definitely give this one a look. It's awesome.
Super Reviewer
July 17, 2013
It's nice to see a well made traditional horror movie these days and that is exactly what The Conjuring is. It's nothing revelatory, but it is an effectively creepy spooky house film with good acting and a story that doesn't insult the intelligence of its audience like most horror films do. The characters act logically and are even well developed so that the audience is invested in the outcome of the plot. That doesn't usually happen in horror films anymore. It's entertaining and keeps your attention the whole time, even if it takes a little while to get going. One of the better horror movies of the past couple years.
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2013
Genuinely creepy. One of the better horror films I have seen lately. The 70's setting works so well for this type of thing. Cast are great too.
Super Reviewer
½ July 22, 2013
James Wan has the talent for making very decent horror films. This one included. This gave me the creepy scares, and I do not scare easy. Good cast. Really good effects. Supposedly, based on a true story. Of course, with writers prerogative to make it more creepy. Kudos!
Super Reviewer
½ November 26, 2013
A scary, effectively made horror film concerning a family terrorized by ghosts in their house, and how they hire a married couple of paranormal investigators (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga), to help rid them of these demonic forces. Familiar feeling territory in terms of plot is accomplished with style and confidence by director James Wan, a master of the horror genre ("Saw", "Insidious") who gets the most bang for his buck, especially in his lead performances and his use of atmosphere and turning an old house into a place of temporary Hell. While it may not be the "scariest movie ever" like some people were claiming, it is definitely scary and Wan's slow-burn direction method is a brilliant decision before he decides to crank it to ten near the film's conclusion. A definite recommendation if you like horror films like this.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2013
Having already had a hand in fuelling the string of torture porn horrors when he began the "Saw" franchise in 2004, director James Wan opts for a more retrained approach to his latest horror. "The Conjuring" harks back to vintage horror movies of the '70's where atmosphere takes precedence over shock tactics. As a result, it manages to be one of the more successful horror movies of recent times.

Up rooting to a rural Rhode Island house, Roger Perron (Ron Livingston), his wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their five daughters get more than they bargained for when strange and terrifying phenomena begin to plague their lives within their new home. Desperate for answers, they enlist the help of Psychic investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) but even this experienced couple find the haunting beyond anything theyâ??ve witnessed before.

When it comes to horror, I'm a hard viewer to please. Even more so, when one from the genre proclaims to be "based on a true story". This label can sometimes be a hindrance as it really has to convince me, whereby others might be more willing to readily accept it. For the most part, it works here as the characters of Ed and Lorraine Warren where actual paranormal investigators that worked on the Amityville case which was brought to the screen in Stuart Rosenberg's 1979 film "The Amityville Horror". Anyone familiar with that movie will see the similarities involved. In fact, James Wan models "The Conjuring" on many films from that era. Even the 70's style and attire help in taking us back there but it's his simplicity and refusal to go for cheap jump-scares that is most admirable. Instead, he adopts a more psychological approach by staging the tension and suspense in small doses. Of course, the usual machinations and conventions are customary; there are things that go bump in the night, freaky-eyed dolls, the suggestion of things lurking under the bed and, of course, the proverbial creaking doors that open and close by themselves. Wan has to be given credit for their success, though. His power of suggestion is what keeps the film ticking over and his more than reliable cast help immeasurably despite their abundance of stilted dialogue. As is the case with most horror films, though, revelations must be made and when they are, the film starts to lose some credibility and that "based on a true story" tag comes back to haunt it as much as the characters are haunted. It's such a shame that Wan's skilful and authentic chills are wasted in the final third but up until then, he conjures an effective and frightening piece of work.

After "Insidious chapter 2", James Wan will, apparently, be leaving horror behind and moving on to pastures new. If this proves to be the case, then he will have left the horror genre with one that's worthy of note from recent times.

Mark Walker
Super Reviewer
October 31, 2013
James Wan's follow up to the terrifically scary "Insidious" is perhaps his best concoction yet. "The Conjuring" is a great horror movie, made with utmost craft and creativity. I'm hard pressed to think of one that's as eerily believable in it's supernatural absurdity and it's well drawn characters.

The vintage, period detail and production values... and utterly gorgeous cinematography are of a quality unheard of in modern horror movies, as is the steady tension building and scares that don't undermine the central drama. The finale is a bit familiar, but is well executed nevertheless.

"Insidious" is undoubtedly scarier, but "The Conjuring" is a better film that wants to tell a good, realistic ghost story first and foremost whilst earning it's creeps along the way. It succeeds. James Wan has brought artistry and conviction back to mainstream horror.

"The Conjuring" is one of the year's best surprises.
Super Reviewer
November 2, 2013
Somewhat engaging for a horror movie but tried a bit too hard to sell the supernatural aspect to be truly horrifying for a movie that otherwise tried to be fairly realistic.
Super Reviewer
½ September 8, 2013
James Wan directs a phenomenal and tensely motion picture that's true to the scare tactics. The Conjuring delivers the classical feel of a horror picture along with a craft that's very modern and eerie. From the horrifying score to the creepy storyline, the film is frighteningly memorable. 4.5/5
Super Reviewer
October 24, 2013
Felt like just another haunted house movie. The special effects weren't innovative (and effective either, no scares at all even when watched alone after midnight), and there's hardly any story here. The performances, and even more, the dialogues were weak too. Otherwise it's good!!
1/5. Not looking forward to the sequel.
Super Reviewer
½ October 19, 2013
For a genre not known for veracity and accuracy, 'The Conjuring' is an uncommonly intelligent chiller in the mold of William Castle. Instead of D-minor stingers on a piano to signify when something is terrifying, Wan lends his audience a lot of credence and upends a majority of stereotypes associated with possessed-house movies. In most supernatural films, any peculiar happening is construed as a paranormal entity, but the Warrens actually debunk one such case as plumbing problem rather than a poltergeist. Also ghosts are normally given elaborately silly, folkloric mythologies behind their infestations. In 'The Conjuring', the malevolence of the ghosts is fathomable. Honestly, the Warrens' lecture-circuit dissections are superior to the dutiful other half about the haunting in the Perrons' house but there are plenty of throat-grabbing scenes to behold (the blindfolded game of cat-and-mouse is unnerving). 'The Conjuring' is a blood-curdling sleeper that thankfully doesn't demonize the ghost-hunters as profiteering frauds exploiting people's superstitions.
Super Reviewer
October 19, 2013
four stars
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2013
Another Hollywood horror that is not scary. Formulaic and by the numbers. There is no twist or shock. Boring.
Super Reviewer
August 24, 2013
Much like Haunting in Conneiticut but not as creepy in my eyes! Great cast but not the best for a horror!
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2013
For a carnival of horror clichés, it has an involving and quite subtle build up and a tense atmosphere. Not bad for a modern day film of its kind.
Super Reviewer
August 28, 2013
Since Insidious a horror film hasn't scared the crap out of me like this, and Wan follows that great movie with this genuinely terrifying story that knows how to maintain a steady level of pure terror through an extremely creepy atmosphere and cinematography.
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