The Conjuring Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
1/5. Not looking forward to the sequel.