The Conjuring Reviews
Set in 1971, The Conjuring focuses on the married paranormal researchers Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren, who lecture at colleges across the US on all the interesting cases they come across. Just as they're thinking of retirement cue the Perron family; parents Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Lili Taylor) are scared for their lives and the lives of their 5 daughters claiming there is something evil in their now Rhode Island home. It doesn't take long for the Warrens to discover that the Perron's are being tormented by something supernatural, but what is it, and what does it want?
In short: The Conjuring is the most terrifying film I've ever seen. Trying to erase his name from the "torture porn" crowd has proved difficult for the director of Saw, however without a doubt he's finally done it. On looks alone this movie should be a PG movie, which would normally be frowned upon by the horror junkies, but despite having no sex, no gore and no swearing, James Wan's latest film has been slapped with an R rating anyway. If you're wondering how frightening it actually is I think the MPAA has spoken on its behalf.
Most horror films these days climax somewhere in the middle; and in turn everything that follows doesn't really have the same affect. In The Conjuring there is comic relief brilliantly placed throughout to bring you down from your own climax so they get another chance to build your fear up and startle you again. Wan understands the psychology behind tension and builds suspense through mere scene construction.
While obviously taking notes from the Exorcist and The Amityville Horror, the inspiration for this film derives from real case files from the Warren's, which is still their most famous case to date. Straying away from the ironic style made famous by The Cabin In The Woods, nothing on the surface of this story seems inventive, but I assure you the way in which this film works makes it one of the most creative films in recent memory. One thing I've always loved about James Wan is how he manages to take something so unoriginal, like the haunted-house- possession story in this case, and shows it to us like we've never seen it before.
The scares, pacing, sound design and camera work can only be described as precise. Together James Wan and cinematographer John Leonetti (responsible for the look of Insidious as well) give us a fresh visual style that, unlike most horror films, include a lot of wide shots AND movement. The cinematography is absolutely stunning, and not relying on shaky cam for its realism leaves a rather unique feel to the movie, separating it visually from any other movie you can narratively relate this to.
One issue I've always had with recent films in the genre was that they revealed the demons too much. Insidious and Sinister are examples where they hooked me to the story and then showed me too much. Fear of the unknown is the greatest thing a horror filmmaker has on its audience and Wan has definitely learned from Insidious. In The Conjuring the apparitions aren't revealed to the audience until way late, and even then they're far away or out of focus. Letting us use our imagination is what makes this film truly horrifying, and I think horror filmmakers should be taking notes from Mr. Wan.
This film is everything I wanted it to be and more, my only complaint about the movie isn't even something wrong with the film. Once again marketing has screwed us over and the trailer for The Conjuring reveals way too many of the scares. I avoided most of the trailers for this movie on command from James Wan's twitter account but it's hard to miss TV spots. I wish I went into this with a fresh mind so if you still haven't seen the trailer and want to see this film, please stay away from any of the marketing!
Ultimately the overall production value allows The Conjuring to stand out in an otherwise rotting genre. The acting is impressive, the practical effects are perfect and the classic 70s feel Wan was going for make for a great time at the movies. This is the first must-see film of the summer.
Our Rating: 9.0/10
Like comedy, the horror genre can be a very subjective beast, finding or missing its mark as much do to its craft and execution as it does the particular individual who plops themselves into a theater seat. If something isn't scary to someone - someone who earnestly believes that of course - then a fright flick has failed at its core intent. Then we have something like James Wan's The Conjuring, an artful, confident throwback that succeeds in maintaining a high tensile level of pressure on our senses, crafting vital jump scares, a potent human element and all encompassing technical prowess. This is the type of brave, but stripped down horror filmmaking that forces you to analyze other elements besides just the full effectiveness of its frightening intent. Plus it's scary as hell.
The Conjuring completes a modern supernatural horror film trifecta started with Wan's own Insidious in 2010 and bridged by last year's unsettling Sinister. With these films the genre has proved that this is far from a dead, now inherently clichéd area of cinema and this effort is perhaps the best of all three. After breaking onto the scene in a big way with the trend setting Saw, the director took a bit of creative detour in the eyes of most with revenge thriller Death Sentence and supernatural doll flick Dead Silence (which is vastly underrated by the way) before rebounding with the aforementioned Insidious. For The Conjuring it seems Wan has taken everything he's learned - congealing everything he's found to be effective - and assembled them exquisitely and with ample new flare to boot.
The Conjuring pulls its inspiration from a case file of famed demonologists and paranormal investigators the Warrens, the husband and wife team who's other journeys inspired films such as The Amityville Horror. Here they are played respectively by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga who are now both genre regulars with roles in Insidious and the upcoming Chapter 2 due this year for the gentleman and Orphan and television's Psycho prequel Bates Motel for Farmiga. We've all seen the painful trope of priests, exorcists, psychics and every nut-job in between showing up at the eleventh hour to save a haunted family but the way they're approached in The Conjuring stands as one of the film's greatest strengths.
Though it's something that should be completely obvious out of the gate (but still something those inspired by the Warren's stories forget) this is just as much their story as those experiencing the phenomena. In giving nearly as much screen time to this duo as it does the Perron's (a seven family troop lead by actors Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor and their five daughters) we grow and involve with these nine individuals so when things get terrifying we not only feel just as much for everyone on screen but everyone gets a satisfying arc. It's something so rare in most horror films. Though this dynamic is certainly not presented through these two separate camps - the fearful and the experts - but the men bond over their love of cars and their wives and the women over the unfathomable: harm befalling their children. It's a satisfying an utterly untapped approach for the genre.
But "wait, wait" you proclaim "this is a horror movie after all, stop talking about the little girls and get to the scares!" Graciously, somewhat rude reader. The Conjuring is creepy, intermittently nightmarish, tense, gross, unsettling, and in its purest form, scary. This is the type of film that dares you not to hug yourself or laugh nervously in the hopes you deflect some iota of the sensation of primal fear. But these emotions are never extracted in a manipulative fashion and the jump scares are orchestrated effectively through physical objects falling, bumping, banging and generally causing off-putting noises, not blaring, out of context musical chords.
The camera work is also fantastic employing every angle imaginable and even some very impressive point of view and upside-down-spin shots. It's easily Wan's best directed effort to date but never one that lets its style eclipse the mood. Similarly his use of sound both in the score (which utilizes your average brooding options as well as sharp, grating notes that call back to horror of days gone by) and practical noises such as a strained rope swinging or a door slamming shut. Again, it all adds to the experience and in eventually pulling of the major frights.
Like most fare of this nature, the restrained tension does take a bit of a hit heading into the finale, as subtlety is sacrificed for more overt horror to resolve the story. Thankfully this change in approach is handled with just as much aplomb and also manages to deliver one of the most effective exorcism sequences in recent memory - a victory made all the more notable thanks to the generally overexposed and silly nature of that staple. It's not the perfect ending that the previous acts demanded but one that by no means insults the audience and still remains scary (if in a more upfront manner).
Perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay The Conjuring is that it actually deserves a sequel. There are tales of the Warrens left to tell and the acting is uniformly strong enough that revisiting these characters would be more a treat then a chore. It takes a skillful filmmaker to take well worn themes and approaches (while avoiding gore and a high body count to boot) and make them seem as original as ever. Coming from a huge horror buff and one that experiences more disappointments then the average soul can handle, I can earnestly say The Conjuring is one of the best ever and what can serve as a fantastic induction into the genre for the uninitiated.
Although the subject matter is quite disturbing this is a sensationally well made horror that is genuinely terrifying. Don't watch alone with the lights off ??
The story of a loving family who move into an unsettling house & begin to know they are not alone. They seek support from Demonologist Couple & that when things start to get out of hand.
The film takes place in 1970 and is based on the true story of paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren. The two are called upon to investigate the occurrence of supernatural activity at the farmhouse of the Perron family. We are introduced to the Warren couple in the very beginning as they investigate a case involving the Annabelle doll. There are moments of brief tension and scares and the viewer gets a brief "get to know you" of our two main characters. It is a wonderful intro giving you a taste of what lies ahead.
The film's intention is to creep out and terrify the audience, which Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) successfully does. The scares in this film are very effective and they are not cheap scares so you will not find a stray cat jumping out of a cupboard, the scares happen for a reason. From the subtle to pounding knocks to grab the viewers' attention or the opening of creaking doors revealing a chilling darkness, they are all effectively done through brilliant sound design to keep the audience in suspense of what is to come next. James is good at introducing something that will eventually build tension when it returns in the film. This can be from the mirrored box, a ball, or the "hide can clap" game, which was a fine addition to the film. The Perron daughters play it first, which involves someone walking in the house blindfolded to try and find the person clapping, and everyone knows this game is going to come up again, but it showcases some good family interaction and it leads to a discovery in the home. Then when the game comes back, as suspected, it is built with suspense leading to fear for the one who is blindfolded in this haunted home. In this film, James Wan really makes the viewer's time worth it as he slowly reels us in through suspense until the terrifying result.
There are plenty of effective camera angles James Wan uses that allows the viewer to look from the point of view of the character. Such as watching a creaking door slowly open from the actors view to reveal a dark corner or when the mother, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) approaches a room upon hearing her daughter talking alone, Wan positions the camera to show half the room and then it slowly slides along with the mothers view to slowly reveal the room as she steps inside and see whether or not there is someone in the room with the daughter. This brings a sense of realism to the film, putting the audience in place of the character, limiting their view just like the characters. Wan also has quite a way with the camerawork to get the audience's attention even when it is not for suspense purposes. For example, one of my favorite shots in the film is when the Perron's are moving into the home, I immediately noticed the long tracking shot and how the camera weaved its way through the house, introducing the family with fun interaction, while also giving the viewer an idea of how large the house is. It's a wonderful scene.
With this genre of film, the strength of the film is expected to be the scares. However, in total surprise, I found what really latched me to the film was the good-hearted characters and the focus on family and love. Ron Livingston and Lily Taylor, who play Roger and Carolyn Perron, do a wonderful job in portraying a mother and father who are good people doing what they can to keep their family happy. From the beginning, I noticed how tight and happy the Perron family was and it was so enjoyable to watch throughout the film. The relationship between our fellow demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren are characters that are already interesting as a married couple who seek out to rid the world of demons, but they're also a happy couple whose love and support for one another is worn on their sleeves. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are a big part in displaying this and their chemistry shines, making the two even more enjoyable to watch. Ed and Lorraine's hearts are big not only for each other but for helping others as well. They willingly helped the Perrons in keeping their family happy during the time of trying to rid the demon from the home. These are all good characters with good hearts who not only help each other as a family but help others as well. Though it is the importance of love for family which ends up playing a key and surprisingly emotional part later in the film, which struck me the most. I was truly touched by it and happy to see it portrayed so successfully in a horror film.
It's quite relieving that The Conjuring did not have a lot of gore, and there was no profanity, sex, and nudity. It was just a good, clean scary film that I'm comfortable in recommending to people. The film uses minimal CGI, making it feel natural, which I love, and, just as well, The Conjuring managed to avoid relying on those cheap and mindless scares which tend to hurt a horror film rather than make it enjoyable. With these things and James Wan's niche for delivering some suspenseful horror, interesting leading characters, and a solid story with heart, The Conjuring is one of the best horror films I've seen in quite a long time and could not recommend it enough.
Era tempo che non si provava un senso di inquietudine tale. Un'opera davvero ben realizzata, con un colonna sonora però un po' debole.
Nonostante si sia di fronte all'ennesima storia di possessione e di pericolo "in famiglia" non si può non avere paura guardando questo film! Molto apprezzata la fotografia e il montaggio.
Anche se abusato, è davvero d'effetto l'espediente della storia vera che porta quasi ad un documento-film iniziale.
Worth adding to your upcoming Halloween move mix.