Review: The Conjuring

Posted by at 6:16 am on July 18, 2013

The-ConjuringBack in your grandparents day, scary movies were the ones about Dracula, Frankenstein and other fairly obviously fictional baddies. In the sixties, everything got more complicated and film makers figured out that what scared us even more than imaginary monsters were the real monsters and associated other baddies walking among us every day.

This gave us movies like Psycho, chronicling the terrifying idea of predators among us, lurking in the shadows with scary knives. Then things got more more spiritual and trippy, the  story tellers found that peace and light had a flip side.That gave us horror classics like Rosemary’s Baby and the Exorcist. Tales of people tormented by ghosts, demons or even Old Nick himself.

Director James Wan picks up the mantle with The Conjuring, a tightly strung and well executed heir to the legacy of the demon oppressed. One common thread among movies ot this sort is that many claim to be based (at least loosely) on a true story, and The Conjuring is no exception. The Film opens with a presentation by Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators involved in a string of high profile “hauntings.” The Warrens, who made their base in Connecticut, started the New England Center for Psychic Research and got some of their fame for bring us the story that became “The Amityville Horror”

Our time is the 1970’s and Ed and Lorraine, played believably by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, travel around given lectures to audiences who want to know more about the spirit realm. As in real life, the film versions of the Warrens are compelling story tellers, you want to believe they know what they are talking about and that they really can fend off demons and other baddies.

In parallel we see the Perron family, a struggling mother and father with 5 daughters moving into a ramshackle country house. And from the moment the family dog refuses to go inside, it is obvious to us that things are about to take a turn for the worse for them and they do at a rapid pace. Strange and terrifying things begin happening; visions, cold spots, bumps in the night, bad smells, unexplained bruises and even dead animals. The family becomes justifiably alarmed. Carolyn and Roger Perron seek out the Warrens for help. The rest of the story involves the Warrens investigating the history of the site, gathering evidence for an exorcism and trying to assist the family in getting back to normal. Any more detail than that would need to carry a spoiler warning.

This film had the audience squealing more than once, especially during a well publicized (in every single trailer for the film) where the family is playing a game called “Hide and Clap”. One person wears a blindfold, everyone else hides and then the seeker requests that the hiders “clap to give clues to their location, this gets truly spooky when whatever is haunting the family decides to join the game with of few extra claps.

Part of what makes “The Conjuring” so enjoyable, are the way Gan and the writers to these simple “Say BOO!” scares, without any complicated computer FX or extra gore and made a terrifying story. The MPAA has actually gifted “The Conjuring” with an “R” rating for being “too scary.” Afterwards members of the screening audience could be heard muttering things like “Man, I am so going to sleep with the light on tonight”.

See “The Conjuring” if you want a truly scary, supernatural thriller. It has an earnest and talented cast that pull off a story set in the 70’s without making it seem kitschy and tight action pacing that keeps things interesting from beginning to end. And watch out for the scary doll!

The Conjuring opens in theaters July 19 and is Rated R. It stars Vera Farmigia, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston and is directed by James Wan.
Rating 4.5

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