Review – The Conjuring

The Conjuring Poster

From the case files of the noted paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) comes the purportedly true story of a family terrorized by an intensely evil and powerful force.

Perhaps best known for their involvement in the Amityville Horror (also turned into multiple films), Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated thousands of supernatural occurrences during their controversial career.  This was apparently one of the most terrifying of those.

When Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) move into an old Rhode Island farm house with their five girls (Mackenzie Foy, Joey King, Hayley McFarland, Shanley Caswell, and Kyla Deaver) they are expecting the change of lifestyle and temporary lack of money to be their biggest challenges.  When strange, and increasingly horrifying and unexplainable events begin to occur, however, getting used to country living becomes the least of their worries.

Told from as much the Perron’s point of view as the Warren’s, The Conjuring (a name which really makes no sense in context) is a chilling tale of witches, demons, possession, and curses, all rolled up in a fairly believable package.

I’m no expert in horror films, but I’ve seen enough to get a good feeling for what the genre offers.  The Conjuring doesn’t try to reinvent or re-imagine a perfectly effective wheel.  Instead, it refines it.  There’s nothing even a non-horror fan like myself hasn’t seen before, but here it is done with skill and finesse.  The cast is superb, the writing solid, and the camera work wonderful.  The characters are put first, ahead of what is happening to them.  As a result, I actually cared about them, making what happened all the more important.  Nobody here is a complete idiot, reading curses out of a mysterious book in the middle of a dark basement while in their underwear.  These are all rational people, responding to irrational things.

This is first and foremost, a film.  It worries about being a horror movie second.  That doesn’t mean there are not completely terrifying moments throughout.  Jump scares are used liberally, but not to the degree you stop caring.  Suspense and an overall disturbing atmosphere go a long way as well.  The care given to make this feel like a real drama rather than a barrage of in-your-face scares makes the scares more effective.  It’s not for the faint of heart, to be sure.  It rarely delves into the realm of cheese or over the top horror, even in it’s lighter and more over the top moments.

Disclaimer:  This is not my kind of movie.  I wouldn’t rush out to see the next exorcism-type movie no matter how good “they” say it is.  I can appreciate a few things about this one though, even if I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it.  The fact, as I said, that it is treated as a film with horror rather than a horror movie goes a long way.  There is also a very clear distinction of good and evil – something which often goes missing in the quest for “interestingly ambiguous” stories and characters.  Finally, there is a sense of conclusiveness to the end, which I appreciate as well.  Things get a good feeling of finality and resolution, though there is room for a continuation in a different direction (a sequel is already in the works).

Bottom line, if the genre appeals to you, you are probably going to love The Conjuring.

Mrs. Hamster Says:

“It’s definitely a good cardio workout!”

My Rating:  Four out of Five Hats

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Trailer:

The Conjuring is summoned into 2,600 theaters July 19