Review: The Conjuring
A husband and wife team of paranormal investigators take on a most terrifying case ever, or so would director James Wan have you believe of this story based on true events. Ed and Lorraine Warren meet the Perron, a humble family with five daughters who are terrorized by something sinister in their – let’s be honest – super creepy new farmhouse.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are wonderful as the Warrens, both of whom have a fittingly strange look and air about them. Ron Livingston (welcome back!) is the helpless father, while Lily Tomlin plays his terrified wife.
The Conjuring, like so many of the recent paranormal horror fare, is really, really scary until it isn’t at all. That is to say, when you know what’s what, and who’s scaring who, and from what depths a demon (or what have you) arises, things become less terrifying. It’s especially true because throughout the first half of this tense, well-acted, and entertaining horror film, is dripping with spookiness.
Set decades in the past, the film looks like a film from the 70’s, bathed in blacks and grays, with Wan at the helm enjoying some lengthy slow zooms that evoke summer horror of another time. Even when the sun is shining on the isolated, dilapidated retreat – one that happens to have a boarded up basement – its rays seem to fall into fog, with brown trees and forest green grass suggesting something darker resting underneath.
Of course, there is. There are bumps in the night, and Wan utilizes some very welcome tricks to the horror genre. The five young girls enjoy a particularly fun if not potentially terrifying game that is more or less hide-and-seek meets Marco Polo. When a blindfolded family member tries to find another using only the sound of her voice, well you can just imagine what the audience gets to see that they don ‘t.
There are plenty of jumps, screams, and gasps throughout much of the film, until that is our heroes start to catalog and identity the terror at hand. The presence of the Warrens brings the horror into more a suspense thriller, and while their back story and connection is far more interesting than that of the Perrons whom they are trying to help, the more personal turn makes the film lose steam.
Things become all too familiar too. There are only so many climactic possibilities when it comes to the paranormal – it doesn’t take much to figure what the evil presence is trying to do, and where it’s trying to go. The finale is too familiar, as is a fair amount of what comes before (dying animals, creepy visions, and misdirection), and while often it seems films are more frightening when based on true stories, this one is less so.
Atmospheric and very welcomed for horror fans, The Conjuring is suitably scary, though less so when you are no longer left to your imagination. That said, there is one terrifying doll that may linger in your mind for some time to come.
Should You See It?
A decent horror in the middle of summer when there are no other options, so if you want to be scared, this is all you have.
“Don’t go into the dark basement!!” – Everyone watching in the theatre.