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7/18/2013

Review: 'The Conjuring', Starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga


Where most horror movies these days heavily rely on a tremendous amount of blood, fake-me-out scares, and a lot of teenage screaming, The Conjuring is surprisingly a well thought-out movie. It has an actual story that makes sense (at least in the realm of horror) and a cast that can actually act. And in a world filled with horror remakes and gore, The Conjuring is a refreshing addition to the genre.  

Based on a true story (and take that as you will), The Conjuring follows the stories of two families, the Perrons and the Warrens. Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Lili Taylor) Perron move themselves and their five daughters to a new house in what seems like the middle of nowhere. It seems like a good deal: the house is large and the grounds full of trees that sit next to a lake. But what the Perrons don’t know is that awful things happened there. Immediately after they move in, Carolyn begins to get bruises and their daughters are physically assaulted by an invisible source that begins to reveal itself to them slowly. All this eventually gets out of hand, so Carolyn seeks out help in the form of the Warrens.

Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren are renowned demonologists, respected by the Vatican, and professors of the supernatural. Consider them demon hunters, if you will. Their jobs are to seek out the threat of the supernatural and get rid of it, documenting their cases for their studies. When Carolyn seeks them out in order to help them get rid of whatever’s in their house, things quickly get out of hand in a case that even the Warrens have never before seen the likes of.

Director James Wan, famous for directing Insidious, brings the creepy back in his new film. Because The Conjuring is definitely much creepier than it is scary (and really that depends on what you define as scary). It has great lighting, setting, and the movie is grim without being depressing. Wan even uses one of his characters to bring some very light humor to the otherwise very dark and serious tones.

There are a couple of moments that jump out at you from the dark, but what’s most outstanding about the film is that the flow of the story never slows down. It begins with a glimpse into the world of Ed and Lorraine, and just when you believe that a possessed doll is what the film will be about, it moves into the real story. The film uses all its resources. Everything that’s mentioned in the film is used as an important or semi-important plot device. It’s clever in that way.

The performances of the cast are exceptionally well done for a film of this genre, especially the performance of Vera Farmiga, whose portrayal of Lorraine Warren is a standout. The characters aren't annoying people who do idiotic things just because they might think it’s a good idea at the time. And when the suspense hits a high note near the end of the film, you will actually be rooting for them to make it out and not cheering when they get swung around by the supernatural beings.

Wan does a good job of combining the creepy and dark elements with a cleverly executed story and emotional attachments for the characters. The Conjuring isn’t just some run-of-the-mill horror film with a bunch of screaming teenagers. The film keeps building itself up so that the final scenes are very suspenseful and satisfying story-wise. Wonderful dark elements and a pretty tight script, it’s definitely worth the watch, horror fan or not.