The Conjuring has been my most anticipated film of the summer since I first heard about it earlier this year. Being a huge fan of Director James Wan’s previous film, Insidious, I was looking forward to seeing how he could possibly follow up what I consider to be one of the best horror films in the last several years.
This one is based on a true story. How loosely based it is, I don’t yet know, as I avoided reading anything about it before watching the film.
Ed and Lorraine Warren are acclaimed paranormal investigators – Ed, a “demonologist”, and Lorraine, a sensitive clairvoyant. The couple is introduced in this film when they are helping two young women deal with a creepy, possessed doll. This was a perfect introduction to these characters and set the tone for the rest of the film. That doll could give Chucky a run for his money – or maybe not – but can’t say Child’s Play didn’t enter my mind as I was watching.
We are then introduced to the Warren’s awesome collection of haunted artifacts in one of the rooms in their home, where incidentally, the doll we are introduced to in the beginning is also kept, locked neatly in a glass case.
The Perron family – a large family of seven – move into a very old and large farm house that was built in the 1800s. Typical in haunted house style settings, strange, somewhat subtle creepy things begin to occur in the home. The pacing is phenomenal here, and the build up of dread is expertly handled. One scene in particular involving the Perron girls, literally made every hair on my body stand up…this rarely ever happens anymore.
The Perron family, with very little choice, seek out the helpful expertise of the Warrens to try and figure out what exactly is going on and why some dark entity seems to be present and haunting the hell out of them.
Everything is handled with the utmost attention to detail, leading to unbelievable tension and atmosphere in this film. Wan’s direction leaves no stone unturned when it comes to setting up a scare. Lighting, use of shadow, camera angles, and music, are all finely intertwined to provide a feeling of dread that rarely, if ever, goes away.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, lead an all-around solid cast – but the real standout here is definitely, Lili Taylor, who plays a very convincing mother and wife doing everything she can to try and get her family through this dire, seemingly impossible situation. I don’t want to say too much more about her performance so as to not give anything away, but needless to say, she made me care and invest deeply into her and the family. All of the performaces, child actors included, were strong and convincing. At times, Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren, brought to mind his role in Insidious, despite the difference of his character in that role. Still, it wasn’t enough of a distraction to make me feel like he didn’t do a good job in this.
If what I have heard is true, and director James Wan says he will no longer be making horror films, it’s very disappointing indeed. He has it locked when it comes to these haunting, possession type films. At least we still have his Insidious sequel which I’m also really looking forward to this fall.
The Conjuring is a rock-solid horror film with plenty of quality on display. It doesn’t feel to me like another by-the-numbers horror flick, even if it does hold onto plenty of tried and true elements of other classic haunted house tales. It’s the unique formula which James Wan combines and seems to have perfected, which separates it from the wannabes. The R- rating is a bit of a head scratcher, in all honesty, but I can see how it might be too intense for some.
This is the best new horror film I have watched in 2013 so far. Go see it.