Directed by James Wan
Written by Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, and Lili Taylor
112 mins - Supernatural Horror/Thriller - Release date: 22 October 2013 (Blu-ray)
The Conjuring is a masterful and terrifying film. It’s the kind of terror that seeps in slowly, takes over your beliefs, exploits your deepest fears, and grips you with a chilling hand.
What Is The Conjuring?
James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2), working from a script by Chad and Carey Hayes, has directed a film that seamlessly weaves a Hollywood film into a story based on true events. The film brings together the lives of the Perron family and Ed (Patrick Wilson – Insidious, Watchmen) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga – , The Departed) Warren. As the Perrons begin to experience increasingly disturbing supernatural occurrences in their new home Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor – The Haunting) calls upon demonologists Ed and Lorraine for help.
A Template of Sorts
The Conjuring seems to model itself after a Speilberg approach to storytelling, even giving several nods to Poltergeist. The slow and steady approach, bringing you into the Perron family and making you feel something for the characters is what I like and what I believe allows for greater terror. It’s a sadly forgotten device in film that was used exceptionally well in the late ‘70s and ‘80s in such films as Alien, Poltergeist, E.T., Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind… Christ, that feeling of being a part of the cast was even evident in A Nightmare on Elm Street,, The Exorcist, and The Thing.
Before I leave the proclamation of love, I’ll just say that I’m happy to see this device making a return to cinema in such films as, Dark Skies, Insidious, and The Conjuring.
The nods to Poltergeist I mentioned, whether intentional or not, were the snowy TV screen, the disappearance of the little girl, and the possessed doll (stupid, stupid, stupid dolls — I hate dolls). Obviously, none of these are exclusive to Poltergeist, but that’s just what came to mind while watching.
Wherever it came from, the pacing and plot points of The Conjuring are perfect for building a relationship with the characters, creating suspense, and delivering terror. Everyone’s performance is spot-on and believable, and Lili Taylor was especially brilliant.
The Film’s Weakness
At one point, the narrative shifts from a haunting story to one of possession. It seems the “montage” scene in which the demonologist team sets up their audio and visual equipment serves as the point of transition. This is a scene I didn’t marvel at and could have done without; it’s safe to assume that the audience would have understood what the team had done with a lot less evidence. By far, this is the weakest point of the movie… other than my confusion as to why Lorraine needed to place the music box over the dust pattern to confirm that that was where it came from.
If those small gripes are as bad as this movie gets, then there’s not much to complain about.
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
There are three very interesting featurettes documenting the Perron family and the Warren family, as well as information on demonology. But that’s about it for special features.
As supernatural horrors go, The Conjuring ranks as one of the most terrifying. Maybe second only to The Exorcist. This genre is what scares me, and if it’s what scars you, instead of jump scares and gallons of blood, then this is a must-see for you. I can’t recommend this movie enough. It’s certainly one of the best I’ve seen in a long time and it’s destined for a long life as a classic. And James Wan is destined to be recognized as one of horror’s greats.