Director: James Wan
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor, Joey King
If you are familiar with the Amityville Horror case in Long Island, the names Ed and Lorraine Warren may ring a bell. Ed (Wilson) was a noted author and demonologist and his wife, Lorraine (Farmiga) is a clairvoyant and medium. The Amityville case was just one of thousands of cases they investigated involving spirits, possessions, and hauntings. The Conjuring focuses on the Warren’s work and one particular case that occurred in Harrisville, Rhode Island.
At this point in the career, the Warrens are still very active in their cases but they are also teaching seminars about their past work at universities to fascinated college students. While some of their cases are truly out of the ordinary, they can easily debunk a majority of claims by pointing out old water pipes or warped wood in an attack. Carolyn Perron (Taylor) sits in on one of their seminars and is intrigued and knows they are the only ones that can help her family.
Roger (Livingston), Carolyn, and their five daughters moved into an old home in Harrisville looking for a new beginning and fresh start to their lives. I feel like these types of stories all start like that. Carolyn begs of their help and the Warrens agree to stop by their home. Ever since they have moved in strange occurrences keep happening throughout their house and property. The clocks all stop at 3:07, there is a smell of rotting meat that lingers, the temperature often gets quite cold, birds frequently fly into the house and die, and bruises keep appearing on Carolyn’s body for no explainable reason. One of their daughters sees an imaginary young boy named Rory. The moment Ed and Lorraine arrive at the Perron home, Lorraine immediately feels the presence of a dark spirit that lingers on attaching itself to various members of the Perron family. I am going to stop right there in regards to any more plot details. I would hate to divulge any spoilers or secrets that could lessen the scare factor.
The film is set in 1971 and it feels like director James Wan set out to make the film have the same tone and aura of those horror movies from that era. While there are some spooky moments and jumps earlier on in the movie, it has that slow burn effect as it leads up to the insane ending where the shit hits the fan. It is imperative to have the audience gets to learn about and have a connection to these characters so we have an emotional reaction to what happens to both the Warrens and the Perron Family. Farmiga, Wilson, Livingston, and Taylor are exceptional at bringing the beliefs and fears of these people to life. I think that any good horror film should have a haunting score behind it. Adding to this throwback feel is the score by Joseph Bishara and Mark Isham which is reminiscent of the music heard in the horror films of that era. It elevates the suspense and tension making every jump all the more frightening.
James Wan is a growing into a fine director of the horror genre. The “torture porn” of Saw does not really interest me, but Wan’s Insidious is one of the best horror movies of the past five years. If a movie is going to scare me, it needs to be based in some sort of truth or possible reality. I find demonic possession and cases of haunted houses and lingering spirits fascinating. The Conjuring is right up my alley in the kind of horror film that really grabs hold of me. Knowing that it is based on a true story makes the film even more terrifying to me. Regardless of what details in the story are accurate or made up for dramatic purposes, I found the film quite fascinating. The real Lorraine Warren was interviewed many times for research into the story and Wilson and Farmiga spent time with her for preparation. The movie also includes pictures of the Warrens and Perron family over the final credits. I always love when movies based on true stories share photographs, news clippings, and updates from the real case.
I love scary movies. Always have and always will. I think that through all of my years of watching scary movies, I have become somewhat desensitized and a little less likely to jump or scream in a movie. No nightmares for me if I stay up late watching one. The trailers for The Conjuring appealed to me right away and I knew it could be a film that would cause me to jump. I was right as there were a few scenes that got a physical and vocal reaction out of me. The rest of the moviegoers in the theater seemed to be even more spooked than I happed to be. If you feel like the horror genre has been ho-hum lately, rest assured as The Conjuring is one of the best horror films that has come across the screen in the last decade.
RATING: ****1/2 (4.5 out of 5 stars)