Hi, Bryan Here….
It’s been a couple of years since we had a great and pure horror film, capable of producing genuine scares. ‘The Conjuring‘ seems to have re-vitalized the genre this summer. Filmmaker James Wan brought us ‘Saw‘ and ‘Insidious‘, which both changed the horror genre when they were released. Now, Wan brings us ‘The Conjuring‘, where he set out to make an homage to the classic 60s and 70s horror films that rely on building tension and genuine scares rather than CG effects and gore that we have come to expect out of most horror flicks these days. The results pack a good and scary punch that box office receipts this weekend will score big with this frightening film.
When a director pays homage to a genre with their film, some get carried away and try to add too many of their favorite moments from other films into their one picture. We saw this happen with ‘Oblivion‘. With ‘The Conjuring’, we get a mixed bag of ‘The Amityville Horror‘, ‘Poltergeist‘, and ‘The Exorcist‘. While at times, we can see direct correlations and rip-offs from each film, Wan does a good job of keeping things fresh, original, and the scares moving fast. While I don’t think you will be hiding under the sheets for weeks to come, this movie will definitely be at the top of your list of modern horror films as it produces some horrifying images.
The film is based on real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are most famous for their work with the Lutz family in Amityville, New York, which ‘The Amityville Horror‘ is based on, but now hear about strange occurrences with a family of seven at a rural farmhouse in Rhode Island. Before we jump into the main story, we get a scary-as-hell glimpse of what’s to come from a previous case the Warren’s worked on involving one of the creepiest dolls ever put on film. The image of that doll will leave a lasting impression.
The setup is familiar enough as Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) and their five daughters are moving into their new big home in the middle of nowhere. Soon enough, the family start to smell horrible odors, hear strange noises, and see ghastly things. At first, only one family member at a time tends to see and hear these strange occurrences, which builds the tension even more as we progress through the story. They even play a game similar to hide and seek, called hide and clap that involves a blindfold, which is truly terrifying.
Once the hauntings get more severe, Roger and Carolyn enlist the help of the Warrens (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to help rid their house of whatever entity is in there. Ed is reluctant to accept the job as a previous case made a chilling impression on his wife Lorraine to which she hasn’t been the same since. But they eventually do accept and head over to the Perron’s house with cameras, holy water, crucifixes, and UV lights. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that there are more than one force in the house, including ghosts and demons. As we journey through the entire house of big rooms, closets, and small passage ways through the floors and walls, we come to a chilling climax that involves an exorcism.
One of my biggest complaints of the film is that it steals too much from other films, even to the finest of details, which kinda takes you out of the moment to think of other films. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it’s a bit distracting. Another thing that doesn’t pace well is the abundance of daughters the Perron’s have. I know this is based on a true story and there were actually five daughters, but in this adaptation, it seems too much as we don’t get to spend enough time with each of them, and proves to be too much going on. Add to that the side story of the Warren’s own daughter having her issues, which doesn’t seem to coincide with our story to well.
That being said, the chilling atmosphere that was created and its many scares outweigh the bad to bring a solid addition to the horror genre. Livingston, Wilson, and Farmiga turn in great performances and are never over-the-top and seem very realistic. The one that shines though is Lily Taylor. She truly gives a brilliant performance full of range and viciousness. With the minimal of CG effects, ‘The Conjuring‘ is definitely the front runner for the scariest film of the year so far and it will be hard to beat for years to come.