Based on an actual case investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring is a wonderful horror film that is one of the creepiest haunted house films I have ever seen. While I cannot say that I was actually terrified watching it, like I was watching Sinister, I found that this slow burn horror film delivers on all cylinders, slowly sinking it’s claws in. It is a frightening film that deserves to be seen by any horror film fan.
Directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious), The Conjuring is based on an actual case the Warrens investigated in the early seventies. The Perron family moved into a rural house in Rhode Island and soon discover that they are under attack by a ghost of some sort. As the instances of the hauntings get stronger and stronger, Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) seeks out Ed and Lorraine Warren, famous paranormal investigators. Ed and Lorraine come into the house and attempt to help the family in any way they can. To go into any more plot detail would spoil some of the fun to be had with this film.
James Wan, the director of this film, has proven himself to be a master at the haunted house genre of horror films. There is no other director that has consistently made quality, frightening films. From his humble beginnings directing Saw, to Insidious, and everything in between, (Death Sentence, Dead Silence), Wan has been a stable, reliable director of horror films. More recently, he has been leaning towards less graphic and more subtle terror, and I believe that’s where he has really started to shine. His work in Insidious was borderline brilliant, and with The Conjuring, he takes what he has learned and runs with it, taking us along for the ride. From the subtle, enjoyable camera angles to the uses of light, shadow, and color, Wan delivers us into this house that the Perron family attempts to live in.
While the Perron family are the subjects of the hauntings, the actual focus of the story is on the Warrens. While many debate the authenticity of the Warrens and whether they were actually perpetrators of hoaxes, in the film they are a decent couple trying to help people in need. Patrick Wilson and vera Farmiga sell the characters and give fully fleshed out performances. And while they do a damned good job, I would highly recommend not knowing who the Warrens are before seeing the film. Do no research. Go in blind and you will enjoy the film more. (As an amateur paranormal investigator, I was familiar with the Warrens and some of their work. I had a hard time separating the actors from their real life counterparts.)
Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston completely sell the characters of Carolyn and Roger Perron and they are completely believable as the parents of five children who are being assaulted by supernatural entities. The terror, disbelief, and frustration are real when sold by such prolific actors. They were simply amazing.
The Conjuring is a bit of a slow burn horror film. the first half hour is spent getting to know the characters and, as such, is a little dry. This is not a problem, but actually a good thing. You get into their routine, their normal, mundane lives and get to know them. As such, when the attacks begin, you find yourself caring about them and their family.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Conjuring. While it didn’t scare me, I feel that it could have under the right circumstances. With spot on direction, wonderful acting, and a story (supposedly) based on real events, this is a horror film not to be missed.
***1/2 out of ****