The Conjuring (2013)
Directed by James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor
Too many times there are movies about haunted houses or people in need of exorcisms to rid of the demon spirits inside, and you just simply don’t care. Sure, it can be scary but do you really want the family to survive? The Conjuring is the latest of supernatural horror movies and it certainly won’t be the last, but it gets so many things right that most horror movies get wrong. First and foremost, it takes its time for us to care about the characters, which really is the whole point of any movie. If you don’t care for the characters on the screen, then the movie shouldn’t have been made.
Next, The Conjuring clearly sets up its rules. We learn them along with the Perron family who have just moved in and every strange encounter is almost as terrifying to witness. Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Lili Taylor) are with their five daughters and odd occurrences begin to happen. The clocks stop at 3:07, birds are breaking their necks flying into the house, Carolyn has been waking up with bruises all over her body, and more. Needless to say (because this is a horror movie) worse things happen very quickly.
This is where Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) come in. They’re demonologists and have been assisting similar cases all of their lives, but even they admit they’ve never seen something quite like what’s happening at the Perron house. We’re introduced to the Warrens in the beginning as they’re listening to two nurses talking about their possessed doll (which by the way is the creepiest looking doll ever). But from the first ten minutes you understand that Ed and Lorraine know what they’re doing and they mean business.
Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) has created an old-fashioned horror movie that allows the characters and plot to grow as the intensity gets higher and higher. The cinematography heightens the suspense with some extended, slow-moving shots. And of course, there are plenty of “boo!” moments to make sure you’re never too comfortably seated.
Think The Amityville Horror meets The Exorcist, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible. But even after those comparisons, The Conjuring is more relentless once the pace picks up (about halfway through) and there are more memorable moments than both films combined. Along with applauding Wan for his vision, the actors are also worthy of praise. Wilson and Farmiga are convincingly capable, yet vulnerable while investigating the haunted house. And Lili Taylor shows her range as a mother trying to nurse her family into a new home while maintaining the strength to protect those she loves.
In the end, The Conjuring has all the thrills and chills to keep any horror movie fan happy. Personally, I’m usually not impressed with horror movies and until today, my favorite horror movie has been The Descent. Eight years later, I finally have a new favorite horror movie. But don’t count on me playing a game and hide-and-clap anytime soon.