Stars: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, Sterling Jerins | Written by Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes | Directed by James Wan
Can horror movies be scary anymore? This is an interesting question because for the most part horror fans don’t watch horror expecting to be scared because they’ve seen it all before. When a little bit of magic happens and that twinge of fear does spark then that tends to make us enjoy the film even more. This is a rarity, especially in “Hollywood horror” but The Conjuring actually manages to get a few good scares.
The Conjuring is based on the true story of the Perron family who moved into an old Rhode Island farm house. Not long after moving in strange things start to happen when soon escalating to attacks on the family leading to the mother reaching out Ed and Lorraine Warren, two paranormal investigators who agree to investigate the problem. Discovering that the family is in grave danger from an ancient curse they agree to help them escape it before it’s too late.
The reason The Conjuring is so effective is that it takes the horror back to old school, pulling back from the in your face style of horror and making it more personal and in turns more tense. The camera stays close to each character, never pulling away so that we can see the whole scene, so what the characters see we do too which means making it much more personal. The scares too are scares that work, though there are many tropes in use. This isn’t always a bad thing of course, and with haunted house movies these often do work as the setting is very much a trope itself.
When watching the film you’ll notice almost straight away that this is very much a film about The Warrens and who they are, it does feel that this film was created with a view on creating more than one movie about them, and to be fair this isn’t a bad thing. Whatever we may think of the real Warrens, they are still interesting characters and in the film and they do feel like they have many more stories to tell, even in this film they have ongoing stories that are effecting their performance, one including the Annabelle doll, in ways the doll seems misplaced in plot but the importance of it becomes apparent during the film.
The Conjuring is a film that is well thought out and has one aim in mind, and that is to scare you. There are many creepy moments and thankfully not too many jump scares which seem to be the popular way to get scares in most horrors these days. With The Conjuring it’s about what is hiding in the shadows and strange noises in another area of the house. When things escalate things do tend to go for the more showboating style of horror, but even then it’s done in a way that is effective and will have you remembering the film a long time after you’ve turned it off. It’s also interesting that yes, the film is left open ended for a sequel, but it’s done in a way that it will be less of a sequel but more of a separate story in its own right, with The Warrens at centre stage again.
With scares that are actually effective and strong performances from the actors, The Conjuring is a must see for fans of horror, and for people who like to be scared. With an old-school style a very creepy doll it’s nice to see that Hollywood can actually bring out a true horror film now and again that can actually get a few frights.
The Conjuring is out now on DVd and Blu-ray.