The Conjuring – Movie Review
By Anne Brodie Jul 19, 2013, 14:54 GMT
Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives. ...moreThe Conjuring is an old fashioned fright night film, the kind that has a pulse and a brain. “Based on a true story” too. But is a thing apart from the usual horror baloney we’re fed these days, it’s a story with recognizable people going through a bad patch.
It has authenticity and meaning and avoids the cheese almost all the time. Okay, its ghosts and stuff, but there is a human story and history. James Wan’s intelligent direction is stellar.
The Perrons, (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingstone) a low income couple with five young girls move into a remote southern home they got through a bank auction. It’s seen better days, and has been empty for decades. The basement, which was boarded off, is jammed with what they call “junk” (and I call great antiquing opportunities) and the stink of rotten meat permeates the house. Horror film giveaway – there are cold spots.
Trouble comes the on the Perron’s first night. All the clocks stop at the same time, family members are touched, moved and bruised in their sleep, their dog is killed and pigeons crash endlessly into the walls. It’s unpleasant, but as the days go by the situation gets scarier and unbearable. Terrible visions and wraiths make appearances, and the smallest child sits down to tea with a friendly one. The other “spirits” are dangerous and relentless.
The Warrens, a married couple (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) and renowned “demonologists” are lecturing at a local school. The Perrons beg them to investigate their home and after stalling they agree. The woman, a clairvoyant knows immediately that a demon has attached itself to the family. Moving away would do no good, so it’s down to business. Bring in in a priest, the Vatican and gather up your crosses because time is running out.
What’s so refreshing is that the audience isn’t pandered to. The Warrens patiently explains to clients that the noises they hear come from wind and wood and pipes. Usually that’s the cause of nighttime disturbances. Until the Perrons. We’re told the real life story was so horrific that the real life Warrens held it back until now, which I don’t believe for a second.
The Conjuring is the latest film from the gifted James Wan. He has a master’s touch in direction and setting a mood, and his cameras flow. Wan knows how to cut it all together without stooping to cheap trickery. The film is set in the late sixties and early seventies and looks exactly as though it had been made then and “found” for modern audiences.
It’s not just the historical context or art direction; it’s the tone, the shooting, style and scope, the blessed lack of CGI and the basic pulse pounding storytelling of that golden age of film.
The problem with ghost stories is that there are precious few places to go to after the universal tropes of the haunted house, possession, adorable threatened children, troubled victims, dead pets, etc.
There is nothing we haven’t seen. The Conjuring must find its way around this basic problem given the tight restrictions of the modern ghost story and the fact that no one believes a word of it, and it managed to do a better job than most.
35mm horror thriller
Written by Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Directed by James Wan
Opens July 19