A strong cast and a man that knows how to use a camera are here to conjure up the terror that this true story has to bring forth. Don’t worry, I realize that sentence was terrible. I want you to know that I know. And I am not going to change it.
The Conjuring is based on a true story pulled from the lives of Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators before they all had their own TV shows. They still record their investigations though, and in this weeks episode the Warrens take on the haunting of a large family that has just moved into a new home. Noises, physical entities, bad smells, you name it.
Whether or not you believe the stories that the Warren’s tell from their lives is up to you, but the movie does not set out to play the skeptic. At first it seemed as if maybe the ghosts would not appear to us as there was nothing to see other than what they did to the world, so we could choose to believe what we wanted to, but soon enough the makeup effect artists more than earn their pay. I was a little disappointed by this considering the first few moments of contact, but it doesn’t take long to sit back and simply let the horror film do its job in the way it wants to.
Even with the jump scares well taken advantage of, James Wan employs the creepiness of potential background threats by the way he frames each shot, making it clear that we are at the mercy of his whim. If he wants to have someone standing in a background doorframe as the camera pans across the room alongside an unsuspecting victim, then he will do it, and all we can do is pray that we will be prepared for it when it actually happens. In this way it almost reads like a handcam horror film, which is something that I could definitely appreciate because of how effective these films are at making me wary of surroundings.
And to think, as a clairvoyant who sees dead people, Lorraine must go through this on a constant basis. Shivers. Or maybe not, I’m not quite sure how it works. However, if you allow yourself to truly believe that what she claims to have seen and experienced is real then a new layer of horror will come into play because of the simple idea that someone actually experienced the events of this story. Yet even with all that she and her husband have gone through, there is something in the portrayal of them by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga that makes it far less disturbing at the time. Like being able to laugh at those who scare easily in the seats around you, there was something almost like a deadpan joke in the way that these two speak. In actuality it is that they believe wholeheartedly in what they are saying, but their matter of fact manner of speaking about something so debatable adds another layer of much needed release from the anxiety that builds throughout the film. That and they just seem to be genuinely great people. That never hurts.
There could have actually been more of the Warrens in the film if you ask me, though they obviously have to share the spotlight with the family being haunted to make the film work in the way it is supposed to, which is maybe another reason why it is so easy to laugh at some of their lines. We don’t get to spend enough time with them to get used to who they are, yet they still manage to shy away from over religious individuals even though they rely on their faith and what not to help them fight the evil spirits. However, had they cut out the unnecessary callback to an earlier haunted item resting in the same home as their daughter then maybe their characters could have been even more developed than to the extent at which they were.
Complaints aside, The Conjuring is definitely a horror film that no fans of the genre will want to miss. Even better, bring a terrified friend along with you for your moments of relief through laughter.
Final grade: B