THE CONJURING review by Ronnie Malik – James Wan orchestrates an experiment in terror

THE CONJURING review by Ronnie Malik – James Wan orchestrates an experiment in terror


The Conjuring

Director: James Wan

Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Josepha Bishara, Shanely Caswell, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, Hayley McFarland

Rating: B+

The Conjuring, directed by James Wan (Insidious, Saw, and the upcoming Insidious Chapter 2), does not have blood, guts, and gore splattered all over the screen. What this supernatural thriller does have is the spine-chilling-creepiness-factor ramped up to the 10th degree. Built into the movie is the typical formula for a ghost story. We have the perfect American family escaping city life and moving to the country into what they think is their dream home but much to their surprise the home is haunted. We have seen this many times before in movies like the Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror, and Paranormal Activity just to name a few. The Conjuring does not rely on special effects or mass killings to get a rise out of its audience. What we’ve got here are brilliantly set up scenes that create tension and terrors at just the right moments along with actors that do an awesome job with emoting fear and bewilderment as the characters realize that an evil presence is among them.

The Conjuring alternates between two story lines. The first story is about Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson), two paranormal investigators famous for their work in the now well-known story of “The Amityville Horror”. The Warrens were recently traumatized by one of their cases but are continuing to lecture across the country about their work and findings as they dedicate their lives to getting rid of nasty spirits invading the lives unsuspecting victims. Meanwhile, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger Perron (Ron Livingston), along with their five daughters, are experiencing strange things going bump in the night and the occurrences are getting progressively worse. Carolyn is noticing strange bruising all over her body, picture frames are flying off the walls, one of her girls is getting yanked out of bed night after night, the youngest child is talking to an imaginary friend, and to top it off an rather frightening apparition is revealing itself to some of the children and actually attacks one of them in the middle of the night. Half way through the film, the Warrens and Perron’s lives intersect when Carolyn tracks down the paranormal experts begging them to help her solve the puzzle of what is plaguing her family.

Once the Warrens start discovering the mystery surrounding the Perron’s home, the story slowly unfolds revealing what led up to the old house becoming haunted. The camera angels, music, and sound effects all do a great job adding to the anticipation that something crazy is about to happen. You’ll be sitting up in your chair, gripping the arm rest, holding your breath, and you know something is about to hit the fan. Even with the expectation and foresight that a big scare is about to leap out – when it actually happens – guess what – you will still be jumping out of your seat. During the finale, the filmmakers pull out all the stops in chilling scene that will leave the hairs on your neck standing up.

There are a few over-the-top and campy moments that the film could have done without but that is a small point when compared to the effect the film will have on audiences. Thrown into the mix are some nicely placed instances of humor giving just a little relief from all the tension.

The Conjuring is a rollercoaster ride that takes you spiraling down that feeling of terror, spinning you around the corner of dread, and looping you back into suspense just when things seem to be calming down. For those who like a healthy fill of fear and the unexpected, The Conjuring not only will do the trick but leave you screaming for more.

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