Review: The Conjuring

Director(s)James Wan
Principal CastVera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Lili Taylor as Carolyn Perron
Release Date2013
Running Time 112 minutes

I can still remembering watching this movie when it came out opening day. I thought Insidious was a pretty good movie, so I was excited to see what Wan would bring to another supernatural horror movie. Though it may not be as “real life” as it purports to be, The Conjuring is a well crafted, humanizing, popcorn horror movie that should please both average movie goers and critics alike.

The story is your typical haunted house movie chock full of things that go bump in the night, supernatural delusions, well-timed jump scares, a likable set of leads in the Warrens, and a heartwarming core to latch onto. The story starts with a creepy ghost case and then cuts into a classroom setting. This short introduction simultaneously sets the creepy tone for the movie and establishes that our leads are professionals. I love how much care Wan takes to establish the Warrens as legitimate professionals. They don’t rush to haunted conclusions, don’t seek to exploit individuals for gains, and show real tact when dealing with the supernatural. It makes them easy to root for and gives the audience a reason to care about their success.

Acting is great throughout the cast from the children to the Warren’s technical assistants. Lili Taylor does a great job as the matriarch of the haunted Marron family and conveys the terror of watching ones family being attack with a real clarity. Both Farmiga and Wilson are great as the Warrens. They come off as likable and serious. The former radiates empathy and a desire to help which feels surprisingly wholesome in the commercial horror landscape.

Most important, the movie is packed with effective scares. A good variety of shots combined with excellent pacing creates an effective ramping supernatural threat. The spirit feels menacing and the way the movie approaches the madness makes the sequence of the haunting coherent as opposed to feeling like a ghost just messing around for the hell of it. My only problem with the scares is the lack of thematic coherence.The movie is focused a lot on family, the importance of the bond between parents and their children, and how evil wants to desecrate that bond. However, until the third act the scares never feel related to that theme so they don’t hit as hard. It’s what keeps the early scares from feeling distinctive.

Report Card

TLDRThe Conjuring is a horror movie done right. The characters are effective and make you want to root for them. The scares are effective and are paced properly through the movie. The movie doesn’t revolutionize the genre but it’s certainly a welcome addition to it.

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