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The Conjuring

The Conjuring

What She said:

She

Trapped ghosts, demon possession, killer dolls—all in a day’s work for Ed and Lorraine Warren, renowned paranormal investigators most notably linked to the Amityville case.  But The Conjuring focuses on another haunting that the Warrens try to exorcise in the early 1970s, and clearly one of their most difficult, that of the Perron family in Rhode Island.  

Meet the Perrons.  They seem like just your average family of seven.  There’s a lot of them, but aside from that, they’re just trying to lead a normal life.  Parents, Roger and Carolyn, are excited to be moving into their new home, a very old farm house that honestly needs a ton of work.  Roger is one of those long distance truck drivers, but seems very committed to his wife and kids.  From the beginning, it’s clear that the Perrons are going to get more than they bargained for.  The family dog refuses to enter the new home and is later found dead.  And it’s not long before children and parents are being terrorized at night.  

This is where we first meet up with the Warrens.  They are a demon fighting dynamic duo, and are apparently very good at their craft.  But the Warrens quickly sense that this haunting is not going to be as easy as they would have hoped, and they also become enveloped in the drama, as it also begins to affect their family.  It becomes clear that time is of the essence, and the Warrens are forced to go outside of their comfort zone to try to act fast and save the Perron family from a witch’s curse.

So, reading this description, I’m sure this movie might seem a little cheesy, but I assure you, it’s far from it.  Supposedly based on true events (yes, the Warrens and their creepy museum of demonic items are real), the film plays out like a classic haunted house flick.  It has many of the well-known elements—cold senses, things lurking in the shadows, ankles being grabbed in the dark—just enough to make you sleep a little rough after watching the movie.  And yet, while there are so many predictable elements, I didn’t feel like the movie became boring or too formulaic.  

The Conjuring

I think what helps The Conjuring shine as a good scary movie is the acting of all those involved.  In particular, our four main characters, the Perrons, Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor, and the Warrens, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, truly come to life.  I enjoyed Vera Farmiga’s quirky depiction of Lorraine Warren, a clairvoyant who is also burdened by her gift.  But everyone did a very good job of not just looking scared, but also giving their characters a degree of depth and complexity.  I mean, we’re still limited by the genre, but you’ll find that everyone here is a little more evolved than you typically see in a scream-fest.

I wouldn’t say that this movie is terrifying.  It was certainly spooky, which I liked.  But I didn’t have any problems controlling my bladder.  It’s presentation as a creepy thriller kept me interested and felt authentic.  Don’t get me wrong—this home was intensely haunted—but the spirits and demons in this movie felt like they actually could be real.  I don’t find myself rolling my eyes at the notion that this could be based on true events.  

Kudos to James Wan, who seems to have made a name for himself working on these types of movies.  He did a good job of keeping the film well-paced and I enjoyed the dark style of cinematography.  I would also like to commend whoever worked on the sets of this film.  Initially my reaction to the home was, “Eww, why would anyone ever move here?  It’s flat out beat down.”  But, as the scares get turned up, the place turns in to the perfect setting for what unfolds.

Some people may not find themselves scared enough by this movie, but I really enjoyed the story and the way that it was filmed.  I’ll call it a solid and classically-inspired haunted house film, and definitely recommend it for those who are a fan of the genre.  

Thumbs up.

What He said:

He

There are a lot of haunted house/ghost movies out there nowadays. There are four Paranormal Activity movies alone and a fifth one is on the way. The genre is what slasher flicks were in the 80s. There are so many movies in this genre now that whenever a trailer for one comes out, I tend to just ignore it. Even if I see it, it doesn’t resonate with me.

The Conjuring

Well while all of these movies claim to be scaring audiences like no movie ever before, this one actually had the reviews to back it up. It has an 87% and Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.2 Metacritic. That’s really freaking good for a horror movie. Critics are not usually kind to the genre, so when something gets good reviews, that gets my attention.

The movie focuses on two families. The Warrens are paranormal investigators.  They are bonafide ghost hunters. They assist the Catholic Church with exorcisms and everything. So when the Perrons move into a new house that is seemingly haunted, they seek out the Warrens help.

It’s 1971 and the Perrons have just moved into a new home they acquired in a foreclosure. It seems like they got the home very cheap and without ever having seen it (never a good sign). It appears they are looking for a fresh start. From what, the movie never really says, but I’m guessing financial troubles. On move-in day, the family dog refuses to enter the house (also never a good sign). The next morning Carolyn, the mother of the family, notices a few things. For starters, she has some bruises on her she can’t explain. She also notices all the clocks in the house stopped throughout the night. She eventually realizes they all stopped at the same time – 3:07 a.m. to be exact. It happens every single night too. Creepy! So after a few little things that seem off, Carolyn seeks out the Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga)Warren, who are lecturers at a local college.

Ed and Lorraine head to the Perrons house to investigate and are troubled by what they see (more like feel, but you get the point). They seek out the help of the Church, but he Church needs proof, so they move into the Perrons house and begin to compile evidence. Compiling the evidence ends up being fairly easy, but will the Church send help in time?

The Conjuring

There are a lot of bad ghost movies out there, so it’s easy to get sour to the genre. But wow, I thought this was fantastic. This was scary, well-acted, and kept me on the edge of my seat. Ron Livingston, Patrick Wilson, and Vera Farmiga were all great in their respective roles. They each portrayed their characters with believability and personality traits that brought these characters to life. But I really have to single out Lili Taylor, who’s role is expanded as the movie goes on, and she’s forced to bring more depth and variety to her character. All of the young girls playing the Perron’s children were good too. In a movie that has so many different characters, it’s hard to have them all play their roles well, but they all did. There was no weak link here. This movie had a great tone and setting too. There are times where you watch a movie where it feels like they are mimicking the era and environment the movie takes place in, but I felt like I was watching an actual haunting during the 70s. It felt like a very authentic movie.

Director James Wan previously did Saw and Insidious, both of which I thought were ok, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I’d even go as far as to call it a modern classic. It definitely pays homage to movies like The Exorcist and Poltergeist, but the story is its own. If you like a good old-fashioned haunted house flick, I highly recommend this one.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on November 8, 2013.

The Conjuring

 

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