Ever since The Exorcist shocked audiences, the “supernatural horror” sub-genre has captivated audiences. Perhaps we’re intrigued by the “based on a true story” tag line? Perhaps it has something to do with our own fascination with the unknown? Or maybe its because movie directors use the concept to make some seriously twisted films that critics eat up?Either way, this year’s big paranormal offering is The Conjuring, directed by James Wan.
Even before its release, The Conjuring has received some serious attention. While there’s no doubt that this film is a truly unnerving, well executed psychological horror, I’d argue that is hardly the game changer that it’s been hyped to be. It smacks of The Exorcist, looks like Amityville, goes down like Emily Rose, and leaves an aftertaste of Paranormal Activity. While hardly original, this film does manage to stand on its own merits, namely the solid directing, fantastic acting, and masterful execution of scares.
The Conjuring focuses on paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. These names are familiar to paranormal enthusiasts, as they are the real life couple that investigated Amityville, The Smurl House, and a dozen other famous hauntings. We are given a brief introduction to their “profession” through a truly frightening episode involving “Annabelle,” a sinister doll that is guaranteed to change the way you hear the phrase “Miss me?” forever.
Their paths soon cross with The Perron family. As per usual with these movies, the unsuspecting family has moved into a house dating back to the colonial times. The only problem is, the house isn’t exactly empty. Right off the bat, things go awry, beginning with the strange behavior of the family dog, who refuses to enter the home. Objects begin to move, strange sounds are heard, and most unnerving of all, the family’s youngest daughter finds an imaginary friend. The paranormal incidents escalate from eerie to downright frightening through a series of intense and horrifying scenes, including the infamous “hide and clap” scene that everyone knows from the trailers.
Once the Warrens begin to investigate the Perron home, it becomes clear that the family is being stalked by a malevolent presence. From there on, things get very frightening, very quickly as they attempt to deal with the dark forces. This isn’t a film that is “jump out at you” scary, or one that relies on mindless gore to shock audiences.
The Conjuring is full of psychological scares that build off of an emotionally compelling story, and nuanced acting that conveys true terror. Even the way the story unfolds is hair raising! When the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, you won’e even want to look away from the screen. The film’s final half hour may contain some of the most horrifying scenes I’ve ever seen in a haunting film. The Conjuring is definitely a well executed take on a classic theme ensuring that You definitely won’t want to see this one alone!
Now, the only question is…how much of this is actually real, and how much is Hollywood? You can bet that seeing this movie will infect you with a case of Google fever to find out…
Final Score: 4/5