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Wayback Review: The Conjuring

The Conjuring movie review

Movie Rating:

Fine, so it’s not technically way-back. But as I’ve just popped up the Annabelle screening, why not link to the review I did for The Conjuring? Here ’tis… As always, clicky the hypertext title for the original piece!

Nutshell: I’d give The Conjuring an A. It does what horror movies are supposed to do; scare the ever-loving bleep out of you. Great actors, eerie cinematography, and the ol’ True Story hook. If you like scary, see this.

Movie Review: The Conjuring

“From ghoulies and ghosties. And long-leggedy beasties. And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!”

The Scots have a great prayer there. And for decades, real-life couple Ed and Lorraine Warren did their level best to help folks who suffered from beyond-the-norm problems. The Conjuring is a film that gives the couple the big screen treatment…and it’s a throwback to the good ol’ fashioned scare-you-pantsless spookfests of the 70s. Loved The Changeling, Ghost Story and The Amityville Horror (which, by the way, is also a case the Warrens worked on…)? Baby, you’re gonna love The Conjuring. This film starts off with an opening sequence that takes off with a serious case of spooky, giving the audience a heads-up; this is gonna be a bumpy night. Oh yes, yes it is. Okay I’ll say it; The Conjuring is looking like the best horror film of 2013. And yes, that’s taking into account the Evil Dead remake earlier this year, the fact that a new Carrie is coming to town for Halloween, and that Director James Wan’s Insidious: Chapter 2 hits theaters this September.

The story is simple; a couple (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) sinks their savings into a house that’s roomy enough for them their five girls. Said roomy house starts with the creepy occurrences almost right off the bat. After one particularly harsh night of bangs, thumps and physical attacks, the family call on paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) for help. But the Warrens have handled a few cases that have taken a toll on Lorraine — including a creepy doll that tried to kill it’s owners — and this may be one too many. And even so, it’s going to take a lot to figure out what’s going on at the Perron house, along with the why, and how to get it to stop….

Director James Wan kicks serious tuchas here; not surprising, since it’s his creepy creativity that kicked off the Saw franchise, and got folks keyed up in Insidious. Writers Carey and Chad Hayes (House of Wax, Whiteout) add believable dialogue and a script that shifts from point-of-view to point-of-view without losing any of the sinister momentum this story has going on. And believe me, there’s a ton of sinister here. Doors creak open of their own accord, shadows hide ghosts intent on causing mayhem, and a witch that hung herself may be running the show. It’s all doled out in bits and pieces, for maximum payoff once things really get going. “I saw something sitting on your bed.” Eek! I’m very, very glad that I don’t have an unfinished basement in my house; after all the goings-on in The Conjuring, it would take weeks before I could get up the nerve to head down to anybody’s basement. It takes a lot to creep me out, and The Conjuring gets a huge thumbs-up from me for being able to give me goosebumps.

The Conjuring is a particularly effective ghost story because it takes a look at the spooky from two points of view: the Perrons and the Warrens. You get to see exactly what’s happening to the Perrons, and how that house affects the Warrens. The haunting begins to bleed into the Warrens’ lives, which are already full of nasty things (their “Occult Museum” is a room filled with possessed/inhabited objects, IN THEIR HOUSE) and even starts to affect their young daughter who was nowhere near the Perrons’ house. Wan really knows how to take these bits and pieces and weave them together so they not only make a coherent tale, but a damn scary one. Plus, the actors here deliver first-rate performances, especially Taylor as Mrs. Perron, the gal who gets the brunt of the baddie’s attention. Taylor also has to deal with a ton of stuntwork in the film’s climax, and I’m sure that even with a stunt double there had to be a sense of relief on her part when all that battering stopped. Or once the heating pads and vino came into play. Just me?

The Conjuring is rated R, but there isn’t anything salacious or particularly gruesome about the film. It’s just “too scary” for PG-13. The MPAA freaking out is usually a given — they seem to have softer constitutions — but freaking ‘em out with little more than creaks, groans and the occasional pop-out ghostie? Bwa-ha-ha!

Movie Rating:

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Denise Kitashima Dutton
Denise has been covering books, movies and music since 2003. She's hoping she'll get the hang of it any day now.

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