Directed by James Wan
Running time: 112 minutes
This “based on a true story” movie follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) as they investigate mysterious supernatural occurrences at the home of the Perron family (parents played by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor).
I really enjoyed this film. I rarely watch horror movies anymore as they seem to have turned into nothing but the torture porn variety that I can’t stand. Give me either a good old fashioned 70s & 80s slasher with cheesy special effects I can actually handle or a creepy old-school supernatural thriller. The Conjuring, I’m happy to say, comes pretty close to feeling like a genuine 70s supernatural thriller.
The Conjuring opens with the Warrens showing us a previous case they worked on where a doll had become possessed. Dolls freak me out. Dolls freak a lot of people out and the makers of The Conjuring clearly know this. They take as many horror movie cliches as they can and throw them all at us. But all horror movies do this anyway. The Conjuring at least manages to use every trick in the book in a few fairly original & effective ways. (To be honest, the doll was too over-the-top freaky. The music box was more subtle & far creepier… )
The Conjuring takes place in the 70s, which helps add to the overall creepiness. I’m a sucker for 70s films so that will have helped my enjoyment of this.The clothes! The cars! The 70s were so groovy! (From what I remember of the decade as I spent the latter part of it watching Sesame Street). So I really liked the look of the film. It’s no The Shining as far as the look and feel go (can anything really beat that one?!). But I appreciate the effort they put into making this feel more like a good old-school haunted house movie.
Did The Conjuring scare me? I know that’s the main question people seem to be asking. Well, I can’t really think of a movie that ever HAS scared me. There are some that give me the heebie jeebies a little bit. The one I just mentioned, The Shining, is probably the film I find the creepiest and comes the closest to “scaring” me. The Conjuring didn’t scare me, no, but had I seen it for the first time alone & in the middle of the night, I’m pretty sure I’d have slept with the lights on.
It’s fairly intense and that tired old “based on a true story” thing DOES seep into your brain whether you believe it or not – that’s why so many horror movies use that line. (I’ve not yet looked into the true story of the Warrens & Perron family so can’t comment on how true this film actually is). I was a little bit jumpy through the film but, as always, you know when the scares are coming. The film also shows us more of the “ghostly visitors” than I was expecting but I know they need to keep things balanced as the younger cinema goers expect that these days. I’ve always been someone who’s been more scared by the things we don’t actually see. However, I think The Conjuring strikes a decent balance at trying to keep the old-school supernatural horror fans like me and the current generation of fans happy.
The number one reason that I think makes this film stand out so much compared to other horror films of recent years, though, is this: The acting (particularly the two female leads). Too many current horror films are full of either horrible acting or completely unlikeable characters. I don’t want to watch a movie with either of these things – I don’t think the rules should be any different for the horror genre. Lili Taylor was the best thing about this film for me. She was genuinely believable as a loving mother who just wants to protect her five daughters. I know she’s been in plenty of things in more recent years but not much that I’ve seen so it was great seeing her in a big role in this – I’ve always especially loved her part in Say Anything. Vera Farmiga is also great in this although I kind of feel I’ve seen her play a similar role before. The bond the two woman share as they both have daughters was very good. The men are fine but really take a backseat to all the females in the film (Ron Livingston especially seems to have very little to do). Being a woman, I really liked seeing a film with such strong female leads. Even all six daughters in this film do an excellent job, which is great as there has been some especially bad child-acting in horror films.
The Conjuring uses every trick in the book to scare us but at least uses those tricks in some fairly original & effective ways. The film has a good look & feel which will keep fans of old fashioned horror films happy but I think should also please a younger generation of fans who want something other than torture porn. But the thing that makes the film stand out the most in its genre is some great performances, especially those of the strong female leads. This film feels like a more grown-up horror film and will hopefully pave the way for similar films in this genre. I don’t think it’s the best “haunted house” film I’ve seen but it’s a refreshing return to an old formula that’s a step in the right direction in a generation now filled with some mind-numbingly bad and excessively gory so-called horror films.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Once again, we agree! It’s not that scary! But that doesn’t mean it’s without merit. I probably should have been more complementary of the fact it isn’t another torture porn horror movie, which I just can’t watch anymore; I was fine with them when I was younger, but as I get older, I always feel like I have to shower after watching them. And all hail Lili Taylor!! An excellent review 🙂
Yes – I can’t handle that torture porn stuff. I’m too old for that! It’s gross! I WAS hoping to feel a little scared after seeing this but still can’t fault the movie – it’s very good, especially for the horror genre. And yay for Lili Taylor. 🙂 A Say Anything sequel where they show us what happened to all the characters would be really cool… Hmmm….
No underwear in this one??
No! Actually, I meant to mention this in the review: I’ve never seen people SO covered up! Not the slightest bit of skin showing on anyone. Oh I miss the 70s when people all dressed like that… 😉
The ‘Jump’ scares were awesome. There haven’t been so many effective jump scares in a film for a long time. The part when the picture frames crash off the wall… there was a period of silence, everyone in the house sleeping… then. BANG! It was so loud! the guy in the row in front of me lost his soda! FUN STUFF!
Ha- True… I think that one made me jump a bit. 🙂 It WAS very loud! I also thought the bit with the sheet in the wind was very clever. But I’d heard about that one beforehand so was expecting it.
Great review! I really enjoyed this film too 😀
Thanks! 🙂 Yes, I like when I enjoy a movie like this, especially when I may not be expecting to. Too many movies this year have annoyed me too much for me to enjoy.
Yes fully agree with you, especially within the Horror genre!
Nicely done! I had fun with this and I agree the acting was great across the board. It played everything a little too safe for me for most of the film though. I don’t watch a lot of horror films but I still knew exactly what was coming pretty much every step of the way.
Yeah – I didn’t feel there were lots of unexpected scares in this. I thought there would be from what I read in other reviews. But it’s a solid horror movie and I still had fun with it as well. 🙂
Great review! I didn’t find this scary either, but I enjoyed it a whole lot. It’s obviously scary for a tonne of people though – I teach at a secondary girls school, and a lot of them have told me that The Conjuring is one of the scariest things they’ve ever seen!
Thanks. 🙂 I think I’ve just seen WAY too many movies to be easily scared. It’s easier to scare the younger generation – they haven’t seen the really good stuff. 😉
Still too much of a pussy…
Lol. Well, I’m a pussy when it comes to violence. But, scary… I like! Wish movies could be a lot more scary than they ever are. 🙂
Great write-up! I usually go to watch scary films with friends just to make fun of each other when we jump out of our seats, but given what I have read and head of this one, I am actually interested in watching The Conjuring for its material instead of for the jumps.
Thanks! 🙂 Yeah, I do recommend this as slightly more than just a silly “jump out of your seat” horror. But there are some good jumps too. I hope you check it out – would be good to know your thoughts on it. 🙂
Great review! And right with you on the ‘less is more’ front when it comes to horror. Some of the spookiest horror films hardly show anything at all – Night Of The Demon comes to mind (remade as Drag Me To Hell). And you can’t go past the original Amityville Horror.
I’ve only seen the remake (Drag me to Hell). I guess the original must have been MUCH less, then! And, yeah – I admit that the original Amityville Horror did indeed creep me out – especially as I DID watch that one completely alone & in the middle of the night…
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