The Conjuring – A Review

August 10, 2013 12:08 pm

It’s the little film that could. ‘The Conjuring’, with its meagre twenty-million dollar budget has beaten out every other blockbuster film in its path, amassing a whopping eighty-four million dollars so far. But why is it that a film whose story has been told time and time again is managing to rake in the cash and put butts in seats?

the conjuring‘The Conjuring’ is one of those finely crafted horror gems that comes along every few years or so. These rarities in the genre are often sandwiched between all of the mass-produced Hollywood remakes of horror flicks from the eighties. Along with an enticing trailer, ‘The Conjuring’ sports the most suspicious marketing phrase in film history: ‘based on a true story’.

‘The Conjuring’ is – for the most part – based on case files from famous Paranormal Investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, as they investigate spooky occurrences at a farm house owned by the Perron family. Horror fans will be familiar with the Warrens as they were heavily involved in the Amityville Horror case and advised on the film adaptation. They will also be familiar with James Wan of ‘Saw’ and ‘Insidious’ fame, who sat in the Director’s chair for ‘The Conjuring’.

‘The Conjuring’ isn’t a horror as we know it to be by modern standards. Gore, blood and violence do not take precedence here. Wan’s skilful direction is too good to allow simple scare tactics to take over. His mastered knowledge of long tracking shots, leaving parts of the frame shadowed to build suspense, creepy iconography and well used sound effects are all tools that Wan uses to incite terror and fear into the audience.

The acting is top-notch also. Lily Taylor plays Carolyn Perron, the family matriarch, and is an extremely underrated talent. Taylor is capable of conveying a range of emotions in her role and can easily go from playing the happy-housewife to something slightly different at the films climax. Vera Farmiga is also fantastic as Lorraine Warren, as she is able to create an overriding sense of anxiety and suspense in movie-goers just by her facial expressions alone.the conjuring

It is easy to dismiss ‘The Conjuring’ as the kind of rehashed Hollywood horror we have all seen before. Creepy basements and creaky doors are all scare-tactics that are overused and almost cliché. Wan’s skill as a director is not just having an excellent knowledge of how these tactics are used, but when to use them. Combining all of his frightening tricks with a haunting score from Joshua Bishara, Wan crafts a near-perfect experience.

Not all is great; there is a subplot which is actually based on another case file from the Warrens including a possessed doll. The doll – Annabelle, which it is named in the film, comes back into the narrative halfway through the film having been absent since the opening scenes.

This reappearance during the second act indicates that the subplot with this doll will somehow tie in with the ending. But this is not the case. This leaves the final moments of the film feeling bland as the big thrilling ending that is expected, does not materialise.

‘The Conjuring’ is an excellent horror film with plenty of chills and thrills. The third act is a tense and at times, haunting joyride into the supernatural. The final scenes may feel anticlimactic – but it will leave you with an overwhelming sense of unease until the final credits roll.

James Wan has delivered a horror film full of atmosphere and ‘jump out your seat’ moments. Although let down by a few minor plot holes, they are not enough to detract from the experience. With ‘Insidious: Chapter Two’ on the way, it looks like Wan may just be getting warmed up to deliver the chills.

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