Paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorised by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.
The first trailer released gave almost nothing away. It’s intriguing and definitely gave me a chill. THE CONJURING, based on true life events, sees Ed and Lorraine Warren investigate a demonic spirit lurking in a farmhouse.
If you didn’t already know about the Warrens, then you sure will after watching this film. The Warrens are known for investigating haunted places back in the 60s and 70s and had been part of the Amityville horror case. Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) create a believability to their characters. They don’t just come off as the type of spirit hunters who scared, in fact, that’s exactly what they are – scared.
The family is well cast, but the different characteristics between the five daughters seem a little odd. Sure, they all can act and definitely seem like five sisters, there was just something that separated a few from each other. This, however, was minuscule and had no effect whatsoever on the films intentions and scare factor. Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) who are the new home owners work quite well together. Their chemistry on screen is just perfect, not to mention their acting.
Lili Taylor really stole the show and proves her diversity playing a challenging character. Taylor seems to play the character of someone who is haunted or being haunted. Take THE HAUNTING for example; she co-starred alongside the glamourous and sexy Catherine Zeta-Jones, but definitely put more than just a damsel in distress into her character. in THE CONJURING, that side of Taylors acting certainly hasn’t changed.
Unlike the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and Exorcism films of today, THE CONJURING is made with a sense of believability. You may go into the cinema with your friends and think ‘yeah, horror films don’t scare me’, but by the films end, it will stay with you for a while.
Ok, time to get a bit technical.
The film is shot beautifully without the influence of recent Hollywood style horrors. We see lengthy tracking shots which makes you feel like you are in the house with the actors. Distorted angles gives you an uneasy feeling and offers suspense. The director, James Wan, has clearly avoided using quick cuts to fool the audience into a scared state of mind. Instead, Wan has used thoroughly thought out camera placement and technicalities to enhance each scene and so the audience knows exactly what is happening. I will also praise James Wan on his beautiful pre production work, as it clearly shows on screen.
The manipulative music is present for most of the suspenseful scenes. This became quite distracting at times, however, it did make you feel as though you were watching a 1972 horror film with 2013 technology.
There may be a sense of nostalgia for some of the audience as the portrayal of the 1970s is done magnificently. Everything about the film, the clothing, the house, the cars, the colours, even the pegs they use to hang the sheets with; it felt like the crew had travelled back in time to shoot this film.
There are a few issues with the pacing of the film. During the first act, it seemed a little rushed with trying to introduce the family, the Warrens, the demonic presence and a side story that the film opens up with. As the film progresses it becomes clear and easy to follow, but all the information presented to the audience in a such a small amount of time may leave a few audience members scratching their heads. The side story at the start of the film is spooky and if you hate dolls, close your eyes. A great way to gain interest in the film and to introduce the Warrens, but a resolution to that particular story would have been beneficial. The doll pops up now and again during the film, but it’s motive is somewhat unclear other than its terrorising manner. Whether or not it is the same demon that’s haunting the Perrons farmhouse is unclear. I may have to watch the film a second time to gain a comprehensive understanding.
A great horror film, one that will be enjoyed by the horror fans. THE CONJURING opens in cinemas July 18. If you live in a farmhouse or next to a lake, you’ll never look at it the same after watching this film. I give THE CONJURING 8 out of 10 stars.