MOVIE REVIEW: “The Conjuring” stars Patrick Wilson (Watchmen , The Phantom of the Opera), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, Bates Motel [TV series]), Lili Taylor (American Crime [TV series], Being Flynn), Ron Livingston (Office Space, Swingers), Shanley Caswell (Detention, NCIS: New Orleans [TV series]), Hayley McFarland (An American Crime, Lie to Me [TV series]), Joey King (The Act [TV series], The Kissing Booth), Mackenzie Foy (Interstellar, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Kayla Deaver (Before I Wake, Along Came the Devil), Shannon Kook (Dark Places, Degrassi: The Next Generation [TV series]), John Brotherton (Fuller House [TV series], Furious 7), Sterling Jerins (World War Z, Paterson), and Marion Guyot (Remember the Titans, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk). It is directed by James Wan (Insidious, Saw), and written by Chad Hayes (The Reaping, House of Wax) and Carey W. Hayes (Whiteout, The Turning). Based on true events, paranormal investigators Ed (Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Farmiga) help a family in need when their house is haunted by a terrorizing demon.
“The Conjuring” is one of those films I’d implore you see with a friend. I don’t care how macho you think you are, this horror fest is a scary one. Why did I see it? You got me. It was six bucks at Best Buy and I thought “why not?” I knew of this flick; the success and terror it garnered, the franchise it forged. It’s what furthered James Wan as a bankable horror filmmaker, and placed itself as one of the most beloved modern features within that genre. I’m always looking for horror flicks to transcend their clichés; to blend themselves with other genres to produce something that’s more than just a night of jump scares. To my surprise, “The Conjuring” is an intellectual piece. Not in the sense of how deep the concept is, but how it is made. Instead of falling back on what audiences would expect from a story like this, Wan chooses to get creative, utilizing stiffening thrills and somber moments to create something with more of a backbone. Forget what the music score suggests at the opening credits (that loud, screeching sound that makes you want to flee). This is a thriller, through and through. I’ve mentioned before how I enjoy that genre more so than the straight horror. I find it to be more inventive and heart-pounding, considering how horror can typically lean towards cheeseball slasher. “The Conjuring” has great cinematography and direction, taking modern filmmaking techniques and blending them with those of the 70’s, given how that’s when this story takes place. The slow push-ins from extreme wide to just wide are awesome, as well as the long moving shots that require more staging of actors. It makes things realistic and draws on the suspense of the scene; on top of that, it allows the actors more freedom. The performances in this were pretty solid. Sure, quite a few of them play into the horror genre of sheer stupidity (where some characters ask all the obvious questions or make dumb decisions), but for the most part everyone played their parts well. The daughters surprised me, almost all of them doing a great job of capturing fear; they were very professional. As for our leads, I enjoyed them. Vera Farmiga is great and Patrick Wilson did his job well. Both have good chemistry, even in those sappy Hallmark-like moments, and I think they shouldered this story well. One of my main takeaways, if I were to list gripes, would be how Wilson can come off in his role. There were times where the dialogue he was given and how he said it made me think the actor didn’t buy into what he was saying. There’s always a rule or reason why you can’t do something when your house is haunted, and something it makes my eyes roll. How much of this is true, and how much of this just makes it easier to push the plot along? But that comes with the territory of a movie like this. For the most part, “The Conjuring” does well in suspending belief and making you shake in your boots. There weren’t many jump scares, mainly fake jump scares, where you think something’s going to happen and it doesn’t; those are the worst. It only gets in your face when the going gets tough, and that’s a slow progression as you move towards the third act. I was engaged with this movie almost throughout. Though I wanted to look away in fear, I couldn’t help but inch closer to the screen. It sucks you in and digs it’s claws into you, and the music score doesn’t help that situation. Man, was this music a character of its own. Joseph Bishara did a great job composing it, and certainly kept me on my toes. “The Conjuring” holds better quality than most horror movies. Wan pushed to be artistic rather than work within a box and he succeeded. While it’ll have moments that make you sigh or roll your eyes (really, it’s most of the heart-to-heart scenes), I’d say this is a horror flick worth recommending. FINAL SCORE: 87%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer:
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