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Who would've guessed that the director of Saw would end up being the
most inventive horror filmmaker working in the industry? James Wan
brilliantly takes us back to the retro days of horror, delivering an
extremely stylistic, visually striking horror film that stands tall
amongst the classics. With virtually no sex, no gore and no cursing The
Conjuring earns its R-rating on scares alone.
Set in 1971, The Conjuring focuses on the married paranormal researchers Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren, who lecture at colleges across the US on all the interesting cases they come across. Just as they're thinking of retirement cue the Perron family; parents Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Lili Taylor) are scared for their lives and the lives of their 5 daughters claiming there is something evil in their now Rhode Island home. It doesn't take long for the Warrens to discover that the Perron's are being tormented by something supernatural, but what is it, and what does it want?
In short: The Conjuring is the most terrifying film I've ever seen. Trying to erase his name from the "torture porn" crowd has proved difficult for the director of Saw, however without a doubt he's finally done it. On looks alone this movie should be a PG movie, which would normally be frowned upon by the horror junkies, but despite having no sex, no gore and no swearing, James Wan's latest film has been slapped with an R rating anyway. If you're wondering how frightening it actually is I think the MPAA has spoken on its behalf.
Most horror films these days climax somewhere in the middle; and in turn everything that follows doesn't really have the same affect. In The Conjuring there is comic relief brilliantly placed throughout to bring you down from your own climax so they get another chance to build your fear up and startle you again. Wan understands the psychology behind tension and builds suspense through mere scene construction.
While obviously taking notes from the Exorcist and The Amityville Horror, the inspiration for this film derives from real case files from the Warren's, which is still their most famous case to date. Straying away from the ironic style made famous by The Cabin In The Woods, nothing on the surface of this story seems inventive, but I assure you the way in which this film works makes it one of the most creative films in recent memory. One thing I've always loved about James Wan is how he manages to take something so unoriginal, like the haunted-house- possession story in this case, and shows it to us like we've never seen it before.
The scares, pacing, sound design and camera work can only be described as precise. Together James Wan and cinematographer John Leonetti (responsible for the look of Insidious as well) give us a fresh visual style that, unlike most horror films, include a lot of wide shots AND movement. The cinematography is absolutely stunning, and not relying on shaky cam for its realism leaves a rather unique feel to the movie, separating it visually from any other movie you can narratively relate this to.
One issue I've always had with recent films in the genre was that they revealed the demons too much. Insidious and Sinister are examples where they hooked me to the story and then showed me too much. Fear of the unknown is the greatest thing a horror filmmaker has on its audience and Wan has definitely learned from Insidious. In The Conjuring the apparitions aren't revealed to the audience until way late, and even then they're far away or out of focus. Letting us use our imagination is what makes this film truly horrifying, and I think horror filmmakers should be taking notes from Mr. Wan.
This film is everything I wanted it to be and more, my only complaint about the movie isn't even something wrong with the film. Once again marketing has screwed us over and the trailer for The Conjuring reveals way too many of the scares. I avoided most of the trailers for this movie on command from James Wan's twitter account but it's hard to miss TV spots. I wish I went into this with a fresh mind so if you still haven't seen the trailer and want to see this film, please stay away from any of the marketing!
Ultimately the overall production value allows The Conjuring to stand out in an otherwise rotting genre. The acting is impressive, the practical effects are perfect and the classic 70s feel Wan was going for make for a great time at the movies. This is the first must-see film of the summer.
Our Rating: 9.0/10
Let me know on Twitter @thejoshl what you thought of The Conjuring!
"Don't summon the devil, don't call the priest ..."
I was one of a lucky few to have seen The Conjuring at a preview screening for FrightFest 2013.
I went in totally cold, not having seen a trailer, nor knowing anything about the story or plot and it turned out to be one of the best scary horror movies I have ever seen.
The Conjuring is a nail-biting, hiding-behind-hands movie. If you've been disappointed with the likes of Paranormal Acivity and Insidious, this one is likely to deliver in areas where they failed.
It tells the supposedly true story of two paranormal investigators, who aim to rid families and properties of their suspected supernatural visitations, either by disproving them (if they turn out to be just creaky floorboards or slamming doors) or tackling them head-on if not. A leap of faith is required to buy into this theme but if you're okay with it, then the movies plays out pretty well within its genre confines.
The particular incident they are brought in to deal with is described as surrounding a spirit 'so malevolent' it was hidden from the public until only now. In fairly Amityville-like circumstances, a family move into a new house and discover the basement is sealed; boarded-up behind a doorway.
It's not at all surprising what follows, once they decide to take a look in the basement but it is surprising how James Wan has managed to take such a tired theme of haunting and possession and revive it so convincingly.
I am no stranger to these kind of movies but this one truly tops them all for tension and terror. I really enjoyed Sinister recently, which I found to be equally as scary but it lost its way a bit towards the end, whereas The Conjuring keeps tempo and has a fairly satisfying conclusion.
I particularly liked the way the film took a turn for the comical somewhere in the middle, only for perhaps five minutes, then came back firing on all cylinders as it headed to the finale. If this was intentional, to lure us into a false sense of security, it worked beautifully.
If you're the type to poo-poo this genre in general, I can't see you suddenly being converted to a believer but, if you enjoy classic horror like The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist, I can almost guarantee The Conjuring won't disappoint.
I'm an avid horror fan. Lately I've been thinking there isn't much that
can scare me (though Sinister got under my skin). I appreciate James
Wan's films, I love the first Saw, Insidious was a damn good modern
ghost story, but like all reviews have stated for it, the movie kinda
loses it's momentum in the final act.
The Conjuring is better, scarier, and more tense than Insidious. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's one of the best horror movies of the last 5 or 10 years. It goes back to the classic rule of horror film making, never show the bad guy fully to your audience. Plus this movie knows suspense, I tell you, I almost threw a water bottle at the screen from sheer terror once the scare finally happened. There are no fake jump scares, the movie earned an R rating without any blood, sex, or profanity, it's all from the terror that this movie builds upon.
Not only is the movie scary, but as a film itself, it's almost a masterpiece. The script, acting, direction, style, tone, etc were all simply top notch. Wan's camera-work here is by far his best out of any of his movies. The choice to set the movie in the 70s was a stroke of genius as it feels so authentic and all the more real. If this story were set in the present, it simply wouldn't be as a effective or scary. The 70s style film making, costuming, and hair styling are a great throwback to likes of The Exorcist & The Amityville Horror.
Though there are a few (extremely minor) flaws, such are length, repetitiveness, and a resolution that happens way too fast. I don't care, every horror movie (or movie in general) has it's flaws. There will never be a perfect horror movie, if there is one, I haven't seen it yet. But all I know is James Wan's The Conjuring is one of the best horror movies I've seen in a long time, and it's been a really long time that a movie has scared me this badly.
10/10 Don't miss this one, it's an amazing theater viewing experience.
Just saw it yesterday in Nocturna Fim Festival. It was an outstanding
film. So well done, scripted and acted. The movie doesn't have any
mercy on the audience and it's so disturbing you won't believe until
I'm not gonna enter in details or spoilers, just gonna let you now it a movie that gonna stay for you for a while after you see it. It also opens a door for becoming quite a paranormal investigator myself, looking up for all the details mentioned in the movie, and getting amazed by it' accuracy.
This film it's made to become a new classic in the horror genre, not only because it's quality, but because it's fright factor.
The first half of the movie it's paced down, let you know and love the characters. but the second half! oh boy! it's so damn chilling it will keep you gasping and crawling your hands.
Very well done
I got a chance to see this movie at the film festival, and boy was I
TERRifically surprised! James Wan's 'The Conjuring' is one of those
rare gems in the horror industry that finds a spot beside the classic
titles of horror, 'The Shining', 'Poltergeist', and 'The Exorcist' due
to James Wan's ability to balance an atmospheric dreadful tale
involving wonderfully crafted characters with a haunted house that had
my palms sweating and my heart pounding during some of the most
horrifying moments (There are a few of those; make sure you empty your
bladder BEFORE entering the theater).
The things that make 'The Shining', 'Poltergeist', and 'The Exorcist' good is that if the editor were to chop out all the jump-scares and those sequences that fry an image into your brain, you would still have a moody, edgy story that makes you sympathies for the characters and their struggle. This is what Wan does right in this film, and it's then that you realize horror is more than what pops out at you, or what makes you scream. Rather, it's that feeling of dread you get that escalates into sheer terror and suspense, aided by shocking scares.
BUT WAIT! All this not to say 'The Conjuring' doesn't have its share of frightening visuals and pee-your-pants moments; believe me when I say I also rank this as one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. Yet, Wan realizes here that jump scares aren't what moves a story along, but what defines that classic image everyone gets in their head when someone talks about a certain horror movie that frightened them the most, kind of like a celebrity's autograph in the corner of a huge poster of their face.
All of this hence to say, "The Conjuring" is an exceptional piece of film that pulls all the right stops to frighten the audience, leaving a lasting impression on your mind as well the recently tired genre of horror.
Movie Score: 10/10!
"The Conjuring" is a high class horror film, its hard not to be scared
by it, we care for the characters and the story is compelling enough to
make you feel interested the whole time.
Based on true life events, Ed and Lorraine Warren are paranormal investigators set to help a family terrorized by a demon, said to be one of the most terrifying cases of their lives which they hadn't shared with anyone...until now.
First of all, I loved that it takes place in the 70's, I agree completely with director James Wan's point of view that it is almost impossible to make a horror film set in the present. For example, the teenage daughters of the haunted family would be taking pictures of the demons with their iphones and would be posting them on posting them on instagram, basically the demons would turn into the victims and the humans would be the bad guys.
The movie isn't perfect though, there are a few plot holes in it, but still it does have some great scares in it that had me jumping out my seat and I liked the way it builds up tension and lets us know the characters before it starts with all the craziness. Not only is the movie set in the 70's, but it also has the feel of a 70's horror film, with slow zooms and filming styles you wouldn't expect from a modern movie. I really believe James Wan has outdone himself with this movie, I'll even go so far to calling it the scariest movie I've seen in my life. Thank you James Wan for this great movie and good luck with Fast & Furious 7.
I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a great horror film, I guess it gives the feeling audiences must have felt when watching "The Exorcist", "Don't Look Now", or Poltergeist" for the first time.
This film was easily one of the scariest films of the decade, complete with a horror package that will make even those new to horror love it, if they are a fan of fear that is. This movie had every guy in the group at the edge of their seats with their girlfriends....it was an intense experience that cannot be missed in theatres. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmega hold their own as the Perron's and EVERY SINGLE child actor owned the screen. All acting was top notch and gave the viewer a throwback to original days of good horror, not the stuff we've seen nowadays. Time can only tell when a movie like this will come out again but we know now that James Wan is one of the best horror directors of our time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This latest movie from Saw director James Wan goes down a fairly
traditional haunted house film route. In it, a regular family move into
a new home and are immediately terrorised by a malevolent ghost; a
married couple who specialise in dealing with paranormal activity are
called in to help exorcise the evil spirit. It was seemingly based on a
true story. From the above synopsis you could be forgiven for thinking
that this is a re-tread of the likes of The Amityville Horror and
Poltergeist. And I suppose in many ways you would be correct as the
influence of these types of films is pretty evident. But that would
only be half the story because The Conjuring is a film that definitely
stands up on its own right and for my money is one of the very best
horror films of the last few years. The chief reason for this is simply
that at times it is very scary indeed. It's not a graphic horror film
at all; it relies on the fear of the unknown and the unseen. It
combines lots of the things that make traditional ghost stories so
sinister an old house, a hidden room, a witch, tragic histories,
possession, creepy old children's toys and, of course, well-placed jump
scares. This movie has all of these elements and uses them well. It
doesn't necessarily bring a lot of new things to the genre but what it
does do is expertly arrange several traditional ideas into a very
On top of all this, it's a very well-acted affair. Particularly impressive are Vera (The Departed) Farmiga and Patrick (Hard Candy) Wilson who play the paranormal experts. They have a definite chemistry with one-and-other and bring a solid believability to their characters. And pleasingly they play things completely straight. Also of interest is the time period. Seeing as this is based around true events, its set in 1971. As well as being more authentic to the story, this has the added benefit of having a retro feel that harks back to the classic 70's American horror movies in which it derives much of its influence. And there is something refreshing in immersing yourself in a world without mobile phones and tweeting; a world without such things seems to work better as far as traditional haunted house stories go.
Overall, this is an excellent horror film. If I had to criticise it in one way it would simply be that the intense finale wasn't as creepy as the build-up. The reason for that is really down to the fact that the slower build-up allows for moments that hit you out of left-field from nowhere and the quieter more deliberately paced sequences can be constructed up to a real genuine fright scene. By the end we know the source of the haunting and we are constantly tensed up during the final encounter meaning it doesn't have the same impact as the earlier scary moments. But I have to emphasise that this is really a very minor point and I really highly recommend The Conjuring to horror fans and more specifically those who like films about ghosts. Great stuff.
Like comedy, the horror genre can be a very subjective beast, finding
or missing its mark as much do to its craft and execution as it does
the particular individual who plops themselves into a theater seat. If
something isn't scary to someone someone who earnestly believes that
of course then a fright flick has failed at its core intent. Then we
have something like James Wan's The Conjuring, an artful, confident
throwback that succeeds in maintaining a high tensile level of pressure
on our senses, crafting vital jump scares, a potent human element and
all encompassing technical prowess. This is the type of brave, but
stripped down horror filmmaking that forces you to analyze other
elements besides just the full effectiveness of its frightening intent.
Plus it's scary as hell.
The Conjuring completes a modern supernatural horror film trifecta started with Wan's own Insidious in 2010 and bridged by last year's unsettling Sinister. With these films the genre has proved that this is far from a dead, now inherently clichéd area of cinema and this effort is perhaps the best of all three. After breaking onto the scene in a big way with the trend setting Saw, the director took a bit of creative detour in the eyes of most with revenge thriller Death Sentence and supernatural doll flick Dead Silence (which is vastly underrated by the way) before rebounding with the aforementioned Insidious. For The Conjuring it seems Wan has taken everything he's learned congealing everything he's found to be effective and assembled them exquisitely and with ample new flare to boot.
The Conjuring pulls its inspiration from a case file of famed demonologists and paranormal investigators the Warrens, the husband and wife team who's other journeys inspired films such as The Amityville Horror. Here they are played respectively by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga who are now both genre regulars with roles in Insidious and the upcoming Chapter 2 due this year for the gentleman and Orphan and television's Psycho prequel Bates Motel for Farmiga. We've all seen the painful trope of priests, exorcists, psychics and every nut-job in between showing up at the eleventh hour to save a haunted family but the way they're approached in The Conjuring stands as one of the film's greatest strengths.
Though it's something that should be completely obvious out of the gate (but still something those inspired by the Warren's stories forget) this is just as much their story as those experiencing the phenomena. In giving nearly as much screen time to this duo as it does the Perron's (a seven family troop lead by actors Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor and their five daughters) we grow and involve with these nine individuals so when things get terrifying we not only feel just as much for everyone on screen but everyone gets a satisfying arc. It's something so rare in most horror films. Though this dynamic is certainly not presented through these two separate camps the fearful and the experts but the men bond over their love of cars and their wives and the women over the unfathomable: harm befalling their children. It's a satisfying an utterly untapped approach for the genre.
But "wait, wait" you proclaim "this is a horror movie after all, stop talking about the little girls and get to the scares!" Graciously, somewhat rude reader. The Conjuring is creepy, intermittently nightmarish, tense, gross, unsettling, and in its purest form, scary. This is the type of film that dares you not to hug yourself or laugh nervously in the hopes you deflect some iota of the sensation of primal fear. But these emotions are never extracted in a manipulative fashion and the jump scares are orchestrated effectively through physical objects falling, bumping, banging and generally causing off-putting noises, not blaring, out of context musical chords.
The camera work is also fantastic employing every angle imaginable and even some very impressive point of view and upside-down-spin shots. It's easily Wan's best directed effort to date but never one that lets its style eclipse the mood. Similarly his use of sound both in the score (which utilizes your average brooding options as well as sharp, grating notes that call back to horror of days gone by) and practical noises such as a strained rope swinging or a door slamming shut. Again, it all adds to the experience and in eventually pulling of the major frights.
Like most fare of this nature, the restrained tension does take a bit of a hit heading into the finale, as subtlety is sacrificed for more overt horror to resolve the story. Thankfully this change in approach is handled with just as much aplomb and also manages to deliver one of the most effective exorcism sequences in recent memory a victory made all the more notable thanks to the generally overexposed and silly nature of that staple. It's not the perfect ending that the previous acts demanded but one that by no means insults the audience and still remains scary (if in a more upfront manner).
Perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay The Conjuring is that it actually deserves a sequel. There are tales of the Warrens left to tell and the acting is uniformly strong enough that revisiting these characters would be more a treat then a chore. It takes a skillful filmmaker to take well worn themes and approaches (while avoiding gore and a high body count to boot) and make them seem as original as ever. Coming from a huge horror buff and one that experiences more disappointments then the average soul can handle, I can earnestly say The Conjuring is one of the best ever and what can serve as a fantastic induction into the genre for the uninitiated.
The Conjuring claims to be based on a true story about one of the
Warrens' paranormal investigations. At this point, that fact doesn't
quite matter, especially when this is mostly designed as a horror
movie. And as a horror movie, its job is to offer real terror and take
any ghostly elements seriously. The film isn't actually trying to give
newer scares. This is old school stuff, but good old school horror
movie stuff. This is the kind that gets to do more than pull off
another jump scare trick. Another benefit the movie got is its
director, James Wan, who delivers a crafty storytelling. The Conjuring
is not terribly innovative, but I don't think it needed to. It's the
execution that keeps everything so gripping, and I think we needed that
in this suffering era of the genre.
The story is actually more than the haunting of the Perrons. The first act juxtaposed between their situation and the life of the Warrens. The Warrens side is a fascinating little exposition of their daily life and job, while the Perrons are introduced like any typical horror film that has a haunted house and family in it, the danger is slow burn until they get to realize they needed help. What makes this somewhat different from those clichés is we are also supposed to root and care for the investigators, like we do not want them to be harm by the spirits as well. For that, the tension becomes much effective.
Even at the less scary scenes, the film is also interesting. And yes, all the characters are worth rooting for. The major ones get their own stories told at the beginning and some flashbacks in the middle of the mystery. The performances are pretty enjoyable as they take the viewers into the characters' mind. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are excellent at exploring their roles and whatever they do are totally intriguing. Lili Taylor is engaging enough for shifting her character's innocence to something terrifying.
Most of the credit goes to director James Wan who makes it all compelling. We already accepted that jump scares are inevitable to our modern horror movies, but the better scares go when it shows its campiness, like the creepy update of the Annabelle doll, and some demonic masks and makeup. They are unlike to today's tricks that depend on gore and repetitive noise. There is also genuine terror can be felt in the quiet scenes. The finale is kind of ridiculous, but it's filled with energetic action which makes the ride even much fun. Apart from the scary stuff, the film continues to employ its style that serves a lot of magnificent shots. This could be one of the best looking movies I've seen this year. The music score brings sorts of good chills.
The Conjuring is no groundbreaker, but the film is best at recapturing the classic horror. Extra merit is fleshing out and adding depth to the story which made the ghost hunting investigation more thrilling. The craft is amazing and the performances are terrific. I think it has most of the things that lack in our horror films today; curiously setting the pieces together, relateable characters, good creeps, and full insanity. The Conjuring isn't meant to change the game, but because of the filmmakers' ambition and love for the genre, it is a marvelous experience.
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