The Conjuring is a 2013 horror film starring Patrick Wilson and Vara Farmiga as the famous paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. Based on a true story, the film revolves around events involving the family of Roger and Carolyn Perron. Strange things begin to happen when they move into an old farmhouse in Rhode Island. When things get out of hand and the family is afraid for their well-being, they turn to the Warrens for help. Sounds cliche huh? Don’t let that fool you, because The Conjuring is a spine-tingling affair.
The Conjuring offers a great, well-paced and engaging story, one that will have your eyes glued to the screen and your brain’s cogs constantly turning. Going in, you expect another cliche, run-of-the-mill horror flick. This is not the case here. Sure, there are many general elements in The Conjuring that resemble those ofpast horror films, but it’s executed better here and it offers much more than you have come to expect. As soon as the Perron family moves into the new house, you just have a feeling of dread come over you and boy is it satisfying. It’s just fun to be scared sometimes, wouldn’t you agree? Chad and Carey Hayes did a wonderful job with the script. It boasts some quality dialogue and really envelops you in the story. Rarely as an audience member do you feel as if this family is safe. There’s a solid foundation in the writing that allows the actors to take things to another level. The film is based on a true story, but having never researched the case or story itself, I cannot accurately compare or contrast in that respect. However, being based on a true story makes the movie even more reputable and desirable to watch. Given the fact that it’s a high quality and good horror movie AND it’s a true story help it score some major points.
Patrick Wilson, as we all know, played the lead role in Insidious, a downright terrifying movie released a couple years back. In The Conjuring, he continues to fine-tune his skills as a horror movie poster boy. Playing as Ed Warren, he often seems like the only hope when things begin to look bleak. He characterizes the leader role so well and just owns it. He really has this horror movie acting thing down. His faith never seems to waiver, even in the darkest of moments. Whether someone is getting dragged across a room or performing an exorcism, this guy stands firm and it’s a cool thing to watch. His wife, Lorraine, played by Vera Farmiga also does a heck of a job. Similarly, she has faith the size of Mount Fuji. However, each case she works on wears her down and with this particular case, Ed becomes afraid for her well-being, which adds an interesting dynamic later in the film. Both Wilson and Farmiga offer some hope in a situation that seems utterly hopeless. They use their faith and religion to fight whatever it is that is haunting this family and it’s satisfying to see the sometimes unspoken war between good and evil. Wilson’s Warren utters words such as “It pisses them off” (Referring to demonic beings’ feelings towards his religion). He has a gut-wrenchingly powerful line in the latter part of the film demanding that (SPOILER ALERT) “By the power of God I damn you back to Hell!”. If that doesn’t get your blood flowing I don’t know what will. There is also one last thought-provoking quote at the end of the movie that says something along the lines of “The devil is real. God is real. Your destiny hinges upon whichever one you choose to follow.” Talk about a doozy of a quote. You’ll definitely stay up late thinking about that more intently and even examining your own life. The supporting cast is full of likable characters (Some more than others). There’s a policeman, a film crew and the children in the family, of course. Everyone holds their own and offers complexity in a cliche horror movie atmosphere.
It’s the question everyone has asked: “Just how scary is The Conjuring?” Before answering the question, let me say a couple of things. I went to see the film with a group of friends, including a couple of girls, who were extremely reluctant (as expected). One girl was afraid to even go, not to mention another guy. You could tell, as the theater darkened, folks were getting prepared, some were even pale-faced. I’ll go ahead and answer the question indirectly now. Throughout the movie, the majority of people jumped and screamed at certain moments, so they were genuinely frightened. Of course, you have the few that chuckle and laugh most of the time (That was me in this case). Personally, I thought it was scary, just not the scariest I’ve ever seen. If I were to ask most of the people afterwards if it was scary, I can assure you the majority would have said “Yes”. So, there you have it, The Conjuring IS SCARY!”. If you want the ultimate terrorizing experience, wait for the Blu-Ray release and watch it alone in the dark. Talk about a lack of sleep. The film offers up a variation of scares. You have the typical “BOO” scares, the “Lock the door!” scares and arguably the most frightening, “There’s a freakin’ demon in my house and it may kill me and the entire family!”. Yeah, it’s all here, so be prepared. But, to a degree, you are in control of how scared you get. You can resist psychologically, or give in psychologically. Depending on what type of person you are, it can go either way. Resisting will obviously tone down the scare factor, but many will feel it’s necessary because of their own faith or beliefs. In the horror movie genre, I don’t think there is one movie that will scare everyone. We all have our own fears and personalities, but on a general level, we can still predict and assume what will be scary to us and what will not. Some moments are more horrifying than others, but for the most part, they will all haunt you. What is refreshing about The Conjuring is that every scary part is different. There is one where one of the daughters is sitting up in the bed saying to her sister, “There’s someone behind the door…” and in another scene, her feet are being pulled as she is sleeping. There’s a scene when “something” jumps off the top of a dresser onto someone. In one section, the police officer literally sees an entity and for some reason, decides to follow it then BAM, out of nowhere, it appears and attempts to harm him. What is most terrifying is when you see certain things Lorraine sees that no one else can. It’s pretty dreadful. With all of this being said, bottom line, yes, The Conjuring IS scary. However, like I said before, personally, I wasn’t particularly frightened and without a doubt have seen scarier (Ex: The Last Exorcism), but it’s still pretty scary.
The Conjuring offers insight on a variety of topics and dynamics such as religion, faith, fear, hope, family, belief, love and trust. This is what makes it a good movie, not just a scary one. Surprisingly, the movie leaves you with the notion that evil did not prevail and that hope is achievable with the right weapons (No, not guns) and and skill set. The very thought of a “good ending” in a horror film seems out of place in the genre, but it’s refreshing and shows that ultimately, “good” can indeed be victorious. I love the fact that a big emphasis is put on God, especially in the final scenes. My fellow Christians, don’t be afraid to watch this movie, as I believe it will make you appreciate your faith even more. To those who are not religious, I think it’s a great chance to see how evil can realistically manifest itself and harm people, arguably eternally and that with God, faith, and trust, there is another side to consider (See the final quote before the credits). When all is said and done, there are a few flaws, but most are cosmetic. The Conjuring offers an engaging story, likable characters, a complex religious theme, and legitimate scares. It’s a rare horror flick that does almost everything right, which is why I highly recommend it.
(4.5 out of 5)
Second Opinion by Austin Winkler
The Conjuring is a horror/thriller film directed by James Wann. Based on a true story, the film revolves around a couple of paranormal investigators named Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). They’re experts in their field of study and have handled hundreds of possession related cases, but they’re faced with their biggest and most disturbing case to date as they investigate the demon terrorizing the Perron family.
I won’t say I wasn’t excited for this movie. I saw numerous positive reviews for this film, and I must say I had an urge to see it. But The Conjuring really snuck up on me. I didn’t see any commercials for it until about a week before it was released, and I had no clue what the story was about until I watched it myself. Now that I’ve seen the film, I can safely say I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.
I’m not the biggest horror fanatic, but I do enjoy genuinely scary movies. Let me explain something to whoever’s reading this…this movie is scary! It’s all thanks to James Wann’s powerful direction to the horror genre. He earns every one of his scares. He doesn’t use that much suspenseful music, but he makes the scene ominous and very unsettling to the viewer. What sound effects he does use tend to be subtle, but just enough to grab your attention. As the scene progresses, these sounds increase in volume and become more disturbing until it finally reaches “the big scare.” While this isn’t the scariest movie I’ve seen, quite a few scenes greatly disturbed me since the entire movie bases itself on demon possession. As a follower of the Christian faith, I believe possession is real, and it’s movies like The Conjuring that scare me the most.
As far as fundamentals go, everything is in good shape. The possessed actors have the audience convinced there’s a demon dwelling within their bodies, and every actor seems genuinely afraid. To me, displaying fear in cinema is incredibly hard to capture on camera, especially since the actors already know the scare is coming. But with the incredible direction from James Wann and the talented performances by the entire cast, every scene will have you disturbed from beginning to end.
Bottom line, The Conjuring doesn’t get much wrong. James Wann has met up with my expectations for this film. The last time I was this scared in a movie was the time I saw Insidious (which also happens to be a James Wann film). If you’re looking for a good scare, look no further than The Conjuring.
4.5 out of 5