The Conjuring delivers both a terrifying and moving experience.
The Conjuring is a supernatural occult horror film about a troubled family and their two saviors. While the film has multiple scares, frightful ghosts and a creepy demonic ghost witch, which are filmed and shot in a creative terrifying way, the scariest part might be that this film is based on true events.
Demonologist Ed Warren and medium Lorraine Warren were actual people who helped many families and researched many cases of hauntings and the supernatural. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, the fact that this family went to horrifying events certainly makes your skin crawl. Instead of exploiting these real events, turning it only into a gruesome fearful film, the emphasis on two loving families makes it a surprisingly very heartwarming and sincere watch.
It’s 1968. Ed and Lorraine Warren are paranormal investigators. He’s an official demonologist and she’s a medium. When their help is called in by Carolyn Perron whose family is experiencing some terrifying hauntings, they soon discover that there is indeed a dangerous malicious presence in the house. The ghost of Bathsheba Sherman. Ed and Lorraine do everything they can to help the family, while the possession progresses to an almost deadly extent.
Why you should watch it
It has a very startling beginning. It does not start with the Perron family but with Ed and Lorraine investigating a supposedly possessed doll called Annabelle. It’s a great start and sets the tone for more hauntings and spooky eerie happenings to come. Not only is this particular film, but also as a start for a new hauntingly horrifying franchise about demons, possessions, hauntings, a creepy doll and a creepy nun.
The film focuses on both families. The Warrens have one daughter Judy, while Carolyn and Roger have five daughters Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy and April. It begins with their story. After moving into an old house, they soon start to notice strange things. Dog Sadie dies, the clocks stop at 3:07, they hear strange knocking, paintings hang askew, or are torn from the walls, doors are being slammed shut and Carolyn has some strange bruises on her skin.
It looks like a standard haunted house film, but then some original real terrifying scares are thrown in. The little fun hide-and-clap game they play turns an innocent fun game into a terrifying experience. But it gets worse soon, at night and in broad daylight. While April has an invisible friend called Rory.
These scares are building up to frightful extent, done in an excellent way, getting scarier and creepier by the minute and Carolyn’s plea for help is very understandable. As is the first refusal by the Warrens having experienced more hoaxes than the real thing. But something about Carolyn seems urgent enough.
Then the real story begins. The search for the infestation, the oppression and the possession, finally resulting in a horrifying and heart-wrenching exorcism. Mostly exorcisms are full with vile and gross things, bodily fluids, curses and all that is blasphemous. Although this is also a part of this possession and exorcism, it’s a small part.
It’s mostly focused on the devastating experience, making it terrifying and terribly moving as well. Although catholicism and god are at the base of an exorcism, love and family and inner strength are at the heart of it. Strangely it is very moving and ends with a very positive vibe, almost turning into a feel-good movie.
The cinematography is original and dynamic, turning normal actions into the most frightful experiences. The shots of the ghosts are frightful and bring in some jump scares in an original and creative way. The shape of the ghosts and the demonic witch are absolutely terrifying, and surely give you a great scare. The creepy dark music adds to the overall spooky vibe.
When cameraman Brad films Ed and Lorraine when investigating the basement, it is shown on old fashioned tape, which really brings a seventies vibe to the film. The EVP setups and the investigation part brings a scientific note, not only relying on Lorraine’s sixth sense. It also adds to the realism and the will to control the hauntings.
But it all comes down to love. The Warrens are a loving family and so are the Perrons. They radiate love and the Warrens give the film a big heart. They really are involved with the Perrons and sympathize with them. It’s a good contrast to all that they have to endure.
There’s also some room for comic relief. Brad the cameraman is a playful character and Drew the police officer who is to assist them and who’s isn’t exactly up for what’s coming brings in a comical note.
The Conjuring is a well-balanced film, that mixes real scares, a horrifying story, creepy hauntings, a well-thought background story of the house, some comic relief, and a big loving heart. The characters all well-crafted and you really get to know them in a short time, due to the excellent structure that reels the viewers in to the lives of both families.
Side note: Dog Sadie dies, but it is not shown and neither is her dead body.
My favorite part
The hide-and-clap game is very original and is cause for a big jump scare that’s anything but a cliche. But the scary tensioned scene in Christine’s and Nancy’s bedroom is absolutely terrifying. When Christine is pulled by her feet is crazy scary, but when she’s looking under the bed reminds us of our own childhood fears, which proved to be imaginary. But now it’s not and someone is standing in the corner. Her fright is catching and while we see nothing, you do believe there’s someone there, just standing in the corner being creepy. It anticipates your own fears and it works.
But the banging sounds on the old closet which hides a dreadful surprise that jumps at us, is very well-done. The film makes excellent use of different kind of scares, throwing them at us while we least suspect it, or expect it but still do cause a big fright.
The little music box also brings some great horror and by looking in the mirror, some ghosts are visible. This music box becomes just like Annabelle a piece of the Warrens museum for haunted objects, that is located in their basement. It’s a creepy place full of creepy things, and is real as well.
But the heart of the film, the endearing couple Ed and Lorraine complete the film by a different tone, making it so much more than just a scary movie. It’s a real story with terrifying hauntings, with real people and that’s what makes it so moving and horrible at the same time.
Scare factor: ★★★★★
Drama factor: ★★★★☆
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Cast and crew
The Conjuring is directed by James Wan and writer by Chad Hayes and Carey H. Hayes. It stars Vera Farmiga (Lorraine), Patrick Wilson (Ed), Lili Taylor (Carolyn), Ron Livingston (Roger), Shanley Caswell (Andrea), Hayley McFarland (Nancy), Joey King (Christine), Mackenzie Foy (Cindy), Kyla Deaver (April), John Brotherton (Brad) and Shannon Kook (Drew).
Duration: 112 minutes. Music: Joseph Bishara. Cinematography: John R. Leonetti. Edited by: Kirk M. Morri. Produced by: Tony DeRosa-Grund, Peter Safran, Rob Cowan. Production companies: New Line Cinema, The Safran Company, Evergreen Media Group. Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures.