Director: James Wan
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell
Based on the true case files of the Warrens
It’s 1971 and the Perron family is starting a new life out on Harrisville, Rhode Island. They have gotten a great deal on a big house and their family of seven can’t wait to move in and make the place into their new family home.
It doesn’t take long before they find out that something is very wrong with this house. There is an evil entity within it and it is set on terrorizing the family, even wanting to hurt them badly. The only hope the family has is to get help from the well-known paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
I will be honest, even if I consider myself to be a lover of cinema, I rarely go to the local cinema. The reason is split in that it is first of all expensive to go to the cinema in Norway. 20 US dollars to see a film is a bit too steep for me considering I can buy the film on DVD for the same amount a few months later and also the fact that our local cinema usually only show the biggest Hollywood movies, which I have little interest in, especially at that price.
However, I did decide to go and see The Conjuring this weekend since I have become a fan of James Wan and it the film has been on top of my most anticipated list for a year now. The film starts out like a modern version of The Amityville Horror, which is not surprising considering the year the story is set in and with the fact that it starts out like a regular haunted house film. It plays the straight haunted house story for most of the running time before taking a bit of a different turn during the final act. An additional creepiness is added by the fact that this is based upon a real life case file that Ed and Lorraine Warren (yes, they are real people) worked on.
Even if the story might be all to familiar for the average horror fan, the talents involved makes this film stand out from the haunted house crowd. The cinematography is excellent, the camera moves around a lot in long takes, almost like we are seeing through the eyes of a soul who is watching this family take over his home. They nailed the 70’s atmosphere and it does feel like a movie that was filmed in that era, both in the way it is shot and with the way the characters act. And the music is also excellent, there is some very scary sounds used in this film and it was funny to see the audience get creeped out even at the sounds during the end credits.
James Wan does show why he is one of the most promising young directors working within the horror genre these days, but I do wish that he would have went a different way with some of his choices, since some of them did make this feel like it followed the same sort of route that Insidious took. There is also some unnecessary comedy relief in this one, just like in Insidious, that should have been kept away. But on the positive side, Wan sure knows how to set up a great scare and I hope he doesn’t abandon the genre completely now that he is signed to do a more mainstream film with Fast and Furious 7.
He also got some good performances out of his cast in this. For me, Vera Farmiga stole the show as Lorraine Warren. Lorraine is portrayed as a strong, but fragile woman who has dedicated her life to help those who have no one else to turn to. Each case she works on takes something from her, but there is still some deep and genuine warmth left in her and Farmiga brings it out subtly and makes it easy to care for her character. It is a very strong performance and she impressed me to no end. I would also like to add that I was much more impressed with the work of Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren here than what I was of his leading character in Insidious.
The Conjuring will easily be remembered as one of the best horror films of 2013, perhaps even the best. It might play with a story that horror fans have seen plenty of times before, but it is still able to do it in a fresh way and with so much talent involved it is hard not to be impressed and have fun with the film. Even though Insidious 2 is coming out in a month or so, I feel like The Conjuring is an excellent way to close the chapter on the haunted house craze that has been going on for the last ten years in horror. Recommended.