The Conjuring (2013)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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Overall Rating 75%
Overall Rating
Ranked #273
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Connections: The Conjuring

Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives. --TMDb
Review by Crispy
Added: October 21, 2016
After coming onto the horror scene by kicking off the uber-violent Saw franchise, James Wan must have been on a mission to prove that he wasn't totally reliant on visceral gore to make a movie. Since then, he's been on a run of PG-13 horror movies. While the teeny-friendly rating is usually the kiss of death for the genre, he's indeed shown that it can be done right.

It's troubled times for the Perron family. Money's tight and Roger has just moved his wife, Carolyn, and five daughters into a rundown farmhouse in rural Rhode Island. Even though they're not in a great financial position, they're a tight-knit, loving family and are determined to make this a new beginning. However, it doesn't take long before they realize there is something horribly wrong with this house. The clock stops every night at 3:07. The youngest girl "meets" a new imaginary friend. Their dog mysteriously dies overnight. A few nights later, things have completely escalated; Carolyn is covered in unexplained bruises and the girls have repeatedly been attacked by a particularly nasty apparition. Enter Ed and Lorraine Warren, a married couple that has made a career of paranormal investigation. While most of their cases end up having sound explanations, they quickly deduce that the Perron house is not only quite haunted, but might be the most dangerous assignment in their long careers.

I've said it more than once, but I absolutely love James Wan's approach to horror movies. One major trait he utilizes ia a mid-tempo pace. These ghost movies almost always start off at a crawl, and it's well into the movie when things really take off. The Conjuring has strange occurrences a mere fifteen minutes in, and the family is in a full panic less than fifteen minutes after that. Sure, I like a good slowburn as much as the next guy, but it is nice to see some faster films in the genre. Don't get it twisted though, the effectiveness of the scares didn't suffer at all. The movie's antagonist is a fan of misdirection and ambush attacks, and Wan is able to pull the M.O. off without resorting to cheap jump scares, continually mounting the tension higher and higher throughout the run time. Also, the movie's claim of "based on a true story" is closer than it usually is, which adds to the uneasiness. You see, the Warrens are an actual couple and had quite an extensive resume. In fact, you might have heard of a case on Long Island that they handled. Sure, a few details have been changed to make the story flow better, but by and large, the actual Perron family has lauded how well Wan was able to adapt their story.

It certainly doesn't hurt that we had a very nice collection of actors in front of the camera. The entire Perron family had a very nice chemistry with each other. Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor seamlessly made the transition from excited about a new beginning to nervous that something isn't quite right to full blown terror. Even the girls handled themselves incredibly well. While I had no complaint with any of them, fourteen-year-old Joey King showed that she's exceptionally talented; I'm thinking she'll have quite a career ahead of her. Then there's Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as the Warrens. What I loved so much about their performance was how well they were both able to convey both complete competence and terror. They know full well what they're up against and it scares the shit out of them. The combination is an amazing way to portray just how dangerous of a situation the Perron family is in.

The Conjuring franchise just released it's first sequel and is shaping up to be centered around the Warrens' various cases. They've had some doozies, and I'm really looking forward to seeing future cases hit the big screen. They certainly got a strong start. 8/10.
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