UK Release Date: 2nd August 2013
Runtime: 112 minutes
Director: James Wan
Writer: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Mackenzie Foy
Synopsis: When a family find their new home plagued by a demonic presence, they call in a couple of famous paranormal investigators to help.
The Conjuring is a film that I have been waiting to see for a very long time now. Last week, I was forced to walk out of a screening due to an awful audience, but this time I managed to get through to the end. And, to be honest, the haunted house horror movie has probably had its day because, with The Conjuring, James Wan has won.
Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) and her husband Roger (Ron Livingston) begin to experience supernatural events when they move their family of five kids (including Twilight’s Mackenzie Foy) to a new house in the country. As the occurrences become more violent, they call in the Warrens (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson), paranormal experts who discover that a hateful spirit has latched itself to the family.
It’s very easy to become tired with horror cinema at the moment. Most films in the genre seem to be based on the same template of a suburban family moving into a house, which turns out to be haunted in some way. The Conjuring is no different in terms of premise, but modern maestro James Wan has executed each and every trope so perfectly that it’s difficult not to marvel… after you’ve finished shivering with fear.
Wan is, quite simply, an expert at directing horror films. He knows exactly where to put his camera to get the most fear from his audience and he’s no stranger to a manipulative Dutch angle either. This, coupled with plodding pace and one of the best horror scores in years, means that The Conjuring is unbearably tense before a demon even comes close to appearing.
The Conjuring also benefits from the master stroke of eschewing excessive CGI effects in favour of more traditional prosthetics and make-up. This means that the demon looks genuinely terrifying when it appears and a later sequence of possession is beautifully realised. It is partly due to this that The Conjuring has managed to earn a 15 certificate without any real gore, nudity or strong language.
Learning from what The Exorcist did so well, The Conjuring ensures that its investigators are also fully-fledged characters. The Warrens (another of their cases inspired The Amityville Horror) prove an intriguing couple, and their inner turmoil makes them the most interesting experts since Father Karras.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson own their roles and bring an emotional depth to the Warren family that is absent from most cheap horror flicks. These figures of authority are not invulnerable and, in many cases, they are just as troubled by the events as the people they are helping.
Following the box office success of The Conjuring, especially in America, there will certainly be sequels covering the further adventures of the Warrens. If there’s one horror franchise that deserves to go far, it’s one with as much potential as this.
With the crazy Insidious getting a sequel later this year and The Conjuring ruling the box office roost, what is James Wan doing next? Well, obviously the next Fast & Furious film. That makes sense, right?
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.