The Conjuring made a big impact on the US box office grossing over $100,000,000 making The Conjuring’s as successful as James Wan’s previous project Insidious (whose sequel comes out later this year). James Wan has made his name in the horror genre directing the first Saw movie and producing the rest of the franchise as well as directing films such as Dead Silence and the already mentioned Insidious.
Apparently based on a true story The Conjuring tells the story of the paranormal investigation which was believed to be too terrifying to release, however eventually Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) feel the time is right to release the story. The story in question surrounds the events that took place at Roger and Carolyn Perron’s (Ron Livingston and Lilli Taylor) isolated farmhouse in 1971. The incident in question is of a demonic element as the inhuman entity terrorises the family of seven. The Perron family request the help of the Warren’s when the paranormal activity becomes too powerful to cope with on their own.
The Conjuring has been released to rave reviews from critics and audience alike making it one of the must see horror movies this year with many proclaiming that the film is one of the scariest films over the past few years, however, The Conjuring doesn’t tread over any new ground as many of the genre’s tropes, conventions and trademarks are evident in The Conjuring. Yet despite these genre conventions and tropes being regularly used in the horror genre since the genre existed they still work effectively if done correctly, and on the whole they work effectively enough in The Conjuring. The Conjuring is best described as a popcorn spiller, more hardened horror film fans will see many of the predictable jump scares coming from mile away, yet will be impressed by the tension sustained in the parts of the film. The film will work on more levels with the casual horror film fans that may not recognise the many aspects of the film which are taken from other horror movies.
The Conjuring has been described as The Exorcist meets The Amityville Horror meets Poltergeist, and of course many elements and ideas of these films are used to influence the ideas in The Conjuring. For example the location, and even the look of the house, is vastly similar to the one in The Amityville Horror (the thing I loved about the house in The Amityville Horror is that the two uppermost windows give the impression that the house has eyes). Aspects of The Exorcist in The Conjuring are seen in the exorcism sequences in which the possessed victim levitates in the air similarly to way Regan levitated in the air in the 1973 classic. The film is set in the early the 70s and thus it isn’t a great surprise that many of the film’s influences stem from that era, the film’s mood and setting are similar to the 70s ghost stories.
Handsomely made, well shot and efficiently acted The Conjuring takes time to actually kick into the gear following the film’s creepy introduction. With exception of one or two creepy events James Wan fails to maintain a level of tension in the earlier stages of the haunting. This is because the more routine paranormal activities followed a set out guide of starting a story in which a house is infested by a ghost or demon. Wan does not achieve a strong enough chill factor to make the film’s opening act a creepy one as the demon’s more mundane activities feel mundane and tired. Though, however, things explode into life in the film’s second and final acts as it becomes a highly entertaining, yet never frightening, special effects extravaganza. The performances across the board are effective enough as both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga bring an element of believability to proceedings as they play the roles with a straight face.
The Conjuring is regarded as the horror movie event of the year as it has freaked out audiences across the US, but whilst the film has its effective moments of dread and decent jump scares, it is hardly the terrifying horror movie it is made out to be, too much of genre’s conventions are used for many of the film’s jump scares to be truly surprising for any hardened horror fan, but yet The Conjuring is entertaining and well acted making it a decent horror movie. As much as fun The Conjuring is it tends to startle rather than unsettle but it is not without its moments.