There seems to be a general consensus amongst critics and moviegoers about the horror genre: it just isn’t what it used to be. With maybe the exceptions of Sinister (2012) and Insidious (2010), nothing has really left a huge impression on audiences since the 1970s with genre classics such as The Exorcist (1973). Saying that, for as good as Sinister and Insidious were, there was still something lacking in their formula that left me feeling dissatisfied with the end of both films. So when I went to see The Conjuring (2013) the Friday that it came out, my expectations weren’t that high.
The Conjuring follows story of the Perron’s, your typical working class family, who move into a new home in Rhode Island in 1971 and are terrorized by an evil entity. In desperate need of help, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are contacted and uncover the houses dark history and agenda.
It’s your typical haunted house movie where the family moves in, the pet starts acting weird, the pet dies, things start to gradually escalate, someone might get possessed, throw an exorcism in there and BAM, you’ve got The Conjuring. I’ve seen it a million times, it’s predictable, I know what’s probably going to happen! But hey, I’m a sucker for a good ghost story and The Conjuring, even though I knew what was going to be thrown at me at every turn, still caught me off guard and definitely left it’s impression on me (I slept with both legs underneath my blankets that night).
From acting to wardrobe, everything was ace in The Conjuring. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga were excellent in their roles as investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, and Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston and the girls who played their daughters were believable in their role of the terrified family.
Since the film was set in the 1970s, there was a great authentic feel to it. From wardrobe, props, even camera zooms, you can tell that The Conjuring definitely paid homage to the classic horrors from the 1970s.
And I have to say; the atmosphere in this movie was great! It had some of the best buildups in a horror movie that I have ever experienced. I felt very tense during the scenes that were called for, and even though in my head, I knew what was going to happen, I still jumped in my seat quite a few times (damn that ghost maid!).
There were few things that I didn’t like about the movie that are very miniscule. I wasn’t a fan of the sappy romantic moments that Ed and Lorraine had, or the very brief flashback sequence of the family portrait at the beach that ultimately helps Carolyn Perron fight the demon inside of her. But none of these things were overwhelming enough to sway my overall opinion of the film and probably just draw from my cynical attitude towards romance.
And even though a lot of people weren’t happy with the ending, I didn’t mind it! We’ve become so accustomed to horror having endings in which the movie isn’t fully resolved like the characters thought it was that we expect all horror movies to now end with basically someone dying. But I was glad that everything worked out for the Perron’s in the end. I suppose that the exorcism at the end was rushed and not that climactic but I can live with that! As for the very very end of the film, I enjoyed the nod that was given when Lorraine mentions “a house on Long Island” that they’ve been asked to look at. If you haven’t been clued in, that house on Long Island was the infamous Amityville horror house.
And the closing scene with the music box toyed with the audiences’ feelings. It left me feeling tense and on edge… for what? I’ll never know…
A breath of fresh air, The Conjuring proves to us that sometimes the most effective way to scare an audience is to keep the formula simple.