The Conjuring Review
by Delon Villanueva
Modern horror movies are infamously known for their cheap scares. Studios know that there is a huge market for horror movies nowadays; mainstream moviegoers fill the seats every opening weekend, no matter what the critics say. This has led to a movement of lazy horror filmmaking, with only a couple worth seeing here and there. Though there are some filmmakers who still have passion for horror. One of those filmmakers is James Wan, director of the original Saw and Insidious. Of course, Saw has led to a yearly franchise of torture porn, while Insidious has gained a huge following.
Wan’s latest film is The Conjuring, which has not only created immense buzz with audiences, but also with the film community. The movie has been hyped up to be a return-to-form for – get this – the horror genre. With the many lame horror movies that Hollywood has been turning out the past decade or so, Wan’s main goal is to return to the basics, depending on old-school scares. Although I don’t think the movie is as scary as its reputation makes it out to be, The Conjuring is undeniably well made, with much credit going to Wan’s direction.
The Conjuring is “based on the true story” of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), a husband-and-wife team of paranormal investigators who land their biggest case yet. Yup, you guessed it – it’s another haunted house (by the presence of demons, to be specific). The house belongs to a family with five girls who are haunted by these demons everywhere they go. It doesn’t help that the parents of these young girls, Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) are struggling to keep a roof above their heads. The Warrens at first believe this is just another typical case of paranormal activity, but when things start to get really creepy, they quickly realize their underestimation.
I’m sure you have seen plenty of horror movies with this usual formula, but Wan has a great vision and timing. First off, the film looks absolutely lovely, reeking of creepiness in every corner. Wan applies the cinematography by John R. Leonetti very well to The Conjuring. He loves trapping the audience with long shots; you know something’s bound to come out, yet there’s no cutting away. Wan also does a great job replicating a very eerie 1970s look, from its consistently bleak tone to the vintage dramatic music by Joseph Bishara. Wan surely has a love for classic horror filmmaking.
For a horror movie, the acting is quite good, too. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens are very likable leads, as are Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor as the Perrons. The child actors are also pretty convincing, thankfully. Most child characters in modern horror movies are usually way too campy and ridiculous for their own good, but Wan keeps them very grounded. I really enjoyed how all these characters felt real, instead of just typical horror archetypes.
Now with all this being said, you might think I would have a hard time finding important flaws in the movie. Though I did have one huge issue, which I wish I didn’t have to say, but it’s very subjective anyways: simply put, I didn’t think it was that scary, or as much as the movie promises itself to be. Now, this is coming from someone who doesn’t watch a lot of horror movies, mainly because I used to be very scared of them when I was younger. As much as I wanted to review this, I don’t think I have the best eye for analyzing horror films. Maybe my expectations were way too high. Don’t get me wrong; there are some great horror sequences in this film, but I saw myself applauding them more than being terrified by them.
I still appreciate the movie a lot for having a real filmmaker behind the camera, but the fact that it’s not as scary as I thought it should have been brings down my overall opinion on it. You have to remember that I must critique it for whether or not it does the genre justice. It’s not like I can give a comedy a high score for being well crafted, yet not being very funny. Again, I still really like this movie, but like comedy, horror is extremely subjective. I do recommend this film on a filmmaking level, but on a scare level, you might be left wanting more. I could be totally wrong on this, though.
RATING: 7/10. Hey, that’s still pretty positive.