James Wan brings back 70s Horror.
The Perron family moves into a house in the early 1970s. Once they move in strange things begin to happen during the night. First, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) get these weird bruises all over her body and next the kids start seeing, hearing, and feeling things throughout the night. After a few nights of feeling that there is something going on in the house, Carolyn and Roger (Ron Livingston) attend a seminar about paranormal activity hosted by Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). After the seminar, Carolyn and Roger are convinced that there is something going on and hire Ed and Lorraine to investigate.
After reading my plot synopsis above you probably would ask what’s so different about The Conjuring compared to every other haunted house film that has been made over the past several years? Well, there are a few things that The Conjuring does much better than your typical horror film. Despite the generic sounding plot, The Conjuring is actually a scary film and I think the reason why is because the film relies heavily on the atmosphere within the scenes themselves rather than just jump scares. Everything about this film just gives off a creepy vibe from the introduction of this creepy doll named Annabelle to the youngest child, who is constantly playing with this old-fashioned jack in the box with a mirror attached to it. James Wan really knows how to create a creepy vibe in his films, which is something that I appreciate from a horror film. I think too many horror films nowadays rely too much on jump scares, blood, and gore to win over the audience. With Wan, we get very little blood and gore and only a few jump scares. The film is purely about the build up rather then the actually scare and I love when horror films do that.
Another thing that was different about The Conjuring was that it took multiple horror story-lines and combined them. We have elements of The Exorcist, Paranormal Activity, Child’s Play, The Others, and several others within this film. Its not just a haunted house film but rather in a weird way a homage to many of the classic horror films that really shaped this genre. It was nice to see a film that on the surface seemed like it would be just like we see every other month but luckily this one is different than the other generic horror films released lately.
Lastly, I have to say that the character development for a horror film was pretty great. Now, remember I am not comparing this to an Oscar contender but for a horror film there is plenty of background information on the characters especially Ed and Lorraine. In fact, out of the entire cast, I would say Farmiga gives by far the best and strongest performance. Not only does the film give her a strong background story, but Famiga is just awesome as a Paranormal Investigator. Wilson is also good as Farmiga’s husband and Lili and Ron make believable parents. As for the kids, I found them to all be creepy as hell especially the little one and Joey King’s character Christine. I swear horror movies that feature creepy kids automatically creep me out.
Because The Conjuring is more like a 70s horror film than one that is typically made today, I think the modern day horror audience might have a problem handling this film. When I saw this film with a pretty packed crowd, a lot of the audience seemed to laugh at a lot of this film. I swear people laugh because they are uncomfortable watching films that don’t constantly showcase blood and gore as non-stop action. People nowadays can’t handle watching a film that is atmospheric because they have become so accustomed to things always popping out or loud noises/sound effects. Its very upsetting because I personally found the film incredibly creepy but because of the audience’s laughter, I was constantly being distracted and taken out of the film. Its a shame that so many moviegoers can’t just focus and stay silent instead of laughing uncontrollably when they are uncomfortable.
But outside all the good, I do have to say that there are some things that I did not like about The Conjuring. First and foremost, I hate the whole “inspired by a true story” that almost every horror film today advertises. It really does take you out of the film and makes you wonder how much of this is really true and how much is made up for entertainment. It really is a cheap gimmick and I am not sure if it has ever really worked in terms of marketing outside of The Blair Witch Project and the first Paranormal Activity film.
The other thing that really bugged me was how perfect the film came to a close and how quickly everything wrapped up. I felt that the overall conclusion was very anti-climatic and wasn’t nearly as scary as the first 3/4ths of the film. I also have a huge issue with horror films that take you on a journey but they never show what happens after these events. I don’t know about others but I would really appreciate some closure at the end of these types of films but sadly I guess the majority of people just say “Oh well, they beat the spirit. Let’s go home now.”
All in all, James Wan has once again impressed me with The Conjuring. I really felt that Wan knows how to make a solid horror film that brings back the tone that the early days of horror presented to its’ audiences. The Conjuring is more about the suspense, rather than the actual scare, and I really loved that about this film. I only wish that someone could make a scary movie that didn’t need stupid characters. One thing that Wan is notorious for is always bringing in plucky comedic characters during points where the suspense is building, but only ruin the scene. If you are a fan of classic horror, I highly suggest you check out The Conjuring. It is definitely one of the better horror films that have been released over the past few years.
MovieManMenzel’s Final Rating for The Conjuring: 7.5 out of 10.