Directed by: James Wan
James Wan has an incredible sense of horror. He is able to still scary you while following the typical tropes of a horror movie. With The Conjuring he has crafted a unique but not wholly original horror film. He really wasn’t that well know until Insidious made him a house hold name, he may have directed the first Saw but it never shot him into stardom as Insidious did. Having just seen Deliver Us From Evil I realized that it follows a similar through line as this. I’m always surprised how predictable the genre has become and this is still no exception it was just executed on a higher level.
The movie begins with a scene that doesn’t really do much for the overall film, otherwise to set up the characters of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) a pair of paranormal investigators. The movie begins the haunting of a doll named Annebelle, a vessel for a demon that begins torturing a few college girls. The Warrens quickly step in a take care of the situation. That is really the only time Annebelle is even involved, I think it was only put in so they can eventually have a spin-off, which is happening by the way. It is a scene that I don’t think even needs to be in this film. I thought it was overall creepy but entire unnecessary.
The story truly begins when Carolyn and Roger Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) move their family into their new house in the middle of rural Rhode Island. Not long after they finish unpacking the family begins experiencing strange occurrences throughout their house. At first they aren’t fazed by any of the occurrences but as soon as they start to become more frequent and aggressive they officially seek the help of the Warrens in an effort to rid the house of the evil that it possesses.
The Conjuring is based on a “true” story but I feel that it takes liberties when it comes to the truth. The Warrens want people to believe that what is going on is true but it is really difficult to believe that any of this truly happened. It all relies on clichés that define the genre and that basing it on a “true” story sets it apart from other one by making the audience believe that these things actually happened. I always think that it is funny when people claim that a horror movie is based on something that actually happened. It never feels real and it only works to scary people and nothing else.
The movie is actually a well constructed horror movie that provides decent scares that don’t require jump scares or music cues to scares you. I remember one scene in particular that actually legitimately frightened me to the point of effecting me for a few days. It involves one of the daughters realizing that she was being taunted by a spirit instead of her sisters. It has a scene that pushes the camera into a dark space and her talking in tears as she is staring at something in the dark space behind the door. Not once does it use a jump scare or music to freak out me out just the thought of what was behind that door. It let me think up the scare rather than actually scaring me. I think those kinds of scares are brilliant because it leaves it all up to the views instead of just providing the scare itself, it uses the unseen rather than the seen.
James Wan has a way with creating tension. Every time that something creepy comes into play he is able to create the tension within the situation. Times at night when any character is wandering around you get the sense of dread that accompanies such an instance. The atmosphere is perfect for this type of movie. A lot of scene take place in minimum light and uses the shadows to its advantage making the scene much more tense. Like I stated earlier in my reviews this movie uses the unseen as a way to scare and that’s all in James Wan’s control.
The technical aspects of the movie are sheerly amazing. You can see where the budget went and the cinematography resembles movies of the 70s. It is a movie that embraces that era of filmmaking and you can see the movies that influenced it, mostly The Amityville Horror which is another case investigated by the Warrens. During the exorcism scene I felt a lot of influence from The Exorcist, but what hasn’t been influenced by that film. The performances are incredible for a horror movie and Lili Taylor gets her moment to shine when the exorcism comes around. I don’t think I’ve seen a better performance in recent films in this genre.
If this movie didn’t ride so much on clichés I think this would be one of the best horror movies to come out in a while. Sadly that does effect what is a rather well crafted movie.