Since this is my first horror film review, I’m going to take a minute to vent by saying that I hate a solid 50 to 75 percent of recent horror films out there. Horror has become synonymous with gore, and I absolutely cannot stand an abundance of grossness. Why would I want to pay for a movie that I can’t even watch because it’s so disgusting? If I’m dishing out money for a pricey movie ticket, I expect a good scare and, more importantly, a good movie. None of this poorly-written-script-with-annoying-characters-getting-appendages-mutilated-in-close-up-shots crap. It’s not scary, people. It’s just nasty.
Ok. I’m off the soapbox now. All that stuff said, I can happily confirm that The Conjuring is not one of those pointless gory films I despise so much. The product of director James Wan, known for Insidious and Saw, The Conjuring is a wonderful mix of scary. We’ve got the old, classic scary house with the poor, innocent family. We’ve got ghost hunters. We’ve got a demon, creepy ghouls, eerie toys, and so much more. It may seem like a lot to deal with in one movie, but it all ties together well with scenes that build great suspense and a story that hits the ground running. We’re scared at the start, and it doesn’t let up until the credits roll.
Synopsis: “Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: Like I said, the suspense and the scares just don’t stop. It’s like a tour de force of tension. I was in a pretty crowded theater, and there were moments when it literally seemed like every person in the audience was holding his/her breath. The film begins by introducing us to Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively), but it’s not a drawn-out introduction. The Conjuring rarely gives you time for a false sense of security. When we meet the Warrens, they’re already on a very creepy case involving a very creepy possessed doll. Like, possibly the creepiest doll I’ve ever seen. Not five minutes into the film, we see a series of flashbacks as the victims of aforementioned creepy possessed doll describe what’s been happening at their apartment. Spoiler alert: it’s not good. Not long after that we’re introduced to the Perrons as they’re moving into their huge, terrifying new home. A family of seven, it doesn’t take long before every one of them is terrorized by the resident ghosts/demon, urging them to reach out to the Warrens for help. We get to know both families, and we like them. We’re rooting for them. But the terror doesn’t let up. There are so many back-to-back scares in this film that you might not be able to catch your breath. Favorite scene: There are a ton of fantastic scary moments, but I wanted to point out the last scene. For those of you who have seen Inception, it vaguely reminds me of the end of that. We zoom in on a scary toy from the film. It’s playing a song and we’re waiting for something to happen…I won’t ruin it by telling you if anything does. The tension in the scene is just too good.
The Bad: My only real qualm with this film is that it seems to wrap up too neatly. I don’t want to spoil anything by saying much more, but all of the sudden the crazy is just over. The sun comes up, everybody hugs, and life goes on. The aftermath is barely addressed. Still, it’s a minor thing given all the awesomely scary stuff that happens prior to the ending. Least favorite scene: Though I’m cool with almost every scary moment in the film, there are some moments that are a little over the top. For example: we’re in a creepy basement. Someone is possessed. Stuff’s flying around. Then, a possessed gun shoots at somebody. I just kind of laughed and thought, “Really? Possession and flying furniture aren’t enough? Now they have to worry about gunfire?!”
To Sum It Up: If you enjoy horror films, put this on your list. Especially if you dig the classics. This film is a throwback—and not just because it’s set in the ‘70s. The Conjuring doesn’t use blood and guts and torture devices to give you a cheap, gross-out scare. It’s all bumps and creaks, doors slamming, and ghouls in the corner of your eye. Frankly, I think it’s just what the horror genre needed.
My Grade: A-