Sunday, October 27, 2013

#1,168. The Conjuring (2013)

Directed By: James Wan

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston

Tag line: "Based on the true case files of the Warrens"

Trivia: A movie based on the Perron family house has been in the works for over 20 years

James Wan’s 2013 horror film The Conjuring doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but even with all the time-honored clichés it's still one hell of a frightening movie.

The year is 1971. Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) have dedicated their lives to investigating reports of the paranormal, yet nothing could have prepared them for the horrors they were about to encounter. 

After one of their lectures, the Warrens are approached by Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor), who, along with her husband Roger (Ron Livingston) and their five daughters, recently moved into a spacious farmhouse in Rhode Island. Shortly after their arrival, the Perrons began experiencing unusual disturbances, from strange noises to the sudden, violent death of the family dog. Sure enough, the moment Lorraine Warren enters the house, she senses something terrible happened there. With the help of their assistant Drew (Shannon Kook) and a policeman named Brad (John Brotherton), the Warrens carry out their investigation, and in the process stir up a presence so evil that it threatens to destroy them all.

Throughout The Conjuring, director Wan feeds us a steady stream of standard, run-of-the-mill scares, almost all of which work as intended. Following their first night in the house, Carolyn Perron notices a mysterious bruise has appeared on her leg, and finds that every clock stopped running at exactly 3:07 a.m. From there, the disturbances become more intense, ranging from things that go bump in the night to ghosts tormenting the kids as they sleep. When the malevolent spirit finally makes its presence known, the result is an evening of pure terror, during which Carolyn is locked in the basement as oldest daughter Andrea (Shanley Casswell) is being attacked by a demon. The entity terrorizing the Perrons, a former witch named Bathsheba (Joseph Bishera), proves to be a particularly powerful spirit; when the Warrens begin their investigation, the evil latches onto them as well, following them home and nearly scaring their daughter Judy (Sterling Jerins) to death.

For me, James Wan has been a little hit and miss; I liked the original Saw, and for the most part enjoyed Insidious, but felt Dead Silence was a mess (an occasionally frightening mess, to be sure, but a mess all the same). The Conjuring is, thus far, his best film, and while it doesn’t offer anything new (there’s even a scene involving an exorcism), it will still manage to scare the bejesus out of you!

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