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, yet even with all its time-honored clichés, it's still one hell of a frightening story.

It’s 1971. Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) have spent years investigating reports of the paranormal, yet nothing could have prepared them for what they were about to encounter. Following 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 family 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 launch 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 in the morning. 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 while oldest daughter Andrea (Shanley Casswell) is attacked by a demon. The ghost terrorizing the Perrons, a former witch named Bathsheba (Joseph Bishera), proves to be a particularly powerful entity; when the Warrens begin their investigation, the evil latches on to 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 or 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’ll still scare the bejesus out of you.

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