- Directed by James Wan
- July 15, 2013 (Cinerama Dome) / July 19, 2013 (United States)
A family moves into an old farmhouse and after discovering a hidden room are plagued by dark supernatural forces.
In real life Ed and Lorraine Warren were paranormal investigators and this film is extremely loosely based on real events from their personal files. What happened in real life served as a starting point, but Wan and the gang definitely ran in their own direction with it. If that bothers you then this film is not for you, but you should also remember that such things occur in every Hollywood production. A Beautiful Mind pops into my head as one prime example of a film inspired by reality but with less adherence to actual events than this film. I am not joking on that. Do not go to see a dramatic presentation and get educated.
Ed and Lorraine Warren are played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively. Wilson and Farmiga were two people that were not on my radar at all until this very film. I know I have seen both in other things prior to this. Being the two leads in this movie really showcased their abilities and now when I see them listed in the cast of something I am certainly interested in giving whatever it is a look.
Rather than create hokey or oddball characters in the Warrens they created two realistic individuals who handle out of the ordinary things. This is a couple you could find just about anywhere. They have an easy and loving natural banter. As individuals they would not stand out in a grocery store or in your neighborhood should they offer their help.
Based on real individuals, The Perron Family-father Roger (Ron Livingston), mother Carolyn (Lili Taylor), daughter Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April (Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, and Kyla Deaver respectively)-are handled very well. They do a good job of creating them as ordinary individuals dealing with things beyond their understanding as best they can. This is a working-class family dealing with the extraordinary.
There are two characters that get short changed though. Drew Thomas (Shannon Kook) and Brad Hamilton (John Brotherton) just show up and that is really it for their overall development. We get nothing more from them. How they fit in with the Warrens and all is rushed. A minor quibble though that does not really harm the film.
Aside from those two, James Wan proves he is one of the few directors that can create quality horror with well-developed characters. Other films you may get some scares, but the characters overall are short changed or they just act illogically. Too often in horror the people are too perfect in their lives or their appearance. These are normal people here.
The Conjuring is one horror movie I really visit pretty regularly. I do not know how many times I have seen it, but it still scares me each time. That clapping scene at the top of the basement steps gets me every time. I know it is coming but I still freak out. A clap is a normally innocent thing but the implication here is rather sinister.
Another one of my favorite moments is when the investigation is well underway and Lorraine Warren is outside with some laundry and a storm is coming. A blanket blows off the clothesline and smacks into a previously unseen figure before continuing on its way. It was the evil spirit! Just thinking about it freaks me out.
The tension builds throughout the film. Nothing is wasted here. From the get go you know for example the bruises that the wife is experiencing are not something unrelated to the darkness that is going on. The finale keeps you on the edge of your seat. There are no red herrings or general fluff.
When I was younger I devoured books on the paranormal or supernatural. It was my thing in elementary school. One thing it is said about events such as those depicted here is that dark entities attach themselves to families that are troubled or just under stress and make it worse. They supposedly feed off of it and gain strength. One minor tool to fight them is make things better whenever or wherever no matter how small. During the film Roger mentions to Ed about his car that is not running and it is clear it is bothering him. So Roger and Ed work on it. There is no good reason to include this scene other than to allude to what I mentioned. It is a small detail that lends authenticity to things.
The Conjuring is a great modern horror film. It is frightening and just all-around well done. Watch it!