“The Conjuring” is the latest haunted house movie in a genre that has seen a lot of entries in recent years. Amazingly this is the best of these modern ghost films as it not only terrified me but I was actually moved and engaged by the characters. The ending comes together in an emotional climax that is pretty frightening and feels some what real.
The plot is based on elements of a true story. The outline has become pretty familiar to us at this point. Struggling family moves in to a creepy house that they got for amazingly cheap. Why so inexpensive? Well because something horrible happened in it some where in it’s past and almost no one wants to buy it unless they are desperate. Not long after moving in the usual odd occurrences start to happen. An unseen force drags the kids out of their beds, doors start slamming, mysterious figures appear and in a nice touch, the clocks all stop every night at 3:07am. All of this is done with great skill. As far as I could tell there were no false scares where strange noises turn out to be the family dog or anything like that.
Eventually the family bring in paranormal investigators and this is when the movie really started to engage me. The couple they bring in are Ed and Lorraine Warren. Ed is an expert demonologist and Lorraine is a gifted clairvoyant. They begin to unravel the mystery of the house while also dealing with their own issues as they have been put through the ringer with previous exorcisms.
I don’t think i’m spoiling anything when I say that they get more than professionally involved when the evil in the house latches on to them and begins tormenting their own family. All of this results in an exorcism that some how seems more real and terrifying than I expected.
The film was directed by James Wan, who directed “Insidious” and “Saw”. This film is more in line with the latter. Here he really is able to build an atmosphere of dread. It was nice to see him avoid as many cliches as he could and focus on how a professional demonologist works. I found that scarier than most horror movies that are content to jolt the audience with surprises or overwhelm us with over the top gore.
“The Conjuring” was a pleasant surprise this summer season. I found that I got more involved with this then almost all of the big blockbusters I have seen this year. It is amazing what you can do with a small budget and a great story these days.