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Conjuring, The
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by robertrosado

"A future horror classic."
5 stars

Trusted paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are given the most traumatic case of their lives in 1971, when they are called to a farmhouse in rural Rhode Island. Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor), along with their five daughters, have only just moved in when increasingly violent, supernatural disturbances infect their home.

Old-school horror is alive and well in the form of James Wan. With the exception of Ti West, and a tiny handful of other contemporaries, no filmmaker today comes closer to invoking the classic scarefests from the 70s and early 80s. Having made his name as the co-creator of the Saw franchise, Wan has since moved onto considerably more sophisticated fare, such as the spooky but ultimately mediocre Dead Silence. However, it was his incredibly frightening Insidious which began to tip off audiences and critics alike that a potential master was at work. And while The Conjuring is yet another film that deals with an imperiled family inside a haunted house, it never once feels derivative.

Working from a smart, three-dimensional script by Chad and Carey W. Hayes, Wan has outdone himself. Because the story is based (albeit embellished) on actual events, the production team does an outstanding job in keeping the particulars of the haunting as grounded and realistic as possible. By placing an emphasis on practical effects and makeup over CGI and excessive gore, it becomes all the more easy to believe in what is happening to the Perron family. Wan has proven himself to be a master manipulator, both in how he stages the suspense and the attention to detail he pays throughout the story. When a possibly malevolent doll named Annabelle is introduced within the first five minutes, Wan knows that the audience will not forget it, and the way he brings her back into the plot later on is absolutely delicious.

But apart from the horror aspect, what distinguishes the film even further is the relationships that are built amongst the characters. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga successfully establish Ed and Lorraine as a loving couple whose particular gifts work perfectly in synch with one another. While they have made their living dealing with the otherworldly, it refreshingly does not define them as people. Farmiga gives her a performance a particularly haunted quality, suggesting the psychological toll that each successive case has taken on Lorraine. As the patriarch of Perron family, a close-knit unit that has become prey for a hateful entity, Ron Livingston is completely serviceable as Roger, but his role is the most undernourished of the bunch. However, Lili Taylor all but steals the film with her sympathetic and entirely convincing performance as Carolyn, an adoring mother whose life is about to change for the disastrous. The five young actresses playing their daughters are all superlative, particularly Joey King, who gets one of the film's most indelible sequences as Christine.

Production values are all top-notch, with shadowy and intricate cinematography by John R. Leonetti, impressively layered sound design, spot-on 70's wardrobe and art direction that never appears cheesy, and a characteristically eerie musical score by Joseph Bishara. As stated before, Wan has crafted a sophisticated and truly frightening experience worthy of the genre's most celebrated pieces, particularly recalling 1973's The Exorcist and 1982's Poltergeist. He understands that, without characters worth investing in, the horror will never resonate. And as the intensity continues to escalate throughout The Conjuring, the viewer can certainly feel the joy that Wan feels in making them jump out of their skin.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24139&reviewer=394
originally posted: 07/22/13 15:10:03
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival For more in the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/22/21 brian Pastiche of tropes from several famous, better films. 3 stars
2/13/17 morris campbell corny but very scary at times 4 stars
2/26/16 Alexis H nice scary movie 4 stars
1/08/14 Charles Tatum Loses steam here and there, but has enough scary moments 4 stars
10/29/13 The Big D A remake of Insidious but with more screaming and screeching. 3 stars
10/18/13 Langano Unoriginal story executed well. Clap, clap. 3 stars
8/20/13 alice very good scars ! One of the best of the haunted house movies 4 stars
7/24/13 Quigley One of the most intense horror films I've ever seen. 5 stars
7/20/13 action movie fan the excorcist, amityville horror paranormal activity in one film-some very effective scares 3 stars
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  19-Jul-2013 (R)
  DVD: 22-Oct-2013

  02-Aug-2013 (15)

  18-Jul-2013 (MA)
  DVD: 22-Oct-2013

Directed by
  James Wan

Written by
  Chad Hayes

  Joey King
  Vera Farmiga
  Mackenzie Foy
  Patrick Wilson
  Ron Livingston
  Shannon Kook

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