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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

The Conjuring - Celebrating and Suffering from Its Roots

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

Released 07-19-2013

Watched 08-12-2023

Reviewed 08-14-2023

Watched on MAX Available to Rent or Buy

"Everything you see in here is either haunted, cursed, or has been used in some kind of ritualistic practice."

“The Conjuring,” directed by horror aficionado James Wan, plunges us into the 1970s, immersing us in the haunting world of the Perron family and the investigative duo Ed and Lorraine Warren. The eerie atmosphere Wan crafts is undoubtedly one of the film's strongest assets, utilizing shadows, slow camera movements, and a haunting score to build a sense of unease from the very start. Add to that the commendable performances of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, and the movie promises a chilling experience.

From the get-go, it's clear that Wan aimed to draw inspiration from classic horror films of the '70s and '80s. The house itself, a character in its own right, oozes malevolence, reminiscent of houses in classics like “The Amityville Horror” or “The Haunting.” In its stronger moments, the film delivers genuine tension, amplified by its decision to rely more on atmospheric dread rather than jump scares – a welcome deviation in modern horror.

However, therein lies some of the movie's shortcomings. While “The Conjuring” plays its homage card to the classics, it sometimes feels shackled by the very clichés it's trying to celebrate. There are moments of déjà vu, where certain scares or plot points seem borrowed or predictable to those well-versed in horror lore.

The story, rooted in 'based-on-real-events' claims, offers an engaging narrative but occasionally skimps on the deeper intricacies of the Warrens’ relationship and their broader experiences. Such moments make one wonder if a deeper dive into their psyche, especially Lorraine's, could have elevated the movie from being just another haunted house tale to a more layered psychological horror.

Supporting characters, particularly the Perron family, could have used a bit more depth. Their terror is palpable, thanks to sincere performances, but there's a sense that their backgrounds, motivations, and individual fears could have been explored more.

In terms of production, the set designs, costumes, and overall aesthetics successfully transport us to the era, and the sinister soundtrack, courtesy of Joseph Bishara, punctuates the film's scarier moments effectively.

In conclusion, "The Conjuring" is a worthy watch for those seeking a blend of classic and contemporary horror elements. While it occasionally stumbles over its own reverence for the genre's past, it still stands as a testament to James Wan's ability to craft a compelling haunted house narrative. It’s a journey worth taking for its high points, even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel.


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