"The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges on which we decide to follow."
James Wan has always been a hit or a miss for me as a director considering I was a big fan of Saw, but really hated Dead Silence. When The Conjuring began I was fearing the worst seeing that a doll was involved once again, but fortunately it was just part of a prologue and the main story was about a haunted house. So my next thought was: ok we've seen this scenario played out a million times before in horror films and I'm not a huge fan of spirit demon possession movies. So once again, I had my doubts about this film because I was sure I'd seen it all before and it wasn't really my thing. But I was wrong once again, because this film absolutely blew me away once the main characters were introduced and the story began creeping me out. The Conjuring is nearly a perfect film and in my humble opinion this is the best horror film of this millennium. Wan has made one of the creepiest films I've seen and I found myself feeling goosebumps all over my body during several scenes. The mood and 70's setting worked really well here and the characters were surprisingly all likable as well. The silence in this film worked really well and the score also added to the overall effectiveness in this movie. The best thing about The Conjuring is that Wan didn't go for cheap jump scares, he created a genuine and effective eerie atmosphere that had me tense during the entire film. The performances were all great as well (something that is difficult to find in the horror genre) and the camera work was unbelievable (I recall a masterful scene where one of the young kids senses a presence in her room and looks under the bed with the camera following her point of view). But what I loved the most about The Conjuring is that the film didn't have to use gore in order to shock the audience; Wan managed to scare us with the classical horror film techniques of the old days. This was one of the funnest experiences I've had in the movies this year.
The film claims to be based on true events revolving around a Rhode Island family that experienced strong supernatural activity in their new home. Famous paranormal investigators, Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson), were called to help this family. The Conjuring is a retelling of what the Warren's found in the house. Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) are a very lovely and hard working couple. They have five beautiful daughters: Andrea (Shanley Caswell), Nancy (Hayley McFarland), Christine (Joey King), Cindy (Mackenzie Foy), and April (Kyla Deaver). Due to their financial struggles they believe this cheap big old house could be a new start for them, but they begin to experience some strange events. First, their dog refuses to enter the house and the next morning they find him dead. All the clocks in the house stopped at 3:07. April, the youngest, begins speaking to an imaginary friend, and Christine begins feeling something pulling her leg at night. Several strange things continue to occur in the home which leave Carolyn no other choice than to look for these famous paranormal investigators and ask them to help them. After just one visit, the Warrens realize there is definitely a dangerous demonic presence in the home. They promise to help, but the secrets hidden in this house and the threat might even be too menacing for the Warrens to undertake.
The Conjuring is really well crafted despite the familiar genre and premise. The film kind of surprised me in that it never tried to manipulate the audience with the score. Actually the scariest scenes occur mostly in silence, and when the music begins to play and you expect some sort of scare usually something silly happened to lighten the mood (the scene that comes to mind here is when a door moves and everyone expects to see the ghost manifest itself, but it was actually an investigator coming out of a bathroom). I found the film to be very creepy and I must say that when I went to bed later that night I made sure that my feet were well tucked in under the blankets so that nothing pulled my legs. The film succeeds as a horror story and it really delivers several scares that stick with you long after the movie is over. I think The Conjuring is a modern masterpiece and it might be The Exorcist of this generation. Wan is so good building suspense in this film and making the audience care for the characters. I loved his long tracking shots and the moments of silence that just added to the overall tension the movie made me feel. I will never forget the silence coming from the audience after the movie ended as if they were still trying to loosen up from all the tension built up in this nearly two hour film. Wan tells this story with such a retro vibe and simple techniques that even clapping hands scared the heck out of me. The Conjuring is intense and everything I look for when I want to see a scary movie. If you think you've seen it all and nothing can scare you, you might want to give The Conjuring a view because it could surprise you.