Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Conjuring (2013)

A film promoted as "From the makers of Saw and Insidious" not only doesn't sell me on the film but it makes me never want to see it. This was the case for THE CONJURING, the new James Wan directed horror film that thanks to positive word of mouth (actually it was more of a free ticket that got me in the theater) I sat my ass down in a chair this afternoon to see what all the hullabaloo was about.

Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are a married team of paranormal investigators with ties to the Catholic church. They have helped some of the nastiest and most infamous cases of hauntings and demonic possession along with debunking the vast majority of supposed hauntings. They are called to the Perron family farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island when the mother of the family visits the team at one of their seminars after many strange and unsettling occurrences at their new home involving their five daughters. It is immediately apparent to Lorraine, the clairvoyant of the duo, that there is something not kosher in the house and the ghostly happenings get more frequent, more violent and more disturbing.

The plot doesn't sound like anything new to the genre or that it would even be good. From the title screen and opening credits it was apparent to me that I wasn't in for Insidious 2 or Paranormal Activity 15 which is largely what the marketing campaign made this out to look like. No, this was destined to hearken back to the haunted house and possession films of the 70s. In fact it is set in 1971 and has an oppressively loud sound mix and score, an unsettling atmosphere and characters that aren't fucking retarded. It didn't take long for me to think back to similarities with Peter Medak's The Changeling. THE CONJURING is largely successful throughout. The back story is mean as is our demon who knows not of remorse or mercy. There are a few instances of falling victim to cliched jump scares, which aren't used as often as you'd expect thankfully, bland grey scale makeup on some ghosts and a climax that starts off strong but ends all too quickly. Luckily those faults are balanced by a great ensemble performance, strong soundtrack and solid directing.

THE CONJURING is the best haunted house/demonic possession film of recent years. While it is far from perfect it kicks the ever loving shit out of Insidious, Paranormal Activity and whatever else you want to throw at it. If you are thinking what I was thinking, that the film looked liked dreadful, rehashed garbage, write it off to a totally uninspired marketing campaign that is satisfied in selling more of the same and give it a chance. If you're a fan of the genre, the good films of the genre that is, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

A very solid 7.5/10

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