Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, and Lili Taylor
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Chad Hayes, and Carey Hayes
It’s easy to scare the average movie fan, but when you hear hardcore horror fans talk about how scary “The Conjuring” is it sets the bar high. Not that the bar wasn’t high enough for James Wan after “Insidious,” a movie that actually had me jumping out of my seat. On top of that, throw in talks of “The Conjuring 2” before this one is even released. That is just crazy! So does the “The Conjuring” live up to the high expectations?
Well it really didn’t take long to meet those expectations. How could it do it so fast? The answer… Annabelle. The movie opens about two years before the events at the farmhouse with a quick story about a doll named Annabelle. The way Annabelle’s story is told is fantastic, and creeps the audience out without having to pull any cheap scares. Not that there is anything wrong with the rest of the movie, but it could have been about Annabelle from that point on and it would have been fine with me!
Doing such a good job with the brief story of Annabelle only made it clear that they would do a good job with the real story at hand. Part of what they do well is keeping the story moving while giving the audience a reason to care for the characters. The real story starts with Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) moving into a farmhouse with their five daughters. There is a good balance of getting to know the family, and not wasting too much time before the strange events start occurring.
As the audience gets to see these events build in the Perron’s household, they also get a glimpse into the Warren’s household. Like the Perron’s, they also have a young daughter, and have also been affected by strange events, although mostly because that’s there job. It’s a nice touch getting to know the Warrens as opposed to them just being some ghost hunters called on another job. It gives the characters some depth, and a reason for the audience to care about them. Best of all, a reason to keep bringing back Annabelle!
The acting is solid, but not amazing. Vera Farmiga gives the best performance in her role as Lorraine Warren. She handles being both scared, and strong. The only disappointment about her performance is that she didn’t yell out “Norman!” Patrick Wilson scores another lead role in a James Wan film, this time as Ed Warren. It’s understandable that they would want to work together, but it might have been nice to see a new face in there. Ron and Lili have their up and down moments as the Perrons, while the young actresses playing the daughters handle being scared pretty well.
Enough with the story and acting, and on to what everyone wants to talk about… the scares! The scares start simple, and become creepier as the movie goes on. One nice thing about the early scares is how the girls could see what’s scaring them, but the audience couldn’t. It puts the audience in the perfect position of being as terrified as the characters, but not really knowing why. The audience is left sitting there thinking “why can she see it, and I can’t?”
The scene in which it’s finally revealed to the audience what’s scaring the daughters is well worth the wait. What isn’t worth the wait is the now famous “clapping hands.” Why not? Well, as usual they give it away in the previews. That scene was scary as hell when it first appeared in the previews, but by the time it happens in the movie the audience knows it’s coming (except for a few scaredy cats). It only builds some tension, but one of the best scares in a long time is totally ruined.
There are ample enough scares to make up what’s lost with the clapping hands. The movie goes into full out scare mode towards the end. The time they use making the audience care for the characters really comes into play. As with the standard here, I’m not going to give away the specifics, but will say there should surely be something somewhere that will creep you out.
The expectations for “The Conjuring” were high, and thanks to James Wan, it met those expectations. The movie is well done from beginning to end. There is little wasted time, and characters for the audience to care about. The acting is good enough not to distract from the story at hand. While admitting that “Insidious” had me jumping out of my seat, this movie didn’t. However, there are plenty of scary scenes, which will leave audiences freaked out. I’m already looking forward the sequel, especially if it has anything to do with Annabelle. I’m not sure if I liked “Insidious,” or “The Conjuring” more, but do know that I give “The Conjuring” 3.5 pools of blood!