Dir. James Wan
Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lilly Taylor, Ron Livingston
1971 – Rhode Island. Roger and Carolyn move their five daughters and rather unlucky dog into a creaky old house ‘in the middle of nowhere’. The place has a bad history, and it’s not long before things are going bump – and clap – in the night. They turn to husband and wife demonologists Ed and Lorraine to step in and help. Then things get very messy…
Fresh out of a viewing of The Conjuring and I feel strangely hollow – much like the walls of the haunted house the movie concerns. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve basically seen the film. Clapping hands in the dark, spooks under the bed, a creepy doll and a music box that brings reflections of ghostly children…
To say the movie isn’t original is something of an understatement. Remember those Time Life music adverts where they’d play bits of each song as the title scrolled up the screen? Well this is the horror movie equivalent of that. Much like Insidious, no 70s horror is left unplundered. But where Insidious took a BANG BANG BANG approach to its scares, The Conjuring takes a slower approach. Sometimes it works, sometimes it bores…
Ever reliable Patrick Wilson takes on the evil spirits much more than his useless character in Insidious did. Vera Farmiga as the haunted medium catching glimpses of hanging bodies is great, and Lili Taylor brings warmth and humanity as the mother of the five girls targeted by the evil spirits.
And what about those evil spirits? Who’s dragging the family photos from the walls and spreading bad smells in the bedrooms at night resulting in cries of ‘Stop farting!’ from the girls? No surprises there either. I won’t spoil it for you but there’ll be nothing that’ll make you go ‘Oh wow, really?!’
There’s even an exorcism thrown in for old time’s sake. Levitation, vomiting blood, it’s all here. It is quite effective, though, and keeps the chills coming thick and fast. It stands up better than Insidious in that respect. Where that movie lost it’s bite and became a ghost train knockoff in the last half hour, here some good scares are thrown at us right up until the climax.
The Conjuring brings nostalgia in spades. It’s very nicely shot and evokes the ‘New England in the fall’ feel of the likes of Amityville Horror. But there are definitely moments where predictability lets it down, but then on the other side of the coin there are moments where you predict a scare and nothing comes.
I guess we horror buffs are never satisfied! There’s lots of fun to be had here, but rather than coming out invigorated, terrified and laughing off the scares, I came out with a shrug and a chortle of familiarity.
Give it a look, just try and resist the trailer if you want any of the few surprises to give you a chill!