Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Conjuring (2013) - ★★★★

Director: James Wan
Writers: Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Joseph Bishara

The Conjuring is the scariest exorcism movie since The Exorcist (1973). I couldn't control my screams, gasps, and the occasional "Oh my God!" I found the performances to be fantastic, and I really liked the character development. Everything was surprisingly believable, which is what made it so scary! The camera-work and music is pretty out there, it reminds me of the classic horrors from the 70s and 80s. The cheesy stuff in-between the scares is what really lets this movie down, yet it didn't bother me much at all. There's something really nostalgic, yet masterful about The Conjuring. Anyone who loves horror will love this movie.

At the start of the film, a bunch of drunk teenagers sat near my friends and I. They were loud, rude, rambunctious as usual, so someone asked them politely "Would you please be quiet?" They didn't stop, so a woman from the other side of the theatre said, "Are you going to talk through the whole movie?" The kids still wouldn't be quiet. Then this huge woman stood up and shouted "WILL YOU SHUT UP... FOR FUCK'S SAKE!" The cinema went deathly silent, then roared with laughter. Suffice to say that no one interrupted the movie after that. Thank goodness for people like that woman! :)

Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are demonologists/paranormal investigators that have solved a number of mysterious hauntings throughout the US. When a family is terrorized by an evil presence and several other ghosts in their farmhouse, the Warren's use their expertize to help rid them of the powerful entity. Little did they know that this would become the most terrifying case of their lives.

I was very skeptical at first of the raving reviews on The Conjuring. I've been let down by so many modern horrors that I'd started to give up on the whole genre. Let's just say that my faith has been restored. James Wan has made a few films that scared the bajeebuz outta me, such as Saw (2004) and Insidious (2010). I wouldn't call The Conjuring his greatest work, but it's definitely the scariest film he's ever made.

The cinema I saw this in was packed, but everyone was sufficiently terrified in unison. I can honestly say that I screamed louder than anyone (I do that with genuinely scary films), although everyone around me probably needed a new pair of underwear. I'll tell you what made it so scary. First of all, the look of the demons and ghosts was terrifying, like The Exorcist meets The Others (2001). Wan's camerawork was very effective, because at times he didn't show us the full picture. We were left petrified at what MIGHT be there. Like the saying goes, "It's what you can't see that scares you the most." All of the scary aspects were done to perfection in my opinion. I haven't had a good scare like that in such a long time. If you're not sure about what this movie is like, think The Exorcist, The Others, The Amityville Horror, and Drag Me To Hell all wrapped up into one tidy, coherent little story.

For once in my life, there wasn't a single annoying character in a horror movie! Vera Farmiga was the standout. Her performance lifted the quality of The Conjuring from 'average' to above-average. The horror on her face represented everything I was feeling at the time. Without her, I don't know if I'd have liked this movie very much. Lily Taylor was my second favorite performance. She played the mother of the family getting terrorized, and at one point she was possessed. Let me just say that the exorcism scene in this movie is the second best in the history of cinema. I get goose-bumps just thinking about it.

As with every movie, there are faults. I hated the huge layers of cheese during the 'normal' family scenes. Every horror movie has them, so I've come to expect that. It was just reductive to such a high-quality scary movie. Also, all the characters are pretty much perfect human beings, which made it hard to form true connections to the characters. I found the start of the film to be pretty slow too, even though it set up for an extremely scary and climatic ending. While these faults were annoying, they pale in comparison to the horrifying sequences that come later.

The Conjuring is far from a perfect movie. I was originally going to give this film 3 and a half stars, because of the little annoyances scattered here and there. As I was writing this review, I found myself getting pumped up and excited about the film all over again. It's been years since a horror movie has had that kind of effect on me, which is why I personally think this is a great movie. I wanted to be scared, and I got more than I bargained for. It went above and beyond what I expected, making this one of my favorite movies of 2013.


  1. I could see a lot of things and scares coming from miles away, but hey, I still had a good time. Nice review Ben.

    1. Thanks Dan :) I decided to leave my brain at the door and let the 'horror' have its way with me. That's why I enjoyed it immensely. I completely respect if people didn't find it scary though. I'm a bit of a wuss-bag compared to most!