Movie Review: The Conjuring [2013]

The Conjuring [2013]

The Conjuring [2013]
Director: James Wan
Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor
Running Time: 112 minutes

The real-life couple of Ed and Lorraine Warren gained notoriety as the founders of the New England Society for Psychic Research, a paranormal investigative group that attempted to help with thousands of ghost and demon-related hauntings. The Conjuring tells the tale of one of the couple’s investigations, which the opening credits describe as their most extreme case ever.

Set in 1971, the film focuses on a family of seven that moves into an old farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island. The parents, Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Lili Taylor), and their five daughters, are happy-go-lucky during their big move-in day, though they find it peculiar that their dog, Sadie, refuses to enter the house. The very next morning, Carolyn wakes up with a huge bruise on her leg, and poor Sadie is found dead outside.

The Conjuring [2013]

The paranormal activities only get worse from there, and they grow more and more frequent. Items are thrown across the house, doors are open and shut on their own, and children are pulled from their beds while they sleep. To top it off, the youngest daughter claims to have made a new friend, Rory, who no one else can see.

Eventually, the family cannot take any more of the abuse, and Carolyn reaches out to Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren for help. As soon as they arrive, Lorraine immediately notices multiple presences within the house. It’s clear to them that there is a demon that has latched onto the family, and they will have to gain evidence in order to pursue an exorcism on the entire house. The Warrens set up an elaborate system of cameras and audio recordings in order to obtain enough proof, but this quickly becomes a race against the clock as their presence seems to infuriate the demon inside the house.

The Conjuring [2013]

The general concept for The Conjuring feels familiar, and the film itself doesn’t really break any new ground within the horror genre. However, the overall package is well put together, offering a chilling atmosphere with a relentless sense of dread and plenty of scares. The attention to detail is impeccable, as director James Wan nailed the 1970s setting, right down to the household items on display. Wilson and Farmiga are terrific in the lead roles, and the children do well at looking scared out of their minds. Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston make for a great couple as well, though the latter looks surprisingly emotionless during the film’s batshit-crazy climax.

The fact that The Conjuring is based on a true story adds even more to its freaky nature. Sure, extreme liberties were taken with some of the paranormal disturbances, but they help make the film even more entertaining. As someone who doesn’t believe in ghosts, demonic possessions or the like, I still found this to be an incredibly entertaining film. Perhaps best of all, it’s intelligent as well, something we really don’t see much of in the genre anymore.


26 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Conjuring [2013]

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Eric. Wan just continued to build and build the terror and tension that there came one point by the end of the flick where I had no idea what the hell was going to happen. Sadly, it ended predictably, but at least it kept my hopes up for something slightly different.

  2. ruth says:

    Great review Eric! I don’t do horror as you know but I might just bite the bullet and rent this one day if I’m feeling brave, ahah. I just don’t want to be plagued by nightmares!

  3. SDG says:

    We are in agreement once again. It is nothing nothing groundbreaking or even different from what we usually see in Horror film but it is well put together.

    What I liked the most is they reduced the jump scares to minimum and went for genuine scares. Every time there is something major scary thing about to happen, Wan always kind of introduces that scare a split second before, whatever than thing is, reaches it’s maximum scaring potential. Think about the ghost on the cupboard that attacks the oldest daughter or the one that Policeman sees. We always see their glimpse first and then, BAMN!! That was way more effective than the usual jump scares. Loved it!!

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      “What I liked the most is they reduced the jump scares to minimum and went for genuine scares.”

      YES! That’s one of my biggest pet peeves with modern horror films, and thankfully that wasn’t much of an issue here. Loved the spooky atmosphere and general sense of dread. Great film.

  4. Victor De Leon says:

    Cannot wait to see this. Good review. I hope Wan doesn’t leave the genre. He is so good at displaying mood and atmosphere. He has re-invented modern horror and made it scary again. Good job!

      • Victor De Leon says:

        You know, many people kind of hate on “Insidious” (but in turn it does have a following) for the last act of the movie but I really enjoyed it. It was on Netflix a while but they yanked it. I would check it out. Definitely worth it. Is it the best horror movie ever? No, of course not. But it is spooky, has mood and is well shot. The story is unique and despite the ending being a bit vague it’s still a creepy flick. Hope you enjoy it. Oh, Wan also did “Dead Silence” with Ryan Kwanten which is overlooked. Decent movie.

        • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

          I think it was the mixed reviews that kept me away from Insidious. That sucks that it got removed from Netflix — I had it in my queue for the longest time, too.

          Dead Silence is another one I need to see. Come to think of it, I guess the only two Wan films I have seen are Saw and The Conjuring, both of which I enjoyed quite a bit. I need to check out his other work.

          • Victor De Leon says:

            Damn that Netflix! I hate finding out movies that I finally get around to watching are yanked off. I am also so pissed that they pulled a few seasons of The Twilight Zone. Ugh.

            Yeah, Death Sentence and Dead Silence are good Wan flicks. Totally recommend both. Let me know your thoughts after you watch them!

  5. sati says:

    So great that you liked the movie! I loved how atmospheric it was and Vera and Patrick had such lovely and believable chemistry together, that’s something very rare.

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