Published on July 25th, 2013 | by Allan Brown2
The Conjuring Review
Movie Review: The Conjuring (2013)
Director: James Wan
Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston
Plot: Famous Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren help a family terrorized by a poltergeist in their new home. Forced to confront a powerful demon, the Warrens find themselves fighting for their lives.
From the director who brought us Saw and Insidious comes The Conjuring, another horror film that tags itself with the inevitable line; BASED ON A TRUE STORY.
The film centres on the Perron family whom upon moving into their New England farmhouse, begin to encounter an unseen entity. When things become increasingly threatening Carolyn Perron is forced to seek help from paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Together with the family’s help they delve deeper into the strange haunting that terrorizes the family home.
We have all seen variations of this story a thousand times before, but is there anything new and is it worth going to see, I hear you ask?
Well, The Conjuring is helplessly generic, borrowing from every cliché in the book and there are more than a few head slapping moments. DON’T GO INTO THE CELLAR!!! But there are a few flourishes here and there that make it stand out from most in its saturated genre, but it is certainly no game changer.
The script is weak with some dialogue that is beyond embarrassing “Should we just move? Possession is like a piece of gum, it follows you wherever u go” its lines like this that kills any genuine atmosphere or build up of tension, pulling it quickly out of any realism that it had generated before. And while it is fun, it struggles structuring these moments into the narrative for best effect. What we end up getting is a comedy moment right before a frightening set piece or a throw away cheesy one liner, right after a jump scare, killing all tension gathered previously.
There are also an abundance of silly narrative choices that make no sense at all, like when a huge boom shakes the house to its core, resulting in dozens of large framed pictures crashing to the ground, smashing onto the staircase, in the dead of night and right outside the children’s bedroom, yet none awake, leaving poor mum to go and investigate the spooky phenomenon on her own, thus triggering another set piece. This is nothing more than lazy storytelling, looking for the quickest route to the next set up and this to can be said on its happy Hollywood ending is nothing short of laughable, bordering on insulting.
As previously said the film tries to retain an element of fun throughout, in a bid to help balance the tone Id imagine. Sometimes it’s achieved through dialogue while others through its set pieces and characters. This method sometimes works, however there are a few misfires, in particular Officer Brad whose presence is a little off tone and slapstick leaving his character feeling like he’s just stepped out a Seth Rogen movie.
With that said, the film has many good set pieces that are genuinely tense and its link and dolly shots are often impressive, connecting something upstairs to something that is going on elsewhere in the house in one continuous shot. These moments are exciting and extremely well executed; keeping the tension ramped up to an almost unbearable level. If a little more time and intelligence had gone into the writing it could have resulted in The Conjuring being more than just another safe and mediocre effort.
Summary: A mixed bag. Unboundedly clichéd with dozens of naff and corny moments but somehow The Conjuring manages to bring enough genuinely terrifying moments for it to work in some capacity.