How on Earth did ‘The Conjuring’, using every old trick in the book, manage to make something so genuinely terrifying, without a trace of authenticity?
From creepy dolls, to dark hidden cellars. Ghostly children and excruciating exorcisms, this is an absolute masterpiece in Horror, using old habits, perfectly.
Not since ‘Paranormal Activity‘ in 2007 has a Horror come along and completely changed the game. One achievement is not following in such footsteps of the current hand-held movement but keeping with traditional multiple-camera. Whilst hand-held was groundbreaking and is still very good, it will die out eventually.
Much like the Director’s ‘Insidious‘ the opening sequence introduces ‘The Conjuring’ with a classic sharp loud shreak. Luminous yellow in a horror flick font, sets the tone from the off (see below).
James Wan brings together some fantastic actors, including his go to man Patrick Wilson. Wilson spearheaded the successful ‘Insidious’ in 2010. The leading ladies (Lili Taylor and Vera Farmiga) add additional, truthful substance by fitting the 70′s era beautifully.
A solid story-line with important details and what if’s being answerable (think Paranormal Activity 3 where the Gran sacrifices her unborn family and a bunch of Nan’s are in a garden, having a party or bake off or something…) is another reason to believe in the hype and why this is almost a solid 8 on IMDB.
At first glance, this just looks like another exorcism movie and we know what to expect. To a certain degree, we get what we expect but it is more than that. Remember, it’s the importance of using the old tools well, with a touch of class, that makes this special.
It’s no great mystery, the art of making an audience jump. A couple of kids with a camera, a bathroom mirror could achieve this in 30 minutes. Those jump Horror’s don’t count.
It’s all about how nervous an audience feels these days, from start to end. How in the moment they are with the characters. How much sweat a grown man emits, trying to save face. Yes you need jumps but to genuinely freak someone out so much that they leave halfway through? Now that’s the aim. Two people left our screening and we can’t blame them.
The story then…
Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.
Real life paranormal hunters in the 70′s, this world famous pairing were even respected by the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. At times even called upon, to perform exorcisms, when the Church was in dire straits.
Dozens of published cases but one left untold, til now. An ordeal that all involved found so hard to come to terms with, provided the perfect platform for James Wan to weave his magic.
The Warrens are endearing because they advise that there is usually, always, a good physical explanation to things that go bump in the night – drafts, old piping, that sort of thing. They don’t mess about and they don’t believe too much is down to the paranormal. So as audience members and particularly skeptics, you instantly shake those cobwebs and see two sane people here, with tremendous gifts, serving a great purpose. They have the audience on side.
A connection and empathy is bound between audience and the Perrans, which is both unique and unusual. Unlike other Horror’s, you don’t want this family to get hurt. Usually you do because either the actors are annoying and whiny or the Father is an ignorant prick that doesn’t believe the impossible is possible (so you can’t wait for them to get what they deserve). The Conjuring has you really rooting for the family and that is a feeling you don’t usually experience in Horror.
Disconcerting, even for the most stubborn of atheist’s, you’ll wish you scrubbed up for Church every Sunday after this!
So have a date night and enjoy this with your loved one but please remember a spare pair of pants… You’ll need them…