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Review: The Conjuring

Jul. 18, 2013by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren are demonologists who are called upon to help a family thats being terrorized by a demonic spirit. Oh yeah, and its inspired by true events. Umm hmm.

REVIEW: Ive long been fascinated by Ed and Lorraine Warren. A couple of years ago, I had a job as an overnight operator at an AM radio station that used to run Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell every night. For those of you who dont know the show, its all about paranormal phenomenon, and its got a huge cult following thats so fierce that on nights when the satellite broke down and we had to air re-runs, Id get flooded with calls by irate local listeners. Ed Warren passed away in 2006, but his wife Lorraine often appeared on the show to discuss the various cases they were involved in, including the infamous Amityville case.

Im definitely skeptical about all the Warrens claims, although part of me believes that the devoutly religious Warrens actually believed what they were doing was Gods work. Last year, the Fantasia Film festival played an interesting doc called MY AMITYVILLE HORROR that took a skeptics look at their most famous case. The Warrens are back at Fantasia with THE CONJURING, but being a mainstream Hollywood horror film, its anything but skeptical about their claims.

Then again, I guess THE CONJURING would be a pretty boring movie if director James Wan didnt thoroughly invest in the tall tales told by Ed and Lorraine. I have no idea how truthful THE CONJURING is (my bet- not much) but damn if its not a terrifically entertaining movie. Hauntings arent necessarily a new thing for Wan, having done INSIDIOUS (as well as the upcoming INSIDIOUS PART 2) but if that was a riff on POLTERGEIST, this is more THE AMITYVILLE HORROR by way of THE EXORCIST.

More than anything, its a love letter to character-driven, seventies horror. For a good half hour, Wan takes his time setting up both The Warrens and the family thats being terrorized, The Perrons. A working class couple (Ron Livingston & Lili Taylor) heading a family of five children, all of them girls, The Perrons are instantly likable. Taylor especially hasnt had a role this strong in a while, and towards the end much of the emotional investment the audience will feel in the story will center on her and her relationship with her kids.

However the real stars of the show are Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens. Wilsons worked with Wan before (INSIDIOUS) and plays Ed Warren as a man of faith, who doesnt personally have a connection to the supernatural, but firmly believes in it and approaches it both scientifically and religiously. Much of the film is told through the eyes of Lorraine Warren, who were told is a clairvoyant whos haunted by each of their cases, but is nonetheless compelled to help those in need. Farmiga, whos already one of the top actresses working today, is really establishing herself as a serious horror star, thanks to this and her work on BATES MOTEL. She approaches THE CONJURING the same way she would something like UP IN THE AIR or THE DEPARTED, and fully invests all of her (considerable) talents to make Lorraine Warren a character youll care about. Shes absolutely terrific in the part.

While INSIDIOUS was mostly scary due to its intensity rather than carnage, with THE CONJURING James Wans once again working with an R-rating, although its still pretty tame, and what little violence there is pretty far removed from the carnage of something like SAW. Its not gratuitous (I think it could have squeezed by with a PG-13). THE CONJURING really does feel like the kind of horror movie that would have come out in the mid-seventies (the time period this takes place in, so expect lots of garish clothing), and backs up all of its scares with a compelling story, and a lot of technical skill, including a good musical score by Joseph Bishara and creepy photography by DP John Leonetti, whos been working with Wan since DEAD SILENCE.

While I seriously doubt that the events that inspired THE CONJURING were in any way supernatural (although you never know-oooooooh), it cant be denied that THE CONJURING is a pretty damn good horror movie, and refreshingly free of cheap scares. Hopefully audiences will flock to see this, as its a nice departure from the B-level, micro-budget horror movies we usually get. THE CONJURING is a real A-movie, and reminds me of a time when horror movies were taken seriously. Hopefully that time will come again.

Source: JoBlo.com

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+7
6:19PM on 07/26/2013
The Conjuring wasn't that scary. In my opinion, I feel they gassed it up a little to much. If you see The Exorcist or Paranormal Activity then you basically know whats going to happen in this film. The film also shouldn't have been rated R. Throughout the film all you get is kids walking in the middle of the night, doors opening out of the blue, kids having imaginary friends, & adults rushing to find help or becoming possessed. Its not a rush and go see in my book
The Conjuring wasn't that scary. In my opinion, I feel they gassed it up a little to much. If you see The Exorcist or Paranormal Activity then you basically know whats going to happen in this film. The film also shouldn't have been rated R. Throughout the film all you get is kids walking in the middle of the night, doors opening out of the blue, kids having imaginary friends, & adults rushing to find help or becoming possessed. Its not a rush and go see in my book
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12:46AM on 07/19/2013
I love how the smaller movies like this and This is the End are proving to be superior to the big budget turds like Man of Steel, Lone Ranger. GI Joe, After Earth etc etc etc Goes to show once again that a big budget doesn't mean quality.
I love how the smaller movies like this and This is the End are proving to be superior to the big budget turds like Man of Steel, Lone Ranger. GI Joe, After Earth etc etc etc Goes to show once again that a big budget doesn't mean quality.
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11:16PM on 07/18/2013
The Conjuring was great and scary as hell. Loved every minute of it. Even better than Insidious which I thought was equally scary.

Loved the whole storyline with the doll in the beginning of the film and the way it tied into the story later on.
The Conjuring was great and scary as hell. Loved every minute of it. Even better than Insidious which I thought was equally scary.

Loved the whole storyline with the doll in the beginning of the film and the way it tied into the story later on.
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6:50PM on 07/18/2013
Ironic about Saw considering Wan directed the very first one and pretty much started the violence obsessed phase of horror films w had until the supernatural ones started to make a comeback.
Ironic about Saw considering Wan directed the very first one and pretty much started the violence obsessed phase of horror films w had until the supernatural ones started to make a comeback.
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12:02AM on 07/19/2013
I rewatched the first Saw recently and I was surprised at how little gore it has, especially compared to its sequels. The death traps/puzzles the series is known for are also not even a central part of the story. Most are seen in quick flashbacks. The majority of the movie is the detective story and the two characters in the room trying to figure out why they're there.

Honestly the sequels have tarnished a lot of people's memories the original, which is still a decent horror/thriller.
I rewatched the first Saw recently and I was surprised at how little gore it has, especially compared to its sequels. The death traps/puzzles the series is known for are also not even a central part of the story. Most are seen in quick flashbacks. The majority of the movie is the detective story and the two characters in the room trying to figure out why they're there.

Honestly the sequels have tarnished a lot of people's memories the original, which is still a decent horror/thriller.
3:34PM on 07/18/2013
i won a contest to go see the premiere with the celebs in hollywood and the movie was fantastic, it did what horror movies haven't done in years and thats scare the living crap out of me but not to the point that i can't sleep
i won a contest to go see the premiere with the celebs in hollywood and the movie was fantastic, it did what horror movies haven't done in years and thats scare the living crap out of me but not to the point that i can't sleep
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1:37PM on 07/18/2013

The R rating...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I heard this was the first movie to receive an R rating not having language, nudity, violence. It was rated R just because it was too intense. The MPAA said there is nothing you can cut to get it to PG-13.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I heard this was the first movie to receive an R rating not having language, nudity, violence. It was rated R just because it was too intense. The MPAA said there is nothing you can cut to get it to PG-13.
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-3
12:43PM on 07/18/2013

Do not agree

I'm sorry but this film is exactly like Insidious - creaking doors - check, slamming doors - check, demonic old creepy lady - check, a doll - check, Patrick Wilson - check..........is anyone questioning why James Wan has done 3 haunted/possession films in a row? YAWN. Was good in some ways, not scary at all.
I'm sorry but this film is exactly like Insidious - creaking doors - check, slamming doors - check, demonic old creepy lady - check, a doll - check, Patrick Wilson - check..........is anyone questioning why James Wan has done 3 haunted/possession films in a row? YAWN. Was good in some ways, not scary at all.
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12:23PM on 07/18/2013
Wan is becoming one of my favorite horror directors yet. I hate cheap scares and it seems Wan knows how to scare without being "cheap". To me: a horror movie should try to make the atmosphere terrifying so that the audience is truly scared from beginning to end. Not just riddled with cheap pop-up scares. I'm looking forward to this movie.
Wan is becoming one of my favorite horror directors yet. I hate cheap scares and it seems Wan knows how to scare without being "cheap". To me: a horror movie should try to make the atmosphere terrifying so that the audience is truly scared from beginning to end. Not just riddled with cheap pop-up scares. I'm looking forward to this movie.
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12:22PM on 07/18/2013
Love James Wan, and this looks to be his greatest film to date.
Love James Wan, and this looks to be his greatest film to date.
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11:26AM on 07/18/2013
Sorry, still no sale. The trailer makes it look just like Insidious and that ethan hawk flick both of which were lazy cash grabs. A loud noise following silence is not horror, it's startling, because it involuntarily jars the senses but it ain't scary. I'll wait for this on netflix.
Sorry, still no sale. The trailer makes it look just like Insidious and that ethan hawk flick both of which were lazy cash grabs. A loud noise following silence is not horror, it's startling, because it involuntarily jars the senses but it ain't scary. I'll wait for this on netflix.
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11:33AM on 07/18/2013
Insidious and Sinister were lazy cash grabs?

Do you even know what you're saying?
Insidious and Sinister were lazy cash grabs?

Do you even know what you're saying?
11:37AM on 07/18/2013
On the other hand you were probably first in line for Pacific Rim right?
On the other hand you were probably first in line for Pacific Rim right?
5:41PM on 07/18/2013
I agree with you about most recent horror films getting their screams more from quick cuts and loud score than actual suspense. An image of a puppy playing followed by an image of a kitten playing with a shrieking music cue will make me jump, doesn't make it scary.
Hopefully this is better than that.
I agree with you about most recent horror films getting their screams more from quick cuts and loud score than actual suspense. An image of a puppy playing followed by an image of a kitten playing with a shrieking music cue will make me jump, doesn't make it scary.
Hopefully this is better than that.
+0
11:22AM on 07/18/2013
I'm just thrilled they decided to make a haunted house film with an R rating.
I'm just thrilled they decided to make a haunted house film with an R rating.
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10:38AM on 07/18/2013

Nice!

Was hoping this would be good, I haven't seen a GOOD horror movie in a dog's age... The last one was maybe Tucker & Dale vs. Evil which while awesome, was more of a horror comedy. So I'm psyched for a good scare
Was hoping this would be good, I haven't seen a GOOD horror movie in a dog's age... The last one was maybe Tucker & Dale vs. Evil which while awesome, was more of a horror comedy. So I'm psyched for a good scare
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10:00AM on 07/18/2013

Great!

Saw this last night and it's great. After the film I went home and spent 2 hours on the Warrens web site. Man they have some great stories. Tons of material for potential sequels here.
Saw this last night and it's great. After the film I went home and spent 2 hours on the Warrens web site. Man they have some great stories. Tons of material for potential sequels here.
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9:03AM on 07/18/2013
James Wan continues to impress with the exception of Dead Silence. I was really looking forward to this, and I'm happy to see the good reviews continuing to come in left and right.
James Wan continues to impress with the exception of Dead Silence. I was really looking forward to this, and I'm happy to see the good reviews continuing to come in left and right.
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7:21AM on 07/18/2013
looks fantastic. Insidious 100% sold me on Wan
looks fantastic. Insidious 100% sold me on Wan
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+12
5:08AM on 07/18/2013
8/10 for horror movie? Wow!
8/10 for horror movie? Wow!
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6:17AM on 07/18/2013
A haunted house horror movie, to boot. Hats off indeed.
A haunted house horror movie, to boot. Hats off indeed.
11:54AM on 07/18/2013
Oh yeah, that too!
Oh yeah, that too!
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