The Conjuring Review
Reviewed by Jordan Goodier.
Usually, I stay away from the majority of horror films because they are almost always bad. They usually have too many cheap jump scares or too much gore for the sake of gore; and they almost always have terrible acting. However, every once in a while, an exceptional horror film is made.
The Conjuring is one such horror film, based on the real life exploits of Edward and Lorraine Warren, played wonderfully by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively. Ed and Lorraine were paranormal investigators that assisted the Perron family, in 1971, who were experiencing dangerous paranormal events in their home.
The Conjuring won’t be winning too many points for originality as what ensues turns into a typical haunted house story. However, where this film truly excels is in the atmosphere that director James Wan creates. The film goes a very long time before it’s forced to use a jump scare, and I’d already found the film to be fairly scary by this point. The scene in question is one in which Carolyn Perron is playing a game with her youngest daughter whilst the rest of the children are off at school. I think the game’s called hide and clap. It actually looked like a decent game that I thought to myself, “I might try that out,” before the film started using the game to terrify me.
The emptiness of the old house as Carolyn walks around, blindfolded no less, made you feel almost vulnerable for Carolyn. You’re expecting something bad to happen throughout this scene, and though something does happen, it’s almost like a “non-scare”. The director lulls you into a state where you think something is hiding in every corner, and then nothing happens. No jump scare, no loud noises. I have to say, it was a breath of fresh air to be scared because a loud noise hadn’t just blasted into my ear hole; instead, the atmosphere, the sense of vulnerability and isolation had done that. This very much continues throughout the film, and though there are a couple of jump scares they’re not cheap, they’re justifiable.
The cast of the film are all wonderful, particularly Vera Farmiga, who portrayed Lorraine Warren as a kind and caring mother figure with a disturbing psychic gift. I’d seen her play a character in the film Source Code and she plays an entirely different character here. I have to say, the child actors in this film are wonderful as well, they’re not annoying or whiney and Joey King’s performance as Christine Perron almost had me in tears when she showed how horrified she was! Superb acting that I haven’t seen in many horrors. Usually, you don’t see characters crying their hearts out because they’re that scared. So it was nice to see that sense of realism there as well.
There’s not much to spoil with this film, what you see is what you get. Every scene is pretty by the book and you know how the story is going to end from the start, though that probably isn’t the fairest thing to say as the film is based on actual events. Not to say that the film is predictable as such, only that you’ve seen everything in this film done before. You just haven’t seen it done this well for a long time.
The Conjuring is exactly what the horror genre needed right now. An old school haunted house horror, that offers creepy scares, very solid acting from everyone involved, excellent direction and an all round excellent production. Take note everyone, this is how you make a horror film.