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Review: The Conjuring

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Frances Winston thinks there is great acting in The Conjuring, and although freaky rather than scary, but would still want to leave her light on at night after seeing it!

Directed by: James Wan – Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor

There may be an abundance of haunted house movies, but when it is based on a true story it immediately becomes more sinister. This film focuses on the famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga) who are called in by the Perron family, when they begin to be terrorised by an unknown entity in their Rhode Island farmhouse.

The family and their five daughters had been suffering mercilessly at the entity’s hand by this stage. The youngest daughter had been seeing the spirit of a young boy and one of their middle daughters had been assaulted nightly by what appears to be an elderly woman. They are at their wits end when they call on the Warrens, who were the best known paranormal investigators in America at that time.

The couple descend on the farmhouse and conclude that they are dealing with a demonic entity – a woman called Bathsheba, who was accused of being a witch centuries before. She hanged herself after sacrificing her child to Satan, cursing anyone who took her land as she died, and ever since there had been strange occurrences in the area. Concluding that they need an exorcism, the Warren’s set about collecting enough evidence to convince the church to perform one. However, the possession has really taken hold and time is of the essence, as they try and save the Perrons, and themselves, from this evil demon.

This sets out its stall from the off, opening with the Warrens investigating another case involving a truly creepy looking doll. The atmosphere is built gradually as the Perron’s slowly realise they are not alone in their new home, and there are plenty of jump in your seat and heart in your mouth moments. None of the frights are gratuitous, and as the tension builds the audience feel a real sense of dread. This doesn’t rely heavily on CGI for the scares, and is rather quite old school in its methods – something Wan does well as showcased in his previous offerings Saw and Insidious.

All the actors give great performances, especially Taylor as the beleaguered Carolyn, while Farmiga and Wilson bring suitable gravitas to the roles of the Warrens. It would have been very easy to play them completely OTT, but they resist that temptation, and show the investigators as ordinary people who just happen to have an extraordinary job.

Lest anyone should question the story’s origins, the closing credits are compiled of real life pictures of both the Warrens and Perrons (all of whom must have been very flattered by the casting choices).

This film has been billed as the scariest movie of the year but I found it freaky rather than scary – having said that I love horror films and don’t scare easily. You will find yourself thinking about it for quite a while after seeing it, and it is the kind of movie that makes you want to sleep with the light on. This is a well executed good old fashioned horror that will creep out even the most stoic cinemagoer!

In cinemas now

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One comment on “Review: The Conjuring

  1. Not a big fan of the horror genre, but I had a good time with this one no matter how many times I could see stuff coming. Nice review.

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