Sunday, July 21, 2013

[Review] The Conjuring

Husband and wife paranormal investigators Ed and Lorrain Warren received a desperate plea from a mother to help her family who are being terrorized by a dark and sinister presence in their farmhouse. It soon becomes apparent that the Warrens are dealing with a powerful entity, finding themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.

The amount of buzz that this film has created on social media is unbelievable. Just about every second tweet on my Twitter feed yesterday was in relation to the film.  The Conjuring is the latest from director James Wan; most famous to horror fans as the creator of Saw and more recently Insidious from 2010. That’s probably the main reason behind the buzz.

I’m a hard person to scare. I found The Conjuring not overall scary but it definitely had its moments and it is a very spooky film. There are plenty of jump scares as you would expect in a horror film like this but I didn’t react to any of them. In fact I could see most of them coming a mile away. But the majority of the audience reacted very vocally so I guess the jump scares worked. A woman who was sitting at the opposite end of the row I was in sounded like she almost died during one particular moment. However judging by the sound of her and all the coughing she was doing I think she was getting over the flu, much like myself in fact. 

The set-up for all the bigger scary moments are done very well. Some happen quicker than you expect and some are of a more slow build which really racks up the tension. It’s quite a skilful technique when you think about it and I appreciate the film for putting the time and effort into that instead of just resorting to cheap scares.  Also sound plays a big part in the film and it’s used to great effect. As a firm believer in what you don’t see is scarier, The Conjuring is proof of that.

The film takes place in the early 70s and as a fan of 70s cinema it felt very genuine. There’s even a clip of The Brady Bunch shown briefly for good measure. The overall setting of the film I really liked.  It gives the film a very old style ghost story look and feel; with the fog, the overcast weather and the creepy old tree in the back yard with branches that resemble monstrous arms. It reminded me a lot of that scary old tree from Poltergeist.

The climax of the film was me biggest concern going in, as nine times out of ten I’m left feeling somewhat disappointed with movies of this particular genre. But in this case the climax was satisfying but it was a bit all over the place at some points, too much happening at once which did confuse me a little at one point. But it could have been a lot worse.

The acting I must say was surpassing good. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as the Warrens were the two standouts. I really liked their characters; I went in thinking that they would be this old fashion style, god fearing couple who constantly spout phrases from the bible but they’re just regular down to earth people, sensible people with very logical minds; a very fascinating couple indeed. Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor are solid as the husband and wife and parents to five daughters under the oppression of the malevolent force which has attached itself to this average working class family. The family dynamic is captured well enough that do actually feel for them when things get really bad.

I would say go see The Conjuring if you haven’t planned to already from being caught up in all the buzz/hype like I was yesterday afternoon. It’s not just another haunted house movie, it’s got a great old school quality about it, great atmosphere and it does offer some truly genuine scares; a good film to see in a big dark theatre.                

By Kevin Bechaz

Credit Where Credit's Due

Director: James Wan

Writer(s): Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston  
Runtime: 112 minutes
Release Date(s): USA: July 19, 2013 Australia: July 18, 2013


  1. gotta love a good old school horror flick. i wanna see this now.

  2. Great write up brother. I really liked this film. I'm working on my review today.

    1. Thanks James! I'll be sure to read your review over the weekend.

  3. Nice review Kevin. A good time at the movies, especially if you love horror movies. I don't, but I still had a fun time nonetheless.

    1. Thanks! I'm not that much into modern horror movies but this was an exception for sure.