Saturday, February 8, 2014

Review: "The Conjuring" Conjures Goose Flesh

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 6 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Conjuring (2013)
Running time:  112 minutes (1 hour, 52 minutes)
MPAA – R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror
DIRECTOR:  James Wan
WRITERS:  Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes
PRODUCERS:  Rob Cowan, Tony DeRosa-Grund, and Peter Safran
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  John R. Leonetti (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Kirk M. Morri
COMPOSER:  Joseph Bishara


Starring:  Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, Shannon Kook, John Brotherton, and Sterling Jerins

The Conjuring is a 2013 supernatural horror film from director James Wan.  The film stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as fictional versions of real life, American paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren.  In The Conjuring, Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.

The film opens in 1971.  Roger Perron (Ron Livingston) and his wife, Carolyn (Lili Taylor), move into a dilapidated farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island with their five daughters:  Andrea (Shanley Caswell), Nancy (Hayley McFarland), Christine (Joey King), Cindy (Mackenzie Foy), and April (Kyla Deaver).  Strange things begin to happen almost immediately upon the family moving into the farmhouse.

Soon, what can be called paranormal disturbances, occur, and the family soon finds itself under various forms of physical attack.  Carolyn seeks the help of noted paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga).  The couple reluctantly agrees to conduct an initial investigation, but soon finds that the Perrons are in more peril than they imagine.

The Conjuring is an old-fashioned scary movie, using mood, atmosphere, imagery, lighting, and sound effects to elicit scares.  The plot is always ratcheting up the dread, as if the story is proud of its heritage that harkens back to films like The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, and Poltergeist.  It is gleefully creepy, as I found myself laughing and shivering, often at the same time.  It’s also a howler, as some of the scenes in which the “bad spirit” gets physical with the Perrons are funny and scary.  Watching someone dragged across the room by an unseen force made me laugh and squeal.

The filmmakers smartly deliver the scares, but the movie never takes itself too seriously.  The Conjuring does things that made me freak-out, and those are often things that other horror movies have done, but those other movies made me roll my eyes in disdain.  The acting is good, if not great.  The actors, adults and children, are quite good at making you sympathetic of their respective causes.  I felt like I was right there with them – suffering through supernatural shenanigans.

The Conjuring works, and I think it may remain a Halloween favorite for some time to come.  Or it may be just what the voodoo doctor orders when you need a scare or two.

7 of 10

Thursday, February 06, 2014

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