This review is being done by request of Connor Miller.
It will be slightly different from my other reviews because this isn’t the first time I’m watching it. I’m also going to try to be as objective as possible, looking at it as its own movie with no regard to Annabelle which I reviewed previously.
The Conjuring is about a family which moves into a house that they soon find to be haunted or possessed, whichever definition you’d prefer. In their time of need, this family calls upon Ed and Lorraine Warren to use their knowledge in demonology to help their family move on with their lives. The story is based on an actual case the Warrens worked on in the 1970s.
This movie faired extremely well at the box office when it was released in summer 2013. When I say extremely well, I do mean for a horror movie, but I don’t think that lessens any impact. If I do recall correctly, The Conjuring was able to sustain an audience for its entire run in theaters, whereas most horror movies do their best during opening weekend, and then start to dwindle until removed from theaters.
The story of The Conjuring really harkens back to old, classic paranormal horror, or at least it does in my book. It’s filled with images that really linger with you. It does have jump scares, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t completely rely on them to freak you out. Normally in these movies, I’m able to point out one or two scares that really stuck with me, but in The Conjuring, it’s hard for me to pick just one. There are so many things, from the game of Hide and Go Clap to the basement or to the man standing behind the children’s door. There are so many gems in this movie that it’s hard to talk about one without talking about them all.
Another thing about the story that I really like is the breakaways from the family being haunted to Ed and Lorraine Warren themselves during the same time. The film stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the demonologist couple, and they do a pretty fantastic job. I enjoy how the film shows how this particular case affected them in their own home life. I feel like the characterization of these two characters is better than the family being haunted themselves.
The film is shot with a lot of really interesting cinematography. There are long lingering shots and shots that follow an entire action, going on for an extended period of time. It’s very Hitchcock, and it does not lose its effect on the audience. Even the slow zooms work in the film’s favor to create tension and really let the audience know that something is very wrong.
I would like to give a very grand ovation to the costume department for this movie because the wardrobe is definitely on point. Vera Farmiga’s wardrobe is this amazing and hauntingly beautiful mix of old style Victorian and traditional 19th/20th century garb. It’s so hard to describe, and so difficult to tear my eyes away from.
At this time, I’d probably like to go back to where I said that The Conjuring harkens back to classic paranormal horror. By saying this, I do mean that there is really nothing new or original in this movie. It really is just a hodgepodge of a classic haunt, a classic possession and a classic exorcism. This is by no means a random rehashing of the old, though. The Conjuring is incredibly well-crafted, with every door creak and bump in the night sure to make the audience hold its breath. I know I did.
This was by far not my first time watching this film, and I was terrified.
I will say though that, as much as I enjoy the film, there is a bit of an anti-woman message. The haunted family consists of 6 women to 1 man. It’s inevitable that the point of possession would have been one of these women. It’s unfortunate that this then extends to a woman’s role as a child rearer, her God given gift to bring life only to end life as the utmost insult to God. The film upholds the stereotypes of women as the gender which is weakened by their “emotional power,” which is an old thinking process. The film also has a way of justifying the Salem Witch Trials by implying that at least one of the women hung was actually a witch.
Other than those issues that I had with The Conjuring, I really do enjoy this movie. It’s a James Wan film, and I do adore his work. He always has a way of keeping me on edge. I definitely do recommend this movie.