Things that go bump in the night can cause quite a “HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THAT?”
Let me be honest, I am not a big fan of horror and scary movies in general. Don’t get me wrong, I love intense movies and can handle blood & violence usually when it’s rooted in some attempts at realism. The Conjuring is a scary-ass movie that once the action picks up, it doesn’t let off. This results in a long period of tense edginess which is unpleasant, after a while. The Conjuring knows what it is going for – old school frights – and it delivers in spades. The movie is a spot-the-movie-reference game, like the meta-horror A Cabin in the Woods, it’s got a dose of Poltergesit, Exorcist, The Amityville Horror and many others.
The movie tells the true story of Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren who go to Rhode Island to help the Perron family eliminate a dark force in their new home. Of course their new home is a huge old farmhouse similar to the Amityville house. The house and land all around it has seen it’s share of murder, hangings, and suicides going all of the way back to the time of the Salem Witch Trials. Roger Perron(Ron Livingston) and his wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor) have moved with their five daughters have unwittingly moved right in as realtors do not have to disclose any paranormal trouble. Instantly things are off as the family dog refuses to enter the home, then things slowly go from bumps in the night to demons running around the house.
Carolyn hears Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Lorraine (Vera Famiga) speaking about paranormal activity at a college. She meets them afterwards to beg them to come take a look at their house. They bring their cameras and gear, an assistant and a local sheriff to inspect the house. It doesn’t take long for the dark forces to get real pissed at all of the crosses the Warrens bring into the house. No one likes pissed off demons and boy do these demons get angry. As it always seems to happen in horror movies, Carolyn, the mother, gets possessed and turns into a crazed demon monster who wants to kill her daughter.
The Warrens think an exorcism is needed, which is why they are documenting proof of the demons in the house. They also realize that they cannot wait around for the Vatican bureaucracy to approve it which forces Ed, not a Catholic priest, to perform it. The proverbial shit has hit the fan. The movie builds and builds to the inevitable breaking point, dragging the audience along kicking and screaming with them. The Conjuring delivers classic haunted house/exorcism terrors and scares of the “He’s standing right behind you!” variety. Demons and witches, oh my!
The cast of the film is great, especially the pairing of Wilson and Farmiga as the Warrens. The scenes back in their Connecticut home that show the room where they keep all of the possessed mementos of previous investigations is a treasure trove of stuff that will give you nightmares – scary music boxes, dolls that come to life, you name it and it’s in the room. Lili Taylor gives a fantastic performance as the mother in peril, she looks like she hasn’t aged one day since Dogfight (1991). The 70′s period setting looked decent too with my only usual complaint – the cars always look brand new. When the Warrens arrive home at the end of the movie, the receive a phone call about a disturbance in New York – sequel alert! Which, like last month’s The Heat, I would be all for. In fact, a real criticism of this movie is we didn’t get to spend enough time with the Warrens, who were damn interesting. Word is out that Lorraine Warren, who is still alive, Ed passed away in 2006, has given the film’s producers her blessing to make another movie based on their case files.
Go see The Conjuring and get the crap scared right out of you. You just might spend the next month sleeping with the lights on.