The Conjuring is a story based on the original case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren about the Perron family in Rhode Island who begin to experience paranormal activities in their newly bought home. The family, as it turns out, was being haunted by the old owner of the house, who happened to be an accused witch who sacrified her own child to the devil and cursed “whomever would take her land” for generations to come. Faced with the very real threat of violent attacks from supernatural entities, and the possession of the Carolyn (Lili Taylor), the mother, who is being used as an instrument to kill her children, the Warrens must deal with the demon at great risk to their personal safety and the safety of their own family.
I really liked the consistency and the approach that the filmmakers used on The Conjuring — from the setting to the treatment of the entire film. The 60s to 70s setting was spot on, and so were the actors who played main characters Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga). While I have never been a big fan of Wilson, I think this time, he gelled well with Farmiga and their rapport as husband and wife was both believable and relateable to the audience. I liked how his character Ed was able to convey strength to protect his wife Lorraine and how his main priority was always the well being of his wife, even in the direst situations. I also liked the Perron family because they just seemed so real. Despite most films resorting to stereotypes (rebellious teen, charming toddler, goofball), I thought that the Perron children, while bearing signs of stereotype, responded appropriately to the events presented in the movie, as a family, as did Ron Livingston who played Roger, the dad, who is trying his darnest to protect his wife and daughters.
There have been a steady stream of the haunting, and possession movies of late and in truth, The Conjuring was in danger of falling into several pitfalls — mainly in failing to meet people’s expectations. The studio made a smart move in casting Patrick Wilson, whom audiences identify with one of the more successful movies of the genre — Insidious. But more than that, by providing him with a strong supporting cast and a plot that is executed plainly and simply, without having to pit the CGI with some of the more recent offerings, The Conjuring became quite successful in both the dramatic and horror aspects of the film. With the pacing giving enough time for scenes to develop, audiences fully get into the situations with the Perrons, and identifying with their vulnerabilities, making the scare tactics more effective.
I must also commend the make up and effects team for their excellent use of make up for both the demons and the possessed entities in this movie. It was a good throwback to old school horror and it was not done in an over the top fashion that borders on cheesy. Instead, it makes audiences take the threat seriously. The props also deserve equal praise. the Anabel doll, while similar to Dead Silence puppet was scary as heck and the spiral in the mirror or the music box? Majorly creepy.
All in all, I liked The Conjuring. It reminded me of a milder version of The Exorcist, which up to now stands as one of the finest possession movies ever made. More than the scares though, I liked how the characters stories’ and experiences connected with each other and eventually how, this played out on the big screen. Highly recommended.