BY DANITA STEINBERG
Good horror flicks are hard to come by. Most of them are groan-inducing, eye-rolling affairs. But once in a while, a truly creepy story is brought to the screen, enhanced by atmospheric scares and solid acting.
The Conjuring follows the Perron family after they move into a farmhouse and begin experiencing unexplainable events. With her five daughters scared straight, matriarch Carolyn (Lili Taylor) seeks professional help from renowned paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. You may be familiar with Ed and Lorraine Warren, as they were also the paranormal investigators involved in the infamous Amityville haunting. They are controversial figures, often considered complete whack jobs and surrounded by hoaxes and tall tales. That being said, the fact that the Warrens are featured makes The Conjuring that much better.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson convincingly play the Warrens, with just the right amount of crazy and likability. While the Warrens are hard characters to swallow at times, they are portrayed accurately, which adds to the whole “based on a true story” gimmick. It’s time someone with a genuine interest in the Warrens made a movie that is at least partially about them.
The Conjuring plays out like an old classic — it doesn’t try to rewrite the scares, it just makes good use out of the tried and true ones. Birds flying into the house, weird smells, creepy basements, clocks stopping at a specific time each night, a lot of darkness and shadows, and a booming soundtrack all keep you scared of what’s lurking behind the corner and under the bed.
It’s clear that director James Wan knows how to do horror, making films like Saw and Insidious. He can happily add The Conjuring to his roster of successes. His fancy camerawork and dizzying angles create unmatched atmosphere, and his attention to detail is a real asset when piecing together a cohesive story. Wan is a director that loves the horror genre, and he pays homage to the great films that have come before him.
For anyone interested in the paranormal, The Conjuring is a good old-fashioned ghost story. It offers some genuinely creepy moments that will linger with you in the darkness as you’re trying to fall asleep. Whether you’re a skeptic or believer, it’ll probably be a long time before you play hide and seek again. But I can’t wait for Halloween to roll around so I can make The Conjuring a permanent fixture in my October horror-a-thons.