Before I even begin, you should know that while I love scary movies, I am the world’s biggest sook. I ‘forgot to turn out the bedside light’ for 3 nights after Paranormal Activity. Yup…..big ole sook right here. I have a Scary Movie Buddy who comes with me to all scary movies. She loves them as much as me but she is not a big sook. In fact, I think she secretly delights in me hiding behind my hands and jumping in fright. So while I trailed into the cinema, still unsure if I would even stay, she was all ‘bring it on ….’ She even told me, with a sinister twinkle in her eye, that she had heard a reviewer proclaim this the scariest movie he had ever seen. Yeah…..thanks for that Scary Movie Buddy
The Conjuring is set in 1971. It opens with the husband and wife team of Paranormal Investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren (Farmiga and Wilson) holding a seminar consisting of footage from cases they have investigated. And yes this is one of those ‘footage found’ type of movies that is supposedly based in fact. As is usually the case with these types of investigations, everyone has questions and everyone is interested in what they do. But after this seminar, they are approached by a woman who is desperate for help. Lorraine is a clairvoyant and there has been some kind of mishap recently because Ed is reluctant to help.
The woman is Carolyn Perron (the eternally underrated Taylor…. one of my favourite actresses’ ever). Carolyn, her husband Roger (Livingston) and their 5 daughters have moved into an old house in the country. They are an average couple, struggling to make ends meet with Roger being away for weeks on end as a self-employed truck driver. Their daughters range in age from about 4 to 16.
This family is being haunted and by the time the Warren’s agree to help, the girls are all refusing to sleep in their own rooms and the whole family bunks down in the lounge room. They are truly terrified. After some discussion among the Warrens and Perrons, it is agreed they will set up their tools of investigation in the house to try to figure out what is going on.
The first half of this movie sets up the characters and feel of the movie. We are bombarded with images of early 70’s kitsch. Everything that can be wallpapered is wallpapered. The Brady Bunch is in its intial run. Hairstyles are long and clothing is polyester brown. The girls play hide and seek in the house rather than sit in front of the TV all day. The TV station goes to static at night because 24 hour TV is another 2 decades away. It’s an innocent time.
Perhaps this is why these bump in the night, corner of your eye haunting type things are so scary. Because this family is so average, so ordinary, so boringly mundane. But there is something evil in their house and it aint going anywhere.
Once we are in love with these adorably average girls ….. once we are wondering why Lorraine is so fragile …. once we are concerned for Carolyn and her bruised up body….. that’s when the movie shifts gear. The movie that has thus far meandered along with the tension building oh so slowly suddenly bursts into life and we are shown glimpses of what lives in the shadows.
The story is simple and familiar enough. Haunted house, haunted family, which family member is bringing this upon them all….. we’ve seen it all before. But where it differs and sets itself above many recent horror offerings is it’s lack of gore … lack of much anything except that creepy, yucky feeling that something is going to spring out at you at any given moment.
We see very little but the suspense is electrifying. And it is this suspense that holds you. The story has twists and turns galore and there is hardly a moment that you are not riveted to the screen or holding your breath waiting. This is not the best horror movie I have seen but it is far from the worst. I am a huge fan of the return to bump in the night horror as opposed to the gory so-called torture porn we have all been subjected to over the last few years.
This is a great horror movie which fans of the more cerebral branch of the genre will surely appreciate. So did I sleep with the lights on? I did not…. Scary Movie Buddy will be impressed 😉
Oh and was that the Amityville House I saw in the footage somewhere in this movie? Hmmmm
Love Flick x
Director : James Wan
Starring : Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Joey King,
Hayley McFarland, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, John Brotherton
Running Time : 112 minutes
Release Date : July 18