It would have been very hard for me to not like this film. I Love films based on true events, I’m a fan of the work done by Ed and Lorraine Warren, I love James Wan’s Films, I love supernatural type films, I’m a fan of Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Lili Taylor…Needless to say, my expectations were high. As the release date drew closer and closer, I started to worry about whether the film could live up to the hype. I had heard great things from test audiences and sneak previews, but i couldn’t help but be a little nervous. As it turns out, this is the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a long time!
The story follows The Perron Family, who moves into a run down Rhode Island Farmhouse only to experience frightening Paranormal occurrences that increase in both frequency and intensity, prompting then to seek the aide of Ed and Lorraine Warren, well known Paranormal experts and Demonologists. Upon arriving at the Perron home, the Warrens learn that things are even more serious than they could imagine. I’ll leave everything else spoiler free, as I hope you all will go see this film in Theaters and have the same experience I did…More on that in a moment.
If you’ve seen a few Haunting/Possession/Paranormal type films before, then you will agree that The Conjuring does not show us anything we haven’t seen many times before. If you’ve seen as many of these films as I have, you’ll be able to anticipate the scares well in advance, making the events on screen almost predictable, but even though I knew exactly what horror lay on the next frame, each scare would send a chill up my spine. Every element was done to perfection. So what if we’ve seen the same tricks before? This is an opportunity to see them done with maximum effectiveness and impact! This is terrifying, beautiful art! The casting is spot on and even the performances of the small children were fantastic. A lot of credit has to go to Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor, who play the Perrons, as well as Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga who play the Warrens, all turning in fantastic performances.
The choice to go with mostly practical effects was absolutely the right choice, as the horrors come across as more authentic. The choice certainly was not one of necessity as the film had a budget of $20 million (taking in $41.5 million opening weekend alone). These are the perks of working with a big Hollywood studio. This is unique for James Wan in that his greatest artistic as well as commercial success has come from low budget/non-Hollywood films such as Saw and Insidious. By all accounts, his first foray into the jungle known as Hollywood film-making was a disappointing experience as Dead Silence was wrought with studio meddling. What made The Conjuring different, i believe, is that the project had been in the works in some form or another for over 20 years, shuffling back and forth from studio to studio, until all the tumblers finally fell into place with Warner Bros. Thankfully Wan was allowed to shine, and what we got is a Horror film that I think will likely end up being a landmark for the Genre.
Alrighty, now on to my experience in the Theater…The screening room was pretty full, my group is flanked by two young teen girls to our left, and some youngish fellows who likely use the term “Swag”. As the tension builds for each scare, you can feel the tension in the air from the collective audience. You could tell when each scare was coming, but when it arrived, it was still effective to ellicite screams from a good portion of the audience. The teens beside us screamed for everything…EV! RY! THING! As the film continued and the terror built up, the swag boys in front of us started to scream as well. not just a startled scream every now and again, loud screams, sustained screams! They screamed, paused for breath, and screamed more! I loved every second of it. Not only can i see evidence that the film I was greatly enjoying is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do by scaring the shit out of it’s audience, but I get to be a sadistic bastard and delight in a whole theater screaming like little girls.
Wilson and Farmiga have both signed on for a sequel, we’ve not seen the last of the Warrens! 😉
9/10 Haunted Farmhouses