Tuesday, 6 August 2013
The Conjuring - When haunted houses and possession goes right.
After a strong 1960s opening involving a creepy demonic doll it flashes-forward to the 70s with a family moving into their new house. From then on The Conjuring pretty much doesn't let up on the scares. While derivative, director James Wan wastes no time building on and defining what we've seen in other horrors but offering a complete package.
Based on a true story, writers Chad and Carey Hayes offer basements, pianos, priests, dolls and clocks. Their natural dialogue is well delivered by the cast, here the child actors are on form (argubly faultless) with Wan's regular Watchmen and Insidious actor Patrick Wilson delivering a good performance, his calibre adds to the proceedings. Vera Farmiga gives a subtle performance and gets the bulk of the character development. Their sub-plot sets this apart from other horrors of its kind. In addition, with some academic demonology information the lecture segments pay off once the couple being their investigation giving some scope to the proceedings. After the half hour mark the scares come thick and fast.
The 1970s is recreated perfectly, the camera work and lighting add to the ominous feel in conjunction with Joseph Bishara's score with its piano and horns that add to the creepier moments. As it develops every horror cliché is put on screen, dead animals, apparitions, mirrors, bruises, sleepwalking, recordings everything apart from the horror kitchen sink is thrown in. But Wan delivers the shocks and scares exceptionally as well as subtly leaving much to the viewers imagination.
With a debunking element from the Red Lights (2012), underrated Innkeepers (2011) and with moments reminiscent of The Exorcist (1973) The Amityville Horror and its remake, it shares much with these other films but still stands on its own. The Conjuring is debatably more grounded than Wan's other work probably due to the true story aspect. The special effects are outstanding and although the closing act is slightly overblown, it finishes on a fitting, tense and ominous low key moment.
It may not be as nerve-racking as the recent Sinister, but if you like haunted house and possession films this isn't one to miss.