Review: The Conjuring ★★★★☆

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The Conjuring tells the story of Carolyn and Roger Perron, played by Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston, and their family’s disturbing experiences in their new home. When the family can take no more of the scary occurrences, they rope in Ed and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) a demonologist and a clairvoyant, to help rid the family of the evil entities.

Yes, the film contains a lot of predictable scares, but the film as a whole succeed in being very scary. The film consists of a multitude of those moments where you find yourself sitting on the edge of the seat shouting ‘don’t do it!’ at the characters, whether they’re about to go into a boarded-up cellar with no lights, or reaching into a wardrobe that contains someone lurking inside.

The final half hour of the film is intense, to say the least. My heart was racing throughout the chaotic exorcism scene. There is also is a moment when possessed mother Carolyn (Lili Taylor) races demonically through the beams under the house to find her youngest daughter, at which point director James Wan presents us with a ‘Here’s Johnny!’ style shot of possessed Carolyn’s terrifying face through the woodwork. Though perhaps open to ridicule for its sheer outrageousness, I found it terrifying.

As a ghost story fan, I think the storyline of The Conjuring is great. It’s always a notable achievement for a horror movie to make terrifying paranormal situations seem plausible and The Conjuring does just that. It’s also worth mentioning the five young actors who played the Perron children. One often sees children over-acting in films, especially horrors – think hands on cheeks, mouth wide open – but these girls acted just scared enough.

The policeman character, Drew, adds another, perhaps incongruous, dimension to the film. Played by Shannon Kook, he adds a level of comedy to this dark movie, my favourite of his blunders being an incident with a bell during a séance. A fool may not usually be a very welcome character in a horror movie but here his presence works very well.

There are a few unanswered questions when the credits come up, leaving the audience saying ‘wait, but what about..?’. The Conjuring 2 perhaps? I’d welcome a sequel, no doubt!

The Conjuring (2013), directed by James Wan, is distributed in the UK by Warner Bros. Pictures, Certificate 15. 

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