The Conjuring (2013) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: The Conjuring (2013)


The Conjuring (2013) by The Critical Movie Critics

Something wicked approaches.

Every now and then, there comes a film that reaffirms our quelling desire to be at the movies, or to watch as we sit back on the couch with an addictive bag of popcorn. The Conjuring is one of those films. With old-school scares, stellar camerawork and commendable acting, this film — though formulaic — confirms our love of a good horror flick; it also leaves us feeling exceedingly frightened of anything identified with the Salem Witch Trials.

The story, said to be based off of true events, involves the same demonologists that investigated the Amityville Horror case. At its heart, though, it revolves around the Perrons — Roger (Ron Livingston, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”) the patriarch of the family, his wife, Carolyn (Lili Taylor, “Public Enemies”) and their five daughters (including Mackenzie Foy, Joey King, Hayley McFarland, Shanley Caswell and Kyla Deaver) — a family that has just taken strides to make a new start for themselves by purchasing an old farmhouse auctioned off by the bank.

That right there should be enough of a tell-tale sign, as shortly thereafter they begin to experience supernatural occurrences in the old, internally-dilapidated house.

But The Conjuring gets better than just disembodied female ghost whispers, shifting furniture and bangs in the barren basement. There is a demonic presence slowly latching itself to the family and as any horror-guru can tell you without watching, possession seeks the form of the most vulnerable. And after home remedies fail to stop the situation from worsening, the Perrons finally seek the help of professionals, that’s right, it’s ghost busting time.

Enter demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, “Insidious” and Vera Farmiga, “Safe House”), two acclaimed hunters of the paranormal, who have had a widely successful but controversial career together. They soon realize the scope of the Perrons dilemma and quickly move in with a small crew armed with (now archaic) cameras and thermal technology. But are they too late to save yet another family (and audiences to a lesser extent) from eternal damnation?

The Conjuring (2013) by The Critical Movie Critics

Clue inspection.

Saving the audience, at least, is the acting of Vera Farmiga. As usual, she delivers a formidable performance in a genre that seems to fit her best (now showcased weekly on the TV show, “Bates Motel”). She commands the screen with a sense of deserved authority, but also with high vulnerability. Patrick Wilson is no slouch either (having worked with James Wan prior no doubt a benefit); he is believably stern and generous, and the young actresses portraying the Perron daughters thankfully stray from the normally arid line readings by teenaged actors.

It was also a wonderful idea for the production team to shoot in North Carolina. The locale provided an exceedingly creepy farmhouse and some wonderful landscape shots.

Fine points aside The Conjuring, unfortunately, doesn’t carry with it the overwhelming scares, the character development or the ingenuity to put it on a level playing field with classics like “The Exorcist” or “Poltergeist.” True, few horror movies can get there but it would be nice to see a contender finally arrive on the scene. The Conjuring with some extra effort could have been that contender.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
4 Star Rating: Good

4

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The Critical Movie Critics

A product of rural New Jersey, Dan is an active author, film critic and journalist. His debut historical fiction novel, "Synod," is due out with an indie press in early 2018. He is a former staff writer for the N.Y. Daily News, where he also served as a film/TV reviewer with a "Top Critic" designation on Rotten Tomatoes. He's currently the associate editor of a B2B media site. His areas of interest include Tudor and Victorian England, the Gothic subgenre and immersive sci-fi.


'Movie Review: The Conjuring (2013)' have 17 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 20, 2013 @ 8:31 pm brainload

    It’s only a matter of time before James Wan puts all the pieces together to make a classic horror film.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 20, 2013 @ 8:50 pm David Meyer

    Sounds great but I think I’ll rent this closer to Halloween.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      July 23, 2013 @ 10:10 pm Joe

      Why wait? Halloween won’t make it any scarier.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      July 25, 2013 @ 7:38 pm OnceTwisted

      Waiting for Halloween has no merit but you may be right in waiting to rent it. Experiencing this in the pitch dark, alone, in your own home is probably the better choise than seeing it in a theater with a bunch of kids talking about how scared they are or aren’t.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 20, 2013 @ 9:14 pm Heat

    I’m in for a good scare!

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      July 21, 2013 @ 1:09 pm Brockton

      You’re in for much more than a good scare. It had me jumping out of my seat more than i care to admit.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 20, 2013 @ 9:58 pm Aldoraine

    Easily the best horror movie I have seen in many years.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 20, 2013 @ 10:33 pm NightmareX

    It is full of basic horror tropes and cliches but damnit if they still didn’t work! My ass cheeks were firmly clamped from beginning to end!

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 21, 2013 @ 4:29 am Slackjaw

    Wan’s Insidious was scarier.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 21, 2013 @ 9:30 am Hummer54

    Creepy. And if this really is based on true events its even creepier.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      August 2, 2013 @ 3:59 pm Windowless

      I think the fact that the movie was based off true events held it back. The conclusion should have ended completely differently – in a way that would have really sent shockwaves through the audience…

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 21, 2013 @ 4:46 pm Draiko

    I don’t follow the reviewer’s train of thought.

    He starts with “With old-school scares, stellar camerawork and commendable acting, this film — though formulaic — confirms our love of a good horror flick” but he ends his review with “The Conjuring, unfortunately, doesn’t carry with it the overwhelming scares, the character development or the ingenuity.”

    Seems he suffered from a bout of amnesia…

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      July 24, 2013 @ 2:25 am Dan Gunderman

      What you seem to leave out is: “to put it on a level playing field with classics like The Exorcist and Poltergeist.” Trust me, it had its moments, albeit moderately cliche. But it was still a nice theater experience.

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 22, 2013 @ 3:41 pm Reed

    I’m not easily scared but Conjuring left me with an empty pit in my stomach.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 30, 2013 @ 11:52 am Rock

    I hate everything about SAW series. Good on Wan for getting to better scary pictures.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 31, 2013 @ 9:25 pm Mike Linch

    I’m throwing in the trash every doll my daughter owns.

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 6, 2013 @ 8:52 pm 737 Down

    There wasn’t a damn thing frightening about this movie.

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