Remember Insidious back in 2011? Well, director James Wan is back into the same turf — supernatural horror genre, that is — in The Conjuring. While that movie did make a lot of money at the box office and even received plenty of strong critical praises, I personally thought that Insidious was a terribly overrated movie which started well but gradually grew sillier until the cop-out ending. But fortunately, The Conjuring is way better than Insidious.
In The Conjuring, Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are two married paranormal investigators who have seen and solve everything unusual throughout their careers. But it is not until the year of 1971, where they handle one of the most difficult cases ever faced. The particular case involves the Perron family, which consists of husband Roger (Ron Livingston), wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor), and along with their five daughters, who have just moved into their country dream home of an 18th-century farmhouse.
However, it doesn’t take long before a series of supernatural occurrences started to mess around with the Perron family. It gets worse from time to time until Carolyn finally reaches out to the Warrens for help. The Warrens concludes that there’s a demonic entity inside the house and refuse to let the Perron family go unless the Warrens do something to stop the force of evil for good.
Director James Wan is certainly at the top of his game here. He knows a lot about the power of suggestion and the power of the right timing when comes to execute a classical-style horror movie. With the help of editor Kirk Morri and cinematographer John R. Leonetti (who cleverly employs different camerawork from handhelds, widescreen compositions and tracking shots during some of the movie’s frightening moments), the movie is one hair-raising cinematic experience that really demanded to be seen in the cinema. Joseph Bishara’s nail-biting score, and the impeccable sound effects — hands clapping, doors creaking, wall bumping, etc. — are perfectly executed as well.
The cast is equally top-notch. Vera Farmiga nearly steals the show from everyone with her heartfelt performance as the strong-willed but emotionally vulnerable Lorraine Warren. As Ed Warren, Patrick Wilson displays a certain kind of down-to-earth charm that makes his character likeable. Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor also shine in their roles as the parents who forced to face the supernatural occurrences surrounding their otherwise peaceful family. Plot-wise, Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes’ screenplay may have been familiar and particularly nothing that you haven’t seen before in a supernatural horror genre. But at least they manage to turn their otherwise deja vu experience into something that is truly engaging and emotionally involving to watch for.
If there’s any nitpicking in this movie, it’s the outcome of the ending during the final exorcism scene, which feels somewhat anticlimactic.
Although The Conjuring doesn’t exactly qualify as an instant horror classic, like say, The Exorcist, it remains a rare gem especially given the wobbly state of today’s horror movies these days.