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Whether or not ‘The Conjuring' provides the scares

By John Dorman, For 21st Century Media

Thursday, August 8, 2013

This is one of the better horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Minus its sub-par ending, “The Conjuring” doesn’t really have much wrong with it. (The film’s close could even be a matter of personal preference, for I’d rather see it go out with a bang than the whimper on which it went out.)
“The Conjuring” mixes the sub-genres of haunted house flicks (think “Poltergeist”) and possession movies (“The Exorcist” has always been the benchmark) to present us with a high quality fright fest light on blood and without any real profanity that gets inside your head from its mood and overall tone. And the music by Joseph Bishara is chilling, too.
Did I mention this is based on a true story? Yeah, but before you dismiss this as another ploy of clever marketing and Hollywood exaggeration, know this: “The Conjuring” is based off the actual case files (by screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes) of Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), people known for dealing with this sort of thing in the real world.
Believe what you will, and with dramatic license notwithstanding, these were two honest-to-goodness people (not the hacks that pollute cable television as of late) that dealt with other-worldly things.
Basically, strange things have been happening at the Perron house in Rhode Island, home to Roger (Ron Livingston), Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their five daughters, so they track down the Warrens to sort things out.
Ed Warren’s a demonologist, which means what you’d think, master of everything demonic, but his expertise goes as far as him bringing work home with him for the greater good.
Ed’s got a room in his casa that houses items found during prior cases that demonic beings used as vessels, because, as he states in this film, demons don’t possess inanimate objects; they use them as the vessels through which they enter this world. He holds onto them after he sends the evil back from whence it came. Oh, the little things.
Lorraine Warren’s a clairvoyant, so with her there’s that personal connection with the unseen evil of this world. She sees things; she feels things; she harbors mental scars from this couple’s work.
These two form the ultimate team, and it would seem that they’d dominate a film such as this, but “The Conjuring” is director James Wan’s baby.
Wan got the Saw franchise rolling with its first, and easily least gory, installment, with what, in retrospect, seems to be one of horror’s most successful foundations on which to profit and build in film history. That creation of a financial force to be reckoned with makes him this generation’s most bankable author of cinematic horror. And the mental attack in the crafting of that film is undeniable.
Once again, if you scare easy this is not the movie for you. “The Conjuring” doesn’t bother with things like misdirection; it shows you where the scares are coming from and then lets you have it. You have to credit Wan for toning down the typical horror-film procedure of things jumping out and surprising us for that jolting horror effect; he’d rather startle us via tension and terrifying release. He holds your feet to the fire when he could’ve just as easily thrown you into the flames.
“The Conjuring” is crazy good.