{2jtab: Movie Review}

The Conjuring - Movie Review


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4 stars

Finally, after what seems like years (maybe decades) of waiting, Hollywood manages to produce a modern-made haunted house tale worth a damn.  No longer do we have to run to films like 1963’s The Haunting, 1980’s The Changeling or 1979’s The Amityville Horror to get our haunted house fix.  We can now add The Conjuring to the list.  Why?  One simple reason: The Conjuring is legitimately scary as hell.

Directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious), The Conjuring allows a massive amount of creepiness to saturate its 1970’s setting and – while entirely familiar – the film manages to scare up some seriously thrilling moments as it documents a supposed true story Rhode Island haunting.  From beginning to end, Wan paces the film, its characters, and himself well and, with great moments of heightened tension, steers the film toward a frightening finale that seriously doesn’t disappoint.

Focusing on Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), The Conjuring opens with a lecture about what these real life ghost hunters and demonologists do.  The investigative duo, if you’ll recall, are famously involved with The Amityville Horror as well as a series of other hauntings across the nation.  The Rhode Island house and what disturbs it in The Conjuring is another of their cases; although claimed to be secret until now.  Whether or not this is true is beside the point, though.

The Conjuring is more than just a knocking noise coming from another room.  It’s pointed, tight, and – like the family dog that won’t come in the house – ready to spook and be spooked.   When Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) and their five daughters move into a large Victorian home in Rhode Island – complete with a pond and acreage – they quickly realize that they are not its only occupants.  The clocks all stop at 3:07 in the morning; pictures of the family are hurled to floor, the youngest daughter has a new invisible friend, and Carolyn’s nights are filled with unexpected bruisings.  When a game of hide-and-clap goes wrong, the Perron’s call upon The Warrens to help them out and, quite suddenly, both couples realize that this haunting; this possession is one for the ages.

Moving in with a little research under their belt and a lot of Super 8 cameras, The Warrens and The Perrons attempt to document and destroy the entities that inhabit the property.  Okay, okay, so like I said, there’s nothing new in The Conjuring, but what is here is excellent.  Starting with the acting, The Conjuring has The Warrens front and center and the move to start off with debunkers really pays off.  Wilson and Farminga are excellent in their roles.  They are interesting, complex, and human, presenting the couple as a rich unit united by their understanding of the supernatural.

Wan tones down the gore and paces himself throughout much of the film.  Mood is front and center and the 1971 setting assists in keeping him true to the spirit of the story and not so much the hiccups of the genre.  There are a few jump scare moments but nothing to break the overall mood of the picture.  His horror auteur status is on the rise with much of The Conjuring.  This is a bit stronger than Insidious – even if the final moments are a bit uneven – and less focused on the shock and gore of Saw.  As far as atmosphere goes, much of Wan’s tension here can be found in his 2007 offering of Dead Silence.  It’s just that – without a doubt – The Conjuring is Wan at his best.

You know where the scares are in this haunted house tale but The Conjuring still startles you.  This is definitely a muscle that Wan flexes again and again.  Something's lurking in the wardrobe closet.  You know it is.  Yet, it still spooks you.  There's something in the basement; something in the corner.  It's all familiar and, yet, it works again and again.  It is riveting entertainment that will scare you more than any other Paranormal Activity has before.

When it comes to familiar and favorite haunts, The Conjuring definitely does not disappoint in scaring the pants off of its audience.  Don’t see it alone.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Conjuring - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror.
112 mins.
: James Wan
: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Cast: Vera Farmiga; Patrick Wilson; Ron Livingston; Lili Taylor
: Horror
Based on a true story
Memorable Movie Quote: "Keep the lights on in this house at night"
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date: July 19, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 22, 2013

Synopsis: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Conjuring - Blu-ray review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 stars

Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 22, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English, English SDH, Spanish; French; Portuguese
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region-free

Despite its $20 million budget, The Conjuring boasts all the polish of a big production.  That shows in the 1080p transfer’s exemplary 2.40:1 widescreen presentation.  The visuals remain sharp and clean in both light and dark scenes.  Shot on hi-def video, the movie retains a filmic look throughout.  Hues are stylistically a bit saturated and faces are generally warm.  Lots of nice details are packed in each frame.  The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio commands more notice than the taken-for-granted visual strength. The enveloping sound design produces an engaging experience. The booming bass reaches glass-rattling heights at a relatively low volume; solid looking and sounding stuff.



  • None

Special Features:

In contrast to what the studio has admirably doing lately by bringing bonus features back for audiences, The Conjuring skimps on extras, only including three featurettes, totaling about half an hour of material.  Naturally, the Blu-ray presents them in HD.  One featurette gathers the recollections on the dramatized case from the real Perron family and Lorraine Warren, another focuses on Wan’s activity behind the scenes, and a third focuses on the Warrens and their work with the paranormal.  Warner's basic Blu-ray combo pack is not as exhaustive as you want it to be but it still earns a recommendation.

  • Face to Face with Terror (7 min)
  • A Life in Demonology (16 min)
  • Scaring the '@$*%' Out of You (8 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}