The Conjuring (2013)
As most of you know already, I couldn’t care less about Halloween. But one good thing about it is that the TV companies use it as an excuse to re-run dozens of horror films, usually starting in September. (It feels like that, to me) Most of them are familiar favourites, with the big-hitters like the original ‘Halloween’ usually reserved for the night of the 31st. But as a film fan, I like to examine the schedules around that date, and pick up on something I might have missed previously. Last night, that happened, and I got to see ‘The Conjuring’.
A familiar theme, and one we have seen before. Supposedly based on a true story from the 1970s, we have a nice family moving into a big old house in the country. Hard-working Dad, loving Mum, and their five daughters. The film doesn’t wait too long to start delivering some shocks, as the family soon discover that there is something very wrong lurking within their new home. Mum decides to enlist the help of a team of paranormal investigators, and they arrive with lots of equipment, cameras, sound recording devices, and a wealth of previous experience in the field.
First off, the cast is strong. The reliable Patrick Wilson stars as the investigator, Ed Warren, with the excellent Vera Farmiga as his psychic wife, Lorraine. Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston are good as the concerned parents, and the young actors playing the five daughters all do their jobs well. The film is set in the 1970s, and feels like it was made then, so full marks for that too. Without any spoilers, I can only give an overview, but if you have seen any similar film, you will know what to expect.
Demonic possession, and a dark history surrounding the house. Spooky wardrobes and scary cellar, hidden passages, and unknown corridors. Exorcism, things thrown around, doors slamming, sleep-walking, and unusual sights and sounds. Confronting evil, religious symbols, and a worried priest.
Yes, it’s all there.
But there’s a BUT. It is actually very good! Deciding to leave out blood, gore, body horror, and violence worked, and it worked really well. Even the well-telegraphed shocks are kept to an effective minimum, and sensible lighting means we can actually see what happens. Everyone takes it very seriously, and the restrained use of special effects makes it a lot more believable. Wilson and Farmiga make a great couple, and are also convincing as determined paranormal investigators, on top of their game.
As ‘Haunted House’ films go, this is one of the best, in my opinion.
(I can’t speak for the sequels, as I haven’t seen them.)