director James Wan
When you are noted Saw (2004) director James Wan, who has also directed Dead Silence and Death Sentence (both 2007, both which I have not seen), you’re trying to cement your reputation as a modern horror “master”. You make Insidious (2011), kicking off a new franchise, and then follow up with The Conjuring. Your reputation is perhaps coming together. Or at least you’re starting to seriously rake in dough for all time.
Insidious got pretty decent reviews, but I thought it was pretty second rate. The Conjuring got even better reviews. So, who knows? Maybe Wan will get to have his cake and eat it too.
Actually, I thought The Conjuring was actually pretty good. Based on real life “demonologists” Ed and Lorraine Warren’s “most frightening case,” that of the haunting and possession of a Rhode Island family and the big old house that they’ve just moved into. It seems that there was a witch from the old Salem witch trial days that killed her own baby and cursed the land before being hung from a tree on the property.
Frankly, a better name for the film would be “The Demonologists” or something. I’m not exactly sure what is conjured up here, but it is more subtle chills and eeriness than gross out gore or shock value surprises. To actually pull off this style of horror, you need to be able to manipulate the audience, work up characters, story, tensions. You need more skills at movie-making. And unlike Insidious, I think this time Wan gets it.
The final section of the film gets more straight into exorcism. It got me thinking a bit about whether this movie was a “ghost” story or not. It’s not a ghost but a demon, so they say. And then you get your exorcism going, well,… I guess it’s a slightly different genre.
The Warrens are a notable pair. Involved in researching the Amityville Horror, they have shown up featured on episodes of programs like “A Haunting”. They were real life ghostbusters, if you will. The film takes them seriously, with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson playing the psychic squares straight up.
The film doesn’t break new ground really nor is it necessarily one likely to fall into the level of “classic” but it’s an earnest and interesting horror film. One of the better ones to come around in a while.