Vera Farmiga - Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson - Ed Warren
Lili Taylor - Carolyn Perron
Ron Livingston - Roger Perron
Shanley Caswell - Andrea
Hayley McFarland - Nancy
Joey King - Christine
Mackenzie Foy - Cindy
Kyla Deaver - April
Shannon Kook - Drew
John Brotherton - Brad
Genre - Horror/Supernatural/Demons/Haunted House
Running Time - 112 Minutes
Based on true events, THE CONJURING depicts one of the paranormal investigations conducted by Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). This case, from 1971, involves Roger (Rob Livingston) and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) - who move into a house they bought in Harrisville, Rhode Island with their five daughters. Even though they ignore warnings from their dog, who refuses to enter the house and would rather bark at it, the family soon realizes that their new home isn't exactly perfect. In fact, it's being haunted by some demonic entity that slams doors, create scary moments in the cellar, and even possesses people.
The Warrens, who are dealing with some issues of their own due to past investigations, decide to take the case and head to Harrisville to help. When they learn and confirm to the Perrons that the demonic entity is feeding off of their life force in order to possess the living [it wants to recreate past events through new bodies], the Warrens do everything they can to stop this evil force and save the Perrons from more trauma.
+ I really loved the cast, especially the actors playing the two couples. I've always been a fan of Patrick Wilson and he's great here as Ed Warren. The beautiful Vera Farmiga is probably a bit better as the haunted Lorraine Warren. I thought Wilson and Farmiga had fantastic chemistry and hope they both return for the sequel. As for the Perrons, both Rob Livingston and especially Lili Taylor are great in their roles. It's nice to see Taylor in a haunted house film that doesn't suck for a change [THE HAUNTING remake can blow me]. Plus, Taylor had the most to work with and she performed all like a champ. The supporting actors, especially the actors playing the daughters, were very good. John Brotherton, as Officer Brad, had some nice comedic moments, as did Shannon Kook's Drew. I think the cast was really good here and came across as completely believable.
+ James Wan does it again when it comes to directing a great film. I thought THE CONJURING was a step above both DEAD SILENCE [probably my least favorite Wan film currently] and INSIDIOUS [can't wait for that sequel]. While there was a lot of INSIDIOUS touches in this film, I thought THE CONJURING was filmed with more subtlety that was greatly appreciated. I loved that Wan took a fairly predictable premise and still managed to make me jump at times. The 70s look of the film was groovy, and the sense of dread was thick. I loved the demonic moments where the hands came out of the closet, jumped off of the closet, and the "Hide 'n' Clap" moments that made me chuckle. The film also had a lot of cool angles that never wore out their welcome. I think this was Wan's strongest film so far as a director.
+ While the story was predictable and you can see things coming a mile away, at least it's executed really well. The characters were interesting, inviting, and very likeable. Each character had a role and they all enhance the story forward. I also thought the paranormal story actually made sense, keeping the audience involved through smart details rather than focusing on some stupid, unnecessary twist. Even elements from THE EXORCIST, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR [which was a case the Warrens actually investigated], and even POLTERGEIST didn't feel forced. In fact, I thought these cliche moments added to the story due to making them feel fresh within the context.
I do wish we gotten more time with the Warrens, as most of the story was focused on the Perron case itself. Their lives seem incredibly interesting, and their relationship was so well told that you wanted to see more of them. I'm not too down on the lack of Warrens here since I'm sure THE CONJURING will become a franchise of sorts, which will probably allow the series to explore the characters a bit more.
- I hear THE CONJURING received an "R" rating due to its scares. The funny thing is that I didn't find the film fear-inducing. Sure, it was creepy at times. And some moments made me jump just out of surprise. But I never felt scared or anything. And the audience I was with laughed at the scary moments rather than being frightened by them. This doesn't hurt the film in anyway [I had fun with THE CONJURING], but I still don't understand why the MPAA rated the film the way it did.
THE FINAL HOWL
THE CONJURING continues a pretty good horror year so far in 2013. It's your typical haunted house/demon possession movie, but it works really well and will keep you entertained for two hours. The performances are solid, the story is well-told, and James Wan directs the film with a nice subtlety and detailed eye. I honestly don't have any complaints about this throwback to 70s haunted house movies [besides wishing it were a bit scarier]. Sure, it may be "unoriginal" to some. But it's not about the ingredients - it's about how you cook them.