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As I write this Slaughter Film has a podcast recorded in which I talk about The Conjuring. With that said I'm sure you are wondering why the hell I would write a review of it if I'm just going to turn around and say the same damn thing in a podcast. "Is someone fuckin' with your medicine?" No, no one is fuckin' with my medicine. Since it's still in theaters, many of you might not have had a chance to see it and I didn't want to spoil any surprises during our recording. Looking back, there were things that I wanted to say, or should have said but didn't, so I'm taking this opportunity to get those things in writing. So shut up, and buckle in as I share my thoughts on what I think may just be the scariest movie of the year, with spoilers.

The Conjuring is set in mid-seventies and begins with the Perron family as they move into their "new" two hundred year old colonial home located in the outskirts of Harrisville, Rhode Island. The Perrons are Roger and Carolyn who have five young daughters plus one family dog, who refuses to set paw in the house. As the girls settle in and fight over who gets to sleep in which bedroom, Roger discovers that a doorway leading to a basement full of dusty old furniture, has been boarded up.

Friends helping friends light farts.

Once the basement has been accessed, the family begin to notice strange nightly happenings around the their new home. All the clocks stop at 3:07 AM, the girls are woken in the night to the smell of rotten meat, strange noises, the youngest girl takes up talking to an invisible friend [in a scene right out of Amityville Horror] and one morning they find their quadrupedal family member dead on the lawn.

Roger makes the bacon driving a rig across the country and is often gone for weeks on end, leaving Carolyn alone to look after the girls. It is on one of these trips that the supernatural occurrences escalate to a terrifying and violent episode that leaves the family beside itself.

Things start with one of the young girls being woken in the night by an invisible something tugging her leg. She wakes her sister to complain, when in the corner she can see a shadowy figure in the corner. Meanwhile, Carolyn's attention is drawn to the sound of children playing on the first floor and in the basement. Knowing that her daughters are in bed, she investigates and is lead into the basement where the door slams shut behind her and she is trapped. Elsewhere, their oldest wakes to find one of her younger sisters sleep walking in her room. When she gets out of bed to help her back to her room, she is attacked by a haggard lady entity. Roger returns home, just then, to find his entire family losing their shit.

It is clear to the family that whatever is happening isn't just the house settling and they need to find help. Luckily for them Ed and Lorraine Warren are speaking at the near by University. What about you may ask? Well, demonology. The Warrens are paranormal researchers who travel the country investigating hauntings, possessions and other such creepy stuff. Carolyn meets with and reaches out to the Warrens, begging them to come to her home and help her and her family.

"Got a ghost under your bed, who ya gonna call?" Some married couple.

The Warrens meet the family and tour the home. Roger uses state of the art [circa 1975] ghost busting equipment in an attempt to detect the supernatural. Lorraine, who is a psychic, can see a shadowy specter looming over Carolyn and the children. They determine that the house is home to many spirits, their problems stem from a demon that has attached it self to the family and plans to kill them.

The Warrens do further research and discover that the original owner of the property was an accused witch, Bathsheba. Due to her witchery, her home, land and life were threatened to be taken away. But before angry townsfolk with torches and pitchforks could carry out their plans, Bathsheba did what anyone would do in her situation. She sacrificed her newborn baby and professed her love for our lord Satan, then hung herself from a tree in her backyard, cursing all who dare take her property. Since then, every family who has lived in the home, or owned any part of her land, has experienced tragedy [murder and suicide].

The Warrens, still studying the haunting, now with full blown paranormal photography and E.V.P. equipment, realize that Bathsheba isn't just terrorizing the family. She plans to possess Carolyn and use her to murder her daughters.

So I guess water boarding works on demons too, huh?

Things quickly escalate and before you know it, Carolyn is possessed and tied up in the basement as Ed Warren does his bast to exorcise her of Bathsheba without the aid of a priest. Ed, Lorraine, Roger and two others brought on to help are now smack-dab in the middle of one hell of a knock down drag out battle with evil itself.

In the end, it is the love that Carolyn has for her family that wins the day, banishing Bathsheba back to hell forever and ever.

This movie is terrifying and I love it! As an avid horror fan, I watch a lot of scary movies, and I know I'm not alone when I say that it is a rarity to be genuinely frightened anymore. Somehow James Wan managed to do that with The Conjuring, and do it well.

In the beginning I found myself doubting this movie. It was cliche, and reminded me too much of Amityville Horror. But by the time the Warrens got involved I began to really enjoy the film and by the end, I couldn't have been more pleased.

Don't get me wrong, I could nit-pick this movie but the good is just SO good that it isn't worth nit-picking. Even the cliche stuff in the beginning I later learned was based on the "actual" events that happened in the house of Amityville Horror. The Warrens and the Parrons are real people and the event of this movie, baring artistic license used to better tell a scary story, are real.

The scares are well done and very practical in nature, and by that I mean that they are small in scale, effective and traditional to haunted house movies. Chairs move, creepy sounds are heard, when ghosts can bee seen they are creepy as hell and done with actors and make-up rather than After Effects. Where CGI is used, it is used sparingly, enhancing rather than drawing attention from whatever is happening on the screen at that very moment. The Haunting from 1999 is a good example of what this movie isn't. No cartoonish animated haunted house here, just genuine creepy shit.

James Wan even took a stylistic 1970s approach to certain camera angles and slow zooming shots. It feels like a 70's film that could have technically never been made in the '70s.

So what starts as a "just okay" Amityville Horror rip-off, quickly turns into a really good haunted house movie, and by the end it's Amityville Horror and The Exorcist with a little bit of The Evil Dead and The Birds thrown in for good measure.

I highly recommend The Conjuring, as it is already one of my favorite films from this year, and I think it will remain one of my favorites for years to come.


★ ★ ★ ★ ½




Mirza Ghalib said...

The Conjuring gives an adrenaline rush to your body with few scary scenes and spooky moments. Only I wish , it could have been more. Couple of scenes will give you a jilt - The scenes where evil starts unraveling on the family , the moment Warrens enters the house and realizes the evil spirit latching on the family and finally the last exorcism scene has been filmed brilliantly. Cinematoography is good. Art direction is enduring. Editing is tight. It is Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are the soul of the film especially Farmiga. She is fill of expression and gives in a great performance as Lorraine. Overall , a spooky thriller which has some scary scenes to entertain you along with strong direction , powerful screenplay and outstanding performances. A Must watch 3.5/5

Slaughter Film said...

@Miraz Ghalib: I agree 100%. The Conjuring will endure for sure. I'm already looking forward to owning it. - Cory

Lee said...

Totally agree with this reviews. Just watched the film this morning and loved it. I generally hate most ghost films, and really dislike most demonic possession films, but this really worked well. Even with the religious stuff, and even though I know the story is based on one of the real life cases the Warrens "investigated" (the same two who also conspired to create the Amityville Horror hoax), it still sucked me in. I'm a fool for well-done paranormal investigation stories in general, so I geeked out for this. Especially enjoyed seeing the Warren museum of the occult recreated. This was even better than The Innkeepers from 2011.

Slaughter Film said...

Thanks for the kind words about my review, and I'm really glad that you liked the film. - Cory