Directed by James Wan
Written by Chad Hayes & Carey Hayes
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, and Ron Livingston
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.
The Conjuring is based on the “true” 1971 accounts surrounding Carolyn and Roger Perron, a married couple who, along with their five daughters, moved into a dilapidated farm-house in Rhode Island. The home’s dark history soon made itself known to the family, leading Carolyn Rider to implore the help of famed paranormal researchers, Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens agreed and ultimately found what they would call their most dire and disturbing case. While the movie fictionalized parts, rearranges others, and adds a dark flair; people involved with the case say it isn’t much of a stretch when compared to the real thing. Maybe that’s a separate article, but a little back story is always nice.
James Wan gets it. The horror-centered director (Saw, Insidious) brings multiplex horror to terrifying new levels in this based-on-a-true-story masterpiece set in 1971. Roger Perron (Livingston) and his wife, Carolyn (Taylor), move into a dilapidated farmhouse in Rhode Island, where they quickly discover the home has some strange properties. Of course, cementing the eventually obvious in stone, the red flags begin when the family dog refuses to enter. A short time later, every clock in the home begins to stop at exactly 3:07am. Strange, but not exactly Terror 101, the family powers through. Things begin to escalate, leaving every member of the family ashen-faced and terrified. The frightened couple slowly unravels parts of the home’s sinister history, pushing Carolyn to seek the help of renowned paranormal researchers, Ed and Lorraine Warren. Reluctant at first, the couple agrees to visit the home, where they’re quickly convinced of the Perron’s legitimacy.
We can debate the honesty of the Warrens all day, but the film can’t be ignored. Blessed with a director familiar with balance, Wan uses the riches of the source material in perfect unison with solid acting, brilliant camerawork, maddening tension, and perfectly placed music to drive the film. Some of the best moments come from eerily silent scenes completely devoid of a score. It’s scenes like these that build the inevitable to a fever pitch. Wan is never quick to give away too much in the beginning, instead, utilizing the children’s game, Hide & Clap, in a terrifyingly creepy way. Along with the effective Livingston and Taylor, are the equally subdued Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as The Warrens. Their believable performances lent a certain charm to the film that most new horror is missing. Throw in some genuinely funny lighter moments, and we have the best new horror movie of the year.
I urge you to see The Conjuring at the theater and enjoy the crowd response. More than one person left my viewing either shrieking or in tears. Reports like this are coming in from across the country, so see it while you can. In Fister terms, this is an A+.