The Conjuring, FTW!
When I saw the trailer for James Wan’s supernatural horror several months ago, excitement immediately seized me. The phantom clapping in the the trailer of The Conjuring was simple, yet extremely effective. The imagery of the film was haunting and even suspenseful in the brief one minute and twenty second preview. The American horror film centers on the haunting of the Perron family who seek out the aid of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga).
1. Hide-and-Clap: the worst children’s game invented. Does anyone remember that horror film Insidious? It was a pretty enjoyable horror filled with great suspense and an interesting twist on the traditional ghost story. The Conjuring is very much in the same vein, spending the first third of the film really immersing us in the fear that flourishes in the company of malevolent spirits. Each angle is selected and paired with music perfectly timed to the rhythm of a panicked heartbeat, bringing tension and anxiety to every scene. One of the best examples is probably the worst children’s game imagined: hide-and-clap. Once blindfolded, one player walks around the house requesting a maximum of three claps to locate players in hiding. Please never let your children play this scary version of Marco Polo.
2. Ed and Lorraine Warren: The Paranormal Investigators. The Warrens offer a slight twist to the American haunting story, by combining Lorraine’s supernatural visions with a scientific methodology. Early on you learn that it is not so much homes that are haunted, but objects that serve as vessels for spirits. Having helped numerous people experiencing a haunting, the Warrens have a room filled with haunted artifacts and hope to add a creepy mirror jack-in-the-box toy to represent the saving of the Perron family. It does not take long for the Warrens to start caring about Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) and their adorable five daughters. But the first thing they determine is that the Perrons are in need of an exorcism performed by an ordained priest, and as we should know by movie law, the church needs proof before sending in the big guns.
3. Not entirely original, but definitely something different. It is not hard to identify all the cues of a possession movie, and The Conjuring pretty much utilizes all of them, but very effectively. While the scares are not entirely innovative, the story does take some interesting twists that are indeed entertaining and different. Wan’s visual style brings a refreshing look to the modernized ghost story and lends an eerie charm to the film.
It is a nice rarity when a film can generate anxiety, and pull off jump-scares without you feeling cheated. Even those familiar horror moments when you question the intelligence of characters seem deliberate and actually entertaining. The major disappointment here, however, is that Wan still has yet to master his endings. Similarly to Insidious, the final climax of the film is somewhat lacking. It gets a little hokey in the final minutes, and it is somewhat disappointing with such a long, great build up till then. Overall though, this horror movie has so much scary yay-ism I cannot do anything but recommend it to any horror movie fans!
P.S. I liked the film so much that I saw it twice in theaters. Mostly because I could not pass up the chance to hear my family screaming... because they did.