The Conjuring (dir. James Wan, 2013) – Threatened by a dark presence, The Perrons seek help from paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who find themselves facing their most menacing case yet.
In his latest scare design, director James Wan nails tension with effective precision as horror fans echo in unison, “Please don’t leave us.”
The Warrens came, they saw, they kicked its ass – or at least that is what they claim. No matter whether you believe in the stories of Ed and Lorraine Warren, there is no question that they would be fantastic material for any compelling horror film.
Director James Wan turns the potential into a barrage of some earnest scares with The Conjuring, his second venture into the haunted house genre after Insidious, this time without his partner-in-crime Leigh Whannell.
The premise tells the same old story. But Wan’s genuine understanding of what works in horror feels refreshing. He wholeheartedly embraces his horror roots, while bringing his signature into the game.
Think Saw, and one is likely to recall severed limbs. But in the first Saw movie, it is the outstanding suspense that makes an impact, rather than the assorted gore. Dead Silence tinges with this masterful tension and Insidious refines it. The Conjuring almost perfects it, reviving a genre that has been done to death with old-school throwbacks.
No amount of blood and carnage can measure up to well-crafted genuine scares that withstand the test of time. Most of it is owed to tremendous sound design work and brilliant timing. Upon each clap and note, the hide-and-seek games and mirrored music box make nerves tingle with awareness. Building up from soft chants to violent shrills, Joseph Bishara’s score makes for the perfect companion.
With an eerie grin that crawls under our skin, antique doll Annabelle makes a deep lasting impression. Not once does the creepy atmosphere becalm, even in her absence. Sudden movements startle when we least expect them. Set in the right place at the right time, jump scares finally escape their bad reputation over the past years.
Such pure menace lies in the haunting spirits, that we easily find sympathy in the haunted. That is even if the Perron family lack memorable personalities. In the grand finale, eventual comeuppance slackens in pace as those familiar with exorcism rites will see what is to come. Still, the consecutive thrills before then make for one of few genuine chillers in recent years.