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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Conjuring (2013)

In 1971, a husband (Ron Livingston) and wife (Lili Taylor) and their five daughters move into a lakeside home in Rhode Island. But when unsettling occurrences start: the clocks all stop at the same time, mysterious bruises appear on the wife's body, a strange odor wafts through rooms, doors open and shut by themselves and ultimately a physical attack by an unseen force, they contact a married couple (Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson) who have a solid reputation as paranormal investigators. Based on a "true" story (the Farmiga/Wilson couple do exist), this is a first rate horror movie. The director James Wan (SAW) takes all the usual haunted/possessed house cliches and teases us mercilessly with them until the goosebumps appear on our skin. He permeates the movie with a solid sense of dread and creates an atmosphere where you feel true evil exists. It's the kind of movie where you want to close your eyes but still can't take your eyes off the screen. The film it most resembles is POLTERGEIST (1982) but Wan manages to terrorize us without the expensive special effects and relying on mood rather than gore. As expected, Wan can't sustain the genuine tension until its conclusion and perhaps understanding that we've seen one movie exorcism too many, the "everything but the kitchen sink/all Hell breaks loose" finale is a disappointment. But the journey getting there is a scary ride.

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