‘The Conjuring’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:21 am,

The Conjuring Reviews starring Vera Farmiga Patrick Wilson Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston 2013 The Conjuring Review

The Conjuring is a very satisfying horror movie outing, but when it’s done – beyond the trauma of a freaky moviegoing experience – there is little to ponder or reflect upon.

The Conjuring transports us into the world of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), the famous real-life couple who for decades studied, combated and documented supernatural occurrences. Teased by the promise that this is the Warren’s most frightening case of all, The Conjuring follows the plight of the Perron family – Carolyn (Lili Taylor), her husband Roger (Ron Livingston) and their five daughters – who move into a remote farmhouse, only to discover it is inhabited by a fearsome demonic presence.

Ed and Lorraine agree to help the Perrons exorcise their home, but the case quickly proves to be more dangerous than they could’ve ever imagined. With Lorraine (a talented physic) vulnerable to the dark forces haunting the Perrons, and a ghostly adversary that’s as cunning as she is evil, the Warrens soon find that they have become the hunted, instead of the hunters.

Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring 20131 The Conjuring Review

The Conjuring comes our way courtesy of horror director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) and twin brother horror/thriller writing duo Chad and Carey Hayes (The ReapingHouse of Wax). While the script has  the usual “passable” quality of the Hayes brothers’ B-movie signature, it is Wan’s uncanny ability to create simple, creative and very effective scare sequences that elevates this movie above just about every other ghost story horror flick of the last few years. In short: this is the scariest movie of 2013 (so far).

It’s a small miracle that the movie achieves the nonstop, hair-raising tension that it does. Wan is used to making the utmost out of a micro-budget (Saw and Insidious both had budgets averaging out at about $1.3 million) and The Conjuring is the best application of his low-budget formula to date. Instead of CGI creatures and fancy visual effects used in so many other films today, The Conjuring takes things back to the ’70s/’80s era of horror movies, using simple filmmaking techniques like camera angles, keen concepts and fantastic sequencing to create a truly terrifying horror experience that is mostly free of  blood and/or gore, making its frightful nature an even more impressive achievement.

Ghost Witch in The Conjuring The Conjuring Review

Admittedly, the film is built on pretty familiar horror movie tropes – but again, it’s the way these familiar moments (bumps in the night, something lurking in the shadows or behind a door) are staged that makes them more impressive and effective than so many other films. It’s all about the craftsmanship, and James Wan, working at the top of his game, truly knows how to scare us. Practical makeup and visual effects help to sell the  scary show in a tactile and real way (a welcome respite from the barrage of CGI monsters and VFX seen in so many horror movies these days) rather than nagging the mind with the distracting notion of non-reality that often comes with digital effects work.

Aiding in the creation of a convincingly frightening world are a cast of talented performers who help sell the scares with grounded and believable performances. Wilson and Wan (who worked together on Insidious and its upcoming sequel) are comfortable enough with one another to allow Ed to be a charming enough straight-faced leading man, while Farmiga (Up In the Air, Bates Motel) once again demonstrates why she is such solid and reliable actress, making Lorraine a fascinating and very human character, despite the fantastical nature of her “powers” and the supernatural world she inhabits.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring 2013 The Conjuring Review

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in ‘The Conjuring’

The same dynamic works for Roger and Carolyn Perron: Livingston (Office Space) is a sympathetic, straight-faced male protagonist, while Taylor (Hemlock Grove) uses her talents in a wide range of emoting to create the believable and well-rounded character needed to pul off the film’s climatic third act.

The child actors are also skilled at selling the idea of real fear and emotion, thanks to talented youngsters like Mackenzie Foy (Breaking Dawn), Hayley McFarland (Lie to Me), Joey King (Dark Knight Rises), Kyla Deaver and Shanley Caswell (Vegas) – who all work well together selling the chemistry and bond of tight-knit sisters. Even bit characters played by Shannon Kook (Degrassi: The Next Generation) and John Brotherton (One Life to Live) get standout moments and are likable enough to relate to, and because we actually care about all of the people involved in this battle against evil, it’s easy to be invested in each moment and sequence in which their lives (or souls) are put in danger. On a character level, there are no weak links or throwaways.

Lily Taylor and Ron Livingston in The Conjuring 2013 The Conjuring Review

Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston in ‘The Conjuring’

No film is without nitpicks, however, and the only reason The Conjuring isn’t (necessarily) worthy of five-star classic status is due to the fact that the Hayes brothers’ script – while blessedly tight and efficient at a lean 112 minutes – still manages to dangle a few threads (mostly concerning the Warrens’ personal life) that are not really necessary and distract from the main narrative. Of course, now that a Conjuring sequel has been approved, those dangling threads could conceivably be tied into future films exploring the Warrens’ long career; but in this standalone film, they feel extraneous.

One further nitpick: although this film is excellent, its simple, self-contained and anecdotal nature doesn’t necessarily give it the same ability to hang around in mind like, say, The Shining, a film whose deep levels and themes stay with you long after the credits roll. The Conjuring is a very satisfying horror movie outing, but when it’s done – beyond the trauma of a freaky moviegoing experience – there is little to ponder or reflect upon. Of course, the intention is to tell an anecdotal story – and for better or worse, the filmmakers do just that.

The Conjuring Posssession Scene The Conjuring Review

If you are a horror movie fan, go see The Conjuring. Even if you’re the type who is too tough and rugged to be scared by a movie (or if you have that “seen it all” attitude of a hardcore horror connoisseur), you’ll have to at least give it up to Wan and Co. for bringing things back to a bygone era of filmmaking and proving that progress and technological advances will never be suitable replacements for good old-fashioned creativity and know-how. That statement alone is worthy of applause by the time the credits roll – that is, if you aren’t too busy trying to calm your rattled nerves.

Check out the trailer for The Conjuring if you’re still on the fence:

517840900 3 620 439 The Conjuring Review

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The Conjuring is now in theaters. It is 112 minutes long and is Rated-R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror (translation: it’s too scary).

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

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  1. I didn’t find this movie that scary at all, and i scare pretty easy. Most of the scary stuff was seen in the trailers and a lot of it was predictable. Thought the story was decent and the acting was good but it just didn’t wow me. I have know idea why it was rated R, I didn’t think it was extremly terrifying. It was a good horror flick, not great IMO. 3/5 for me.

    • Agreed.

      I must say though, for a low-budget horror movie, this film had better than average production values. This was a gorgeous movie to look at.

    • That’s why I don’t watch movie trailers more than once anymore. They show WAY too much nowadays, especially for horror films. I literally close my eyes in movies now. Not because I’m a wuss but because I don’t wanna spoil it for myself.

    • Chris – Did we watch the same movie? Totally wrong; “most of the scary stuff was seen in the trailers…”

      In my opinion.. Well… Your opinion sucks. Ha! Just rate the movie because you clearly did not see the same movie we did.

  2. Saw The Conjuring last night, 8pm show, and loved it. This review sums everything up perfectly. James Wan is a truly gifted horror director that doesn’t need to rely on crap CGI to give the audience a scare. Thats what I admire most about Wan’s films, his old school simple approach to telling a scary story. The performances are great all around, the scares are good and the entire film looks stunning. If you love the genre, do yourself a favor and give The Conjuring a watch.

  3. I’ve been trying to find a solid horror movie that doesn’t rely on the “jumpy” scares to frighten moviegoers. The old formula of a character walking down a hallway, turns the corner and out jumps a ghost/demon/whatever and the music spikes has gotten terribly old and redundant. I like that you referenced the Shinning because I consider that movie, not just the top horror movie, but also one of my favorites movies altogether. That movie didn’t need to rely on the formulaic turn the corner and the music makes you jump out of your skin type of scares. Does the Conjuring offer anything more than the jumpy, loud sound effect stuff?

    • I think if you loved horror movies like The Shinning, The Poltergeist(first one, LOL), or IT you will really love this movie as it seems like it has some tones of all of those movies among others. I also was skeptical as you thinking I was going to walk into some basic horror flick like Paranormal Activity or another version of The Amityville Horror(2005) with cheap walk by ghost type of scares but this movie is well-thought out in its delivery. I has some “jumpy” scenes but they are perfectly placed imo. They also include other portions of scares which just adds to the movie.

      • Excellent, thanks for the info Jared. Love Poltergeist and the others you listed so I’m looking forward to seeing this one now.

        Although, admittedly, aside from those horror movies, I am a sucker for the Evil Dead flicks too. I just watched the remake the other night and it was fun. Wasn’t as scary as it was gross-out gory, but still a lot of fun.

        • I loved the Evil Dead remake. It was a fun movie even though it wasn’t too scary as much as gory. I find very few horror flicks now a days that impresses me and Evil Dead did a great job as well along with The Conjuring. Hopefully these two movies will make other directors step up their game within this genre.

  4. I thought INSIDIOUS was one of the worst films ever made, an insult to the horror genre. Out of Wan’s entire catalogue, SAW was the only film I enjoyed. Hayes has zero writing credits that are even remotely watchable. So needless to say, my hopes were low for this one…

    …but boy was I surprised!!!

    This was a truly frightening film. The writing was still terrible, but Wan’s camerawork and atmospheric vibe is what sold the film. Really felt like a film from the 70s or 80s.
    The opening scene had me rolling my eyes, but once those old school, yellow, rolling title cards came, I was hooked.
    Very pleasantly surprised by this one…and very scared

  5. I went last night with a group of friends and co-workers skeptical about whether or not it would live up to the hype of people saying it’s the “best horror film in years” and we were surprised to say it very well done. It really does well on the use of the materials they have instead of the same old CGI mess we usually see in horror films today. The movie does remind me of The Poltergeist in a lot of ways in which with The Poltergeist it did a great job in scaring people without the use of over the top gore but rather the things that you see or don’t see are usually the scariest. I felt like it also did a great job also with its script/storyline/plot in which it’s very thought out, detailed, with some hints of humor in its delivery, something a lot of horror movies now a days seem to focus less on(script, details, plots). There were some parts that was just creepy(puppet doll) that brought me back to the It days as well. This right now it one of my Top 5 movies of the year.

  6. This review sold me. I was very skeptical from the time I read it was rated R for being too scary. Though it might have been over sold and really wasn’t going to waist my time to see it. After reading this however I’m more excited to go see it tonight then i have been.

  7. I think the first Descent movie, A Haunting In Connecticut, and Insidious were pretty decent scary movies, but this was hands down the best of 2013! I would like to see more of this type of horror movie trends…awesome! The Conjuring was a pretty creepy movie. I loved all the characters…top notch acting! The end of the movie was soo….crazy scary…loved it! This is definitely movie making at it’s best!

    • get out of here-it was average-rip off of exorcist, amityville and poltergeist, but not as good as any of them

      • How can you call it a rip-off, its based on a true story. Plus, one of the movies you listed (AH) was investigated by the same investigators.

        • Just because it says it is based off of a true story doesn’t mean it was true. If anything half of it was fabricated events to an event that really didn’t turn out that way.

          I mean they said Texas Chainsaw was based off a true story but that was also load of lies when it was found there was no “real” leatherface. Leatherface was just simply inspired by two serial killers and placed in Texas.

          But it was def a rip off of The Exorcist. I swear, another “POWER OF THE CHRIST” scene and I will start flipping switches and turning doorknobs. The cheese that is fueled behind such scenes amaze me.

  8. A 4.5? Wow… what other films this summer have got that high a rating from ScreenRant?

    • Just looked it up… none.

      You have to go back to Jurassic Park 3D and Zero Dark Thirty.

    • I think it’s about right. I think the acting is top notch along with the horror scenes as they were perfectly timed and executed. The script could use some improvements with concerning things around the family but now that a sequel has been announced it really makes sense now because I assume they are going to build off of it. Seeing this movie kind of has me thinking about what he could do for a franchise like The Fast & Furious with a bigger budget and known actors. Granted it’s a different genre but I think if the guy puts as much detail in F&F 7 as he did with The Conjuring it could actually be pretty good. Then again it could be a total flop too. With a different genre it’s hard to tell

  9. better than pacific rim kofi?

    • It’s hard to say. They are in totally different genres

  10. I had avoided watching horror movies because none of them have managed to scare me except for The Grudge, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Rite. The Conjuring might be the movie that brings back my faith in this genre. Also, I am planning to watch Insidious tonight and I need to see whether James Wan is the ultimate scare master!

    • If James Wan the ultimate scare master? I wouldn’t put him at the top as of yet. He still needs improvements in the script area. The script might be the writers job but I think the top producers make the call to change it up if it doesn’t make sense. As far as his vision and how things are executed it’s top 5 IMO

      • Ooops, *Is*

  11. This one was a great time at the movies. I found the story to be very interesting on top of creepy/scary and the characters were all likable for a change.

  12. This movie was foolish. Not scary same old same old. Stole from every other movie of this genre that has ever been made.

    • I agree 100% I couldn’t focus on the movie I was just trying to think where I had seen a particular scene before. Dark Skies, The Evil Dead, Poltergeist, and The Devil Inside are the ones I remember right now.

  13. Tired of the possession/haunted horror movie, can we just get back to a good old fashioned slash and gore like og Friday the 13th, etc…

    • See next month’s You’re next.

  14. Tired of the possession&haunted horror movie, can we just get back to a good old fashioned slash and gore like og Friday the 13th, etc

    • Watch the Evil Dead remake if that’s what you want.

  15. The movie was awesome and although I don’t jump that easy I still had goosebumps, and was a nice change of pace hearing the people screem in fear over the sillyest things like one of the girls walking past the door way, but it was funny hearing them sreem, and as for my recommendation its worth watching.

  16. Woman looks horrified as Smokey The Bear catches her playing with matches!
    (C’mon baby, light my fire!”)

    • Goldilocks – You’re such a lame ass excuse for a troll. If you’re going to troll, then at least do it rite.

      • OK, Mr. Billy-Goat’s Gruff ‘n’Stuff, actually I’m convinced and have put this on my Netflix watch-list when it becomes available.

        By the way, in telling me to do it right, you spelled “right” as “rite”!
        Looks like the lady with the matches burned you, hee-hee!
        Ya gotta “troll” for something to complain about elsewhere, Grumble-Bee!

        • That’s cute, but it still doesn’t excuse the fact that you’re a lame ass troll. You aren’t even an ounce of hilarious. Boy your parents must be proud. Lol!

  17. Why do some people continue to say this movie is a rip off of (insert movie here)? My God every haunted house movie is going to have elements of the Poltergeist and the Amityville Horror. Every movie with an exorcism is going to have an element of The Exorcist. Its all in how those elements are used. There are terrible movies that tried to use those elements. This movie used them to great effect. It did not rely on jump scares, even though there were a few. The tension built throughout was palpable and prolonged. The acting was beyond great for a horror film. All you people saying its a rip off really need to look past the superficial elements of film and understand what they are trying to do instead of playing a game of look there is an exorcism, its ripping off the Exorcist, oh the humanity. This review nailed it. One of the best horror films in a LONG time.

    • I agree. All horror movies takes elements from other horror movies. Saw took elements from Friday the 13th and Jason, Amityville Horror and Poltergeist took elements from The Exorcist. It’s not the idea but how it’s delivered. You can have something totally new but it won’t matter if it’s not delievered properly. This is what makes this movie great as it doesn’t use the same old CGI from other horror films within the last 5 years. The timing of each scare along with the details is what makes this movie soo great

      • So glad to see someone else agree with me. Excellent post and totally right on point.

    • +9,000

      • +1

        Wait a minute….that means that post was rated…..OVER 9000?!

        • Yup, thats how good I am. Crazy huh? lol

  18. I seen this the other night and its honestly one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen, Best film I’ve seen this year, I didn’t think they could make horror films like this anymore, modern classic..

  19. I went back tonight after work to see this again as my brother, the wife and her co-workers invited us to join them so free is always a nice thing. It was fun this time seeing all the other people freak out on some scenes(a couple of the parents brought their kids with them to this movie so needless to say they left early because their kids got freaked out). The theatre was pretty packed again and when we left there was another long line. Ugh, that doll still creeps me out and I just have a feeling the “issue” was never resolved and there might be something more with the Warrens daughter.

  20. I hate scary movies 1. Im a wimp and 2. I find the newest ones to have poor acting, cheap scares and are all bland. I just got out of this film and man was it incredible craftsmanship. The acting was great even with a some iffy lines and the scares were not cheap. Its a cocky film that knows how scary it is and the camerawork proves that. It stays on certain things forever and continues to move in, it was gorgous. I was scared shitless and im not ashamed i wanted to be scared and this movie delivered big time!

  21. It was so totally scary, I almost jumped out of my seat and ran!

  22. The movie is disturbing. If you have a vivid imagination, watch at own risk.

    • This is me.. “/

  23. It’s a wonderfully well-crafted movie – story, production values, acting etc….. – but the simple fact of the matter is, it’s not even the slightest bit scary. It uses every “scary movie” trope in the book and you’ve seen it all a million times before.

    Based on the quality of the movie I’d give it 4 stars, but it only gets a 2 for scare factor. And at the end of the day that’s what counts in movies such as this.

  24. James Wan is a horror genius. I love his style and approach. Paying homage to the old. He truly knows what scares the masses. Even if some disagree with his methods, most people applaud his style. Going to see this movie today and I usually wait to read most of SR reviews until AFTER (kinda defeats the purpose I know) to see if I agreed with the article. But I had to read this one. Read half, skipped to the stars rating, and my mind was blown! 4.5 stars?! Really?! Shut up and take my money! Anything 3 or above from this site I agree with and watch. Thanks a lot Kofi, CAN’T WAIT!

  25. I remembered exorcist movie that I watched in my teens. Thanks to James Wan, he proved again that camera, location, people expressions and the ambiance make a perfect movie like this. Start to end my eyes glued to the screen, perfect grip is maintained, all scenes are chilling, sounds are so real and horrifying, did not feel like to eat pop corn or sip soda while watching.. Thanks James Wan, hoping a sequel of this excellent film.

  26. SNOOZE FEST……Not scary. DULL. BORING. Only thing “NEW” in this movie is that the husband believes her from the beginning. Oh, and they turn on lights like normal people would. But other than that….HARDLY a modern classic, it is not some throwback to a bygone era…and i’m sorry but they DID borrow from every horror film made in the last 20 years and stitched a movie around the plagiarism.
    CLICHED wow lets see…new house, kid has an invisible friend, dead witch that curses the town, a scary basement they didnt know about, birds flying into the house, footsteps, ghostly footy prints on the floor. oh and dont forget the same gray ghost that washed sarah gellar’s hair in the grudge…

    • So cliched that the story this film is based on took place in 1971 before all of the horror movies you’re thinking of were even written, let alone released.

      Try again.

  27. One of the best horror movies in quite some time. Do a little research and you find that the events are pretty accurate. I don’t see how something can be “original horror”. When you see a horror movie it will pull elements from the genre. If it had a clown blowing balloons, then maybe that would make it original to some of the fools ranting on here.

    I am willing to bet the ones talking down on the movie will be the same ones taking a shower with their eyes open the whole time. Ha!

    Great movie. Personally, it wasn’t a pee your pants type of scary, but it had some intense moments. And above all it keeps you thinking “this CAN and DID happen?”

  28. I’m hopeful that sequels will continue to follow the Warren case files (but avoiding their investigation into the Amityville house, we’ve seen enough movies about that and apparently all of them distorted the truth and weren’t as scary as what Lorraine Warren recalls actually happened).

    • I agree. I think the next chapter might focus on the doll from the beginning along with other artifacts from their home. Maybe an investigation into their own house

  29. I came on here tonight to post about my feelings about this movie but after the Avengers 2 news this seems like pretty old news :P

    ……………..SPOILER ALERT!……………………

    Anyways……I thought it was a 3.5 star flick. Definitely used a lot of familiar horror tropes like the child talking with a child ghost, etc. but there were a few good twists like pulling in the previous possessed doll story and have the malevolent spirit manage to connect to the Warren’s home.

    Absolute best scene was the bed sheet in the wind and having it carry up to the window. That was an excellent bit and managed to give me a chill.