Review: 'The Conjuring' is intensely malevolent

By Fred Hawson

Posted at Aug 13 2013 11:40 AM | Updated as of Aug 26 2013 06:38 PM

A scene from "The Conjuring"

This movie is set in 1971, when Roger and Carolyn Perron and their five daughters move into a rundown country house in an isolated area in Rhode Island. Almost immediately, strange events begin to happen to them.

The ghostly manifestations started benignly, with creaky opening doors to unexplained bruising. But as days passed, the attacks become increasingly violent and physical.

Carolyn desperately seeks the help of noted supernatural investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. What they discovered in the Perron home is a dark spirit more hateful than anything they have encountered before. They need to work against time in order to prevent deadly events that happened to the previous occupants of this cursed house. In this extraordinary case, the Warrens had to resort to the most extreme measures they know in order to save the tormented family

Unlike other films boasting about being based on a true story, this one actually convinces you that the horrific events shown in it happened in real life. A lot of this was due to the very authentic production design bringing us back to the early 1970s. The musical choices were atmospherically apt and unsettling.

There was also the topnotch acting from the cast, which is unusual for a horror movie. The expertise and compassion of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who played the Warrens, were very realistic. The chemistry between them was palpably sincere.

Ron Livingston, Lili Palmer and the five young actresses who play the Perron daughters all played naturally well as the victimized family. I would not be surprised if Farmiga and Palmer pick up acting nominations for their performances.

Director James Wan (who had also brought us "Saw" and "Insidious" before) throws every horror gimmick and cliche at us here, but somehow still makes everything felt remarkably fresh and original. There was some welcome humor to lighten some of the intense dread and tension that builds up within the film. The deliberately slow pace felt interminably long in some eerie scenes which will make you squirm in your seats There are scenes which can make you jump. The editing of the film was very effective in this regard.

As good as this film was, there were some minor things that did not feel right. The creepy poster and even the pre-credits scene will make you expect something, but the rest of the movie was totally about something else.

There was a subplot about Ed and Lorraine's daughter which was very well-executed with some of the film's scariest scenes, but this ultimately led nowhere, except maybe a possible sequel, which is something I would look forward to.

Overall, watching this film will really immerse you into the intense malevolence that terrorized the Perron family. Many creepy images you see will stick with you for a long time. All the hype was accurate this time. This IS one of the best horror films in recent years. 8/10

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."

“The Conjuring” opens in wide release on August 21.