The Conjuring (2013)★★★★☆


I’d been putting off reviewing this one (and finally watching its sequel) because I had vague memories of not being all that impressed the first time I saw it. I think maybe I was just distracted the first time because it definitely impressed me tonight.

I know, I know, almost everyone was impressed with it. Here I thought I was the odd one out who didn’t like this movie all that much, but no, I like it a lot when I’m actually paying attention to it. Unsurprising, since James Wan directed it. I like James Wan.

I like that his horror movies are subtle at first, really building that sense of dread that stays with you rather than relying on jump scares or blood and gore. You can startle almost anyone with a well timed jump scare, but only the best movies have me genuinely checking over my shoulder for ghosts. I’ll be seeing things for weeks after this.

And isn’t that what we’re all looking for out of a horror movie anyway? Something that haunts you for a while afterwards? It helps that his antagonists are sufficiently creepy on their own, of course. The special effects are kept to a minimum here, but the witch (and her victims) is terrifyingly believable after what I imagine must be an insanely difficult makeup application.

And his protagonists are just so damn charming that you can’t help get wrapped up in their story. Both the Warrens and the Perrons, although the chemistry between Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga (Ed and Lorraine) was much more believable than the chemistry between Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor (Roger and Carolyn).

The real stars of the cast are the kids, though. All of them. I had the lights off and was watching it on my big screen TV and the girls were so believable that I found myself clutching the armrest of my chair during tense scenes looking for a hand to hold.

Overall this movie is scary but optimistic, with compelling characters and an interesting story. I’m glad I gave it another chance – and I’m looking forward to watching the sequel tomorrow.