Jesus Christ, this film is terrifying, absolutely 100% spine chillingly terrifying. I watched this film in broad daylight and I’m jump at the sound of a squeaky door or someone clapping their hands. James Wan is a modern master of horror and with The Conjuring he takes the current trend of haunting and possession films are delivers a story that puts the rest to shame (*Cough* Paranormal Activity *Cough*)
James Wan’s skills as a director are on full force in this film. Right from the start of the introduction of the Perron family entering their new home, there is dread. You don’t know what you need to be afraid of so of you’re afraid of everything, at any moment terror will strike. Wan doesn’t need monsters to scare you, he just needs a creak of a floor board, a wind chime, the rattle of a door and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and as you watch the film through your fingers. Edward Warren states in the film, the three stages of possession: Infestation, Oppression, and finally Possession. Wan treats his audience similarly with the scares, it starts with the simples sounds, mundane images of absolute terror. Seriously clapping hands are now a sign of demons coming for your soul, then you’re introduced to demons, ghosts, cruel spirits who torture all around them, a real danger for the Perron family and the Warrens. at last with Possession in a frightening finale with an exorcism scene that rivals with Friedkin’s The Exorcist.
Wan’s great masterclass of tension and horror is strengthened by his character work. I was surprised by how well-developed the characters were, how Wan takes his time to develop the connections of family and friendship between the Perrons as well as the Warrens. The two sets of characters make you emotionally invested in the story, the horror becoming all more petrifying because you care about these people. When was the last time a modern horror film created that sort of connection with their audience?, its brilliant. The Warrens were paranormal investigators portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga who are dealing with rough consequences from a previous case. The Perrons moving into a new country home and of course its haunted by demons, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston play husband and wife. Lili Taylor and Vera Farmiga give stand out performances as the story tests them through extreme emotional trials. The supporting cast of the Perron children and the Warren’s assistants all have of their moments of sharing in the shocks. The Warren’s assistants also provide some much-needed humour in the film in between moments of darkness.
The cinematography and sound editing of The Conjuring is where the film’s visual and audible storytelling really shines. Certain frames of this film linger, making the audience draw focus to a certain object and have them come to a sickening realisation that something is about to scare them. Be it a wardrobe, a necklace, the tune of a music box, the audience is caught in between knowing the scare is coming and having no idea how it is coming. Some shots as well resembled the work of Kubrick, not breaking away and making the very frame and feel of the shot unsettling to look, a slow zoom of a wide shot looked like The Shining but more disturbed. Every sound in this film is important, alone in the dark what you hear may be the only warning you have. I’ve mentioned before how powerful it is, Wan doesn’t need gore, he doesn’t need demons he creates an entire atmosphere of fear with his audience
The film states from the beginning that The Conjuring is based on a true story. The Warrens are real as well as the Perrons, if the events of this film actually happened then God help us all. Many horror films claim that their story is based in some “truth” so we as an audience can only guess how much of Wan’s interpretation actually happened. This film should be seen as inspiration for the horror genre, this is the direction it needs to go in, clapping hands are more harrowing than a psychopath with a chainsaw. A must see if you’re brave enough, that’s not a goading challenge, it’s an actually warning. Bravo James Wan, Bravo.