A spiritual (no pun intended) sequel to Insidious, The Conjuring concerns Ed and Lorraine Warren, a husband and wife team of paranormal investigators. When the Warrens aren’t lecturing at colleges and solving legitimate cases (like one involving a demon inhabiting a fantastically creepy doll) they’re debunking supposed hauntings and laying homeowners’ fears to rest. Basically, they’re paranormal activity rockstars.
Meanwhile, the Perron family moves into an ancient farmhouse in Rhode Island and, soon after, ghastly, unexplainable events begin to transpire. That’s when they call the Warrens (it was smart to introduce the Warrens first...it really tells the audience that they’re the stars of the film). The Warrens investigate and, soon after, truly terrible things start happening. Do Ed and Lorraine have what it takes to save the Perrons from the unspeakable horror obsessed with them?
If, like me, you went into The Conjuring hoping for something that lives up to Insidious, you won’t be disappointed. The new film has it all - creepy dolls (holy shit, Wan, you have a thing for dolls and puppets, we get it, please leave us alone), witches, ghosts, demons, dark basements and attics, possessions, and exorcisms. Wan mostly makes it work, using menacing music, shadows, and his talented cast. The guy can raise the hair on the back of your neck just by showing you how afraid his characters are of something you as an audience member can’t even see. Dozens of horror films a year are churned out that make me worry about the state of the genre. Knowing that James Wan is somewhere out there behind the camera puts my mind at ease.
One of the only aspects of the film that I didn’t like revolved around the human element. Sure, Ron Livingston is great as sad, working class father Roger Perron and even Lili Taylor, returning to the big screen horror limelight after last dipping her toe in the water with 1999’s The Haunting, turns in a good performance as Carolyn Perron. And Patrick Wilson as Ed and Vera Farmiga as Lorraine have good chemistry, but there’s a “God brought us together for a reason,” motif between the two that runs throughout the film that doesn’t quite work. This is, I suspect, really part of the larger plan to make a franchise out of the Warren’s lives, something Wan has had an interest in for a while, apparently. It just feels a bit hollow and forced is all.
See this movie, horror junkies. With Wan’s now signature brand of tense-until-it-hurts terror in full force, you will not be disappointed. And if you are, you always have Insidious: Chapter 2 to look forward to.
|4 Out of 5 Stars|