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The Conjuring poster

CAST
VERA FARMIGA
PATRICK WILSON
JOHN BROTHERTON
SHANLEY CASWELL
KYLA DEAVER
MACKENZIE FOY
JOEY KING
SHANNON KOOK
ROD LIVINGSTON
HARRY McFARLAND
LILI TAYLOR

WRITTEN BY
CAREY HAYES
CHAD HAYES

PRODUCED BY
ROB COWAN
TONY DEROSA-GRUND
PETER SAFRAN

DIRECTED BY
JAMES WAN

GENRE
HORROR
THRILLER

RATED
AUS: MA
UK: 15
USA: R

RUNNING TIME
112 MIN

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THE CONJURING (2013)

Supernatural horror at its most potent, The Conjuring establishes director James Wan as a master of horror in this based-on-real-events dread filled tale of pure evil and those who dedicate their lives to combat it.

If you’re looking for real life ghost busters, then you can’t get more renowned than Lorraine and (the late) Ed Warren, “paranormal investigators” extraordinaire whose work on the Amityville Horror brought them fame and plenty of scepticism. The Conjuring looks at their involvement in the haunting of  the Perron family whose newly acquired upper state abode reveals a dark past, as an evil spirit torments with violent menace.

Clearly a fan of the Warrens is Australian director James Wan, he who launched torture porn with Saw and spooked us silly with Insidious. The Conjuring compares in style to the latter  yet does away with the ghost train elements which derailed Insidious third act and replaces it with many classic horror elements. When watching The Conjuring it is clear which films Wan is influenced by, with Poltergeist, The Exorcist and especially The Amityville Horror (of which The Conjuring could be called an unofficial remake) felt throughout.

Yet so masterful is Wan’s skill at scaring the holy hell out of his audience, any feelings of deja-vu are forgiven for The Conjuring is a horror opus with conductor Wan’s hair raising methodical pace steering us through a supernatural thriller drenched in tension, and featuring scenes of horror that will sear itself in the mind and come back to haunt you in your nightmares.

Contemplating are the excellent performances, especially from Lily Tomlin and the young group of actors who play her daughters. It is their reactions which sell the invisible evil in the dark and the menace of a creaky floor board, as does the excellent practical effects that (once again) harken to the horror classics of the 1970s. No so much the dialogue, but then again horror at its most effective is more about tone than it is about the spoken word (save for the rare beast that perfectly melds both).

An ace that The Conjuring has that other recent horror movies don’t is an interesting duo like the Warrens as lead players. While the real life couple have and will draw divisive opinions from believer and sceptic alike, the Warren characters as played by the wonderfully paired Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson bring something unique to the table during these secular times: an unquestionable religiosity in the devout Catholicism which gives them strength when facing evil at its most sinister.

This is where the comparisons to The Exorcist are given credence, as both films know that the only effective way to portray evil is to provide its counter. After all, who is the Devil if there is no God?

Something to mull over when those nightmares wake you in the middle of the night.

****

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