Review: The Conjuring

4.0

TheConjuring
Who ya gonna call? Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are… Ghost Busters!

Right before I entered The Conjuring‘s exhibition room, the theater’s doorman checked my ticket, looked at the movie’s title and sent me, and my friend, a scared “good luck” warning. It was the first time I faced this funny situation and, by the end of the session, I must confess – still chocked as a result of 110 minutes of genuine jitters – that the guy wasn’t exaggerating: this is one of the best horror movies to come out in the last years.

The plot follows a recently-moved family that begins experiencing weird and supernatural events in their new giant house (the usual drill). What makes a difference here is the presence of demonologist-ghostbuster Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, both excellent), called in to investigate the nature of this evil presence, such as to find an end to it. The whole thing is allegedly inspired by true events – but you can bet that there’s a lot of fiction here.

When the genre demands for supernatural pheomena, there isn’t much to add. Chad and Carey Hayes’ script sticks to the traditional “haunted house” formula, but succeeds in it by bringing – in a controlled, cohese line – preety much EVERY popular elements in the genre’s most diverse variations: ghosts, demons, exorcises, evil toys, blurred pictures, in-the-story cameras… You could spend the whole night just remembering them. Not to mention the Hayes’ admirable capacity to “play” with our natural fears, such as the suspicion of monsters under the bed or inside our wardrobe – all of this escape the old jump scare cliche, thanks to the director’s competence.

By the way, what a revelation is malaysian director James Wan. Came out from below the average genre-movies (his most famous one is the first Saw, and he recently signed in for the seventh Fast & Furious), Wan shows enviable talent to provoke fear – and not just scares. Choosing to use long takes which explore each of the house’s rooms in a cruel teasing exercise, the director is able to create camera movements that are not only fashionable, but crutial when revealing the movie’s disturbing threats (and when we actually see them, the effect is true horror). Not only does Wan command one the most powerful exorcism scenes I’ve ever seen, but shows his admiration for the Hitchcock school of suspense as well, by adding a ellemenst such as a brutal bird attack bursting through windows or Psycho‘s iconic lighting effect caused by a hanging lamp. Who would of thought…

Also with a spectacular work of sound editing, The Conjuring is a big surprise. Horror movies aren’t in it’s finest days on the yankee territory, but it’s always a pleasure to find a decent one in the more and more played out genre. I just feel bad because James Wann announced this to be his last horror movie…

A little fun fact: towards the end of the picture, Vera Farmiga’s character says that they have been called to “a Long Island job”. That’s a reference  to the controversial Amityville massacre, another case investigated by the Warrens.

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