30 June 2013 | mungflesh
New life breathed into a classic sub-genre
"Don't summon the devil, don't call the priest ..."
I was one of a lucky few to have seen The Conjuring at a preview screening for FrightFest 2013.
I went in totally cold, not having seen a trailer, nor knowing anything about the story or plot and it turned out to be one of the best scary horror movies I have ever seen.
The Conjuring is a nail-biting, hiding-behind-hands movie. If you've been disappointed with the likes of Paranormal Acivity and Insidious, this one is likely to deliver in areas where they failed.
It tells the supposedly true story of two paranormal investigators, who aim to rid families and properties of their suspected supernatural visitations, either by disproving them (if they turn out to be just creaky floorboards or slamming doors) or tackling them head-on if not. A leap of faith is required to buy into this theme but if you're okay with it, then the movies plays out pretty well within its genre confines.
The particular incident they are brought in to deal with is described as surrounding a spirit 'so malevolent' it was hidden from the public until only now. In fairly Amityville-like circumstances, a family move into a new house and discover the basement is sealed; boarded-up behind a doorway.
It's not at all surprising what follows, once they decide to take a look in the basement but it is surprising how James Wan has managed to take such a tired theme of haunting and possession and revive it so convincingly.
I am no stranger to these kind of movies but this one truly tops them all for tension and terror. I really enjoyed Sinister recently, which I found to be equally as scary but it lost its way a bit towards the end, whereas The Conjuring keeps tempo and has a fairly satisfying conclusion.
I particularly liked the way the film took a turn for the comical somewhere in the middle, only for perhaps five minutes, then came back firing on all cylinders as it headed to the finale. If this was intentional, to lure us into a false sense of security, it worked beautifully.
If you're the type to poo-poo this genre in general, I can't see you suddenly being converted to a believer but, if you enjoy classic horror like The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist, I can almost guarantee The Conjuring won't disappoint.