**** 1/2 out of 5
Rated R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror
Warner Bros. Pictures
Article first published at The Reel Place.
If there’s one horror director who’s really come into his own, it’s James Wan. Considering how much he’s veered away from the sub-genre he founded — torture porn — he’s come a long way since the original Saw. Since no one saw the two films he made after that — Dead Silence, Death Sentence — it made sense for him to venture back to what put him on the map. Only instead of throwing as many body parts as he could at the audience, Wan took a more restrained approach and wrought forth one of the scariest films of 2010 with Insidious. This year, Wan is ready to pack a one-two punch with Insidious 2 coming out on September 13, but first he has another horror movie to scare your socks off with The Conjuring.
Here we find the tale of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) as they investigate the occult. Hosting college seminars, they are introduced to Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) who needs their help. Carolyn has just moved into a new house in Harrisville, Hew Hampshire, with her husband Roger (Ron Livingston) and their five daughters — Andrea (Shanley Caswell), Nancy (Hayley McFarland), Christine (Joey King), Cindy (Mackenzie Foy), and April (Kyla Deaver). The family is convinced that something is haunting their new house and Ed and Lorraine begin their investigation into what may wind up being the fight of their own lives, as well as the Perrons.
Things definitely go bump in the night throughout The Conjuring, from thumping doors to falling pictures to suicidal animals. Not to mention one of the daughters has started sleepwalking again and Carolyn keeps waking up with more and bruising that doctors are claiming to be an iron deficiency. Screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes are out to up their own ante considering they’ve written some mighty bad horror movies in the past — Whiteout, The Reaping, and the House of Wax remake. Director Wan is right at home here, but it seems as if everyone wasn’t sure how to end the film. While being based on true events, the ending seems way too happy and bow-tied — I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the violins cued so loudly in a horror film. Thank goodness he knows how to squeeze the most out of his scare factor. As for the rest of the 105 minutes, Wan has definitely delivered one of the year’s scariest films.