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The Conjuring

By MATTHEW SINGER
Few people, I’m guessing, have been to Harrisville, R.I., site of the alleged true-life incident that inspired The Conjuring. But everyone will find it familiar: an isolated nowhere town where movie families go to get tormented by malevolent spirits. What else could the Perrons have expected when they bought that rotting lakeside farmhouse at an auction in 1971? Haven’t they seen, oh, every horror flick ever made? Director James Wan sure has. Though The Conjuring wears its “based on a true story” tag proudly, the universe it inhabits is purely, unabashedly cinematic. Wan, who kicked off the torture-porn era with the original Saw but has gradually wound back to more traditional forms of horror, reaches into a bag of scare tactics now so elemental the audience titters in nervous anticipation every time the music drops out and the camera holds on a single frame for a tad too long. It feels like a waste of word count to recite the entire plot when a disorganized list of its elements will do: a boarded-up cellar. Mysterious bruises. A clairvoyant dog. Kamikaze birds. A creepy old jack-in-the-box. Haunted linens. That’s basically how the movie progresses, running through a hodgepodge of decently executed tropes that add up to an entertaining YouTube montage. At points, Wan goes into straight homage, referencing everything from The Changeling to Paranormal Activity to The Amityville Horror. By the climax, The Conjuring has evolved into a full-tilt tribute to The Exorcist, and through the performances of its three leads—Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and especially Lili Taylor—achieves visceral, armrest-clutching fright nirvana. But then it just sort of ends, and you walk out thinking not about Catholic guilt or the power of Christ but about how you should probably go to the beach soon.
 
  • Genres: Horror
  • Running Time: 111 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, July 19, 2013
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: R [ Disturbing Violence and Terror ]
  • Critic's Score: B-
  • Starring: Vera Farmiga [Lorraine Warren], Patrick Wilson [Ed Warren], Lili Taylor [Carolyn Perron], Ron Livingston [Roger Perron], Shanley Caswell [Andrea], Haley McFarland [Nancy], Joey King [Christine], Mackenzie Foy [Cindy], Kyla Deaver [April], Shannon Kook [Drew], John Brotherton [Brad], Sterling Jerins [Judy], Marion Guyot [Georgiana], Morganna Bridgers [Debbie], Amy Tipton [Camilla], Steve Coulter [Father Gordon]
  • Directed by: James Wan [Director], Chad Hayes [Screenwriter], Carey W. Hayes [Screenwriter], Tony DeRosa-Grund [Producer], Peter Safran [Producer], Rob Cowan [Producer], Walter Hamada [Executive Producer], Dave Neustadter [Executive Producer], John R. Leonetti [Cinematographer], Kirk Morri [Film Editor], Kristin Burke [Costume Designer], Julie Berghoff [Production Design], Joseph Bishara [Original Music], Mark Isham [Original Music], Geoffrey Grimsman [Art Director], Sophie Neudorfer [Set Decoration], Anne McCarthy [Casting], Kellie Gesell [Casting]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer
 

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