In all my years as a horror fan I have seen a lot of movies. I’ve been scared, I’ve jumped and I’ve even been unmoved, so it’s rare that this late in the game I should have a first. The Conjuring took a virginity of sorts, it is the first film I have ever seen that has made me scream and, to rub salt in the wounds, it was caught on camera.
On attending a London test screening to The Conjuring, despite the feelings of grandeur that come associated with seeing a movie before it’s released to the masses, I was not anticipating much. When I read the plot to say I’d heard it all before would be an understatement. The film runs with two diverging tangents; on one hand we have the Warrens’, a seer and Demonologist power couple (played by Hothouse Hunk Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) who have set out to help rid the world of its supernatural evils and, on the other, we have the Perron family, nice, wholesome and just about getting by, who have moved to a new house for a fresh start (ZzzZzz…) with the family dog and a brood of female children of assorted ages and temperaments. To top it all off it is directed by James Wan whose work is generally inconsistent and it’s from the people behind Insidious (I told you the plot sounded familiar). I’m sure you can understand my initial skepticism…
However, I was quickly forced to eat my words. The film opens with the story of a scary doll, an apparent fetish of James Wan, and gives us an insight in to an earlier Warren case whereby Annabelle the doll torments two student nurses. Within moments of the film starting I found myself completely on edge, not because of jump scares (of which there are many) but the atmosphere. From the titles it is layed on so thick that it’s impossible not to be sucked in, as my fellow cinema patrons verified. I could feel myself sliding down in my seat and making sure all open liquid containers were far from me.
The film is a slow burner at first as all haunting films are, a stopped clock here, a smashed family portrait there, a tugged foot in the bedroom, a few bruises on Mum’s arm rationalised as an “iron deficiency” etc. etc. you know the drill by now. With each night that passes the intensity of the haunting starts to increase until one fateful night while dad is away working in Florida, when it all goes down. Two of the scariest scenes in the film happen in quick succession, I won’t spoil it for you but I will give you hints, one involves sleepwalking and a wardrobe and the other the cellar, matches and a children’s game. So let me do the math:
The Conjuring + Double-scare = Manscream
Me – Dignity = Impressed!
Once the Warrens and the Perrons come together the scares keep on coming, delivered with impressive poise and finesse until we get the climax which although doesn’t quite stand up to the terror earlier in the film, is perfectly satisfying.
This film isn’t breaking any new ground but it is fertilising soil that’s been pretty barren for a long while. My scariest film list only has room for three and it’s just edged Insidious out (watch out The Blair Witch Project & Shutter!). I can’t recommend this movie enough, the manscream speaks for itself.
Video sourced from YouTube.
Why you’re here, why not check out the trailer for Insidious: Chapter 2? Go on, you know you want to.