These days, when a horror movie can give the audience multiple scare-climaxes – and earn the kinky R-rating just for that reason – it’s a theatrical bedmate one should embrace. So feel free to mess around with “The Conjuring.”
Director James Wan (“Saw,”” Insidious”) fumbles around undressing his 112 minute exorcism/haunted flick. But once he starts pulling out his good moves and limits the generic dirty talk (dialogue), you’ll yearn for each seductive terror to last. And the guy knows how to give it to ya nice, steady, and when necessary, strong.
Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are paranormal investigators that have gained notoriety back in the 1960s. Fast-forward to 1971 and they’re summoned by the frantic Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor), whose family – consisting of her hubby (Ron Livingston) and their five daughters – are experiencing the stereotypical haunts in a big house out in the wilderness. Agreeing to take a look, Ed and Lorraine realize that the family is in grave danger upon learning the one-hundred year dark history surrounding the land.
Though the above synopsis is the heart of the chilling tale, the delivery does not bring both sets of characters together until the halfway mark. Wan decides to splice the slow-burn haunts the Perron family experiences, while casually cutting away to the Warrens either speaking at packed college campus auditoriums or showing them in their house where they keep all the possessed objects they’ve dealt with during their investigations.
It’s tough to recall a cast where everyone not only wants to be a part of this type of product, yet also enhance it. Everyone is immersed in their character and the surrounding set designs place you in their haunted shoes. The use of the technology for the time period adds in a suspenseful tone for the mechanics rely upon physical crafting rather than distracting computerized special effects.
As far as what the horror community desires, just be thrilled something genuinely scary has been crafted. The old school approach has some lulls for certain, and the rationale of why there’s a demonic presence lurking doesn’t reinvent the genre. Yet what can be stated with confidence: even if you’re in a theater where half the audience likes to giggle after each scare sequence as if they are walking through the haunted house, the screenplay laced with jumping moments methodically turns up the intensity and will end up silencing that contingent (Thank the good lord) due to the magnitude of the situation articulated via the respective scene setup and performances.
Overall, “The Conjuring” decides to dance with just one or two key ingredients in this horror brew, rather than trying to shove-in all the elements the niche loyalists fawn over (massive body count, excessive gore, useless cussing, etc.). The classic ghost haunt executed with a touch of modern-flare (sprinkles in subtle self-aware comedy) is this generations “The Exorcist” and “The Amityville Horror.”
The Conjuring is rated R and opens in the Tampa Bay market on July 19th.