The Conjuring
★★★☆☆
The Conjuring delivers a good old-fashioned ghost story with the added bonus of being based on true events.  Paranormal investigator and "demonologist" Ed Warren, who investigated the Amityville Horror and many other celebrated and controversial "hauntings" with his wife Lorraine, felt there was a film to be made from their 1971 case involving the Perron family farmhouse in Rhode Island.  It took over 30 years for producer Tony DeRosa-Grund to get that film made, but he, director James Wan, and writers Chad and Carey Hayes craft a solid, spine-chilling haunted house thriller from the story.  While not a great horror movie like The Exorcist or Poltergeist, The Conjuring effectively uses many of the tropes and story elements that make those two movies so memorably creepy.

What prevents the scares--and the movie--from really standing out is the filmmakers’ failure to capitalize on the period setting.  Ghost stories that take place in the more innocent, less technological 1970s are usually scarier than their savvier, self-referential contemporary counterparts.  The Conjuring utilizes its period detail to some degree, but it suffers from the clean, sharp, over-lit visual style of a modern digital cinema. The abundance of anachronistic sensibilities and dialogue also keep us from fully falling under the film’s spell, and Wan shows us a few too many overt ghost images when just sounds and visual impressions would be scarier.  The women heading up the cast--Lili Taylor, Vera Farmiga, and the five girls who play the Perron daughters—make their characters far more absorbing then the male leads--Patrick Wilson and Ron Livingston--who come off a bit flat.  Still, this is a welcome addition to the haunted house genre and a good scary night out at the movies.
Directed by James Wan
Produced by Rob Cowan, Tony DeRosa-Grund, and Peter Safran

Written by Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes

With: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, and Shannon Kook

Cinematography: John R. Leonetti
Editing: Kirk M. Morri
Music: Joseph Bishara

Runtime: 112 min
Release Date: 19 July 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Color