Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘The Conjuring’ Review: Wilson & Farmiga Lead Intense Horror Flick

The Conjuring is the scariest film I’ve seen in recent memory. Director James Wan (Insidious and Saw) pays homage to classic horror films like The Shining, Poltergeist, The Birds and The Exorcist. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are excellent and the screenplay is wickedly awesome. Did I mention this movie scared me out of my wits? At one point, I was actually tearing up in the theatre.

Based on a true story, The Conjuring is set in 1971 at a secluded farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island. Roger and Caroline Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) just moved their five daughters to Rhode Island to start over. After a few nights in the house, the family slowly realizes that a demonic spirit possesses their home and the spirit is feeding off of them to keep alive.

Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are world-renowned paranormal investigators. Knowing that her family is in great danger, Caroline comes to the Warrens and asks them to visit her house. Lorraine is a professed clairvoyant and Ed, a noted demonologist. Together, they discover the frightened history that plagues the house and the danger the Perrons are in.

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Cinematographer John R. Leonetti (Insidious) creates an irresistibly creepy effect throughout the entire film by using fluid tracking shots to capture the haunted house. Wan and Leonetti seem to be the Wes Anderson and Robert D. Yeoman (director/cinematographer of Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tenenbaums) of horror films, meaning every shot is picturesque perfect. Before you call me crazy, if you take a look at any of Wes Anderson’s films and pause the film at any time, the frame looks like it could be an extraordinary photo. In The Conjuring, it’s the same effect.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga give some of the best performances of the year as the Warrens. Even in the scenes where Farmiga doesn’t particularly have much dialogue, she conveys so much pain, horror and guilt in her face as she’s fighting against this demonic spirit. The Conjuring isn’t a love story, but Wilson and Farmiga’s chemistry is lovely to watch and they do a wonderful job representing how much they cared for each other. Wilson, especially.

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The third act of The Conjuring is completely worth the wait as the actors and Wan give it their all, utilizing everything the audience wants out of a possession and haunted house themed movie.

If you love haunted house flicks, possession themed movies and Patrick Wilson, this movie is for you. The Conjuring will please fans of both the classic horror genre and modern day thrillers. You’ll never look at a doll the same way again.

The Conjuring receives 4/5 Stars for the amazing performances by the entire ensemble, the hauntingly beautiful cinematography and because it scared me out of my wits!

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