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    August 4, 2013


    Well-known for his horror efforts like Saw and Insidious, Malaysian-born director James Wan returns with another dose of supernatural scare. Presenting The Conjuring, a movie which is based on the real story of the Perron's family whose haunting and terrifying experience while living in an old farmhouse in Rhode Island for almost a decade is told from the point of views of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the world's renowned paranormal investigators and demonologists. Early reviews have indicated that The Conjuring is one of the scariest movies in the recent time and will most probably establish itself to stand tall along with the lineup of classical horrors. This is aptly-timed since such genre of horror is without any memorable entrée for such a long time, perhaps the last exorcism-related movie I really enjoyed was The Exorcism of Emily Rose (not great though). But do these early online praises live up to the hypes it has been building over the last few months? The answer is as expected - a solid yes.

    Genre: Horror
    Classification: 18
    Release Date: 1 August 2013
    Running Time: 112 minutes
    Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
    Director: James Wan
    Screenplay: Chad and Carey Hayes
    Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston

    Plot: Before there was Amityville, there was Harrisville. "The Conjuring" tells the true story of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga), world renowned paranormal investigators, who were called to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most horrifying case of their lives.
    While there are not much fresh elements to be offered in The Conjuring where some of the story elements and methods-to-shock look all too familiar, the general outcome of this movie as a package is truly impressive. The Conjuring starts with The Perrons, an average family moves into a house in the middle of nowhere, unknowingly aware that the house is haunted inside-out. As a series of strange events begin to terror the family, they seek the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) whose real-life haunting documentation amounts to 10,000 cases, in an effort to understand and to cease the terrors. The Warrens pays the family a visit but quickly deduces that something is not right. They suggest that a form of exorcism may be required but an extensive evident must be obtained before such ritual can be performed. I do not need to go on to tell you how familiar the story is. In addition to what have been described on paper; elements like when the dog refusing to enter, birds crashing into the house and a hidden basement should ring the bell in any familiar movie-goers.

    Upon observations, The Conjuring could be easily mistaken as another side pieces that ripped from The Exorcist or The Amityville Horror. The script by Chad and Carey Hayes is outright passable but it was director James Wan who transforms it beyond the passable quality. In the modern world where audiences’ expectation and appetite for high standard and quality scares at high, The Conjuring does it all pretty nicely. I can go on and on about how the familiar the story is, but it ultimately takes someone like James Wan to treat and turn these familiarities into something so strong in the end that by the time it reaches the climax, it no longer matters. The critical success in this horror flick is the ability to sustain your attentions from the beginning till the end – intensify and gripping at the same time. The Conjuring is not only built around slowly upon the exquisite indulgence into the life of Roger (Ron Livingston), wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their five daughters as they experiencing demonic events; but is also well-mannered to bring the audience and sucked them into a neat narration that takes no urgency in throwing and twisting the plot into annoyance.. The ability of The Conjuring to stand tall based solely on the strong plot building, momentum and writing makes it a half-champ.

    Of course, the other half comes from the other departments. Good characterization writing for the key characters seems to give this movie an equal emphasis on both the emotion investment and the chill factors. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are simply amazing on their roles as the Warrens complete with excellent chemistry around. Although some of the characters are less than inspiring especially the reliable Ron Livingston’s moments as Roger is pretty awkward and forgettable. But there are also other interesting characters to follow like for instance that bromance between Brad and Drew is quite enjoyable to offer some laughter even during the tenses. In addition to that, the scary moments work effectively, thanks to the great executions and amazing visual tricks – not a torture porn or over-the-top bloody gore. The lack of CGIs in the movie does not possess any problem as cinematographer John R. Leonetti resorts to raise the hair-raising tension with a range if wide scope of camera angles and keen sequencing to highlight the horror, a signature throwback into the popular concepts back in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

    The Conjuring is packed with story elements that are not inventive but are creative and nostalgic enough to suck the audience into a sustainable fright and horror that do not come cheap. This impressive craftsmanship from James Wan makes this movie a anecdotal, well-built and dynamic narrative horror with plenty of practical scares that work, even when the script is outright just passable. It is unfortunate that The Conjuring is still a ladder step below of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, a classic which have an everlasting impression to ponder and reflect.

    Story: 4.0
    Casts: 4.5
    Cinematography: 4.5
    Effects: 4.5
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 16.9/20.0


    • The real Lorraine Warren appears in a cameo role as the one sitting in front during the Warrens' classroom presentation.
    • Ryan Gosling, through his band - Dead Man's Bone, contributes "In the Room where You Sleep" which features in the scene where the cameras are set up in the Perron's house.

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