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James Wan‘s The Conjuring may seem like your typical haunted house movie, but in reality, it’s so much more than that. Based on the true story of famed ghost-hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren (who are best known for their connection to the Amityville “Horror” case that occurred in the mid-70′s), this period horror film focuses on one of their early cases in which a hateful spirit terrorizes a family of seven. Wan is one of the brains behind the Saw franchise, but here he ditches the gruesome torture and gore and goes for deep-rooted suspense.

The Players:

The Plot:

Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help the Perron family, who are being terrorized by a supernatural presence in their Rhode Island farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful, dark spirit, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.

The Good:

  • Female Performances: Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga delivers an honest and moving performance as clairvoyant Lorraine Warren. The Conjuring is a horror film, but Farmiga treats it like a drama. All of her actions have meaning, and her eyes are filled with sorrowful stories that she need not say. And Lili Taylor is right there with Farmiga. She’s sweet and loving when she needs to be, and becomes completely terrifying as the story unravels.
  • The Mystery: For the most part, haunted house and/or ghost stories don’t rely on logical explanations for their supernatural occurrences (why should they?), but Chad and Carrie Hayes carefully piece together the mystery behind The Conjuring‘s paranormal activity. As a result, we get a film that’s not only chilling but also interesting.
  • Pace/Suspense: Wan has become a skillful storyteller in the horror genre. He’s learned how to scare without using special effects or gore. In this movie, he plays with your emotions and conscious, making you reflect on your own fears.

The So-So:

  • Subplots: While the subplots are interesting, some of the extra characters feel too excessive. These additional stories just make the film longer, thus delaying the really important stuff.
  • The Ending: Like most endings, this one too is a little soft, but we’ve come to expect that from Hollywood.

Overall:

Using the common background of a haunted old house, director James Wan skillfully tells a terrifying ghost story without using too many special effects or buckets of blood. The actors fully immerse themselves in their roles and all of them deliver top-notch performances, especially Vera Farmiga and Lili Taylor. The Conjuring is a fine American horror movie – the kind that’ll give you nightmares.

The Rating: 8.5/10

The Conjuring opens in theaters July 19.

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Trailer:

Will you be seeing The Conjuring this weekend?