By Emanuel Ortiz
"Want to play a game of hide and clap?"
James Wan has been getting somewhat of a reputation as a horror director thanks to his films like Saw and Insidious. Now with The Conjuring, James Wan shows that he has a good handle on the horror genre.
The Conjuring strays away from some typical horror clichés. It doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares and a first person perspective which many recent horror movies seem to adapt. Where most typical horror movies falter as well is their story and their characters. It’s no secret that many horror movies have weak characters consisting of horribly acting stupid teenagers that many of the audience can give less than a damn about. It’s so refreshing to see that The Conjuring is not only a good horror, but it is also a good movie.
What The Conjuring got right was setting up its characters so the audience cares and relates to them, creating a story around these characters, and delivering on its scares. The Warrens as well as the family experiencing paranormal activity are given ample amount of screen time to develop. The movie shifts between these character’s perspectives so that the audience can learn how they live their life outside of the conflict in the movie. Ed and Lorraine Warren are paranormal investigators contacted by Carolyn after unusual activity starts occurring in her house. She asks them to take a look and give their thoughts to which they reluctantly agree but quickly realize that this case is more serious than they first anticipated.
The plot is well done being based off of true events. The pace of the story is just right starting off with the Warren’s perspective and jumping to the family’s haunting then back and forth until they meet. The movie is just short of two hours long and never feels like it is dragging on or loses you at any point. The director and writer knew not to expand upon what they already had because anymore would probably be just useless weight.
The story and characters are well done but being a horror movie, you expect to get some scares. Does The Conjuring provide in this area? I believe it does. The atmosphere created by Wan helps elevate these scares. For example, the house that the family moved into is large, dark when shown in the movie, and worn down. The house and its surroundings are purposely shown in this dark color scheme to create this dark presence. The house alone without any of the paranormal activity still wouldn’t convince me to move in. Like mentioned previously, the movie doesn’t rely on jump scares, which are just loud noises, to scare the audience. It builds up suspense ultimately revealing a big scare. Such an example of this suspense building would be the game of hide and clap which is used a few times in the movie but where it ends up going will creep the hell out of anyone and stick with you.
Although The Conjuring has many different things to offer, there were two issues hindering it. The first issue, as good as the story was, had a problem towards the end of the movie. Without spoiling anything, the father of the family decides to leave for a little after being highly suggested not to. Of course, when he leaves, something bad occurs. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the Warrens hadn’t specifically said what could happen if people were left unattended. Also, as good as the scares were in the movie, I felt like there could have been at least one more good scare added to the movie. The movie was really creepy and I left the lights on in my house afterwards but there wasn’t one particular scene where I thought "WOAH, that was scary."
Nevertheless, The Conjuring was a huge success in setting out what it intended on doing which was to create a great movie with some great scares. The cast did a fantastic job acting especially Ed and Lorraine which really sold that not only they were a couple, but they have been doing this for some time now. I look forward to its sequel and hope it delivers as well as this movie did.