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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review: The Conjuring

Director: James Wan
Screenplay: Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes
Year: 2013

In my review of “Insidious” I wrote a bit about the importance of director, screenwriter, and producer of horror cinema James Wan. Although “Insidious” is still his best work to date, “The Conjuring” is his most popular and the movie that gave way to the Conjuring Universe. Just like with the “Saw” franchise that has generated a total of eight movies with the possibility of a ninth in 2020, the “The Conjuring” franchise has generated a total of seven movies, two in the main series where a third one has already been announced for 2020 and five derived from their characters, the most recent being  “The Curse of La Llorona” and “Annabelle Comes Home”, with three of them dedicated to the doll Annabelle.

Speaking of Annabelle, this is the first thing we see once the movie starts; a close-up of the face of the dreadful doll while some young women explain the events that took place around it, that establishes the tone of the movie in one of the most effective and bold opening scenes in recent times. This first take only lasts for a few seconds, but it is very powerful in establishing the tone and discomfort in the viewer in a few short seconds. This scene is just a sample of the best thing this movie does, which is creating atmosphere and tension.

“The Conjuring” is based in the ‘70s and follows a family that after moving to a new house and start feeling paranormal events. These events continue to increase in intensity and frequency until the family decides to contact the Warrens, renowned for being experts in these topics. The Warrens confirm that the family is being attacked by an evil presence, and it starts a battle between both families and the evil forces to get rid of them and avoid them from achieving their fatal goal.

The ability of Wan for making an uncomfortable moment the preamble to an even more uncomfortable moment is impressive. One of the most effective elements in “The Conjuring” is the ability to stack tense moments and jump scares one after the other to get the viewer off-guard and accumulate tension in him. At this point, it’s an overstatement that this is so well done that even the simplest jump scares, as the famous clap on the stairs, is able to destroy the nervous system of the bravest. 

On top of all that, it is worth noting that this movie had an R classification although it doesn’t have a scene that shows sex, nudity, or use of illegal substances and the violence and blood is sporadic and limited. The reason for this classification is that it is too scary, something that instead of limiting the access to the movie served as a promotion by emphasizing in this. The classification is on point, as, how is indicated in the reasoning for giving it, what it presents is enough to ruin the sleep of many viewers.

Constructing the atmosphere and visual creativity are only some of the qualities that James Wan has as a director. The work of the cast led by Vera Farminga ("Orphan"), Patrick Wilson ("Watchmen") and Lili Taylor ("Leatherface") is great and shows Wan’s ability to take out the best of them. At all times we feel their emotions, the most important being fear, and this complements the atmosphere and helps the effectiveness of the jump scares.

“The Conjuring” is one of the most frightening horror movies in recent times and in horror cinema in general. While its story is not something that us horror fans have not seen before, it manages to be one of the most frightening and one to keep the viewer glued to its seat, except for a few inevitable jumps on the scares. With good reason, it went on to create a whole universe of horror movies based on the same horrifying atmosphere system and many jump scares that keep proving to be effective.

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