Director: James Wan
Writer: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Based on: on a case from Ed and Lorraine Warren
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shannon Kook, John Brotherton, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver
The Perrons, mother Carolyn (Lili Taylor), father Roger (Ron Livingston) and their five daughters, have just moved to a slightly decrepit house. But as soon as they move in, weird things start happening. They uncover a hidden cellar. One of their daughters starts sleepwalking again, another has a new invisible friend. Clocks stop at precisely the same time every night. Pictures fall from walls. As things keep getting worse, Carolyn calls on the help of demonologist Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and clairvoyant Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga).
After Insidious, I expected big things of The Conjuring. Extremely big things. And I’m happy to say that it absolutely delivered and scared the crap out of me (again).
There is basically nothing I didn’t love about this film. Except maybe the a little on the nose use of Dead Man’s Bones’ In the Room Where You Sleep. That was at the same time nice and so obvious that it had me rolling my eyes just a teensiest bit. But it was also only 30 seconds in a film that is almost two hours long, so who actually gives a shit if that bit wasn’t perfect?
Because everything else pretty much was. It started with the costumes and set design that managed to transport you to another time effortlessly but still have it feel entirely realistic (and you need a certain sense of realism to make a supernatural scare story work). The set-up and the pacing of the story was great, too. And I loved how the script treated the relationship between Ed and Lorraine, as well as Roger and Carolyn. Those were real partnerships and you knew why these people were married.
The cast was fantastic. The girls – especially Joey King – blew my mind. Lili Taylor, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson were awesome. And I really enjoyed Shannon Kook, too. He brought a certain lightness to the entire thing that was so much at odds with the rest of the film that it brought out the darkness more.
But the real stars were the soundtrack by Joseph Bishara [and the general sounddesign that was spot on this time (as opposed to Insidious)], and most of all the cinematography by John R. Leonetti. From camera movement (only at the right moments) to framing it was pitch-perfect. You knew where to look and where to expect things, though they didn’t always happen when you expected them to. [There’s this one scene where I kept waiting for an attic door to open because the camera angle was just so and it kept on and on and the tension was just getting too much, when there was a cut and we never see the attic door again. Now, one could feel cheated by that but actually that my expectations weren’t fulfilled all the time is exactly what kept me on my toes.]
In any case, it is an awesome, fearsome film that scares you in exactly the right ways.
Summarizing: James Wan, let me love you.