Review: The Conjuring
It takes a lot to do something new in horror and while The Conjuring falls into a sub-category of the well-worn "haunted house" sub-genre - and does little that we haven't seen before - it's still a hugely entertaining and genuinely scary hour and a half at the flicks.
That old chestnut of "based on actual events" is thrown out from the start to amp up the tension, as the increasingly prolific James Wan follows up the (70%) great Insidious with an assurance rarely seen in these types of films nowadays.
Vera Fermiga and Patrick Wilson are married couple Lorraine and Ed Warren who've managed to not only work together and not kill each other, but actually engage with dead folk what have been killed... if you catch our drift. Yep, they're "paranormal investigators" but they're not mental, or eccentric, one of them just happens to have an connection with the afterlife while the other is a demonologist - a bit like Joey Barton's agent, then.
They're kind of like the Scooby Doo gang, just instead of a talking dog they have an assistant called Drew.
Cut to the incessantly normal Perron family, who have just moved into a new house that makes the gaff in Amityville look like a pillow fight at Taylor Swift's place. When the haunting of the Warrens begins to become more and more aggressive, they call in Lorraine and Ed who investigate what will be the most disturbing case they've ever seen.
There are some genuinely excellent performances in The Conjuring - especially from the four main leads. There's an inherent amiability about Wilson that oozes on-screen warmth; while Fermiga and Taylor are both exceptional at conveying a silent inner torture. It's also great to see the ridiculously underrated Ron Livingston in a box-office smash as the put-upon Pa Perron.
While the story and structure are hardly anything different or new, being conventional has never really hurt horror films before. The good ones come down to two things - quality of execution and characters in peril you give a shit about. While the script is hardly gong worthy, the characters at least have depth which is only aided by the aforementioned stellar thespian work.
The real stand-out though is helmer, Wan, who directs with panache and patience, delivering a film that isn't light on scares and one that isn't afraid to take it's time.
Clapping has never been so terrifying.