(The gist: The Conjuring is that elusive haunting horror movie I have been searching for, the one that reaches out of its subgenre and truly captures me. I loved everything about it and was genuinely unnerved by it. It affected me enough to have me switching on the light all the faster when I went to bed.)
To quote my husband and one of this week’s viewing partners, The Conjuring is “creepy as balls.” It has been well documented that I am no fan of paranormal horror, that I roll my eyes at most ghost of haunting stories. Yet, nonetheless, I keep auditioning them, keep giving them a chance to win me over.
The Conjuring won me over.
Not only did The Conjuring slyly seduce me into the haunting horror subgenre, it succeeded where countless movies before it have failed: it pulled me out of multitasking. No small feat, I assure you. Normally, when I watch a movie, I am playing on my phone or writing on my computer, perhaps typing out a horror movie review, so I really see many things with only one eye and/or ear.
However, The Conjuring had me so rapt that it pulled me away from a night of work. I actually set the laptop aside once the haunting manifestations began to step it up. I was all in, and that says something.
The Conjuring tells the supposedly true story of the Perron family as captured in the case files of the paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens conducted multiple paranormal investigations for the Catholic church. The Perrons, including their five daughters, moved into a farmhouse and started experiencing haunting manifestations when they opened a boarded up cellar.
The Conjuring was exceptionally well done with a harkening to more 70s haunting horror movies than any slasher film. Everything is about pace and suggestion. The movie develops slowly yet manages not to be boring. It does an excellent job of making your mind do the work. Most of the unnerving elements are suggested, hinted at, allowing your own imagination to fill in the rest. Then when there is a reveal: creepy as balls.
The characters are round and sympathetic, though often there are too many daughters to really keep track of. The story progresses at the perfect pace to truly build interest and suspense (like I said: I put my beloved laptop and pressing work aside). The music contributes very effectively to the mood and the story. And any glimpses of the ghost/witch are, in fact, quite terrifying.
And the movie stuck with me. After turning it off, it resonated in my mind, quickened my heart, had me flipping on the light just a little faster. That is when a horror movie is truly successful.
That being said, I have been unable to pinpoint what exactly makes The Conjuring so good. Formulaicly, it is not much different than any other haunting or ghost horror movie. We meet the characters; the hauntings begin subtle and suggestive then gradually build in intensity; ultimately, there is a grand reveal of the ghost or demon or force; then there is a resolve (most often a vanquishing). The Conjuring followed this established pattern.
Normally, this plot arch leaves me bored and unimpressed, yet The Conjuring had me on the edge of my seat, had me cringing, had me vested. Why? What was the difference? The acting was good but not amazing enough to floor me. The reveals and glimpses at the ghost/witch were expertly timed and executed. Perhaps it was the culmination and composition of all elements.
Whatever it was, it worked. Worked so well I could not even delete it off my DVR. I need to watch it again, especially in this festive time of year.
Watch The Conjuring. If you like horror or ghost stories or suspense. Or just because. Watch it.