Rating: Do yourself a favor and see The Conjuring whether you like profoundly scary movies or not. Just make sure it is still light outside when you leave the theater.
Being partially blind in one eye becomes a strength when you watch good supernatural/horror films. Afflicted with amblyopia in my left eye, I frequently can partially cover my right eye with my hand to keep from being shocked senseless during moments of these films. Yet I’ve got to admit that I was peeking through the fingers of my right hand during The Conjuring from beginning to end.
This is a disturbingly entertaining film that will cause many of you to feel that your blood has been frozen in place. Using strengths from such classic chilling films like The Exorcist (1973), The Omen (1976) and Poltergeist (1982), I feel that it ranks right with them.
Based on an outlandish true story where you see actual pictures of the participants at the end of the film, you follow the efforts of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren as they try to help a family and their four small daughters in a newly purchased farmhouse in Rhode Island. To use the title from the old 1983 Jason Robards’ nightmarish film adventure, Something Wicked This Way Comes.
First the Perron family’s dog suddenly dies after their arrival, and then a hidden cellar is discovered during renovation. At 3:07 a.m. every morning, the children start to first smell uncomfortable vapors, and then one suddenly feels like she is being pulled from her bed. Something was in that cellar, and that something clearly hasn’t gone away.
Thereafter, Mrs. Perron starts to suffer large bruises on her body, after which she is mysteriously hurled down the steps into the cellar. She then roams near a garish bent tree near a pond, discovering that something horrible has happened in those gnarled limbs years earlier.
The Perron family is left to ask for the help of the Warrens, and they set up video observation posts in the stricken home that is very similar to what occurred in Poltergeist. But while the Warrens can see what is going on, they can’t prevent it. What occurs is as profoundly terrifying as what happened to Linda Blair in her room in Director William Friedkin’s The Exorcist.
As noted, this is not just a horror film, but a supernatural horror film. Make no mistake, the devil is not a figment of human imagination.
But what proves to be strangely enchanting are the powerful performances of all of the actors. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play the Warrens, and their repeated travels into other’s private torments has taken a personal toll. Yet when asked to help people in need, they don’t turn away for any reason, and you end up both liking and admiring them.
The Perrons are played by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor, and their agony becomes yours. While they want to protect their young girls and leave, they are stuck financially. In the process, Ms. Taylor becomes an adult Linda Blair. The quest of the Warrens is to rescue her before the dark side claims her and her youngest daughter.
Let me also say that the movie begins with a separate event, and this film quickly wraps you up in its web as if it is a cinematic black widow spider. You become riveted to your seat minutes into the film, and you’re going nowhere for the next hour and 40 minutes.
If you will recall, the great Gregory Peck and Lee Remick suffered mightily in The Omen at the hands of Satan as they tried to save what they thought was their son. Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams danced on the edge of oblivion in Poltergeist as they tried to retrieve their daughter from inside that old jammed TV. The Warrens role here was exactly like Max VonSydow in The Exorcist, namely to bravely enter a possessed house in order to save the occupants.
So set aside your fears and buy a ticket. But if you wake up at 3:07 a.m., for God’s sake stay in bed!