I am writing this review being home alone, at night and just back from the screening of The Conjuring. If you read this, it means that I stayed alive.
The Conjuring is this year's most anticipated movie for me. Every year I have a great hope for every horror and mostly it's just another disappointment. However James Wan really managed to terrify a lot of people including me.
Movie tells a real story of Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warrens - spouses who have been investigating paranormal activities during whole their lives - and their one particular case, that was held in secret for many years because of its violate and unsolved nature.
In 1971 the Parren's family moved to a new house, which ought to be a start of their new life, but they never imagined what "new" was supposed to mean. From the very first day they faced some unnatural and unexplained phenomenon, that disturbed everybody and especially their 5 minor children. Caroline Parren asks for help to Warrens and they start investigation which leads to a dreadful chain of events.
Story begins with closer look at Ed and Lorraine - their job and relationship and one of easy cases of "evil doll". Then it switches to Parren's family and then those to families unite for the whole movie. Lorraine who is a medium finds a lot spirits in the house, but one of them is the most dangerous seeking for revenge. She believes that exorcism is the only way out and resettlement of family does not help at all. But before that, they have to investigate, get prove of existence of supernatural and then ask for help to church. And after this, everything gets complicated. Involvement of outsiders make soul angrier and it starts to attack each of residing in the house.
The Conjuring has a plot of average horror movie - devils, murders, child killer mothers, music box, souls and dead babies. Actually the story mostly develops pretty predictably but it has something very important most of horrors lack - scare. This film brings so much of it that I've been jumping during whole seance. Wan has used a lot sound effects very successfully that actually made the whole movie very enjoyable. Also, the Conjuring is a good mix of some documentary material and fiction, bringing freshness to scary emotions.
The reason why The Conjuring is a strong work is that it really frightens any (or most) viewer. It is not smart, or very original but it is worth spending some money on ticket. It has a lot of moments of sudden sound or visual effects which take your breath away. From the first minutes until the end nothing seems wrong. There are several moments with huge jumps, that really shake each cell of your body and then it is followed by long tension - a calm psychologically suppressing events that also culminates with another huge scare. And this goes on until the last minute of picture, does not giving a sec to restore powers and collect yourself.
The idea of being a true story has its charm. Most of people in the movie are real. Lorraine is actually alive at the age of 86, her husband died in 2006. Parren's family are real people who have told this story themselves. And the feeling that all these happened some times before just kills you.
Additionally, the last scene of exorcism is one of the finest horror scenes I've ever seen - truly terrifying, emotional and impressive. Yes it all comes down to sounds and effects and James Wan with his team managed to combine this supporting features for the best.
As for cast, Vera Farmiga is great - she makes a great horror character. But Joey King stole the whole show, playing one of the first victim Parren children. Her emotions are so real as if she was really seeing ghosts in her room. The rest of cast work as they are supposed to and this does not happen very often in horror movies.
The thing I did not like much and I could be willing to change is the end. It could be as horrifying as the whole 112 minutes of it. But still The Conjuring is not movie one can reject because of its not effective or lame finish. Because everybody, who wants a horror that won't let you sleep in dark room, can get it. Thus this is genuinely best movie of its genre of last decade and this years my top film so far.
Remember: Keep the lights on!