Derek Winnert

The Conjuring ***½ (2013, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor) – Movie Review


Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are just the dynamic duo to help a terrorised couple (Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor) and their daughters battle a dark presence haunting their new farmhouse. It helps that Ed and Lorraine are very earnest and sincere, not at all your usual horror movie nutters. You’re on their side from the get-go.

Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) ensures a posh-looking movie and an ultra smooth scare ride, with the help of a quartet of quality actors, who bring great credibility to a story that, despite its real-life basis, is as far-fetched as they come. They’re all given a bit of a battering by the script, but poor Lili Taylor really earns her money here! Sometimes, just occasionally, you think movie actors are worth their vast salaries.


There are nearly two hours of shocks and scares, all of them quite familiar, but looking fresh and scary again in the safe hands of director and actors, with a very decent, literate screenplay by twins Carey and Chad Hayes (House of Wax, The Reaping, Whiteout) that treads carefully and doesn’t put many steps wrong. So there are no laughs at its expense, which is usual in this kind of movie, I guess.


It all begins with a haunting and ends in an exorcism, and in between, it’s ‘oh no there’s somebody behind the door’, ‘there’s somebody in the mirror’, ‘oh no there’s not, that kind of thing’. So I can’t say there’s a single genuine surprise here among all the copious shocks and scares, especially if you’ve seen the trailer that shows every single good moment in the movie.


But, nevertheless, it’s entirely enjoyable, even weirdly likeable. I think it must be the characters and the performers that make it quite addictive to watch. I’d even welcome another movie in the company of Wilson and Farmiga’s Ed and Lorraine Warren. Which is just as well because a sequel has already been announced after the first Conjuring hauled in a stunning $318 million worldwide. It’s The Conjuring 2 (2016).

© Derek Winnert 2013 Movie Review

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