Thursday 8 August 2013

Movie Review - The Conjuring

I love supernatural horror. But I also hate it. Why is this? It's simply because the genre has vast and complex potential that's often wasted on cheap jump scares, stupid actors in ghost make-up and pointless references to Satan. We've all grown tired of demonic possession or vengeful ghosts, but are we really tired of the conventions or just how badly they're executed?

While the success of the film speaks for itself, I must state that while The Conjuring may appear to be cliche from its loud trailers, it certainly manages to stand out from the genre's biggest stinkers - and become one of the best modern horror films to date.

Based on yet another true case investigated by the renowned Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), The Conjuring follows the aforementioned ghost hunters on their most troubling mission yet - the family of Roger (Ron Livington) and Carolyn Peron (Lili Taylor) who have been forced into a dilapidated countryside house due to their low funds. Within the house begin a series of strange paranormal events, preying mostly on Carolyn and their daughters, which have to be stopped before the disastrous consequences become reality.

The Conjuring doesn't win any points for originality, but then again even the best horror films can struggle to garner such a merit. It's more about how the conventions are developed and staged, and in this respect the film truly shines. The atmosphere is mostly tense and eerie, creating unsettling scenarios and charging up some extremely freaky jump scares. It wouldn't be a horror film without loud frights - and while there's one too many at times, it rarely becomes annoying. I've always believed that a jump scare can't just be a loud noise; it has to be contextually freaky, so that the thing making you jump has spooky consequences or aftermath. The Conjuring meets this criteria perfectly and delivers some of the most unsettling frights in a recent horror film.

The third act releases all the tension into a manic and spooky finale, but unfortunately this can drag a little and the film chucks in a few meaningless scares to generate fear as it begins to finish. What mends this flaw, however, is the exceptional acting - a horror film is home sweet home for atrocious performances and laughable scaredy cat acting, but The Conjuring avoids this flawlessly. Everyone, even the young female leads, performs brilliantly, injecting more fear and tension into every scene. The demonic entities briefly seen are excellently designed and their sporadic appearances, which are mostly suggested, keep you constantly on the edge of your seat.

A slew of awful supernatural horror films have hit cinemas in the past year or so, some of which I didn't even bother seeing, but The Conjuring is truly an impressive work. It's not flawless by any means, as it feels a tad bloated and far too loud at times, but everything is staged and shot wonderfully to create a truly disturbing horror atmosphere which is further supported by a great and engaging story. For any fan of horror movies, this is one you have to check out.