The latest horror frenzy hit the big screens on July 19 in the form of ‘The Conjuring,’ a haunted house flick based on real events. So are we looking at a screamtastic classic, or just a mediocre snoozer? See what the critics thought!
One day you’re moving into a gorgeous house in New England — it’s always in New England — and the next thing you know, you’re being haunted by evil supernatural spirits. So goes the plot of The Conjuring, the latest installation in the haunted house horror movie genre. We love a good supernatural domestic screamer, but so many have fallen flat (ahem, The Amityville Horror remake), will The Conjuring be any different?
‘The Conjuring’ Reviews
New York Times
The Conjuring isn’t just primarily set in the 1970s, it also taps into the paranoia that is both an evergreen American trait and a crucial characteristic of films of that era, horror and otherwise. With amusing self-awareness, [director] James Wan (his earlier movies include Saw and Insidious) leans on the usual genre tricks throughout, making you jump with hard edits and doors being squeaked open by unseen hands. But he also makes intelligent use of narrative delay and ellipses that help build suspense and suspicion. The script generally doesn’t overexplain, and neither does he.
Los Angeles Times
When a really good new horror film comes out, one that’s more about creative intelligence than executing the next grisly kill shot, it’s something of a miracle in this eviscerating post-Saw era. Old-school and supremely confident in its attack, The Conjuring is this year’s miracle — an Amityville Horror for a new century (and a far better movie than that 1979 hit), yet firmly rooted, without being slavish or self-conscious, in the visual language of 1970s filmmaking.
In James Wan’s The Conjuring, the camera doesn’t just follow, it stalks. It peers, pursues, intrudes, and it never seems to let up. It starts to follow a young girl and her mother through their new house, then cuts to an ominous zoom toward another sister, then cuts to a shot that cranes up to reveal the house from outside. The family and their house — the “victims” — seem to be always in the center of the frame. Like the demons that will soon pursue these characters, the camera doesn’t let go. More so than the actual scares — and there are plenty of those, too — The Conjuring succeeds because of all that anticipation of dread things to come. The damned thing works you so well that you may even consider leaving halfway through, for fear you’ll have a heart attack.
There are times when The Conjuring itself could use a bit more restraint. Its climax, for instance, involves an amateur Catholic exorcism that makes The Exorcist, William Friedkin’s pioneering 1973 possession drama, seem like a documentary. But the scares that the film delivers, if less than bone-chilling or deeply, deeply creepy, are consistently satisfying.
New York Post
Classy old-school horror, James Wan’s The Conjuring depends more on its excellent cast and atmospheric direction than cheap gimmicks to raise hairs on the back of your neck. Which it does, quite frequently.
Sounds like The Conjuring is a scream-fest that’s way better than just a couple cheap thrills! So, HollywoodLifers, will you go see the horror flick? Let us know!
— Andrew Gruttadaro
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