Don't close your eyes when you sleep. Movie Review: The Conjuring

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Do you believe what you see? What you hear? More importantly, do you believe in what lies behind the veil of life and death? Still thinking about it? Doesn’t matter if you answered yes or no, many of you question much less in our lifetimes. The question truly, do you have a belief of faith in yourself?

Have you or someone close to you had a spiritual encounter? Too analytical? Okay, do you believe in the supernatural? Well two people have spent their whole life researching and even fought against the supernatural. No, they do not drive an Impala. They are Ed and Lorraine Warren. This is one of their cases.

conj31971, the Perron family has just moved to a farmhouse in Harrisville, RI. The family has no idea what they are in for. Within the first couple days in the home, strange things begin to happen. All clocks are stopping, the children are feeling someone pulling on them, and more importantly the mom, Carolyn, is being physically hurt. With all that is going on, Carolyn seeks out help from two people whom most feel are, crazy, fake or fear mongers, self described demonologists, the Warren’s. Upon their first meeting with the Perron family, Lorraine, a clairvoyant, senses something is not right. As their investigation continues the history of the house has a lot to do with what’s happening in the present. Can the Warren’s help the Perron’s? Is the Perron’s family bond strong enough? Will you believe all you see?

‘The Conjuring’ is an insightful look into one of the true cases the Warren’s came across to date. Most people are very familiar with the Amityville case in upstate New York but this case pre-dates it and is one that Lorraine still worries about to date. With the help the Perron family and the book written by the eldest child, Andrea, along with Lorraine herself, director James Wan (Insidious, Saw) is setting out to bring back the creativity in the thriller/horror genre.  Boy has he conjured up a good one.

With a very well written screenplay by the Hayes Brothers, Chad and Carey (The Reaping, Whiteout), Wan delves into a dying art form in the horror world, a good ghost story. Too many horror films are predictable, and sorry to say, cliché. But here, the Hayes Brothers write with a purpose and a goal, the psyche of the audience member in mind. This allows Wan to be truly in his element and scare the **** out of you. I’ll let you fill in the blank as I jumped a couple times and as my friends can attest, that is tough to do.

Wan lets your imagination help drive what you are seeing on the screen. This is forcefully twisted into your mind as the film uses practical effects and very little, if no CGI in this film. What you see is what is happening in front of the camera during filming with the actors. Insane you say? Well believe it. To the effects team all I have to say is, SENSATIONAL! Because that’s what you did creating such a vivid portrayal of what these people went through.

The director is only as good as those who are supporting you and Wan put a team together that can rival those that brought us classic horror films like ‘Amityville Horror’ with its effects or story like ‘Psycho’. It has been a long time that I have seen a film in his genre with this caliber that could be considered a top 20, oh heck, top 10 horror film. Beyond doubt will be a classic horror film in time.

conj2Let’s turn our focus to those that deserve praise for living in these peoples shoes during the filming, the actors. Leading this exploration into the unknown are Patrick Wilson (Insidious, Watchmen) and Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed) as the Warren’s. Taking the time to visit with Lorraine and immerse themselves in her zeal for the paranormal, Wilson and Farmiga lend credibility from their own research in playing these two individuals that many feel are the pioneers in ghost investigation. There is an emotional chemistry with these two on screen that someone may want to capitalize onto and create more films about the Warren’s cases.

The integrity of this story is also upheld by those portraying the Perron family. Ron Livingston (Office Space, Swingers) as the father, Roger, Lili Taylor (The Haunting, Say Anything) as wife Carolyn and playing the children from oldest to youngest; Shanley Caswell as Andrea, Hayley McFarland as Nancy, Joey King as Christine, Mackenzie Foy as Cindy, and Kyla Deaver as little April. This group of actors’ works very well with each other in every scene you see. Then again having the real Perron family on set every now and then added not only emotional support to portray the real feeling of this family but healing for the real family so that they can get their story out to the world. A warning to all that there are true dangers we sometimes never see. I do give great praise to Lili Taylor and all that she put into her performance as Carolyn. Her portrayal of Carolyn is filled with so much feeling you can’t help but to want reach out and want to hold her close and tell her, “it’s going to be all right.”

This is a well acted film and as I said assisted by an amazing creative team to let them shine. From the practical special effects that make you to suspend your reality, which I am not going to spoil for anyone, to the ominous music that drives you heart rate up, you are in for an experience. Even the eye of the cinematographer lends to the experience of the movie-goer that what they are seeing is real.

Do you want to open your mind to what you can and can’t see? Are you ready to witness a film that is not only engaging but could make you look at the world a little different? If so then get out of your house, go down to your local cinema house and see ‘The Conjuring’. This is a journey into what many of us do not want to acknowledge as real, just someone’s over imagination or hoax. Life is real and this is a story of one Family’s life. 

Many of you who read my reviews know I do an ‘art imitating life’ at the end. You may be wondering, “How the hell is he going to do that with this film?” Easy, I believe. Since I was a child I have know there is more to the world then what we see in the physical sense. To the point that I personal fear what happens in the next life, the afterlife. Some believe it will be judgment day, some an awakening or dream, others, nothing. For me it’s not knowing. Even though I believe that spirits do exist and there is some force that may be watching over us, it is that unknowing feeling that scares me. The feeling of complete emptiness is not comforting at all. So how does one calm those fears? I surround myself with those that are good for my soul. It is belief in one’s self that can conquer any fear or challenge in life. Those that love you are the people that will give you the strength to fight any battle. Whether it be sickness, cancer or any fear, the healing energy of life’s loved ones can pull you through anything. Live life and live it with those who love you for who you are.

Follow my entertainment adventures throughout Southern California on Twitter @SCThrillsMarc.