— Heather O'Rourke as Carol Anne Freeling from Poltergeist, 1982
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July 19, 2013
Review: The Conjuring has an eerie beginning but fails to conjure lasting fear
— Posted by Ryan
Synopsis: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.
The Conjuring claims to be strongly based on an actual happening as told by famous “Demonologists” Ed and Loraine Warren. While I felt that Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga did a more than adequate job in portraying the characters, I felt the film fell victim to many cliches of the genre following the climax. This made me question the claims of the film’s strong ties to the actual events, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction and see the originality that sets it apart from other horror films.
The beginning of the film does an excellent job of separately establishing the Warrens and the family that is being plagued by the dark presence. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have a strong on-screen chemistry that easily connects you with the Warrens. They seem to mesh on every level from their characters’ love to their passion for their work. While the story of one family’s haunting is the main focus of this film, it is the backstory of the Warrens and their lifestyle that holds higher interest in the film. The Perrons are a typical family with a typical horror film story. They buy a house in an isolated area and suddenly strange things start to happen. The Perron children’s roles are the most notable in this situation with Joey King’s performance ranking the highest for conjuring fear (pun intended). Ron Livingston’s performance falls in line with many similar roles of the genre playing the skeptic and Lili Taylor’s role is her usual victimized, typecast role. Both of the Warren’s and the Perron’s stories are simultaneously told in a way that provides a smooth transition into the connection of their lives.
The establishment of the Warrens and their work coincides with the horrific events that take place in the Perron home. As the Warrens explain their encounters with the paranormal through lectures and interviews, similar situations are occurring in the Perron home. The early events in the Perron home are creepy due to their subtleties and what’s left to the imagination. The infrequent knocks, abrupt silence, and strange activities throughout the household make the film very eerie at the start. As the Warrens collide with the Perrons, the eerie events evolve into more stereotypical horror film moments as the focus on the characters and their story is lost in the weeds of Hollywood horror glam. Things get louder on a visual and auditory level and the presence in the household is eventually given a face. This, of course, is far less horrifying than what the audience could have imagined on their own.
While the beginning leads up to something that could have caused some uneasy, sleepless nights, the post-climatic moments leading towards the end are a reminder that this is a Hollywood horror film. The strong story and elements that initially held interest gradually dissipate from the emergence of random and unformulated moments of “jumpy” terror.
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First and foremost, Ryan Brown is a fan. He has been an avid fan of both the theater and cinema since an early age and his passion for both has been continually growing ever since. When dissecting a film, he focuses on all elements of film-making including some fan/cult factors. He believes that character development is the foundation of a good film and usually starts his analysis of a film from there moving forward. His writing style may be influenced by his background of narrative and argumentative studies in the subject, but he tends to enjoy a more conversational style to better interact with the readers, unlike some other pretentious and pompous writers.
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