“The Conjuring,” the new film from “Saw” co-creator James Wan, plays like a mash-up of “The Exorcist” and a particularly spooky episode of “Ghost Hunters.” Based on true events it follows one of the most devilishly famous cases of real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The ghostly action really begins when Warrens (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), self described “demonologists, ghost hunters… and kooks,” are called in to investigate the haunting of a rambling old farm house purchased by the Perron family, Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Liv Taylor) and their five daughters. The house is creepy. Doors slam, someone or something gooses the girls while they sleep, clocks stop at 3:07 precisely and the smell of rotten meat hangs in the air.
This place makes the “Amityville Horror” home look like a country carnival haunted house.
The family can’t simply pack up and leave, because, as Ed says, “Sometimes when you get haunted it’s like stepping on gum—it follows you everywhere.”
It’s up to suburban Ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine to exercise their knowledge and exorcize the house’s demons.
For the most part “The Conjuring” is all about what you don’t see. For the first hour or more Wan builds tension with lo-fi effects like slamming doors, ghostly images only the girls can see or a dark cellar, and does a great job of moving you toward the edge of your seat.
Then, just when he has you hovering near the edge of your seat the action heats up and special effects become more elaborate, but still are used effectively and judiciously to ensure maximum effect.
“The Conjuring” is ooky and spooky. It’s a throwback to old school horror—eerie and squirmy enough to cause a white knuckle or two but tempered with several laughs, although I’m not sure all of them are intentional. You’ll find yourself screaming and laughing, occasionally at the same time.
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