From the maker of Saw (2004), James Wan presents his latest horror flick, and deviating from the Hollywood standard of gore and violence, Wan attempts to bring chills through creepy noises, intense build up, eerie visuals, and the art of anticipation. Does he succeed? In part, he does, but mostly, the Conjuring is a movie with an honest effort in breaking the mold of standard horror concept, yet trying to accomplish all same with stereotypical characters, oddities, backdrops, conceptions, and execution one would expect from a template horror movie—minus the exaggerated gores, violence, and the disgusting hoariness that has become synonymous with horror. The intention is in sync with originality and reality; however, the execution lacks a total shakeup and the eventual drama appears melodramatic, with lack of intensity, force, and turns out to be underwhelming.
Based on a series of true supernatural occurrences, the Conjuring starts off with the Perron family moving into their new house in Rhode Island. Upon arrival, Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) begins noticing weird instances outside as well as increasing bruises in her body. Soon, the bizarre activities in the house escalate, as a hoary looking body attacks young Nancy (Hayley McFarland), and the family is convinced that the house is possessed by some supernatural forces. Elsewhere, Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and his wife and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) work as paranormal investigators and supernatural analysts. With Carolyn observing the degeneration in her house and the eminent threat her family stands close towards, she seeks help from the husband-wife duo and enter the two into the haunted house, where the fright, haunt, and the menace is only beginning.
Whilst the story is based on true occurrences, one would question the validity in legitimacy of the claims because the Trials of Witches are marred events carpeted by religious faith and beliefs, where faith could have overridden logic. The Satan worshipping and sacrificial ceremonies remain obvious to the world, but the story of the Conjuring seems highly dramatized in favor of the Church and against what the Church deems inaccurate. In terms of history, this is a very sensitive topic, and James Wan looks at the story from the perspective of the Warrens. The Conjuring factors various elements, almost obsolete today—nonetheless, immensely popular—of exorcism, Catholic Codes and Christian Ethics, devil worshipping, and the theory of possession. The date of the story goes back to 1971, in the isolated setting of Harrisville in Rhode Island.
The Conjuring succeeds prominently in three departments: the cinematography, the lighting, and the situational background score. Director of Photography John R. Leonetti (The Mask) realizes the visual imagination of the director and frames every scene with cloudiness and a paranoia enhancing the internal conflict within the story and pronouncing the actuality of the events. The visual representation of the story is stunning and the utilization of low, dim lights with focus on shadowy feels created by the quartet of the DOP, Production Designer (Julie Berghoff), Art Director (Geoffrey S. Grinsman), and the Director ensure that audiences remain aware and alert for impending perils along with giving the movie a distressing texture, look, and composition. With the sensational background score—gripping and beating—of Joseph Bishara, one has to take a bow to the technical department as well as the aesthetics in presenting a visually unnerving movie, even with a monotonous script, melodramatic execution, and a mixture of formulaic plot twists.
The influx of horror movies makes it complicated to present something unique in the genre due to the limited scope of ideas and the mysterious elements of the supernatural—still much to do with imagination than realization. Usually horror movies take the turn of intense visuals, while light-hearted horror movies turn down to the face of the Earth with comedic handling. For a genre, much rich, vivid, and reliant on imagination, filmmakers have presented horror movies in the perfect way—only in instances. The Conjuring has many positive attributes and in terms of the display of the movie, it is one of the properly executed horror movies, yet in terms of the story and the development of the story, the Conjuring leaves much to be desired.