I don’t know what happened to horror films. Somewhere between “The Exorcist” and the “Saw” series the genre’ seemed to think that substituting buckets of blood for suspense was a good trade. But suspense is what makes a film great. You didn’t see the shark in “Jaws” for almost 40 minutes but you’re heart beat like crazy every time you heard John William’s music. “Paranormal Activity” kept you glued to the screen without so much as a drop of blood. Now comes “The Conjuring,” a film sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Based on real events, the film tells the story of two families. One is the Perron family. Dad Roger (Ron Livingston), mom Carolyn (Taylor) and their five daughters. They’ve just moved into an old “fixer-upper” of a house in Rhode Island. The other family is the Warrens, Ed (Wilson) and Lorraine (Farmiga). The Warrens are paranormal investigators. They go where needed and answer when called. When things begin happening at the Perron home the couple is contacted and asked to investigate. What they find will challenge the faiths of both families.
I must give credit to director Wan. As the creator of the “Saw” series he could have rode that blood-soaked horse for years until it was dead. Instead he has crafted a film that relies solely on its actors to convey the horrors portrayed. The cast puts their all into the film, turning what could have been a cliché’d filled blood-fest into a modern horror gem. Tops among the actors are Farmiga and Taylor. Both are mothers and both do their best to keep their children safe. The Warrens have a habit of keeping a souvenir from each of their investigations which makes having a curious daughter sometimes exasperating. Both women also endure a barrage of physical abuse as the spirits that they are fighting do all they can to win the battle. The chills are genuine and I dare you not to jump.
The Warren’s would eventually go on to fame as the investigators of what is now known as the Amityville Horror. But this case surely had to prepare them for what they later found.