From the director that brought us the gore ridden Saw and the demonic Insidious comes this terrifying haunted house story…one that will leave you tucking your legs under the duvet and checking behind the bedroom door before you go to sleep.
Set in the 1970s, the film follows real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren who are summoned to investigate a demonic presence in a family house in Rhode Island – a real couple who later became famed for the Amityville hauntings that inspired a number of film adaptations.
However, director James Wan (Saw) takes us back to a time before Amityville, telling the story from two viewpoints; the investigators and the victims. Interestingly though, the film doesn’t open with the Perron family. Instead it begins with a pair of nurses seeking help from the Warrens after their possessed doll ‘Annabelle’ terrorised their apartment – cue the 2014 prequel Annabelle.
But that’s all we’re given; a swift glance into the glazed over doll eyes before we’re brought straight back to The Conjuring, where the Perron family are seen moving into their new home. But even as the family arrive, there are subtle suggestions that they are the intruders with the opening shot panning from inside the window looking out, as though something is watching them from within the walls.
With a young family involved, the film adds a whole new terrifying dimension to the classic childhood game of hide and seek, relying on traditional scares to get the audience jumping – and crikey do we jump! From the shrill scream of a child to the creepy glazed over eyes of a china doll, every shot and clap of the hands is more terrifying than the last.
Yet, as noises echo through the house and doors slam by themselves, it’s what you don’t see that’s more terrifying and works as an ingenious suspense builder especially when something horrifying does appear on screen.
As one of the children is frozen in fear by a figure she claims to see lurking in the darkness, your imagination starts to take hold – and there’s nothing more terrifying than the mind when it’s left to explore.
But that’s what this film does so well – it doesn’t pretend that everything is supernatural. In fact, Ed and Lorraine try to explain everything rationally. Visiting another couple they discover that the noises in their house are simply being caused by old floorboards and water pipes, which works almost as reverse psychology for the audience – have those creaky floorboards in the loft really just been caused by a draft or is there a demon renting out some space upstairs?
And when the truth comes out and the supernatural force takes over, there’s no going back, you’re in for a truly frightening ride.
Whether you’re a believer or not, The Conjuring is a strong enough contender to make even the most sceptic of us question the power of religion and whether a demonic presence is really out there.
And the film’s climactic possession is absolutely petrifying. Despite covering up most of the action under a sheet, it’s the mind that takes over once again – and boy is it horrific!
The fact that the film is based on a true story makes it even the more terrifying. Yes, some of the scares are predictable and okay, the score is very Hitchcock but that doesn’t make it any less powerful. In fact, it’s one of the most disturbing and twisted haunted house stories that modern horror has delivered in a long time.
Mind out the way The Excorcist, The Conjuring has moved in…