MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
Vera Farmiga as LORRAINE WARREN
Patrick Wilson as ED WARREN
Lili Taylor as CAROLYN PERRON
Ron Livingston as ROGER PERRON
Shanley Caswell as ANDREA
Hayley McFarland as NANCY
Joey King as CHRISTINE
Mackenzie Foy as CINDY
Kyla Deaver as APRIL
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: James Wan
BY KEVIN CARR
I’ve really got to hand it to James Wan. This guy has reinvented horror movies twice in Hollywood. The first time was with the original “Saw,” which was a good movie but ushered in a short-lived but significant turn to so-called “torture porn.” Now, with the one-two punch of “Insidious” and “The Conjuring,” Wan has reinvented the genre again, taking it back to its earlier roots.
“The Conjuring” represents another brilliant piece of horror filmmaking that leaves much of the digital trickery aside and opts for light-and-shadow along with suspense and a powerful soundtrack to make an effective, visceral horror movie.
The movie tells the story of the Perron family, who move into an old home in Rhode Island. Not long after moving in, they begin to experience supernatural occurrences. They hear noises, smell strange odors, see visions and are physically attacked by a malevolent entity. In desperation, the mother Carolyn (Lili Taylor) turns to notable demonologists Ed and Lorainne Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Fermiga) to cleanse their home. As the Warrens start to reveal the true nature of the haunting, the spirits become violent and threaten the whole family.
This past summer, “The Conjuring” made a huge splash, raking in the box office cash and becoming the fifth-highest grossing horror movie of all time. There’s a good reason for that because it’s one hell of an effective film. And as much as I love “Insidious,” “The Conjuring” stuck even closer to the more honest, psychologically creepy filmmaking we saw in the 70s.
“The Conjuring” also manages to piece together elements and tropes from various horror tales, and not just the haunted house movies. There’s elements of exorcism films, slasher movies and serial killer tales. However, the movie doesn’t become bloated with these elements or seem scattered. All of these things work well in the context of the film, delivering a more chilling movie than any of the “Paranormal Activity” sequels ever could
As enjoyable as “The Conjuring” was in theaters, it’s even more ideal for home viewing. The Blu-ray transfer is good, which is usually the case with Warner Bros. releases. And with the uncompressed sound available in the Blu-ray format, you can crank up the volume and experience the effectively unnerving range of sound from silence to scream with which Wan layers his recent horror movies.
But the real reason to check this out at home is because you can have control of your environment. There’ll be no annoying theater patrons pulling out their cell phones or climbing over you for a trip to the snack bar or bathroom. You can turn the lights all the way down and the volume on your TV all the way up. Scare yourself silly with this film, ‘cause it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
As good as this film is, and as continually effective as it is on Blu-ray, the special features leave a lot to be desired. The bonus material comprises three different featurettes, which are interesting but quite thin for such a huge release. This leads me to wonder if there might be a bigger compilation in the future, so if you’re buying the Blu-ray for the supplementals, you might want to wait.
Still, the featurettes are pretty solid. “The Conjuring: Face-to-Face with Terror” features interviews with the real Perron family as well as Lorainne Warren herself. While it’s a 50,000-foot view of the original story, it gives a look at what really happened in the Perron home. “A Life in Demonology” profiles the Warrens, and it includes interviews with Lorainne Warren and people who knew Ed Warren. Finally, “Scaring the @$*% Out of You” is the only bona fide making-of documentary, which includes interviews with James Wan and how he constructed the film from the original script.
Even though the supplementals are a bit too thin on this disc, it’s worth checking out again (or for the first time, if you missed it in theaters) before Halloween.
For more discussion about the film, check out my review of the theatrical release here.
For more information on the original case, check out the inforgraphic below.