Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Horror hits keep on coming in familiar haunted-house film

  • Print
'White after Labour Day? The horror!': Vera Farmiga as clairvoyant Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring.

NEW LINE CINEMA Enlarge Image

'White after Labour Day? The horror!': Vera Farmiga as clairvoyant Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring.

Sadie knew. The dog always knows not to go into the haunted house.

But since this was 1971, and the world, much less Rhode Island's Perron family, had not seen The Exorcist and the generations of ultra-realistic horror movies and Ghost Hunters TV shows that followed, they didn't heed the dog's warnings. The Perrons were in for it.

The Conjuring is like a prequel to 40 years of demonic-possession thrillers, a movie about the original ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren, and an early case this Amityville Horror couple found so terrifying they never talked about it -- "until now!"

James Wan, who made his horror bones with Saw and outgrew torture porn with the superbly spooky Insidious, reunites with his Insidious star Patrick Wilson for this solid and sometimes hair-raising thriller about a haunted house, the family of seven haunted by it and the can-do couple summoned by the Perrons.

The Warrens lecture at colleges, show film of inexplicable supernatural events and collect the actual possessed artifacts that they weed out among all the false alarms that are too often just creaking pipes and settling floorboards. Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) is clairvoyant, which means she sees what those truly spooked see and feels what they feel. Ed (Wilson) may be credulous, but he's the pragmatist -- applying 1960s and '70s pre-digital technology to his search for "proof" of what they're dealing with.

These cases have three phases, he lectures -- "infestation, oppression and possession." He's got a ready answer for dealing with their problem when Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) invite them over. Are their kids baptized?

"We're not really a church-going family."

"You might want to rethink that."

The humour in The Conjuring comes from the naivet© of the victims. Carolyn doesn't recognize her bruise marks as demonic injuries. Their five daughters don't know that their invisible friends, their sleepwalking companions and the mysterious bumps and claps that ruin their games of Hide and Seek are ghosts. And there's an amusing gee-whiz-let's-invent-this-trade -- ghost hunting -- about the Warrens.

Wan and his screenwriters serve up some classic scary situations and provide a decent jolt or three in the "sealed-off basement," the ghostly shadow in the mirror of an antique jack-in-the-box. There's something particularly insidious about a monstrous menace to children. Farmiga and Wilson play the Warrens as slow to take on urgency, with a seen-it-all world weariness that robs some scenes of their true terror.

And horror audiences are more sophisticated than this story. A movie that plays like horror's greatest hits -- a little Exorcist here, a dose of Chucky or Paranormal Activity there -- is going to feel tired, even with the odd surprise.

It conjures up a few frights, but The Conjuring is more solid than sensational and spine-tingling. Think of it as a horror history lesson, the original "based on a true story" to explain those things that go bump in the night.

-- McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 19, 2013 D7

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Humans of the Holidays

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Winnipeg Free Press 090528 STAND UP...(Weather) One to oversee the pecking order, a pack of pelican's fishes the eddies under the Red River control structure at Lockport Thursday morning......

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on the Jets so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google