Directed by James Wan
Starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor
A family buys an old rural house at a knockdown price, but the move fails to live up to their dreams or expectations. The dog won’t stop barking and refuses to enter the house. The youngest child finds an old toy and an invisible friend. Another child starts sleepwalking, and the mother develops unexplained bruises.
Well, you can probably guess where this is going… We don’t even really need the creepy tree growing by the lake to tell us that something evil is loose on the property. Yes, James Wan’s latest is firmly located in Amityville territory. In fact, the film sells itself as being based on a real case from the 1970s, and the couple investigating the case were also involved in the Amityville haunting. But The Conjuring is not as straightforwardly formulaic as might be expected, thankfully.
The plot is split between the slowly developing awareness of the Perron family that they have put themselves in extreme danger and the lives of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the paranormal investigators who are brought in to exorcise the house. This is as much the Warren’s story as it is the Perron’s, introducing a touch of mystery about events in their past and a possessed doll that is kept in the Occult Museum in their house. What really works in the film is not story though, it is the effective creepy horror of the effects, editing and music. Wan has already proven with Dead Silence and Insidious that he is accomplished at this, and he doesn’t let the viewer down here.
Verdict: Shivers galore, 8/10
The Conjuring screens at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 27 June at 8.30pm in Filmhouse 1 and again on 29 June at 6.30pm in Filmhouse 1.
The Conjuring is released nationwide in the UK from 2 August and in the US from 19 July.