The Conjuring (2013, 1 hr 52 mins)
As you may know, I have a great love for paranormal reality T.V shows like Scariest Places on Earth (with host Linda Blair), Most Haunted, Paranormal State, and more recently Ghost Mine, Paranormal Witness, and American Haunting . Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (most famously known for investigating the Amityville house) were consultants on a few of these programs in the early 2000’s and Lorraine more recently, giving their insight and advice on many haunted or paranormal incidents. This was my first exposure to the paranormal duo, and I was so excited when I heard there was a movie being made about them by James Wan (who also directed Saw, Insidious and their sequels), a worthy director in my eyes.
Even though The Conjuring is a re-enactment of true events, this film is special because it goes for broke and is incredibly authentic. I’m going to rank it in my top 5 films of this year and also the top 5 for darn good scares. We are taken to 1971 where a series of paranormal events plague the Rhode Island home of the Perron family. Ed and Lorraine (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively) are portrayed as seasoned investigators, with Lorraine’s clairvoyant abilities and Ed’s demonologist expertise taking them from lectures, haunted objects and homes where they debunk or confiscate “conduits” where needed (if you have a doll phobia, this movie will freak you out). When they are approached by a terrified wife and mother Carolyn Perron for their help, they can’t say no, and descend into a world of classic haunting fare, major creepiness and a battle for innocent souls.
This pixie is a stickler for details and so was the production team for this film. Having grown up in the 70’s immediately makes me nostalgic for that era and all its trappings. The Perron home was reminiscent of every house I’ve lived in during my childhood: old plaster walls, bad lighting, and creaky wooden floors. Oh yes, and the creepy, cement floored cellar. The wardrobe was spot on, down to the high collared, embroidered nightgowns that I got every Christmas, and Vera’s wardrobe really represented Lorraine to at T since I have seen her wearing ruffled shirts to this day. I also remember having those weird ceramic-like mugs with the screened florals on the side which were staples in every kitchen in the 70’s, including the Perrons’. The movie almost felt like it was made in that era. That helped set the tone for a classic horror film, as well as the creepy scoring by Joseph Bishara (who also played the angry entity Bathsheba) which included the old school “horror tuba” (my name for it) that I love so much.
The performances were pretty incredible. In my eyes, Lily Taylor can do no wrong. My sis and I were talking about her career, and we remember her in Mystic Pizza, Say Anything, Six Feet Under, and more recently Hemlock Grove. Her heartfelt portrayal of Carolyn Perron was convincing and made me cringe with anticipation when the shit hit the proverbial fan. Vera Farmiga got Lorraine’s tone of voice and mannerisms down pat, and Patrick Wilson? So dreamy, and I can’t say I didn’t like him saying my name with such intensity. Just wished it wasn’t under such um, soul sucking circumstances . The girls who played the 5 daughters were pretty amazing as they kept the fear and intensity at a constant, and Ron Livingston held his own as the bewildered father and husband Roger who just wanted his family safe.
I don’t shriek and tell, but if you are sharp, you will see the real Lorraine Warren’s cameo somewhere in the film. I am also so glad that she was a consultant on the film and met with the lead actors. Sadly, Ed Warren is no longer with us on this plane after his death in 2006, but Lorraine has said that he wanted her to continue the paranormal work. That little lady has a lot of spirit (please excuse the pun) and wisdom, and I believe she is still doing the occasional investigation (the last one I saw was on Paranormal State). You can check out some interesting links here:
Andrea Perron, the eldest daughter from the Perron family, discusses the happenings and her book House of Darkness, House of Light. Very interesting background on the actual events:
I highly recommend seeing The Conjuring as I think it harnesses old school horror with conviction and from what I’ve gathered, stays respectful to all involved in the actual events.