Recently, I was introduced to a classmate of my daughter’s, a fellow student at the Columbia Film School in Chicago, Thomas Taylor. Thomas writes great reviews for his own site, Raining Frogs Reviews (get it?) and is a very promising young filmmaker. I asked Thomas to review The Conjuring for the readers of Just Effing and he’s done just that.
If you are a film student just starting out and can write film reviews, please contact me, I’d love your point of view and would love to give you and your blog some well deserved recognition!
Without further delay – here is Thomas’s well written review of…. The Conjuring!
Warning: the review does contain a spoiler or two!
The Conjuring made a tremendous splash in the box office its opening weekend even though this particular genre of supernatural horror has been exhausted over the past decade. So what separates this spine-chilling film about demonic possession and malevolent spirits from the likes of Amityville Horror or The Possession?
Taking place in 1971, the film tells the story of the Perron family and the progressively nefarious events they experienced upon moving into a farm house in rural Rhode Island. When the occurrences began to threaten their safety, the Perrons called upon the acclaimed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Ed and Lorraine had facilitated numerous exorcisms, including the haunting in Amityville, but according to the film’s opening credits this was the most malignant encounter the couple experienced. A horror film based on a true story has a hair-raising edge over its competition, but such a film cannot anticipate this kind of success from historical relevancy alone.
The scare tactics at play are terrifyingly effective. Modern horror films rely heavily upon the use of shock to keep an audience entertained and The Conjuring is no exception. In one particularly disquieting scene, Carolyn Perron wakes at the witching hour and is lured down into the cellar by a fiendish spirit. The score dissipates, making her each and every breath audible, and as she descends into the cellar the evil spirit seems to have parted. Carolyn is practically convulsing with fear (along with certain members of the audience) and as soon as she makes a move for the stairs the lights cut out. She lights one match to help retrace her steps and it burns out in seconds that seem to last for horrifying little eternities. She lights a second match and manages to quite her fear. In such a moment in a film, one might feel suspended in time by a fear that only the dreaded flash of a demonic spirit’s presence can relieve. Just before the second match burns out, a pair of pale, decomposing hands extends from the black space beside Carolyn’s face and clap twice sending her screaming and thrashing up the stairs. The Conjuring doesn’t give the audience more than seven minutes of relief between such scenes.
You’re probably thinking so what, all horror films do this? True, but what makes The Conjuring all the more shocking are the gruesome spirits that are waiting on the other side of this aforementioned paralysis of fear. James Wan shocks then torments by introducing the viewer face to face to a cast of deeply disturbing apparitions who are gruesome enough to disrupt one’s imagination and sleep for a couple days. James Wan is known for his torture porn in the Saw series and although The Conjuring does have its fair share of gore, the suspense generates predominantly from these grizzly spirits he has envisioned.
The production design is superb. Wan effectively captures the mood of the 70’s; contributing to the authenticity of the story behind the film. The cast was well constructed. The actors that fill the Perron family’s shoes mesh well together, giving off a tender closeness that exists amongst such a family. Structurally, The Conjuring is no different from the slew of supernatural horror films that have been released over the past decade, but Wan’s attention to detail and unique vision of the harrowing events which took place in Harrisville, Rhode Island explain the film’s exceptional success in the box office.
By Thomas Taylor. Read more film reviews by Thomas at Raining Frogs Reviews!
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