The Conjuring (2013) Review

One from the re watch pile…
The Conjuring (2013)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: I have said on several occasions that I am not a fan of ghost/ demonic possession films. It’s not because I am afraid of them, but rather I don’t believe in either so the stories hold no fear for me, and are occasionally interesting distractions rather than actual entertainment.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good movie when it’s made, or am excited by a great performance, it’s just I don’t find the stories engaging enough as I find ‘true’ stories about possession to be a farce.

Anyway, this is the first film, directed by Australian director James Wan, about the real-life, honest-to-goodness psychic ghost-hunters, Lesley (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren and their exploration of the Perron family haunting, where Roger (Ron Livingston), his wife, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their 5 daughters move into a new house where strange things start happening.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens.


First their dog dies, then noises and a whole pile of spooky hocus pocus occurs, driving Carolyn to ask the Warrens for their help to try and get rid of whatever is in their house… and what is the horrible secret of the mysterious bruises appearing of Carolyn’s body…?

Considering this film is supposed to be based of a true story, it is full to the brim of stock standard tropes of generic, uninteresting ghost films. A whole bunch of jump-scares and totally post-millennium ghost story make-ups that are uninteresting and universal looking make this film little more than run-of-the-mill.

Also, Wan has included a pair of cannon-fodder buffoons, like the ridiculous Specs and Tucker from the equally daft Insidious films, who are really just mimicking those characters, and stand in as the ‘technical’ and ‘protection’ archetypes seen in stuff even back to Poltergeist. I’m not sure why they need a gun-toting type in their war on supernatural terror, but there he is, useless as boobs on a bull. Even with the Annabelle icon he robs not just from the history of possession/ ghost cinema but also from his own film Dead Silence from a couple of years earlier.

Lili Taylor as the haunted Carolyn.


The real win in this film is the cast. Wilson and Farmiga have a chemistry rarely seen in films anymore: they actually feel like a couple who have been together for years. Lili Taylor is amazing and ageless as she always is… seriously, she has looked exactly the same for 20 years! Surprisingly too, all 6 of the children in this film are amazing and not one of them is in the slightest bit annoying… or ‘the Anakin Factor’ as I like to call it.

The construction of the story is really clever too. Two set-ups occur in the first 45 minutes of this film, one of the family’s haunting and the other, the Warren’s history and skill set, so essentially for that period you are watching two separate stories that intersect when one requires assistance from the other.

It’s a nicely made film with some great performances but essentially it is a dull as dishwater, generic post millennial ghost story that surely must only appeal to people who don’t normally like proper horror films.

Score: **

The Australian Bluray menu screen


Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian Bluray release which runs for approximately 112 minutes. This film is presented in a perfect 2.4:1 image with an extraordinary, and I mean extraordinary, DTS-HD 5.1 audio. The soundtrack and audio style of the film is nothing short of spectacular.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with a trailer for We’re The Millard, if that counts an an extra. I must admit I did buy that film based on this trailer.

The reviewed copy of this disc comes with a Bluray, DVD and ‘Ultraviolet’ version, which expired in 2015, so that possibly doesn’t count.

Onto the main extras:

The Conjuring: Face to Face with Terror looks at the actual family who believed they were being haunted that this film was based on. It’s interesting to hear the ‘actual’ tales from the people who were involved in the ‘real’ haunting and exorcism.

A Life in Demonology is a history of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the actual paranormal investigators. It’s a nice tribute to the two with some interesting stories.

Scaring the ‘@$*%’ Out of You looks at the making of the film and how even in a film that’s essentially a biopic, though a snapshot of an entire life, you still need to throw in those ghost story tropes to make it an effective horror film as well.

Score: ****

WISIA: I watched it twice: the first time originally and now to review it for you all. I doubt if I’ll watch it again.

Annabelle: has very little to do with this story but is now a money maker in her own right.

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