Review: The Conjuring Blu-ray
They don’t make ‘em like they used to. That’s usually the remark I always make whenever I’m engaged in horror-film based conversations. It’s not a dumbfounded one. It’s just the sad truth. Today’s horror films are more enamored by buckets of blood and guts than by using clever ways to actually build up suspense. And I’m not talking about the tried-and-true pop-up scare tactic. I’m talking actual use of a film’s atmosphere and ambiance to spawn some genuine scares. The Conjuring does just that.
It’s pretty ironic, because director James Wan used to be behind some of those gore-filled films I alluded to before. But here we see him truly show why he’s a modern master of horror, going for a slower-paced house of terrors film (not unlike Insidious). Yeah, I know, that may sound a little cliche and done to death, but Wan gets the haunted house sub-genre done right, despite ending up as an almost different type of movie at the end.
The Conjuring, which is labeled as being based on a true story, focuses on paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren and the Perron family. It takes place in the 70s and you can really tell. I’m a 90s baby, but the set design and overall presentation really takes me back to watching those horror classics from that decade. After being introduced to the Warren couple, the story ends up shifting to the Perron family who’ve recently moved to an old lake house in Rhode Island. The family starts to experience weird paranormal happenings and call it upon themselves to reach out to the Warrens due to their experience as demonologists. I think you know where this is going. There’s another little subplot that bookends the film sort of, and it’s Wan at his best when it comes to utilizing creepy dolls. But the main story thread here pertains to the Warrens goal to rid the Perron household of whatever demons may be haunting it. And what a ride it is.
The scares are all nicely built up, all made even more profound with practical effects as opposed to the oft-used CG ones. Sometimes the viewer will be misled to think that a big scare is coming up, but then it ends up hitting them as a total surprise. That’s how I like my horror films. And The Conjuring also follows one of those classic horror rules of “sometimes what’s suggested is scarier than what’s shown.” A lot is left to the viewer’s imagination which then makes the film an even more thrilling experience. Granted, it’s not the scariest, but it’s definitely up there as far as modern films in the genre go. And it’s all thanks to Wan’s expert use of the atmosphere, sound and the cinematography. As you can see, this isn’t just another haunted house flick.
Wan sure loves his Nite-Owl, with Patrick Wilson returning in one of the lead roles as Ed Warren. The entire cast does a solid job throughout, and I didn’t really pick up any cheesy bits which seems to usually riddle horror films. It’s funny because while watching Insidious (and its sequel), I always was left wanting a film more strongly focused on the paranormal investigators Wan plugs into his stories. The Conjuring is just that, though it lacks a Leigh Whanell cameo. Where my complaints lie is with the final part of the film.
Not comfortable with just sticking to the haunted house sub-genre, The Conjuring ends up becoming another one of the many films in another certain horror sub-genre. I won’t spoil which one that is, but it won’t be hard to guess when taking the film’s demonic entities into consideration. I was kinda let down by that development despite it making sense in terms of the plot. And while this should in no way damage a film’s reception, I just thought the ending was a bit too…happy (call me a sick bastard!). Minus the cliffhanger, of course.
Now on to the actual Blu-ray disc, which also comes with a DVD and digital version of the film. It’s a little light on special features, with only 3 to report on. “The Conjuring: Face to Face with Terror” focuses on the real Perron family and the haunting they experienced living in the house we see recreated in the film. “A Life in Demonology” is another real-life exploration, this time into the paranormal investigators behind the film. I was neat seeing their relics that they’ve collected from each of their cases, just like the Warrens in the film. Lastly, we have “Scaring the @$*% Out of You”, where we get insight into the film’s production from James Wan himself, which proved to be my favorite of the trio.
The Conjuring is one of the best horror films in recent memory. It takes familiar tropes and elements and molds it into its own demonic entity. Other directors should take note. You don’t need gallons of blood to be scary. Now, where’s my Annabelle doll (thanks for scaring the crap out of my mom, Warner Bros.!).