The Conjuring Review
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Director James Wan is no stranger to things that go bump in the night. After making a name for himself by writing and directing the first Saw movie, he went on to scare audiences with ghost stories like Insidious (which has a sequel coming out later this year). Now he once again heaps on the horrors for his haunted house thriller, The Conjuring.

When Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) moved their five daughters to a new home in rural Rhode Island, they did so with dreams of starting over—but what they got instead was a nightmare.

As soon as the family settles into their new home, they’re faced with strange occurrences that quickly escalate from creepy coincidences to ghostly presences to violent acts of destruction. Afraid to go to sleep at night, they turn to demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), who uncover the home’s disturbing history.

With this chilling summer thriller, Wan holds nothing back. From the opening scenes, he begins to assemble every kind of eerie prop that could possibly give audiences the creeps—from wind chimes and battered old music boxes to sinister dolls. And, of course, it all takes place in a rickety old house that comes complete with a web-covered old cellar that’s filled with dusty antiques.

He doesn’t hold back on the suspense, either. Instead of taking time to introduce the characters and build the story, he jumps right in, sacrificing a little bit of extra development for a whole lot of extra tension. You won’t really know much about the characters, but you’ll be too busy scrunching down in your seat and peering out at the screen through your fingers to notice. Especially in the beginning, the anticipation is intense—and whenever the sun sets, you’ll know that you’re in for something terrifying. These aren’t cheap scares, either—no playful pets or kids on late-night trips to the bathroom. Instead of taunting audiences with a payoff that doesn’t come until the film’s final scenes, Wan offers up the horrors almost from the start—in the form of ghostly hands reaching out from a wardrobe or ghostly kids who appear in mirrors.

Still, in piling on the horrors, Wan makes the film seem a little unfocused. There are hauntings and possessions of all shapes, sizes, and forms. There are countless victims from loads of stories from the home’s past. And the house’s various demons manifest themselves in a variety of different ways, making the film feel like one big, baffling hodgepodge of horrors.

While it may be a bit muddled, though (and sometimes a little cheesy, too), there’s rarely a dull moment in The Conjuring. There is, however, enough haunting suspense and chilling imagery to keep audiences huddled in the dark theater, giggling nervously and yelling at the characters for their poor choices. It isn’t as terrifyingly memorable as Insidious, but it’s definitely good for some jumpy, heart-stopping scares.

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