7/25/2013 - Another creepy old house, another family wondering “hey, what’s that noise?” in The Conjuring, a familiar story told with a welcome bit of energy.
Having never watched any horror movie ever, apparently, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger Perron (Ron Livingston) are thrilled to move into a big old farmhouse with their five daughters in Rhode Island in the early 1970s. Five daughters and a dog, who promptly refuses to go inside and is found dead the next morning.
Call me a coward but I think that’s when I’d put the home back on the market.
It doesn’t take long for the family to figure out that the dog had the right idea by dying rather than living in the house. Soon, the whole family is sleeping in the living room and Carolyn is seeking out the services of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), real-life paranormal experts. On their first visit to the house, Lorraine, who is clairvoyant, sees many a dark and creepy thing hanging around the house and the family. The Warrens and their assistants set up audio recording equipment and cameras around the house to begin documenting the beings that are tormenting the family.
Yes, everything about this movie is familiar, from its family-moves-into-scarytown premise to its vague and ultimately nonsensical title. But I found myself enjoying it. I think I might have even cared about the characters. That sentence is so shocking I actually read it back to myself a couple of times to make sure I really meant it. And that, my friends, is the difference that decent performances can make. Taylor and Livingston and Wilson and Farmiga make their characters compelling to watch. We get backstory on the Warrens, and Wilson and Farmiga make the characters so interesting I think I would have liked even more back story. I know! I can’t believe I’m saying these things either.
Solid acting and good chemistry between the characters (between Taylor and Livingston, Wilson and Farmiga and Taylor and Farmiga, who bond on a mom-to-mom level) make this a fun story, even when we delve into goofy make-up and crazy-eyed demon territory. B-
Rated R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror. Directed by James Wan and written by Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes, The Conjuring is an hour and 52 minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros.