The Conjuring DVD Review

What’s it about? Based on a true story, The Conjuring recounts the 1971 case of the Perron family who were subjected to increasingly disturbing, unexplained incidents after moving into a cheaply purchased, run-down house. Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, brought in to help the family, uncover disturbing facts about the house’s history and former occupants, leading them to believe that the Perron’s new home requires an exorcism. With their own daughter’s safety apparently at risk from the same malaevolent, supernatural force attacking the Perron family, the Warrens take it on themselves to attempt to put an end to the spirit’s terrifying activity.

Verdict: An incident in the career of self-annointed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, most notable for their involvement in the Amityville haunting and the events upon which The Haunting in Connecticut (Peter Cornwell, 2009) was based, provides James Wan with the material for his first outing since Insidious in 2010. Once again featuring Insidious’ Patrick Wilson in a lead role, here as Ed Warren opposite Vera Farmiga as his wife Lorraine, The Conjuring is a deftly constructed, effective exercise in supernatural horror. With Ron Livingston and the always excellent Lili Taylor as the heads of the large Perron family – completed by five young daughters – Wan has assembled a strong cast to flesh out the characters involved in this creepy tale of murderous, demonic forces wreaking havoc on the lives of both families.

Where Insidious didn’t really hit the spot for me, The Conjuring succeeds in creating a tense, atmospheric and unnerving tale that features numerous jump-out-of-your-seat moments. The set up may be one we’ve seen in countless horror movies – a family under attack by a supernatural entity – but the ‘based on a true story’ element gives it an extra frisson of creepiness, whether you take such reported supernatural events with a pinch of salt, or regardless of the artistic licence Wan has employed in representing the events that the Perrons and the Warrens apparently experienced.

Despite ending on something of a low key, perhaps with a sequel in mind, The Conjuring is a far superior contemporary supernatural haunting movie than the likes of An American Haunting (Courtney Solomon, 2005), Paranormal Activity (Oren Peli, 2007) or The Last Exorcism (Daniel Stamm, 2010). The Conjuring may not be in the same league as The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973) or The Entity (Sidney J. Furie, 1982) but it’s Wan’s best movie since Saw (2004), its impressive box office returns indicative of the director’s popularity with movie-going audiences.

Final Words: While the narrative may be familiar, bordering on cliched at times, The Conjuring never feels tired. Thanks to a good cast, tight direction, great effects work and smartly deployed shocks, it’s a movie that delivers on its promise.

Extras: Scaring the ‘@$*%’ Out of You – a short featurette sees Wan and a number of The Conjuring’s cast and crew chatting about the behind-the-scenes work on the movie.

Rating: 4 / 5      

The Conjuring is out on Blu-ray and DVD on 9 December 2013.