Carolyn (Lily Taylor) and Roger Perron (Ron Livingston) with their five daughters move into a secluded Rhode Island farmhouse. Strange things start happening in and around the house at night. Turns out, it's not just fear that's playing hide-and-seek with their minds.
Alarmed with the rise in horrific events taking place, Carolyn requests noted Paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farminga) to look into the case. What surfaces will make you think twice before being intrigued by old and abandoned mysterious houses, antiques and musical toys.
Most horror films claim to be 'based on real life incidents'. While they rarely live up to the hype around them, The Conjuring is an exception. The atmosphere build-up begins even before the film does, as a disclaimer is flashed before the opening credits, warning you that you might seek psychological help after watching the movie. The strategy works, as the film can scare the living daylights out of you. While we didn't feel the need to undergo any counselling, unsettling it certainly was.
With haunted houses, creepy cellars, possessed dolls, cold and lonely nights, paranormal occurrences and exorcism, concept-wise, The Conjuring is not earth-shatteringly 'different'. While the setting and story are familiar, it's the no-nonsense execution that makes the difference.
Much to our satisfaction, filmmaker James Wan's (Saw, Insidious) direction defies the done-to-death horror movie cliches that have so far caused most people to disregard the genre. There are no cheap thrills, no over-the-top sound effects, no annoying camera angles (found footage style), overindulgence in gore or visual grossness and no aping horror's cult classic
Wan does not succumb to sensationalising the story either. It's the subtle and steady build-up of suspense and psychological tension, coupled with sudden spine-chilling scares and dramatic silences that make you go numb with fear. Above all, other than demons, evil spirits, ghosts and darkness, the film has a soul, where you feel for the characters. Not many horror films manage to achieve this.
Performances are understated, yet effective. Vera Farminga plays psychic Lorraine Warren with utmost conviction. Lily Taylor's performance as the vulnerable mother is noteworthy. James Wan pulls all the right strings to create an atmosphere so tense and unnerving that if evil spirits feed on your fear, so does the film.