If The Conjuring is the first horror movie you ever see, it might actually be scary.
The film is based on the most malevolent supposedly-true preternatural encounter experienced by real-life demonologists Patrick and Lorraine Warren (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson). In the new Rhode Island home of Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston), self-shutting doors, stranger-than-usual sleepwalking sessions and obviously dead apparitions have them searching for the Warrens’ brand of help.
Haunted shenanigans continue and escalate through the film. There are some sub-plots. You know. Sit there for a couple hours, and a feature-length film just sort of happens.
The Conjuring relies heavily on clichés established in better movies. The Exorcist, The Sixth Sense and Paranormal Activity are all more entertaining and more important, and The Conjuring is essentially a mash-up of the three with the scariness, meaningfulness and importance as a film toned way down.
There seems to be a lot about this movie that was only good in theory. Director James Wan uses a bunch of strange shots that are supposed to give the movie a scary atmosphere, but just come off as weird. The Warrens give seminars and talk to journalists to refer to a larger world and make the movie seem more real, but in practice it’s just filler material. About a third of the way through, ghosts with scary makeup show up, but their visual portrayal underwhelms relative to their buildup. They are much scarier before actually hitting the screen.
There’s really no dress to put onto this film. The Conjuring is 112 minutes of telegraphed scares, obvious and tired clichés and boredom. There is nothing distinguishing this as a film and no reason to watch it over the movies it’s obviously imitating.
Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and a staff writer for the NT Daily. He can very easily put a price on fuel efficiency. For questions, rebuttals and further guidance about cinema, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At this point, I’d like to remind you that you shouldn’t actually go to movies and form your own opinions. That’s what I’m here for. Be sure to come back later this week for a review of The Wolverine.