The Conjuring movie review

First of all, if you are a fan of this genre of film, YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE! You WILL see this movie! (Although… some of you may want to see an afternoon matinee so that when you leave the theater you can go to a park, watch the bunny rabbits play, and soak in the last hours of sunlight before you’re home checking rooms and corners.)

Okay, now that I have that out of my system, we can get to the review and the details. Last night I attended an advanced screening of the much anticipated film, The Conjuring, starring Patrick Wilson (Insidious, Evening), Vera Farmiga (A&E’s Bates Motel), Ron Livingston (The Odd Life of Timothy Green), and Lili Taylor (The Haunting, HBO’s Six Feet Under, and TV’s Hemlock Grove). The film is directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious), is rated R, and opens in the United States on July 19, 2013.

There are multiple reasons why I’ve been so excited to see this film, but one of them has to do with the fact that the screenplay for The Conjuring (written by Chad and Carey Hayes) is based on the case files from actual events involving the Perron family in Harrisville, Rhode Island in 1971. These files are from two of America’s earliest, most experienced, and most loved paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Wilson and Farmiga). Outside of the paranormal circle, this married paranormal team will be most remembered for their involvement in the real events of the Amityville haunting that later spawned a book and movie. Many of the people more intimately involved in the field know this duo to be paranormal rock stars.  But the events depicted in this film happened before Amityville and before this rock-star status.

Even though the film is told from the perspective of the Warrens, there is a tormented family in this story as well (as is common in the haunting genre) … the Perrons. Livingston and Taylor take on the roles of real life Roger and Carolyn Perron who struggle to keep their five daughters safe and protected from the horrors going on in their secluded country house (built in 1736) which has an incredibly dark history. Many of the ads, trailers, and TV spots for the movie have been playing up the fact that this case might not be known to you because it was just too disturbing for you to know and was kept quiet for almost 40 years. But now the world is ready … or so the ads say.

It is my understanding that after Andrea Perron, one of the daughters, wrote two volumes about the experiences in 2011 entitled House of Darkness House of Light, it drew more attention to the story. The movie is not based on this book, but as I mentioned earlier, the screenplay is based on the Warrens’ case files. As far as I’ve read, the family and Lorraine (Ed Warren passed away in 2006) seem to approve of the film and are fully behind the events depicted in it. In a YouTube video where Andrea reviews the upcoming film, she states “I expected something entirely different. I expected Hollywood to do what Hollywood does, and yet in some ways this is a very quiet and studious film. You would never know that from the trailers, but that’s their job… to entice an audience. It’s also about the love of a family. It’s also about people who came to help, who felt that this was the most significant and compelling, and dark and disturbing story that they had ever heard in the course of a fifty year career.” She also mentions that the film “truly captured what we endured.”

According to the production notes (a lengthy but fascinating read that can be downloaded from the movie site), Lorraine Warren, who is looking good and in her 80s, is quoted as saying “When I walked inside, I immediately knew it was haunted. There’s a feeling that comes over you, almost like a veil, it draws your energy because the entity needs it in order to manifest; the only way to get that energy is from you. It was really heavy in that house and being on the set brought all that back. It was uncanny. I’m very fond of James. He wanted to get everything right, and I’m excited about the film.” According to the Warrens, this case was the “most intense, compelling, disturbing and significant investigation.”

I found the film incredibly spooky and satisfying, and in a way felt like I was watching something that was released from a time capsule. You really do feel as if you’re watching events from 1971. I don’t have the film production vocabulary to accurately describe it, but the whole thing was shot in a stylistically retro way. Even the design of the ads and the title seem very period. Along the same lines, I’m a huge fan of minimal special effects and computer generated imagery in horror films, and I feel like this had to have been a goal of the production team. Instead, for the most part they used sound, dark corners, squeaky doors, and a really good makeup team… just like the old days. It made the whole thing way more believable, and spookier, in my opinion. The last film from this genre that I saw do this so well was The Woman In Black. But before I move onto the next paragraph, let me be very clear. Like me, you may be fascinated with the history and story, and it is truly a great film, but… This. Film. Is. Scary.

I’m going to avoid busting out spoilers, but the acting in this film was spectacular. Lili Taylor for sure had what must have been some incredibly difficult scenes to film. In the production notes she has some interesting things to say about preparing for her character and blowing her vocal cords. I love Patrick Wilson (who doesn’t?) and Vera Farmiga earned my respect after being hooked on the first season of Bates Motel this year. In such an uncomfortable story, seeing the very loving and beautiful relationship and camaraderie between Ed and Lorraine made me very comfortable when I needed it.

A few interesting bits of information about the production. James Wan decided to film The Conjuring in chronological order. I don’t know why this always makes me happy to hear, but it just makes sense to me. Also, as with many famous films of this type, according to production notes there were apparently several strangely paranormal incidents that happened to various individuals involved in the production of the film, including incidents involving Lorraine Warren and the Perron family members visiting the set.  

Now before you run off to buy your tickets (and remember, it doesn’t open for a few days), let’s stop for a minute and discuss the ads and trailers. Don’t try to pretend like the television spots with the two claps and the sharp tug of the leg in bed didn’t horrify you. And if you think those were the only two scary parts that were thrown away for advertising, think again. I find it interesting that in only one of the three main movie trailers do they even introduce us to perhaps the two main characters, Ed and Lorraine Warren. The other two are your typical “family in a haunted house” trailers, although in the third trailer they made an interesting decision to add commentary from the real Perron family members. So depending on what trailer you saw, you may have been expecting a slightly different movie. The shorter TV spots have had a mix of all of the trailers and include the Warrens.

Thank you for visiting the Big Séance! Check out the trailers below and make sure to go see The Conjuring! (Leave the bunnies at the park.)

 

 

Related Articles:

The Conjuring and its True Story (rhinews.wordpress.com)

‘The Conjuring’ commercials are freaking me out! (Entertainment Weekly)

 

About Patrick Keller

Patrick Keller is an educator, blogger, and the host of the Big Séance Podcast, which is a place for paranerds to have an open discussion on all things paranormal, but specifically topics like ghosts and hauntings, paranormal research, spirit communication, psychics and mediums, and life after death. He’s the founder of the now inactive Missouri Spirit Seekers and has spent a lot of time experimenting with spirit communication tools and techniques, such as EVP. Patrick also has a passion for spending hours at a time in cemeteries and loves cemetery photography. Visit BigSeance.com! View all posts by Patrick Keller

50 responses to “The Conjuring movie review

  • Kirsten

    Ooooh, I can’t wait!!!

  • Paranormalogistically

    Awesome review! I absolutely want to see this movie more than ever.

  • samanthacangelosi

    So I actually was getting scared reading your review! Someone is going to have to physically drag me to the theatre if they want me to see it because I just don’t think I can. I’m too much of a scaredy cat. PS. I had no idea Lorraine Warren was who she was! I’ve seen her on TV shows like Paranormal State and Psychic Kids, but never knew she was as ‘rock star’ as she is! How come we never see her husband? Thanks for the review! Great post.

    • Patrick

      I’m not sure why Ed wasn’t more of a presence in the later years, other than the fact he passed in 2006. I knew more about Lorraine than Ed… but I learned a lot more about both of them researching for the review. And by the way… if we lived close to each other I’d SO drag you to this movie!! 🙂

  • Lynnette White

    I love your review..I too, can’t wait to see this movie. I grew up in the town this happened in. I went to school with the youngest sister and rode the bus with them. I remember all the stories we heard during those times. They scared me then as a child and I am sure watching this movie, it will scare me now as an adult as well!!

    • Patrick

      Very coo, Lynnette! I’m assuming you’ve either read or checked out Andrea Perron’s books about the experiences. I just got mine in the mail and look forward to starting them.

      • Lynnette White

        I have a signed book 1 from when she spoke about it @ The Assembly in Harrisville when the book first came out. We both happened to be back there at the same time :). I know everyone in town is so excited for her and many groups are getting together to view the movie on Friday. My family is going tonight to an early show.. can not wait!!!

  • Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com)

    Reblogged this on HORROR BOOM and commented:
    Thanks, Patrick, for sharing such a great review. I’m pretty sure my husband (Mr. Horror Boom–though I’m the horror superfan in the family) ALSO wishes you lived up here in our area, since I’m going to have to pay for his ticket and STILL drag him to go see this with me (especially if there’s a Thursday night preview) like I did with, oh, Insidious, Sinister, Mama, and many others! Lili Taylor blew her voice out screaming? That’s not a huge surprise (poor woman). Uh-oh… my voice was pretty scratchy for 24 hours after seeing Mama in the theater. Oh, and I hear the cast are all wonderful, but Vera Farmiga more or less steals the show.

  • LeeAllenHoward

    Thanks for your review, Patrick. I can’t wait to see it!

  • Thomas Spychalski

    Reblogged this on News From The Spirit World and commented:
    Patrick Keller, founder of the Missouri Spirit Seekers and owner of the excellent blog The Big Seance as well as being a contributor to News From The Spirit World, recently got to go to a preview of the movie The Conjuring based on the life’s work of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the controversial psychic and demonologist couple most famous for their involvement with the Amityville Horror.

    This is a re-posting of Patrick’s take on what he thought of the film, said to be based around true events.

  • Aunt Sarah

    Honey, your review and the trailers scared me enough! Don’t think my heart could take it, so I won’t be subjecting myself :-). It IS more interesting to me, to read that it is a true story of a families experiences! I will read more……..

    • Aunt Sarah

      PK! Is the house still there. What do you know about it “state”/condition now?

      • Lynnette White

        Aunt Sarah I can answer your questions about the house if you would like.. I just rode by it about a week ago. It has been redone since the time the Perron’s have lived there..beautifully restored!….although it was always a very quaint farm.

      • Sarah E. Raber

        I wonder if the renovation changed anything with the spirits? The renovators would know…the construction workers. The house we lived in, in St Louis historic district always had a “good” light feeling in it for me, that other houses we looked at didn’t. Nothing changed when we restored it, it remained positive. I will always say, there were good, happy spirits in that house.

      • Patrick

        Here is a video with Andrea Perron interviewing the current owner (at least at the time of the video.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJqI5L-rtNo

      • Lynnette White

        I know there is a video of Andrea interviewing the current owners. It is either on her page or the page for her book.. house of darkness house of light. I believe also that buildings… especially homes give off certain “feelings”…and I could never live in one that wasn’t a happy one. After growing up in a house that was anything but.

  • Aunt Sarah

    Watched it. This made the story more real, to listen to the writer, and present owner visiting, sitting in the kitchen. Our Victorian house in historic Dist of St. Louis was 105 yrs old when we bought it in about 1978. I have memories of you, Patrick, as an infant there. Your mother brought you to see specialist there, and we had only redone the master bedroom by that time. I can see you lying on the bed….just a tiny infant 🙂

    When listening to the current owner of the RI farm, it supported my feelings that a strong positive feeling about a house, can be indications of spirit presence, as negative ones. I felt that in our Victorian townhouse, while touring about a dozen old houses with the realtor in Lafayette Sq. I was “impressed” with the goodness of the soul of that house. Don’t get me wrong…it was a filthy, dirty wreck that we spent every available cent on, making it habitable!

    I didn’t sell real estate until after we moved, but I was aware then…of receiving strong feelings when I toured homes. There are more sad, neglected, negative feeling houses than light, happy ones, in my experience so when I experience the positive ones, its really evident.

    I’ve really enjoyed your review PK! Good job!

    • spiritchild1972

      Ock…..I don’t usually like watching films like this because they annoy me but now you’ve made it sound so intriguing I’m gonna have to watch it now lol But I keep saying ‘If you want Haunted Victorian, Edwrdian, Georgian, Tudor etc…come to the UK, Patrick knows he is welcome. I would love for him to do an investigation of the Edinburgh Vaults, Niddry St and Mary Kings Close. They are something all on thier own. If you do a Google Search it will knock your socks off how cruel or maybe ignorant rather people were back then.

      • Patrick

        Wow! And invitation! 🙂 I’m not a huge traveler. But that’s very kind of you. I’m going to have to check these places out.

      • spiritchild1972

        Well I’m leaving Scotland to live in Yorkshire in 4 weeks, so you’ll have to put up with visiting York instead. It’s a real Olde World Town with cobbled streets and bent houses. But please do look up Edinburgh Vaults, they called Niddry St Vaults and Mary Kings Close. You won’t believe they are real, the stories are so horrific and sad. Imagine building over an entire street and leaving the plague victims to die. When the vaults were discovered not that long ago by accident, they found the bodies of entire families huddled together and peole dead still with cups of ale in their hands from the pub that was down there. And I know every country has that ONE place they say is the most haunted in the world but Niddry street is so haunted noone is allowed down there without permission and Mary Kings, is considered THE most haunted place in the world as aggreed by about 5000 different types of Paranormal Study groups. There is famous footage of a Japanese reporter capturing a girl crying, you should be able to see it on Youtube plus Most Haunted went there and also Ghost Adventures and he couldn’t stay all night, watch one called Joe Swash goes to Mary Kings Close, that has amazing footage. This place is so bad, even I’m reluctant to go down there but I promised my neice if she ever comes to visit me, I will take her down there.
        Patrick, I sincerely mean this with all my heart, if you ever want to spread your wings and fly here to do some investigations with me, I would be honoured. Can you imagine the two of us together? I was asked to make a pilot for a show like Most Haunted years ago but I said no because I was too shy, I wish I knew you then. We could create a show like no one has ever seen. The only rule is I need my protector with me but with my gift and the way I view the dead, the relationship I have with them, and your ability to investigate to such a high logical standard I reckon we will bring something new to the table of Investiagtions AND send a lot of trapped Spirits home. You da man Dotd
        I’m your Number one fan along with Aunty Sarah lol

  • Aunt Sarah

    Well spirit child, the reason I liked the interview was that it wasn’t “scary”, but the subject matter was the same…only more natural, realistic, not dramatic. I would love PK to come see you in England! Our ancestors are Scottish and English. You would LOVE him! He’s artistic, and musically talented, and the two of you could talk braces and medical stuff forever. Patrick could put all that Edinburgh and Kings Close stuff on his blog for the rest of our entertainment…yeaha!!

    (I’ll shut up now 🙂

    • spiritchild1972

      Hi Aunty Sarah, I live in Scotland 🙂 My husband is Scottish but I lived in England for 8 years. There is so much haunted stuff here I think Dotd (my nickname for Patrick lol) would have about 50 years worth of blog material. I have told him if he ever wants a place to stay with my loving family and a Free Ghost Tour of Scotland lol he only need ask. I love Patrick, he is so intelligent and funny and I really have alot of respect for how he does investigations. Hence his nickname Defender of the dead 🙂
      He puts so much talent into his posts. Unlike me, I randomly push buttons and throw stuff at the screen hoping something works.

      • Patrick

        Okay really… you’re giving me WAY too much credit. Again, thank you. (By the way… I’m picturing your voice… does it sound like Allen Cumming?) 🙂

      • spiritchild1972

        A female Alan Cummings with a New Zealand accent though lol
        You know Dotd, they can get rid of this stuff in the house. Giving in to the fear, gives the fear strength.

    • Patrick

      As long as you’re saying good things about me, you can keep right on going. 🙂 I hope you are doing well.

  • Laceset

    This movie will scare the living shit out of you!

  • joel

    I love these kind of movies, but, as much as i want to believe that this is truly about what happended, i’m still alittle skeptical about what everyone (including the warrens) seen, and heard. I no that the warrens are shown walking around trying to get evp’s and that, but I can’t find any where what they actually caught on tape. Until they can prove what they heard or caught on pictures then it’s still a…he said, she said, they said movie. If there is any web site where you can hear what they heard or saw, then I will fully believe that this is an actual true event movie and not alot of hollywood hoopla. At least shows like ghost hunters, ghost adventures and other shows like that, you can see and hear what they actually caught for evidence.

    • Patrick

      Joel, you have valid points. I know that actual case files exist, though I’ve never seen or read them. There are several books out by authors that discuss various case files of the Warrens. I have one of them, but I haven’t read it yet, and it doesn’t include this particular case. And now that you mention it, I’ve never considered searching for actual audio or video of this case online. I’m not sure that exists publicly.

      As far as whether it is all true or not, Andrea Perron, the real life daughter who has written a trilogy about the events, claims the movie is right on. I realize she would be wise to not go against it though. But anyway, the trilogy is massive and I just started it. I’ve seen some similarities and differences so far, but nothing major.

      But I have to say, even if very little of it actually happened, it’s a damn good movie! 🙂 But… I bet it’s close. And enough people from the events have been involved that I don’t think they’d make it all up out of nowhere. And I’d believe it more than I would the experiences of the Ghost Adventures guys. 🙂 Even though I’m finding a soft spot for them. I’ve been getting into their old episodes.

  • Aunt Sarah

    Fair enough Joel! That’s not unreasonable.

  • Patrick

    Dear Readers,

    I have been getting word that fans of The Conjuring have been making poor decisions regarding visiting the real life farmhouse that I’ve blogged about recently. Please read the message below from Andrea Perron, real life eldest Perron daughter and author of the trilogy mentioned in my post below. She sent this out this evening.

    Please pray for my friends at the farm. They don’t deserve what is happening there, nor does anyone else in the neighborhood. Do unto others as though you are the others. No one would want such unsolicited scrutiny unleashed upon their private residence. Please pass the word for me on their behalf. They should be left alone in peace. Thank you ~ Andrea

  • Patrick

    SpiritChild,

    I can’t imagine you shy. 🙂 Are you sad to leave Scotland? Would you have to ditch the accent? And do you have a video or something? I totally want to hear it. 🙂

    • spiritchild1972

      Lol a video of my accent? I have tons lol we could Skype chat one day. I take it you like accents? I’m just not the sort of person who likes attention. I’m supposed to be getting an interview at some point with an American radio host Norrie someone. I don’t know how that’s going to work out lol people in The UK have a hard time understanding my accent over the phone lol I am sad to leave Scotland. My boys were born in Scotland but because I homeschooling them they have a half kiwi half Scottish accent, now it will be half kiwi half Yorkshire lol I’m telling u bud, York, we could investigate York together lol

  • Recent books to land on my doorstep… | The Big Séance

    […] seeing and reviewing The Conjuring, and after reading the first two books of Andrea Perron’s trilogy that tells the real life […]

  • Keith Johnson

    This is one of our investigations of the actual ‘Conjuring’ home.

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