The Conjuring

Disclaimer: A lot of hype and expectations going into this movie. Big horror junkie but have not watched any good ones recently ("The Cabin In The Woods" is strictly not horror per se...)

Wow! James Wan and writers Chad & Carey Hayes have delivered a solid, brilliant, scary, atmospheric, old-school horror/haunted house flick! Bolstered by an ace cast (including the children), a simple plot, effective score and a distinctively anti-Hollywood sensibility. The pace was excellent, with tidbits and reveals coming in at a steady pace until the climatic finale. But, this is old-school, so the pacing may be slow to those who are used to Hollywood-esque slasher-flicks-masquerading-as-horror; but the pacing is actually part of the whole atmospheric, spooky, tension-building triumph of the movie. Although, granted, there are one or two moments that existed purely to shock, but they were not really the scariest nor creepiest scenes. The lead ups, for which I think Wan is really great at and crafting and manipulating, are much more tense and nail-biting. Wan has a great eye for horror details but sometimes some shots are really just him being rather fanciful, and sometimes it works like the long shot at the beginning, and the homages to Kubrick's "The Shining", but others were just unnecessary like the the flip-camera at the end. Nonetheless, he and director of photography John R. Leonetti created a sepia tinged palette that really brought out the old timey feel of the house, the period and consequently the mood. Having a superb cast really helped to elevate the movie, and Vera Farmiga and Lili Taylor were standouts. Both women carried the emotional load of the movie convincingly and that really helped to make the family-in-peril scenario that more gut wrenching. Patrick Wilson and Ron Livingstone were certainly apt as the strong male figures but their roles were certainly less demanding their onscreen spouses. For once the children, tweens and teens in the movie were part of the show/structure and not merely there to scare us or blend into the background. Slight Spoiler  Certainly that, the non-Shyamalan plot and the lack of the annoying skeptic, made this a rather subversive, and, in this culture, an unexpected surprise.  End Spoiler The score by Joseph Bishara was very effective in creating and enhancing the mood of the whole flick, and thankfully, the brassiness only served to highlight the atmosphere rather than suffocate it. And like in "Insidious", Bishara and Wan worked well together. Strangely, the "Family Theme" was by Mark Isham and that was a spooky yet warmly tender theme. I won't be surprised if they do a sequel, but like the upcoming Insidious 2, I await it with cautious trepidation.

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