Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Conjuring (2013) - Review

I must say, James Wan really knows his horror.  After the psychologically intense Saw (the first installment only, of course) and the masterfully creepy Insidious, Wan certainly had a lot to live up to with this one.  And he doesn't disappoint.  In fact, this may be the most gripping film of his already impressive career yet, managing to succeed in every place that modern horror movies typically fail.

The Conjuring is remarkably restrained in its approach.  It feels a lot like Insidious, other than its period piece differences, and that's not a bad thing at all.  It has a fairly similar structure, slow-burn pace, and portrayal of spirits, and, like Insidious, this one also stars Patrick Wilson.  However, where it differs mostly is in the tone.  The film sets its almost hypnotic and engrossing mood from the near non-sequitor cold open and never lets up.  Even when the pacing slows down considerably to focus on the characterization, the sense of dread and foreboding looms over the film like a shadow.

Like most horror films, the best moments come from the suspense, and luckily this movie hits all the right notes.  There's a very small amount of jump scares, and the few that are used are extremely effective and satisfying in that nervous laughing kind of way.  Likewise, there is little orchestration during the scenes where things are actually happening, which always seems to destroy any atmosphere; what score that is present is typically somber and subdued when necessary, and nigh disturbing when needed.

The climax gets a bit too hectic for such a previously subtle affair, and there is one shot of iffy-looking CGI birds that could have been cut entirely (much like the one iffy-looking shot of the demon in Insidious, a film otherwise brilliantly devoid of the stuff), but these are minor quibbles for such a thoroughly enjoyable horror flick.  It perfectly encapsulates what horror movies are meant to be: a scary, intense and most importantly, fun, ride.

1 comment:

Gary Lee said...

Good write-up!! I agree. :)