Okay ladies and gentleman, we all have our great white whale of horror movies. Movies that we have started endless times, and “noped” right out of before the climax even started. This movie, The Conjuring, is my great white whale. I didn’t get even close to the midway point of this movie in one viewing was with my mom, but I decided enough is enough and I will tackle my fears head on.
We enter in a vignette of sorts that brought us together with Annabelle, who spawned her own series of successful films, and introduces us to our main characters Ed and Lorraine Warren, real-life paranormal investigators. It then introduces the poor family who will inevitably serve as those being haunted, an All-American seeming family who are shown moving into the home. Before they even bring the couch in, their dog refuses to enter the building. Remember folks, if your dog says the house has some evil juju, turn the car around. I mean casual spoiler, but this horror movie is another in the long unnecessary line of animal murders. I am not a fan. Anyways, the paranormal instances slowly begin to escalate (and then rapidly begin to escalate) and the family must grapple with the potential that their new dream home is much more akin to a nightmare.
Now I used to not be able to handle any horror movie, and nowadays I have a lot stronger stomach for them. But this one really is genuinely scary. It plays with the audience’s perception and leans on the trope of extreme quiet and jarring sound. My personal rule of thumb is that if a horror movie ever gets very quiet, it’s going to throw something substantial at you for either a visual or an audio jump scare. This movie does that a lot. It also makes conscious decisions on when to show you what a character is seeing and when not to. Sometime it’s even scarier when the audience doesn’t see the fright, but watches the extreme reaction to it from the onscreen characters.
I personally don’t handle jump scares well, and this movie was TORTURE for me to get through. Still this makes it a good horror movie. I was constantly on edge, my anxiety was off the charts, and I never knew what was going to happen. In a systematic way, horror movies usually shell out the same kind of scare but this one offered a new and horrifying take on the haunted house genre and given the real life context, this story is even more jarring.
I don’t think many films deserve a franchise, but this movie was well made and smart, with great scares, a compelling story and interesting characters. Focusing on the life of Ed and Lorraine Warren is such a good idea to make “true story” based horror that elevates the original material and offers a spooky atmosphere that draws you in and makes you terrified you won’t be able to get out.
Amy’s Recommendation: 9/10