Film review: The Conjuring

conjuring’s Bianca Cornale headed along to The Conjuring, fully aware that she was incredibly likely to have seven-shades of bejesus scared out of her: 

There are three things I really don’t like:

–          Creepy little girls
–          Creepy little girl dolls
–          Ghosts

The Conjuring was therefore a personal and not-so-private hell, as evident by the loud expletives bursting from me at every tense scene.

But there are also things that I like every much:

–          Seventies fashion
–          Seventies horror films
–          The sexy (in a teacher/student fetish way) Patrick Wilson

The Conjuring delivered on these too.

This film rotates around a family of five young girls (shudder) and their stupid parents who buy a ramshackle farmhouse far away from civilisation and soon realise this wasn’t as fabulous an idea as they’d initially thought. Surprise, surprise. Meanwhile attractive widow’s peak Mr Wilson and his clairvoyant wife played by Vera Farmiga go about their day-to-day as demonologists and become embroiled in the whole shebang. Directed by James Wan of the SAW franchise, The Conjuring was destined to be a fright-fest and doesn’t disappoint in this degree.

It does, however, disappoint in originality. The film reads like a remake of a classic horror, and one that has been much used and abused. And though the plot is familiar as hell, sometimes there was still too much going on. At one point there had to be roughly ten different characters all dealing with their own paranormal shit at once. Seriously, how many ghosts or witches or demons or whatever can this fucking house hold?

The tension of the first hour is so carefully crafted compared to the consequential clusterfuck which follows. And to break these two stages of tension apart, there is a bizarre and incongruous fifteen minutes of happy family bollocks, comic relief and corny romance. Snore.

Additionally, some of the lines seemed ripped right out of the 1970’s setting. It was hard not to wonder if the writers didn’t have some underlying message pertaining to Christianity, or worse, family values.

Despite all this, the film was scary. But I get scared easily – especially when there is anything to do with creepy dolls or creepy children. We all know that, in this genre, silence is invariably followed by a loud bang, and The Conjuring follows this formula to the T. Really, do filmmakers need to keep sending protagonists into eerie parts of the house when they hear a suspicious noise? DO NOT GO TAKE A LOOK, IDIOT. I thought we learnt from Tippy’s mistakes in The Birds, COME ON!

More interesting, and ultimately scary, scary movies don’t follow the rules as stringently as The Conjuring does. Such a simple floor-plan should leave no room for confusion, but The Conjuring is confused. It’s a movie set in the seventies, not made in the seventies. Though I wish it was – maybe it could have excused The Conjuring from being formulaic. Maybe.

bianca cornale


Review by Bianca Cornale.