The Conjuring


It’s a family scare-affair.

Early on in James Wan's sixth film, we’re shown a room of scary relics accrued by paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) over a life of busting ghosts. 

For good and bad, Wan’s career is that room in movie form. Invoking Dario Argento’s baroque operas (Saw), demon-doll movies (Dead Silence) and ghost-house horrors (Insidious), Wan’s filmography is nothing if not derivative. 


But he’s also well-studied enough to spin clichés into popcorn scares, which is where his new haunting/possession hybrid scores for much of its length.


The Conjuring taps a true-life tale, but it’s the patient pacing that makes it. Time is taken to introduce the Warrens, not flakes but professionals whose sincerity matches Wan’s own, non-arch approach. 


And we meet the Perron’s, who require getting-to- know-you time because Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) have five daughters, a big clan newly relocated to a house with big secrets involving farty whiffs, witchery and worse.


If those secrets seem familiar, it barely matters because the drip-feed of old tricks and a slow-drifting camera combine to stoke our expectation. The prologue alone will eat anyone with a phobia of creepy antique dolls alive.


At the Perrons’ pad, cellars beckon, dogs whine, clocks stall, wardrobes open... and out march the set-pieces, marshalled by Wan with such PoV-jostling vim that you hardly mind when he resorts to jump shocks, brazen riffs on Paranormal Activity, and even ghostly bed sheets.


Sturdy casting helps, from Wilson’s dependable solidity to Farmiga’s under-the-top restraint. 


Frustration kicks in all the harder, then, when the finale hurtles over the top. Over-compensating for prosaic final-act revelations, the climax ditches controlled chills for a decibel-slamming deluge of hokum.


Coherence isn’t the only casualty. Excess exhausts the plot’s options, too, leaving it nowhere to go other than towards an ending flatter than the often overly expository dialogue.


Don’t expect Wan’s reserves to run dry, though. When he steers us back to the Warrens’ room of relics his point is clear. 


Bringing a welcome chill wind to summer’s release slate, and with Insidious 2 imminent, Wan surely has the first of two 2013 hits on his hands. 


We’ll be seeing more from his supplies of scares.




Refreshing old haunts with old-school sincerity, James Wan delivers the weekend chill-seeking goods. The shock of the new is absent, but it works. Don’t... look... under... the... b-b-b-b-bed...


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Film Details

User Reviews

    • Ali1748

      Jul 23rd 2013, 17:40

      From the people I've spoken to the Conjuring sounds like a solid 4 or a 5.

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    • FBGSalkeld

      Aug 1st 2013, 4:24


      I cannot believe the praise this is getting. This is an overlong grabbag of horror movie cliches, offering nothing new or fresh. Highly overrated, this is nothing more than average.

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    • depp5

      Aug 5th 2013, 15:53

      loved this film soo much im going to c it again x

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    • FBJBottomley

      Aug 14th 2013, 15:27


      Unoriginal but well fashioned and constructed, James Wan knows his onions when it comes to old fashioned chillers.

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    • clintmagnum

      Aug 18th 2013, 12:48

      I'm a big fan of this genre but DO NOT buy into the hype around this film. Seriously mediocre. It's like a bad 90 minute episode of Scooby Doo. To top it all it continues the temacity of continually quantifying itself as a true story. Even at the end it gives a shockingly arrogant quote that Demons DO exist. The flase starts and jumps are so choreographed and the script so badly written. Every cliched horror item is clumsily thrown at it. Possessed dolls, gohsts in wardrobe, sbasement noises, exorcism in a chair, the sceptical policeman changed into a believer, etc etc. Seriously, at one point they even pull out a bottle of holy water, a crucifix and a bible to cleanse the house and they then explain what holy water is! This is the best reviewed modern horror of the last ten years. Its half the movie Insidious was and even that was just above average.

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    • clintmagnum

      Aug 18th 2013, 12:49


      Sorry, forgot to review it out of 5.

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    • apo1978

      Aug 29th 2013, 10:50


      Though not original, this has some spooky old-school scares and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. Refreshing to see mainly physical effects in favour of CGI, contributing to the overall atmosphere of the 1971 setting. One of the better supernatural thrillers of recent times.

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    • matthewbrady

      Sep 11th 2013, 21:35


      spooky old school horror movie :)

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    • SussexUK

      Sep 19th 2013, 16:46


      Pretty bad. Boring, not scary, should of kept the doll in it from the start, rest of film... rubbish!

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    • smellyhands

      Oct 12th 2013, 22:46

      The only scary thing about this movie is how hot Vera Farmiga is.

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    • smellyhands

      Oct 12th 2013, 23:10


      Oh heres my star.

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