Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

The Conjuring (2013)


During the swingin’ days of 1971, trucker Roger Perron (Ron Livingston), his wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their five daughters, all move to a big old Rhode Island house in the country. At first, it feels like a nice escape for the family to start anew, but that’s before things start going creek in the night, the dog doesn’t come in the house, birds fly directly at the house, and the youngest daughter of the five gets an imaginary friend. Once that all begins to happen and turns violent, the Perron’s know that they have no other of where to go except to call in the professionals. Enter mega-serious ghostbusters Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) who stand up to the hard task of defeating this demon and not killing anybody while doing so. However, being in the ghostbusting business for as long as they have does begin to take a toll on even the strongest souls, especially once demons come into play.

Here’s one of those horror flicks that’s been getting some of the biggest buzz I’ve heard in a long, long time. Obviously the teaser scared the shorts off of me because it was so simple, yet at the same time, freaky as hell. And then, the second trailer came in, ruined everything, and had me realize that maybe this was just another generic, horror flick that just so happened to take place during the 70’s, where apparently the Zombies were constantly playing in everybody’s hearts and minds. Felt like a gimmick that could have worked if it had the right creator for it, but James Wan hasn’t done much to really get my interest-meter boosting off the radar so, as usual, I remained cool, calm, collective, and ready to see what this horror flick could do for me, if anything at all.

"Help!!! She just told me that "my mother sucks cocks in hell!!"

“Help!!! She just told me that “my mother sucks cocks in hell!!”

Needless to say, I was scared and I jumped. More than a couple of times actually.

And yes, for a schmuck like me that doesn’t care too much for the horror genre and considers October to be a pretty weak month; that’s saying a hell of a whole lot and it makes me respect Wan as a director more, because the guy has a knack for directing horror here that could really do some damage to people. Seriously, the way he’s able to manipulate the audience into being freaked out just by a single action of somebody opening the door they weren’t supposed to, or losing the only source of light you have in the pitch blackness, really requires a certain skill and trade that I haven’t seen in quite some time, especially within the horror genre. Wan isn’t really re-inventing the wheel with this flick, or even the tricks that he pulls off, but he does show you that you can create something tense and scary, even if it is convention, as long as the inspiration and the sure-will to make something fun and entertaining for all is there.

However, calling a horror movie “fun” and “entertaining”, isn’t necessarily doing it any favors. A horror movie has to be scary, jumpy, and full of terror that makes you sleep with more than just one night-light on. And this is that type of movie, even if you’re a movie-dork like me and can see each and every one coming away. Even then, the movie-dork inside of me sort of began to fall back because I soon realized that this is a horror movie that isn’t trying to do anything new, yet isn’t trying to bore me either. It wants to have me jump and cover my eyes, even if it’s only for a scene or two and with that extra-push from Wan’s direction: it happened. Wan is the type of director I know I have to look out for now, and let’s hope he can single-handedly revive the horror genre into being the wrecking ball it used to be, for both critics and audiences alike.

That said, there’s still a lot that I feel like this guy has to work on and if there’s one aspect I had to choose to talk about the most, it’s the writing. With the oodles of scares and jumps Wan has at his disposal, obviously he can’t be too concerned if the script’s anything memorable or smart for that matter, but with the high-caliber cast he has here, he should have done more. Certain lines come off cheesy; character-development is obvious and practically leaning on the star’s talents to squeeze anything out; and the back-story for the reason why everything is happening is unoriginal, and feels like it was the easiest way out of exploring any type of new ground possible. Once again, I get that the movie isn’t trying to create a new type of horror flick that needs to be seen to be believed, but a little more effort in the writing-department would have made an absolutely huge difference here, even if the regular, everyday movie-goer didn’t notice it.

Critics at least would have been happier and aren’t they worth satisfying?

"What? Did I miss a spot or something?"

“What? Did I miss a spot or something?”

At least Wan’s lucky enough to have assembled such a talented cast such as the one he has here, because they really, REALLY do help this material out, even when it seems to linger towards the most conventional parts that you can see coming and ending a mile away. Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston make for a sympathetic married-couple that obviously seem to love one another, as well as their five daughters, so that when the bad shite does begin to happen to all of them, we at least feel some sort of emotion as it shouldn’t be happening to them. But then we think about it and realize that if it wasn’t happening to them, then we wouldn’t have a movie. So then, we’re happy and are especially glad it wasn’t us that this demon decided to attack.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are perfect fits for these two, confident pros who know what they have to do to get their jobs done, as well as how to do it without any casualties or injuries on their hands. There’s just something about Wilson’s demeanor that not only makes him the coolest guy in the room, but also makes him the smartest one too that I could totally trust with my own well-being, had I run into the same situation as these peeps found themselves. Also, there’s something about Farmiga’s look and feel that not only has her seem like the same person as Wilson, but with a little bit more love, care, and feeling added to the mix where we can see that she’s not just doing this for the money or notoriety, but for actually saving people from those a-hole demons. Together, they make for a great married-couple, even if their story together is a bit hokey, and you trust that they will do the right thing, the safest way possible. That is, until they start getting regurgitated on. P-Wilson ain’t dealing with that shite.

Consensus: You won’t be seeing anything new or ground-breaking with the Conjuring, but what you will see is a movie that’s surprisingly scary, will make you jump, will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight-up, and most of all, will make you think twice about going down that long, dark hallway to get a glass of water from the tap.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"So, what is it that you mean when you say, "shit here is pretty fucked up?""

“So, what is it that you mean when you say, “shit here is pretty fucked up?””


51 responses to “The Conjuring (2013)

  1. Charles Lau July 19, 2013 at 5:41 am

    Enjoyed reading your review =) This movie isn’t out yet in my country and it’s been awhile since I got to watch a good horror movie. I’ve never been a fan of America’s horror movies, mostly because they kept on relying on jump scares and shocking visuals… and the now diluted “found-footage” genre. I do miss the feeling of the chills down my spine, like the way when I first watch the first Paranormal Activity. I find the Japanese, Korean and even Thai horror a much more horrifying experience. But I’ll probably catch this when it’s out in my country.

  2. Tom July 19, 2013 at 7:17 am

    great review dude — this was easily the most disturbing film I’ve seen in a long, long while. I really enjoyed Wan’s writing for Saw (when Saw was. . . well, Saw, and not the shiite that it became in 3, 4, 5, 6) and that was about all that sold me on this film. I’m not usually a fan of the genre but The Conjuring really made an impression. I thought certain parts of the writing needed some work, but overall this was about as solid as it gets in a horror film of the contemporary age. Glad to know it scared the piss out of you too !

    • CMrok93 July 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      The characters and the melodrama needed a shit load of work done, but Wan has a knack for scaring the bejeebers out of us. And that’s a skill more and more horror directors need.

  3. Charles Lau July 19, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Hey Dan, decided to start a blogroll and add you in. =) Appreciate if you can add me in yours too.

  4. Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop July 19, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Nice review Dan. Been a while since I checked out a decent horror film at the cinema so this may be one to check out.

  5. Zoë July 19, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Ryan got me so interested to see this, I really want to!

  6. Dan (Top 10 Films) July 19, 2013 at 10:18 am

    These movies do bore me these day. Too often they bring nothing new to the genre and seem to rely on cheap jump-out-of-your-seat moments. I think the found-footage genre has revitalized these sorts of stories, and I think that makes the traditional style harder to do effectively (and originally).

  7. mikeyb185 July 19, 2013 at 10:33 am

    It’s such a fun movie. I described it in my review as being like a greatest hit compilation of horror movies as it has everything in it. There’s nothing gory or disgusting, it just old fashioned scares all the way

  8. filmhipster July 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Excellent! Glad you thought it was scary. I was beginning to think the trailers were misleading. Hope to see it next weekend.

  9. theipc July 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Looks good! I hope to get out and see it in the theaters if I ever get the time! Nice work : )

  10. Whit's Movie Reviews July 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Wow, I’m very surprised to see this is any good at all! Great review! I might give it a shot when it comes on Netflix or On Demand.

  11. NICK / The Littlest Winslow July 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    I’m excited to see this one – mostly because of The Warrens and partially because of Farmiga. I’m from CT and have seen The Warrens speak a couple of times – back in the day they used to go around to local high schools, colleges, etc. to share their stories and they were always super captivating speakers! Plus, I’m a huge Horror fan. I’ll probably check this one out this weekend!

  12. ctc1965 July 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Yes, I liked it more than you. But I don’t see how a rating of 7.5 out of 10 puts it in the rental slot. That’s still a pretty high rating, me thinks.

  13. Margaret (@lady_sati) July 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Great review! I’m seeing this tomorrow and I cannot wait. I’m not sure if the film deserves to be criticized for unoriginal backstory as to why the haunting happened as it is based on actual events – at least regarding that woman that was hanged.

  14. Alex Withrow July 19, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Gonna wait to read your full review until I’ve seen the flick, but a 7.5 is promising. I’m excited for it!

  15. allistercrow July 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    I agree that the writing sucked (“lay person’s” terminology). I agree that a person should rent it and not go see it in a cinema.
    I disagree that a horror film is dishonored by calling it fun and entertaining (then again, I am a horror fan and you admitted that you were not one).
    Small differences are not worth splitting. I liked the cast as well as you and Mr. Wan. I would not give it 7 stars. Maybe 3. Maybe

  16. teny July 20, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Good one 🙂 Got the feeling that this is the kind of movie I am looking forward to watching in the theatre! Releases here on August 2, lets see 🙂

  17. Rob Zappulla July 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    I’m glad to see Vera Farmiga getting some success! As you probably know, she was just nominated for an Emmy for her work on Bates Motel. The show had so much potential and she’s been holding it all together for its first season.

  18. Philip Wardlow July 21, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I skimmed this because I haven’t seen the movie but I will!

  19. ac12262 July 22, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Thoroughly enjoyed your review. You made some excellent points and hit the nail pretty much on the head, I think.

  20. Mark Hobin July 22, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I enjoyed the film because of the great acting, but I didn’t find it scary. Maybe because this borrows so liberally from other horror films: The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, Paranormal Activity – and many many more. Kept getting this feeling of déjà vu.

  21. Pingback: The Conjuring Review | The Filmster

  22. Chris July 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    But they COULDN’T leave the house, Dan. 😛 Actually, that was one of the touches I actually liked about this movie, that they addressed that very thing. But yeah, otherwise, sure, it had its creepy moments, but I still can’t help but feel that this one’s getting overrated for not being an entirely bad horror movie. As it was, it was serviceable, but nothing great, and as you said, doesn’t exactly break new ground or anything.

  23. Franz Patrick July 24, 2013 at 1:09 am

    “[Wan] has a knack for directing horror here that could really do some damage to people.”

    I cannot agree more. I’m still recovering from “Insidious.” I still think that’s his best work to date, but this one is a very close second.

    My problem with this movie is I think it shows too much eventually, especially in the last 15 or 20 minutes. I guess I’m more of an “old school horror” kinda guy. Chairs floating and things like that are too modern for my retro heart.

    Also, the Warren kid and the doll is not all that interesting to me. (Although I really liked the first scene when that evil thing was introduced.)

  24. mercifullyshortreviews July 28, 2013 at 4:59 am

    Hi Dan. Thanks for reading my review, but I have to take issue with yours! Being a screenwriter, I’m continually amazed and depressed when reviewers perpetuate the myth that the director is somehow responsible for the script:

    “With the oodles of scares and jumps Wan has at his disposal, obviously he can’t be too concerned if the script’s anything memorable or smart for that matter, but with the high-caliber cast he has here, he should have done more”…

    Wan didn’t write the movie, Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes did! (And in this case, he did a better job than they did…)

  25. Fogs' Movie Reviews July 28, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Sorry you didn’t dig this more, Dan, this one blew me away. I didn’t get that caught up in the whole “we’ve seen this before” aspect. Utter originality is so rare nowadays anyways… plus Wan worked all the elements like a master, I thought. This movie was scary AND rock solid!

  26. Kelley August 1, 2013 at 4:54 am

    Really enjoyed this review. I went to see The Conjuring a few weeks back and was pleasantly surprised. I usually don’t go into horror movies with many expectations. This one blew every one of them away. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and watched all the horror movies when I was pretty young. It takes a lot to scary me and this movie had me jumping out of my seat. The acting was great and I really enjoyed the cinematography.

  27. Pingback: The Conjuring Review: The Anti-Ambien | Rorschach Reviews

  28. Robert ( August 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Great review! Wan definitely knows how to bring the creepy. I agree about the script/dialogue. It was a little cheesy at times. “God brought us together for a reason.” Just kind of shoves that idea down your throat.

  29. MerylJarret August 7, 2013 at 3:07 am

    I agree with you on this one!! I thought James Wan did a wonderful job directing this film. While it’s weird to say this (being that it’s a horror movie) I thought the film was actually very beautiful to watch. The cinematography and editing style flowed really well. I get your complaints about the story being unoriginal, but I have to say I wasn’t too bothered by this (even though I usually am). I think horror films these days can do a whole lot worse plot-wise, and the story for this film satisfied me.

    My cohort Jarret and I also wrote a review for this film and if you have the time we’d love for you to check it out and give us some feedback. 🙂


  30. armanddc August 22, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Nice review Dan! I really think that the narrative could have been better, but then, at the back of my head, I’m thinking: “fiction could only be fucking stranger than reality.” They’re maybe selling the “realism” of the story–boring, conventional, true. Then again, we don’t even know if this really happened in the first place. “A horror movie has to be scary, jumpy, and full of terror that makes you sleep with more than just one night-light on;” I fear it’s a different story for me. A horror movie has to, for whatever reason, make your knees tremble. This notion is greatly influenced by “Kairo” (2001) and all the other Asian horrors that scared the bejeezus out of me. Because I’m Asian myself, and that’s the way we Asians roll. 😛

    Loved reading your review, though. You always draw a big chuckle out of me. 🙂

  31. Pingback: Review: ‘The Conjuring’ (2013) | Film Police

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