The Conjuring (2013) Review

A movie review article by: Jessica Sowards

The Exorcist.  The Thing.  The Blob.  The Conjuring.  Okay Hollywood, we cracked the Algebraic Horror Title Code.  First, take the article “the,” add a scary spooky sound noun, and all that equals a terrifying movie.  Of course, the only math I can explain involves movies.  The Conjuring is Hollywood’s latest horror movie inducing screams and blooming chill bumps in theaters.

The film could be considered a textbook horror movie.  It includes a creepy old house in the middle of nowhere, characters who are engrossed in the paranormal, and an unknown cellar full of cobwebs and antiques. Another bone-chilling aspect is that it takes place in the 1970s and the costume department have conjured a haunted parade of glaring 70s patterns and styles.  

We are introduced to a happy couple who are moving into an old farm house.  In each scene, the couple seems to gain another daughter -- daughters who could be interchanged and not make any difference to the plot at all. Through the first half of the movie, we see how healthy and "normal" this family is and how wonderfully they all get along. None of the characters are fully developed, but they do not necessarily have to be for this type of movie. 

Just like the Freeling family from Poltergeist, their back story or motivation is not important. Of course, fuller character development can add a tremendous amount to a film, but, sometimes, the mythology can bog the story down and be too convoluted.  The movie has roots in the past, but, under a watchful microscope, has a plot that could have more holes than a tasty slice of Swiss cheese.  What the movie lacks in character development, it maintains in pure fear.  Basically, all we need to know about this family is that they are happy, well adjusted, and seem happier than a family in a 1950’s sitcom.  

As the Perron family continues to carry in boxes and patch up their new home, paranormal investigators, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) tour the country, lecturing and sharing the details of their cases.  In perhaps one of the best decisions made by characters in film, the Warrens not only film their investigations, but they take items that were directly affected or involved in paranormal phenomenon including  hauntings, attacks, and demonic possessions, and place them in a room in their personal home. 

It should be safe because there is not only a lock on the door, but a glass cabinet to secure the most evil items.  It is no wonder the Warren’s feel safe having this vault of evil just a few feet away from their young daughter.  I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

As the movie continues, we see the once happy and healthy Perron family slowly become slaves to the many spirits that still call the farmhouse home.  They become increasingly more desperate and seek out the help and expertise of the Warrens. Lorraine Warren and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) quickly form a strong bond as both are loving mothers.  In a way, the Warrens join the family and share their everyday life, which strengthens their determination to cast out the evil forces that seek to destroy them all.

While watching, I kept thinking back to Cabin in the Woods.  A watered down summary of both films could be "a group of linked people show up to a new place, stumble upon a hidden cellar, and find items that foreshadow the impending doom or terror that haunt the main characters."  As the family entered the cellar, I felt like I should be placing my bet with the other researchers, and personally, my money would have been on the Molesting Tree.

I was sold on The Conjuring throughout most of the movie.  I was plotting my Facebook statuses proclaiming it one of the best horror films in the same vein of Poltergeist, The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and other classics. It was a breath of fresh air to have no hokey back breaking, dub-step zombies crackling across the screen and no burley, sweaty man-monster slowly pulling teeth or finger nails from a tormented and stalked teen protagonist.  This was a good ole horror movie, slowly building suspense. 

The camera would slowly pan from the floor up a wall and you could feel the anticipation building within you.  This build-up was one of the things the film makers did very right.  In the end, though, I was disappointed. 

After all this build up, the final battle between good and evil was rushed.  In a matter of moments, five people destroy a manifestation of evil that would make Pazuzu look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man sandwiched between two graham crackers on a moonlit summer night.  The characters simply yelled at the mother to stay strong and remember a frolic on the beach. 

Too bad no one thought of combating evil with happy thoughts before.  Generations could have been saved from brutal murders. 

But wait, there’s more.  Don’t gather your concession stand litter yet.  Just when you think it is safe to go home, we get the familiar hook at the end of a scary movie.  It’s not safe after all.  Another evil has been unknowingly unleashed.  “Don’t worry; just remember you love the kids, Ma!”  Will it work a second time in this movie?  Usually, sequels become so busy explaining the "why" and "how," they forget to add the spookiness and scares the originals possessed. This is my fear with The Conjuring.

Because, yes. A listing for The Conjuring 2 has appeared on  I now truly know fear.

When Jessica Sowards is not fighting crime, she can be found watching almost any movie that comes her way whether it be good or bad.  She is obsessed with The Muppets and knows a little too much trivia from sitcoms of the 1980s. 

Community Discussion