Film Title: The Conjuring
Director: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor
Running Time: 112 min
It’s 1971 and truck driver Roger (Ron Livingston) and his wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor) move into a ramshackle Rhode Island farmhouse with their five daughters. Within 24 hours, the youngest sibling has stumbled upon a possessed music box, the beloved family dog has perished, and the clocks have all stopped.
It doesn’t take long for the terrified Carolyn to track down celebrated ghost-busters Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), who immediately sense an evil presence on the premises. Armed with scientific gadgetry – well, pseudo-scientific claptrap – and assisted by Brad the police officer and Drew the comic relief, the Warrens wait out the long, increasingly scary nights with the besieged family. But will the resident demonic spirits prove too strong for the team?
You may well have watched the trailer for this US box-office smash and wondered how such old rope can attract so much new money. And indeed, the latest effort from Saw creator James Wan is characterised by creaks, sudden starts and things that go bump in the night. No person, except perhaps for a scaredy-cat unaccustomed to anything freakier than a merry-go-round, would describe The Conjuring as wildly innovative. But if the movie is old rope, it’s of a quality that ought to, one feels, be auctioned at Sotheby’s.
Watch the trailer - The Conjuring
It helps that The Conjuring arrives emblazoned with the legend “Based on a True Story”. The Warrens, those real-life paranormal investigators best known for the Amityville case and a thousand spooky magazine stories, add lamb-chop sideburns and a glaze of authenticity to Wan’s brilliantly executed, seat-edge jamboree. The 1970s setting harks back to a less cynical time when cranks could pass as parapsychologists, but it also allows the film to play like an authentic golden age horror, released perhaps, between The Exorcist and Halloween.
The involvement of such heavyweight thespian talents as Wilson, Farmiga and Taylor adds to a sense of occasion. Joseph Bashara’s discombobulating score (composed with a little help from Diamanda Galás) keeps the quality control high.
We’re not so sure about the historical accuracy or the suggestion that the Salem witch trials were anything other than femicide. But as Ghost Trains go, The Conjuring is a ride worthy of Disneyland.