The Conjuring (2013) – James Wan

I’m going to be honest, the first time I saw The Conjuring, I was disappointed, I didn’t really get into it, and felt that it relied a little too heavily on it’s jump scares (always seemingly accompanied by a musical sting). Still, a while ago I gave it a rewatch, and really enjoyed it the second time around, and now, while not a fan of all the instalments in the growing Conjuring Universe, I do enjoy the core films.

And that, in large part has to do with the casting of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren, a pair of demonologists whose cases include, peripherally, Amityville, and a Raggedy-Ann doll known as Annabelle – you can decide from there whether you believe them or not, and while the film itself purports to be based on an actual documented case of a haunting, and possible possession, liberties have of course been taken with the narrative to make it work as a film.

And much like the original Amityville story, a young family, the Perrons, headed by Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) move into a house that seems a little too good to be true, and of course, shortly after moving in, spooky things start to happen.

As the Warrens investigate, after proving their credentials in a university lecture, they discover a satanic presence filling the area, and perhaps a dose of witchcraft used for evil, conjuring evil spirits about, which could lead to placing the Perron’s children in immediate danger.

Wan working from a script by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes, keeps the story moving, but it’s the relationship and just the chemistry between Farmiga and Wilson that keeps you tuned in. There’s a sense of history to their relationship – they aren’t new to this game, they’ve been at it for a while, old hands, and they’re seeing it through together, and that gives them strength.

As mentioned, there are jump scares throughout, but I find the more unnerving moments are when the children say they see something, describe it, tell you where it is, and you don’t see it. Or at least not right away. Those are the bits I like.

The entire leading cast have always been solid performers, Taylor is always exceptional, and Farmiga is a delight to watch on the screen, and pairing her with Wilson who plays it straight throughout – giving his character a sense of a pillar of strength – they’re a great onscreen couple. And they will keep me coming back to the Conjuring Universe over and over.

So it’s cool to start the year with a film that I initially disliked but have grown to enjoy over the years. I wonder what that will portend for the rest of 2021?

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