Is The Conjuring scary? Hmm so-so. Is it any good? Ultimately, yes. You can tell by the picture above, and the look on Vera Farmiga’s face, that it features some very traditional scares, in this case a creepy little music box that probably has an equally creepy little clown inside, just waiting to pop out and enter your nightmares whilst a determinedly repetitive melody plays (it is in the affirmative for all of the above things, but you can see ghosts in its mirror as well ooooo). The problem with the first half of the movie is that it relies far too much on these very predictable tricks of the trade, wood will creak, doors will slam, matches will mysteriously blow out and then reveal something on the third striking etc. etc. It falls a little below humdrum, as we get to know the Perron family who are moving into their new home, which stands alone far away from civilisation and has a weird boarded up cellar. Obviously, they are not familiar with horror movies.
What makes this a little more interesting than your standard horror flick is that it’s loosely based on a true story, and we eventually get properly introduced to Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively), paranormal investigators for whom the Perron case was to be one of their most famous. Interestingly, several previous films have been based on the investigations of the infamous academics (one can’t help but wonder if they influenced the creation of Scully and Mulder for ‘The X-Files’, although neither of the Warrens were sceptics) including ‘The Haunting in Connecticut’ (09) and ‘The Amityville Horror’ (79 & 05), and here, when they finally enter the family’s home, it is the look on Lorraine’s face telling us she’s seen something that she doesn’t want to admit to the family, that starts to draw the audience in.
Both principal leads have previous experience in the genre, and both in fantastic showcases of it – ‘Orphan’ (09) for Farmiga, and ‘Insidious’ (10) (which was genuinely quite scary) for Wilson, indeed The Conjuring’s director, James Wan, helmed ‘Insidious’ as well as the original ‘Saw’ (04). Lili Taylor, who plays the mother of the family, is also arguably best known for her role in ‘The Haunting’ in 1999. All this experience and a reasonable story combine for, not an amazing horror film, but certainly a pretty decent one.