Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) brings forth another frightening film that fans of haunted house movies are sure to love. The Conjuring is one of several movies that are based on the fieldwork of real life demonologist Ed Warren and his clairvoyant wife Lorrain. The list includes Amityville Horror, The Haunting of Connecticut, and Annabelle, which is a prequel to this film.
In this film, the Warrens come to the aid of the Perron family. Roger and Carolyn Perron and their five daughters move to a house that is occupied with “unfriendly spirits,” to put it mildly. The Warrens warn the Perrons that there are some extremely dangerous spirits haunting their house. Such spirits have never had the privilege of walking the earth as a human. Therefore, they desire to possess the living. All this is code for: Demons.
As far as my tastes go, I would have preferred if there were no further explanations given about the nature of these demons. But this film goes on to portray them as Satan’s minions. They are enemies of The Church and tend to get a little testy around crucifixes and holy water. For me, the demon is a more curious entity when it is only described as a spirit that has never lived. The demon in Paranormal Activity was only vaguely defined (at least in the first film of the series). Therefore, there was an air of mystery surrounding this evil presence that was absent in the demons of The Conjuring. To date, my favorite description of the demon comes from Anne Rice’s novel Queen of the Damned. They were spirits that always existed in their present form, and they witnessed the process of evolution, not knowing what to make of it. They confused the pre Darwinian era witches when they told them that they remembered when humans were animals.
But I understand, this not how this particular story goes. The “demons” the Warrens profess to fight are the evil spirits as defined by the Church.
Please, don’t get me wrong. This is a delightfully creepy film. Part Exorcist, part Amityville Horror, and while inferior to both of these films, it is still able to “conjure” up all kinds of eerie phenomena. Witness the consequences of playing the “Hide and Clap” game inside a haunted house! In this game, the seeker is blindfolded and hiders provide clues to their whereabouts by clapping. But seeker beware! There just might be other “players” that have infiltrated the game! Observe as young Cindy Perron, night after night, is drawn to her wardrobe in a sleepwalking trance where she sluggishly thumps her head against the closed doors. What is hiding behind those doors? And finally, why is there a hidden cellar? The entranceway is boarded up but the downward staircase is soon discovered. What lurks below?
The events in this film are supposedly true. Yeah, I don’t believe that. Likewise, I’m not a believer in demons, Satan- spawned or otherwise. And yet “fatherless demons” (no Satan-daddy!) without a hell to be banished to seem more real to me and therefore more scary. Nevertheless, this is a scary film. For those hungry for horror it is deliciously chilling and quite yummy!