The Conjuring is, in many ways, reminiscent of old Hindi films, in which hope and miracles played a large part in “saving your soul”. It calls for keeping faith, believing in the power of God and religion, which will ultimately rescue a troubled family from demons.
The film is based on true life incidents, or rather the experiences of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a demonologist and clairvoyant couple who worked on paranormal cases in the United States from the 1950s to 80s. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play the Warrens who are called upon to save the Perron family. This was apparently the Warrens’ toughest case.
The Perrons have moved into a country home in Rhode Island, US, in 1971. They have five daughters of various ages and the despite some reservations of moving into a dilapidated, old structure in the middle of nowhere, they want to make the best of the situation. However, trouble starts soon enough when the girls are targeted by unseen forces and a set of inexplicable occurrences force the mother Carolyn (Lili Taylor) to seek out the Warrens.
Things keep turning nasty in the fight between the humans and the spirits, with the Warrens’ deep faith the only thing standing between them and horrible consequences.
Director James Wan builds a taut story, helped by some effective sound design—so important to create the frights—and neat production design. But where he fails is in adding anything new to the genre of horrors. The set-ups, the scares, and the consequences are oftentimes predictable. If you have seen enough films of the kind, you would know what to expect.
The women in the film are clearly the standout performers, with Farmiga and Taylor bringing in their assured experience into the narrative. The five young girls put in spirited performances, with Joey King as Christine excelling in particular.
If you are a fan of the genre, you may not find anything new here. For others, there are a few sequences that would make you jump. Oh, and don’t be overawed by the disclaimer at the beginning of the film!