Horror Month 2015, Day 19: The Conjuring

Robot's Pajamas Horror Month 2015


The idea that 90% of this movie happened exactly as it is portrayed is absurd but, damn it, The Conjuring is one of the most effectively terrifying movies of the past decade. Released in 2013 as a follow-up to James Wan’s Insidious, The Conjuring follows the story of a family moving into a new house that is definitely haunted up something fierce. Aside from the general scares, what makes this movie compelling is the characters, both in the forms of the financially struggling parents with a handful of daughters and the Warrens, paranormal investigators who have a hidden room of ghost shit that will pop off if anyone touches anything inside. BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Let’s start by getting the obvious out of the way, the Warrens were swindlers and con-artists. In the movie, the Warrens are portrayed as ghost hunters who have seen some shit. The wife of the equation was possessed by Satan in an exorcism gone wrong and can see ghosts, foresee future events, and tap into the power of the Infinity Gauntlet’s Soul Stone in order to spiritually travel to other dimensions. Well ok, two of those things at least. In the real world however, the Warrens stated that they had essentially encountered over 10,000 hauntings. Meanwhile, neither you nor I has ever seen one ghost and if you say you have, well maybe you can have your own Conjuring. The spook stalkers’ most famous case was the, also made into a horror movie, Amityville Horror. To be fair even a broken clock can strike twice and you could make the argument that Amityville COULD have happened but I ask you to watch the Amityville remake with Ryan Reynolds as punishment for saying such a thing.

the conjuring hanging

Getting back to the movie, I need to tell you that if you want horror movies that will scare the crap out of you, look no further than the works of James Wan, director of the film. If I had to put a modern day director against the works of horror legends such as John Carpenter and Wes Craven, it would be Wan. Of course, having seen his works in the atmospheric horror films such as the Conjuring, Insidious, and the Innkeepers, Hollywood thought it best if Wan uses his unfathomable talent on…the Fast and the Furious 13 and Vincent Chase’s Aquaman. SIGH. I’m not saying either of these movies won’t be good, but I think you could dig up anyone to shoot a movie about cars going fast with Vin Diesel grimacing and call it a day. Wan makes horror movies and taking him away from that is a slight against God…or Satan, I’m not sure.

Now is the time in the article where I sell you on the movie based entirely on describing out of context scenes to you. I’ll start it off with easily what may be, to me, one of the simplest, horrifying scenes I have ever seen in a horror movie. It’s so easy but effective that I’m shocked it took so long for someone to really create a scene like it. At one point, two of the daughters are in their room and the younger of the two wakes up and just has this look of absolute fear drawn across her face. She stammers, and while completely, but silently, losing her shit proceeds to wake up her sister in the bed next to her. Once both are awake, the terrified girl tells her sister that there is someone standing in the exceptionally small patch of darkness behind the door in their room. She describes the figure, losing her composure more and more, as the scene transitions from the girl’s face to the dark shadow behind the door. It’s SO simple and so competent in terms of filmmaking that it should have won an Oscar. Why the hell aren’t there Oscars for best horror movie by the way?

the conjuring basement

The Conjuring is filled with tiny effective scares and spooks that populate each reel. From a corpse swinging from a dying tree to a drying sheet sifting across the wind to be stopped by an invisible figure, The Conjuring works because of its simplicity. The characters are simple, the scares are simple (but effective), and it’s an easy plot to jump into.

It’s as much of a true story as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is, but you can just ignore that part of things. If you’re in the mood for an atmospheric, scary tale, give this one a shot. Avoid Annabelle like the plague though. They can’t all be winners.

Evan Valentine is a stand-up comedian based in Atlanta, Georgia. He regularly covers genre shows and movies for Collider. Last year he reviewed Freddy vs. Jason.

  • Pete Pfau

    But what if you…liked the Amityville remake…

  • Evan Valentine

    How dare you.