Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Video review: "The Conjuring"

It’s been a down year for animation but a hot time for horror, with “The Conjuring” one of the latest movie to scare up a lot of cash at the box office.

This summer hit stars Vera Farmiga as a demonologist who’s a clairvoyant to boot. Lorraine Warren and her husband Ed (Patrick Wilson) were normal, everyday people who investigate hauntings and participate in exorcisms as a vocation. In 1971 they encountered one of their worst cases ever, which formed the basis for this rollicking “true life” tale.

A couple moves into a lonely farmhouse with their five daughters and things start going bump in the night. All the clocks stop at the same time in the middle of the night, and a secret lair in the basement produces strange sounds and drafts. Eventually evil forces start threatening the children, so the Warrens have to team up to cast them out.

(Strangely, the film received an “R” rating from the MPAA, despite having no cursing and little gore.)
The strong part of the film is its focus on the exorcism duo as protagonists equal to the haunted couple. By depicting the Warrens as grounded folks who just happen to have made their careers in the occult, it makes the proceedings feel more plausible.

Directed by James Wan (“Saw”), “The Conjuring” starts out rather slowly, but when things get into full brimstone-and-holy-water mode, it’s a heckuva thrill ride.

Extras are just so-so. The DVD comes with a single featurette, “Scaring the ‘@$*%’ Out of You.’ Upgrade to the Blu-ray combo, and you add two more features: “The Conjuring: Face-to Face with Terror,” a making-of documentary, and “A Life in Demonology,” a look at the real-life Warrens.



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