Wilson and Wan unite
THE CONJURING (James Wan) Rating: NN
Two years after his haunted house thriller Insidious, James Wan returns to bumps and jumps with The Conjuring. This one’s set in 1971, when married demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren try to save a Rhode Island family from the demonic infestation that came with their nice new home.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are nicely understated as the Warrens (who’d famously check out that house in Amityville a few years later), and Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor are perfectly cast as unlucky homeowners struggling with a problem that can’t be solved through budgeting and compromise.
For a while, Wan has fun mimicking the textures and aesthetics of movies of the period – natural lighting, constant camera zooms, a fondness for wide shots – but he’s basically just remaking Insidious with a few structural tweaks and a polyester wardrobe. And just like Insidious, The Conjuring gets progressively less scary as it goes along, unless you find ventriloquist’s dolls and harshly lit old people as disturbing as Wan does.
I am also required by law to note there is no actual conjuring at any point in the story.