Quick-Thoughts: James Wan’s The Conjuring (2013)

2nd Viewing

Will need to conjure up the need to sleep tonight.

Gotta hand it to a horror director who isn’t afraid to shift visual perspective from time to time, whether that be in his standard frame collaging, smooth tracking shots, intimately close handheld camerawork (centered or panned), timid point-of-views, old-fashioned slow zoom-ins, or classic spin tricks. I’ve always really admired the first half of the film more than anything, given that the scares aren’t immediate, but rather teased, and that only makes the film more engaging as it goes along and progressively closes in on those blow-out frights. Could one argue, however, that at the end of the day what Wan has done here is simply reintroduce one cliché horror trope after the other ranging from troll-y doors to suicidal birds, but done with a more careful precision we don’t see too frequently? Absolutely, but maybe that’s just the goal of The Conjuring: to reattempt the classic Haunted House story with almost all its trademarks combined, yet redone to a decent effect as opposed to the genre’s majority. 

Nonetheless, this has been a pet peeve of mine when it comes to The Conjuring for quite some time, but I wish Wan would’ve showed the spirits/demons from afar more often, because when they’re only barely in plain view they look so anomalously upsetting, but up-close, the makeup is kind of hilariously obvious that it takes me completely out? The emotional aspect of this film is usually quite deadbeat for me, as well; the emphasis on motherhood and fear of loss could’ve been expanded on beyond Wan’s one-note, checkmark lifetime-drama lines. The plot writing gets a bit janky towards the climax too, depending on an excessive amount of timely abruptness and some arc circumstances that were only lightly touched on previously in the film.

Anyways though, The Conjuring still holds up to how I initially thought of it either way. Thank you too James Wan for using mostly jump scares that aren’t followed by an unnatural score sound, well, at least in the first half of your movie. Ya got me nearly every time with them. 

Verdict: B-

“The Conjuring” is now available to stream on HBO Max and Netflix.

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