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From director James Wan (Insidious, Saw) comes another terrifying and eerie horror film - this time based on a true story about the Warrens (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga), a couple who investigates the paranormal. The couple is highly experienced and is known for their work in Amityville and Connecticut (see Amityville Horror and A Haunting in Connecticut). This time they visit the Parrons in Rhode Island, and this is the most disturbing home they've encountered, one the Warrens themselves weren't prepared for. And boy does it get under your skin.
What Wan does best in The Conjuring is his use of slow burn to keep the tension at a constant high. He doesn't use cheap scare tactics to get the audience out of their seats. He creates a sense of dread with a constant tension that doesn't leave you throughout the entire film. There are a few jump scares and some unnecessary imagery than will take you out of the moment, but they're very few and far between.
The camera work is simply amazing. It's a character all unto itself, it follows the characters closely and lingers at the mysterious nothing that is haunting this house. Certain scenes in the basement are chillingly terrifying as the camera turns upside down and we're left to hang there as the horror happens. Wan knows how to use the camera to his advantage and not just because he has to. Wan uses his usual cinematographer John Leonetti. These two are the perfect match to make a truly cinematic horror film with a great central performance from Patrick Wilson.
Chad and Carey Hayes helm the screenplay with absolute ease, creating real characters in a real situation. Nothing about it seems falsely portrayed, and it's some of the best horror writing I've seen since The Exorcist - not only does The Conjuring get under your skin, but it stays there and lingers for the next few days. The last 20 minutes of it are unrelenting and disturbing. Don't expect to sleep after seeing this, it's a terrifying experience that doesn't let go. Despite a few missteps in direction, it hits its mark every time and makes for this year's only true adult horror film. I give The Conjuring 4 stars out of 5.
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