Classy old-school horror, James Wan’s “The Conjuring’’ depends more on its excellent cast and atmospheric direction than cheap gimmicks to raise hairs on the back of your neck. Which it does, quite frequently. One of the scarier haunted house/demon possession movies in recent years, it brings to mind ’70s supernatural horror films such as The Exorcist with its stillness, steady build of suspense and handsome cinematography.
Director James Wan successfully imbues the film with a sense of foreboding. Along the way the sound effects, unsettling music and eerie mood keep viewers on edge. The net result is an entertainingly frightening film that keeps the audience in a state of alarmed, but eager, anticipation. The man in the row next to me had his hands over his eyes for most of the film!
It’s the first in what I’d guess will be a series of films about Lorraine and Ed Warren, real-life paranormal experts most famous for investigating “The Amityville Horror’’ house on Long Island — though they were depicted neither in the 1978 film nor its woeful 2005 remake.
It helps that director Wan applies just the right ambiance to make The Conjuring old school without being old-fashioned, and that he has us rooting for this likeable family from the first goosebump moment to the last.
Even if there’s nothing remotely original here, it’s great to see a film that takes the time to crank up the terror properly. It may be too cliched to be genuinely terrifying, but it’s a rare film that has the ability to really chill us to the bone.
Though I still don’t understand the title of the film, The Conjuring will have you shuddering with every creepy moment.