Synopsis: one of those “based on a true story” stories where a 1970s couple and their excessively large brood move into a house they bought at a too-good-to-be-true price, only to find it’s [pause for dramatic effect] haunted! Cue a pair of ghost hunting Christians, the Warrens, who come to their aid.
What can I say? This story has been told so many times before that this could only really work by bringing something new – instead it’s virtually a re-hash of 1979’s The Amityville Horror which tells a very similar story. In fact, even the remake is better than this.
The Annabelle business is especially creepy, and provides the basis for my favourite part of the film but sadly this is only the scene setter which introduces the Warrens.
The Conjuring is pure paint by numbers horror. And I’m using the word “horror” loosely here, as is evidenced by my use of bunny ears. Anyone who’s ever seen a haunted house film will see the scares coming a mile off even if they haven’t seen the trailer (which shows them anyway – sorry if I’ve given anything away by including it here).
The casting of Lily Taylor as the mum only served to get me thinking about another, much worse haunted house film she starred in with Catherine Zeta Jones – the car crash that was The Haunting (1999) – itself a terribly disappointing remake of a truly excellent film of the same name from the 1960s.
Final thoughts: although I’ve slagged it off, it isn’t all that bad. I’ve seen much worse horror films and although I’m a massive fan of the genre, I freely admit that the majority of what’s produced is pretty bad. So in short, this isn’t great, but it’s not the worst.
If you’re interested in the whole “based on a true story” business have a look at historyvshollywood.com. I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the content but it’s an interesting read.
Running time: 1 hr 52 mins
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor