** and 1/2 out of ****
There are a few creepy moments and a good jump scare or two in the demonic possession-themed horror film The Conjuring, but not as many scares as one would hope. This is one of those tales of terror that is "based on actual events," but we know it's a bunch of phooey. The movie is purportedly based on a case from the files of real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). I have trouble with the validity of the Warrens, because they claimed that the widely debunked Amityville "horror" was the real deal. But hey, this is only a movie, and it is fairly entertaining.
The story takes place in 1971, as Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) and their fi ve daughters move into an old Rhode Island farmhouse erected in the 18 th century. It's no surprise that it turns out to be haunted. After some increasingly hostile supernatural activity, the Perrons turn to the Warrens.
is directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious), and for once he is working from a script that doesn't crash in a heap of nonsense by the fi nal act. However, the problem here is that the screenplay, by Chad and Carey Hayes, is by-the-numbers. Family moves in, loud sounds wake them up at night, apparitions appear, then they call the ghostbusters. But still, it is well done, and the acting is fi rst-rate.
I expected more frightening scenes, though. It is actually unintentionally funny when one of the daughters is fl ung around the room by her hair. When people go fl ying, the fi lm is a laugh factory. Luckily, it doesn't happen too often. The best scene, however, is when one of the girls sees an apparition standing behind an open door. We, the audience, aren't actually shown what is there, and that is what makes the scene so effective. Your imagination runs wild. And you have to admire a fi lm that eschews a digital effects extravaganza for more practical effects.
So, The Conjuring is good for a few shudders...