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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Conjuring | Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
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The Conjuring | Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston | Review

Based on the true story.  These words can and do increase the fright factor of a horror film, especially when all but one of the people depicted in The Conjuring are still around to tell the tale first-hand.  The Perron family is intact and confirms that they lived through the unnerving events.

The film did not make use of the original Harrisville, Rhode Island farmhouse (were they scared?) but that doesn’t dull down the effectiveness and the creepy, eerie and downright terrifying occurrences that the family experienced.

In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) move into the house with their five young daughters and immediately encounter strange occurrences.  Doors creak open, clocks stop at 3:07 a.m., and the family dog tragically…you get the idea.

It doesn’t take long for the unexplained events to become life-threatening.  Carolyn approaches famed paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to investigate her house, and the couple swiftly discovers a malevolent, harmful presence lurking on and around the property.  The vicious female entity targets mothers and children.  Lorraine Warren, in addition to being clairvoyant, is also a mother.

From that point, Carolyn and Lorraine experience the bulk of the entity’s wrath, in ways that will make the viewer startle, cringe, and sometimes gasp.  One small comfort is in knowing that in real life, the family made it through the ordeal, but The Conjuring is still a jolting roller coaster ride through a vengeful terror, and a portable menace at that; it does not have to stay on site to wreak havoc, but can follow and torment its victim no matter where they try to hide.

Actresses Lili Taylor and Vera Farmiga carry the film with effective and compelling performances.  Patrick Wilson gives Ed Warren a formidable onscreen presence, and Ron Livingston may finally erase his Sex and the City “Berger” role (the one where he broke up with Carrie by Post-It note) with this portrayal.

Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy and Kyla Deaver bring the five Perron daughters into focus with a naturalness that ensures viewer empathy and investment throughout the 112 minute cinematic assault (and that’s a good thing in a horror film when it’s as effective as this one is).

Director James Wan (Saw) is adept at keeping the suspense at an excruciating level to the point that you can forgive some clumsy dialogue and unintentionally funny reaction shots. Thankfully, these are rare, but the angst is not and Wan keeps the fear palpable at low and high levels.  Roller coaster, remember?

The title has to do with the entity’s former Salem affiliation, which sounds just like a word in this sentence.  Which is it?

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