The Conjuring Blu-ray Review
Roger and Carolyn Perron and their five daughters, Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April, need a change of scenery. They’re a seemingly normal family who enjoys each other’s company, and they have high hopes for their new abode. That’s not much of a story. What is is that the two-story house the Perron clan just unpacked their boxes in is possessed to the point where the family dog refuses to enter.
That’s where demonologists (or kooks, should you be skeptic) Ed (Patrick Wilson, INSIDIOUS and INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga, UP IN THE AIR) come in. If those names sound familiar, it’s because they’re ones who, in 1975, investigated the happenings that would come to be known as the Amityville Horror.
THE CONJURING is set four years prior to that in Harrisville, Rhode Island. (There’s a clever nod to the Warrens’ next project at the end of the movie.) After their dog is found dead and the family (the daughters are played by Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, and Kyla Deaver, who are all fine in their roles) starts to get spooked by unwelcome visitors, Roger (Ron Livingston, HBO’s GAME CHANGE) and Carolyn (Lili Taylor, BEING FLYNN) put out a call to the Warrens. Soon enough, Ed and Lorraine are in Rhode Island, doing it is what those in their profession do and discovering that the real estate agent inadvertently left out a key piece of information regarding a previous owner.
THE CONJURING is “based on the true case story” that onscreen text calls “malevolent.” Whether you find THE CONJURING to be scary and effective or not depends a lot on your (non-)belief in such activities. Early on in the movie, a teenage girl says, “When you hear [my story], you’re gonna think we’re insane.” She might be a throwaway character, but her words fit with the Perrons’ story. And so, if we think they’re insane, can we be genuinely scared?
Director James Wan (better known as the driving force behind the SAW franchise) seems unsure himself and so saves the majority of the scares for cheap boo! moments (he even doubles up on one of the daughters scaring Carolyn in a matter of 90 seconds). Sure, there are a handful of creepy moments and it’s nice to see Wan taking himself more seriously by venturing slightly in the horror genre and not relying on non-stop blood and gore, but there isn’t anything new here.
THE CONJURING features a lot of images we might see on GHOST HUNTERS or any other such show—there is a lot of heavy breathing and slamming doors and visions you have to squint to “see,” but none of it amounts to much. What the whole show really is is a jumble of tactics used in other similarly themed productions, which may not have even worked then. Such tricks—and some of the plot reveals—will do more to roll your eyes than they will to force you to the edge of your seat.
THE CONJURING BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer of THE CONJURING remains faithful to the movie’s 1970s look, capturing fine colors and tones in the sets and costumes. The most effective aspect, though, is the deep blacks in the nighttime scenes (of which there are many), which add to the intended atmosphere.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish. A lot of THE CONJURING’s scares stem from sound, and so fans will be pleased that this audio transfer is stellar, making every creek and bang come through surround sound speakers with complete force.
THE CONJURING: Face-to-Face with Terror (6:39): The Perron family (accompanied by clips of the movie) sits down to reflect on their actual experiences.
A Life in Demonology (15:39): This featurette explores the life and work of Ed and Lorraine Warren, with comments from Lorraine, director James Wan and more.
Scaring the ‘@$*%” Out of You (8:04): Producer Peter Safran, Wan and more discuss how some of the movie’s bigger frights were achieved.