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The Conjuring (Blu-Ray)
Format: Blu-ray|Change
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on September 26, 2014
Well, here we are, digging into a haunted house story with roots tied to Amittyville. Those roots are Ed and Lorraine Warren. Parapsychologists? Ghost hunters? Demonoligists? Kooks? Pick your label. I'm going to stay away from doing so because I think they're all of those and more. Leading lives as people who seek out strange phenomena and try to deal with the darker sides of reality, you might think that they are insane, and you would probably be right. Some of the cases that they have reported on and been involved with would make even the heartiest of skeptics think twice. So here we have The Conjuring. Before Amittyville, which is probably the Warrens' most famous case, we had a big, scary farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island. The year is 1971. And the Perron family has just moved in.

The film actually starts with the story of Anabelle, a hugely scary-looking possessed doll (movie coming soon) that runs amok on a couple of college girls, ransacking their apartment and writing notes and being super-creepy. In steps the Warrens and they put an end to Anabelle's reign of terror, taking the doll with them and stashing it in their personal depository of cursed things in a locked room in their own home. Here is where you need to drop the whole "Based On A True Story" nonsense right off the bat. If Hollywood has gotten its hooks in it, it's not very TRUE at all. Sure, there are certain aspects of the film that are based on actual accounts, but in this case, take for instance Anabelle. In the movie the doll is three feet tall and literally scary as f*ck. I mean, when you see it, your first reaction is "Who in the hell would own that doll, let alone sleep with it in their room?" It is one step away from the creepy clown doll in Poltergeist. Same deal. Anabelle (the real Anabelle, and yes, she's real) is actually a Raggedy Ann doll. And she has done some seriously creepy things (if you care to research). She is locked up in a cabinet at the New England Society For Psychic Research. But she bears no resemblance to the doll in the movie nor do they tell you what she did after leaving the college girls' home. So, like I said, keep that "Based On A True Story" stuff out of the equation and realize that this is just a really scary movie. Enter the Perron family. Mom (Lili Taylor). Dad (Ron Livingston). Five daughters. The move into the dilapidated farmhouse and everything is going great except the family dog absolutely refuses to enter the house and one of their daughters finds a boarded up entrance to a cellar filled with all kinds of stuff from a rotting piano to various other furnishings. The next day they their dog, Sadie, is discovered dead in the yard by their youngest daughter April, who also finds a mysterious and creepy antique music box. Let the serious haunting begin. At first its subtle. A slammed door. Weird sensations. Two of their daughters are accosted by some dark figure in the bedroom. The ghosties go full out when husband Roger is away in Florida. Enter Ed and Lorraine Warren. Their house isn't haunted. It's infested with a demonic force that is surrounding the family. Leaving is not an option. The force will just follow them. Researching the property, Ed and Lorraine discover that it has a case of the nasties spanning all the way back to the spooky days when the original 200 acre property was owned by an accused witch, Bathsheba, who tried to sacrifice her week-old child to the devil and killed herself in 1863, cursing anyone who would try and take possession of her land. Since that time the land had been parceled and split and the Warrens discover a plethora of bad things, murders and suicides, have take place in the surrounding properties over the years. Uh. Oh.

The Conjuring is scary. Super scary. From the director of Saw and Insidious, James Wan. Not the pedigree I would have preferred. I can't stand ultra-gore tripe like Saw and Insidious was just decent. Wan outdoes himself here. Forget both of those aforementioned franchises. The Conjuring just might be his masterpiece. There is no real gore here. There is no nudity or sex of any kind. No curse words (of the vulgar variety, to be sure). No ultra-violence. None of the above. This movie is rated R because it is absolutely terrifying. The true story aspect tends to lend to that credibility (but like I said, how much? how far?). The Warrens are real people. The Perrons are real people. Anabelle is a real doll. Whatever else is purely speculative. All I can say is, if even 20 minutes of this movie is true, those people should have gotten a medal. Seriously. With the hooflaw that surrounded The Amittyville Horror after Hollywood got a hold of it, The Conjuring should just remain a scary movie. End of story. The acting is good. The characters are real. You don't find yourself hating them like you do in most scary movies, for making stupid decisions. The Perrons don't play with Ouija boards or mediums or tarot cards. They don't invite this entity into their house. It's already there. And it's been waiting for anyone to come along and play.

Dig it!
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on April 12, 2017
The key thing to remember when watching the Conjuring films is that the center is always the relationship between the Warrens. They determine what happens and what doesn't. This makes them distinctive in the horror genre. The gore and violence is scarcely here. In its place is well-thought creepiness and possession. The movie makes a point of grounding itself in reality. You soon learn why that ghastly tree is present on the cover and what its connection is to everything else. This is intelligent, story-driven horror. And while the omnipresent Catholic element may be over-the-top, the producers and writers prevent it from becoming the whole story. And, of course, with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as leads, well, there is little to disappoint. This little film proved to be a box office bonanza and made Conjuring:2 happen. Let us all hope that the relationship between the Warrens remains the center on which all other sequels base themselves.
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on July 23, 2017
One of the scariest movies I've ever seen. I'd have to say that this movie scared me more than the Ring and the Exorcist and it certainly didn't make it any less scary when during one of the scary parts of the movie, my salt rock lamp flickered for no reason at all. I keep the lamp next to a photo collection of my deceased father. You can imagine that I had a hard time sleeping afterwards. As for the movie, there were many scary parts, anyone that said it wasn't scary is crazy. The tree scene alone did me in. The acting for Ron Livingston was horrendous considering how much I loved him in Office Space. I guess that was his one-hit wonder because he was so bad in this movie. But I still think it's one movie I won't forget for the fear factor.
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on March 14, 2018
I grew up hooked on horror flicks but have tired of the gratuitous blood, guts and gore. Now, I like a movie that can scare me due to it being actually scary and suspenseful. The Conjuring delivers the suspense and tension and has an actual story that is interesting to follow.

I don't like it when people give a lower rating because of something wrong in packaging when giving a movie review. For that reason, I will leave this at five stars though I am very disappointed it didn't come with the digital code that the description says it did. However, the description does say any digital code would have to be used by the expiration date and for a 2013 movie that date would have no doubt passed so next time I will know better.
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on January 19, 2018
Arguably the best horror movie in recent years I can't describe how satisfied I was when I left the movie theater after watching this. Only thing I've experienced that comes that close or about the same was when I watched The Exorcist and Paranormal Activity 1 so it really feels like a horror masterpiece so it was extremely obvious I was getting this the second it came out in Blu-ray for my horror collection. Amazing movie from start to finish and I think it's safe to say The Conjuring establishes the new standard for true horror in this day and age, leaving gore/slasher horror aside this film brings back and captures perfectly the good old haunted house style of film and executes its tension building and scares like no other modern movie. I demand you true horror fans to GET THIS!!
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on January 1, 2018
Not typically a fan of paranormal type of movies as I just dont find them scary and often times simply hilarious(Ouiji, Paranormal Activity, etc) however, the Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 is a GREAT movie own its own without the horror aspect. James Wan is actually a GOOD DIRECTOR FIRST and then a horror director second. He prioritizes good acting, getting good and creepy cinematography, and actually having a good plot. The choice to go with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga for Ed and Lorraine Wilson was also a great decision. Terrific actors who are believable in their roles. It's going to hard to see them as anything else now.
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on June 5, 2016
I have kinda been shying away from the horror genera for a few years now, some of it is personal, and some of it is the fact that there are just too many recycled stories. All horror films are basically the same, the stories just differ, so I suppose it is just getting harder and harder to come up with new twist and turns in the journeys on the way to the end of the ride. This one, however, was good, even though it was the same basic tale of "family moves to a new place, new place has bad juju, new place is cleansed, and all is well with the world. Same story, but It held my attention a little more than the rest of them. It was well done, and the cast did a great job. I have been a fan of James Wan ever since SAW so I gave it a chance and I was not disappointed.
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on September 4, 2016
One of the better horror movies. Wasn't too corny and knowing that it's a true story makes it much more creepier. It's a fun ride with surprise jump out of your seat, heart attack moments. Love whatever Vera Farmiga is in. Spoiler alert: kind of a corny way to cast the devil out of you though. Didn't ruin the movie, and I could brush it off and not mind it at all. Only reason a 4 and not a 5. Can't wait to see the 2nd Conjuring.
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on January 29, 2014
Before I saw The Conjuring I heard a lot negative complaints that it was merely "cattle prod cinema" which I inferred meant a lot of awful stingers were the only thing that would make the audience jump. This horrible cliché has been overabundant in many so-called "horror" movies for a good while now and I my expectations were low.

Thankfully, there are no stingers. Yes, there are scares and jumps, but the score is completely unobtrusive and there are no cats jumping out of closets or phones suddenly ringing. James Wan knows that atmosphere, cinematography, suggestion, and the unknown can build suspense and horror, and the Conjuring has plenty.

Apparently based on a true story (which I am extremely doubtful of, but not completely disbelieving) a happy family of mom and dad and five young girls move into a large farmhouse bought at a low price from a bank auction. As soon as they cross the threshold things are not quite right and the property reeks of pure, menacing evil. Eventually they call in the help of a local ghost-hunting couple to document the case and research its history.

It was the early 70s, the real Ghostbusters (pun intended) were still in college.

About 80% of The Conjuring works. The dread, the suspense, and the inability to comprehend what is really lurking in the darkness of the house makes for great horror. The girls see...something, but we don't. It's a lot like Robert Wise's The Haunting, which is kind of ironic since Lily Taylor, who plays the mother, was in the 1999 remake of that movie, which was full of all the worst horror clichés and set-ups, as well as excessive CGI. It's like Taylor wanted to set the balance straight by doing a movie that took the opposite, and more intelligent, approach.

John R. Leonetti's photography is very slick, with lots of slow, creeping shots, but I couldn't help but think that a rawer edge, with exploitation lighting, would have helped it look a bit more authentic. There are a bit too many slamming doors scares too, and towards the end it goes off on a completely pointless tangent with the Annabelle doll and does absolutely nothing with it. For the bulk of the running time The Conjuring seems original and groundbreaking, though in the last act it's a jumble of Blair Witch, The Exorcist, and What Lies Beneath.

The positives still far outweigh the negatives, and I still recommend the film to horror fans. If only we had a version of The Amityville Horror that was made this way instead of that horrendous 2005 movie. No doubt there will be numerous sequels.

The Blu-ray looks great in 2.40:1 1080p with brilliant DTS HD-MA sound. The extras could have been more satisfying.
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on October 27, 2014
I'm not normally a fan of horror/thriller movies, but I watched this in preparation to go see Anabelle with a friend. This movie was actually done very well I thought. They have a very good base story line with a few other subplots that all get a decent amount of screen time such that everything fits together very well and none of the story threads feel like they're just left unfinished.

I will admit that this movie made me jump twice, and that is not easy to do. For me that means you have to give me a story that is interesting enough that I quit trying to pay attention to whats going on in favor of following the story and trying to put myself in the character's shoes. And as far as the "lets go down in the dark basement by ourselves with no light where we just heard a strange noise" scenarios go, (which are something that I really dislike in movies), this movie doesn't really have them. In fact, there is one moment early on in the movie that almost seems like a nod to this or poking fun at this where one of the characters starts to go into the dark basement by himself, goes down like two steps, then stops and ask for a box of matches. While not a whole lot better, this at least made me feel like the character was TRYING to think before he acted...
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