‘The Conjuring’ — A scary movie that’s actually scary

THE CONJURING

‘The Conjuring’

Director. James Wan

Stars. Patrick Wilson,
Vera Farmiga

Rating. R

Sometimes it all comes down to craftsmanship. There’s probably nothing you haven’t seen before in director James Wan’s “The Conjuring,” but rarely have you seen it done so well. A defiantly old school haunted house picture in which things go bump in the night, the movie elicits massive scares not from CGI or gore, but from careful camera placement and stunning sound design.

Based on a so-called true story, “The Conjuring” follows the down-on-their-luck Perron family as they relocate to a fixer-upper farmhouse in the Rhode Island woods. For some reason the previous owners boarded up the basement and the dog won’t set foot in the place, but Mom and Dad (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) are too busy tending to their five high-maintenance daughters to notice to those weird, drifting, rotten meat smells, or the fact that all the clocks stop every night at 3:07 a.m.

Wan and screenwriters Chad and Carey Hays take their time with the setup, wisely establishing the Perrons in a believable, workaday reality as the creeps gradually escalate. Set in 1971, the movie often feels like it was filmed then as well, the period details punctuated by wonderfully retro zoom lens work.

Things go from bad to worse, and the Perrons call in paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, the controversial real-life proto-Ghostbusters who established the New England Society for Psychic Research. He’s a Catholic demonologist, she’s a clairvoyant, and they’re played with such matter-of-fact gravitas by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga that the supernatural mumbo-jumbo seems plausible. Far better acted than most horror movies, “The Conjuring” allows for quiet character moments, giving us rare emotional investment.

Though Wan made a name for himself with “Saw,” with each successive outing his pictures have grown more restrained. “The Conjuring” has scores of indelible images but little blood. The frights are in creaking floorboards, abruptly slamming doors and the distant sound of clapping. The literally hair-raising climax relies on our understanding of the geography of the home, which has been laid out so clearly via Wan’s clean compositions that the sequence is a model of spatial relations. This is expert, classical filmmaking.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Dr. Marisa Weiss: Where we stand on breast…

As an oncologist and a survivor herself, Dr. Marisa Weiss knows the urgency felt by those diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing has accelerated the…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.