The Conjuring: The Birth of a Cinematic Universe

I must confess I am late to the James Wan train–at least, in terms of his ties to the horror genre. I admired how he added something so special to the Fast and Furious Franchise while paying tribute to the late Paul Walker. I was so happy and relieved how he delivered a tidal wave of success when he directed Aquaman, thus keeping the fate of the DCEU afloat. However, many know James Wan for his expertise in crafting compelling and scary horror films like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring. The success of these films spawned a cinematic universe featuring movies like Annabelle, Lights Out, The Nun, and more sequels to the former movies mentioned.

I do not despise the horror genre; it’s just not my cup of tea. I‘ve seen a couple here and there, and they were worth watching. I just like to sleep soundly and nightmare-free. I believe the announcement of the long-awaited third installment of the Conjuring trilogy convinced me to give in to watching the 2013 film, although I also attribute my decision to having watched A Quiet Place Part II.

Lili Taylor as Carolyn Perron. Carolyn holds a candle the illuminate the dark attic.

The Conjuring follows the Perron family as they move into their new house with their five daughters and their dog. Their dog senses “a disturbance in the Force,” and the entrance to the basement has been boarded up.

For any fans of Supernatural, you know this isn’t going to end well for this family. Strange things happen like malfunctioning clocks, crazy birds, the mother with bruises, and a deceased dog. After three of the daughters have chilling encounters with the spirit and the mother becomes trapped in the basement temporarily, something is obviously wrong.

The events of this film take place in 1971, so the Winchesters and the Ghostbusters have no chance of saving the day. However, help comes in the form of two demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren. Lorraine is a clairvoyant who plays an integral part in the story as she can sense unseen forces. Countermeasures are placed in the house to track down this spirit. It becomes an unexpected family affair as the Warrens and their associates band together to snuff out the spirit.

Let’s just say the house the Perron family lives in is VERY cursed, consisting of a deal with the devil, recurring death, and unholy sacrifices. What made my skin crawl was someone being possessed by demon vomit. Things escalate to the point they need the Vatican to do an exorcism on the property. Some of the Perron family almost dies, including Carol ( Lili Taylor). Still, evil loses this round thanks to the efforts of the Warrens with the last-minute exorcism and a powerful memory.

Lorraine Warren (played by Vera Farmiga) looks at a music box in the basement.

What makes this film work so well are the characters. There are many, but we grow to care for them and root for their survival—a brilliant screenplay with a great cast. I love the family dynamic. Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston have paired so well together as parents to five wonderful daughters, who were all cast excellently. You might recognize Mackenzie Foy from Interstellar, the Nutcracker, and the Four Realms. Hayley McFarland appeared in the hit tv show that ended too soon: Lie to Me. I. Of course, can’t forget the brilliance known as Joey King. The five daughters each have their own voice in this horror adventure. In all the fright and misery, the film took time to focus on the relationships between the family. I liked such levity amid such peril. Vera Farmiga owns every role she takes on, and Livingston needs to do a TED talk on acting.

The MVP goes to Lili Taylor. In the third act, she pulls off all the stops as a woman on the brink of death and demonstrates with ferocity how much of a devoted mother she is. Taylor is one of the great actors of her generation who is also exceedingly beautiful. James Wan exceeds all expectations in pulling off the genesis of a vast universe with The Conjuring. I was in awe. This film is based loosely, for the most part, on real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. They are truly Mulder, Scully, Sam, and Dean in real life. 

I was blown away by this film, and my heart was racing as the fear and tension onscreen escalated. I can see how this franchise has earned its longevity and following over the years. Bravo.

Something tells me that doll Annabelle has been dealt with…


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