To call The Conjuring a horror movie is to call every movie in a dark room a horror movie.  It does have all the ingredients: dark rooms (as mentioned), ominous clouds, birds flying into windows, and of course a demon.  This is all well the-conjuring-trailer-poster-movieand good, and together creates the proper atmosphere.  Additionally, the camera work has some very good moments, such as when the camera zooms in while panning (simple, yet surprisingly unsettling).  However, the movie never really leaves the safe zone.  However, do not think this is a bad movie, as it really is not a bad movie, and is actually rather entertaining, it’s just not a good horror movie (if this doesn’t make sense please keep reading).

I guess by now it is an industry standard to have every horror movie include an evil/possessed girl that appears out of nowhere with black teeth and black blood dripping out of her mouth and generally being a bit disgusting (just think the makeup effects used in the remake of Evil Dead).  So then does The Conjuring, and when I say industry standard I mean it since she literally does nothing to progress or add to the plot.  Fine, I’ll look past it, because the rest of the demons and ghosts do serve a purpose, and for the most part they’re implemented well. 

As far as the story goes it’s actually not bad and is well told.  Characters are likable, which goes a long way towards the movie trying to make the audience feel for them and their unfortunate situation.  The movie even avoids a potential love interest getting in the way of things, which I am grateful for.  There are two sets of characters: the Warrens and the Perrons.  First the Warrens, who mainly consist of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga, who gives a very good performance, redeeming herself after Bates Motel), a married couple that happen to be ghost hunters.  Their back-story is limited, but I believe that was done intentionally, which works out well in the case of Lorraine’s story, making it more unsettling than it would otherwise be.  Then there are the Perrons, who after moving into an old home soon discover the old home is haunted by an assortment of spirits and demons.  I was relieved to see Roger Perron (Ron Livingston) as a well written character, as horror movies don’t seem to often have believable characters or would opt to have his character simply ignore all that is going on until something big happens to him.  He trusted the judgement of his family and while skeptical at first, he was never rude to the Warrens.  Now, not as much can be said for Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) whose character won’t be difficult to figure out if you have watched any of the Paranormal Activity movies.  Then there are all the Perron kids, who never get in the way, help progress the plot, and are well acted, but by having so many kids some of them ended up on the sidelines not doing much.

To say it was a bad movie would be a lie, but it’s not a good horror movie.  There were very few actual scares.  It seems like the movie wanted to be more of a drama but ended up having to jump through some obligatory horror ropes to get there.  At times there was reason to believe the movie was going to touch on the human reactions and emotions of such an event, but then it quickly jumped back to walking in a dark room or basement.  Another factor holding it back is the length.  Coming in at just under two hours there’s not enough time to fully develop the characters and run through the horror scenes.  I would have loved to have seen some more talking scenes with the Warrens, as they had some pretty interesting moments before getting to the Perron’s home. 

I would recommend seeing this movie, as it is a good time, but it fails to realize its full potential, and that’s disappointing, because we could have had a horror movie that dealt more with characters than a jump scare or loud noise.

Side note, the style of the early 70s-late-60s is awesome and should come back.