The Conjuring Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Directed by James Wan
Written by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes
2013, Region A, 112 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on October 22nd, 2013
Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Ron Livingston as Carolyn Perron
Lili Taylor as Roger Perron
My buddy Zig has this knack of completely avoiding media for films that he wants to see. This includes reviews, interviews, and even trailers. I've seen him in the theatre look down and cover his ears when the preview for a movie he intends on watching shows on the big screen. I have to admit, part of me envies that self-control because for the most part I lack that ability. I simply must watch the trailer for a film I'm interested in, even though I know that chances are either the best parts are going to be found within it, or it will completely ruin a plot point. Hell, the trailer for the remake of The Last House on the Left pretty much told the entire story, spoilers and all, in its three-minute running time. That said, after watching the original teaser for The Conjuring – the one that simply showed two scenes from the movie that involved Hide and Clap (a game I never heard of prior to seeing this, and I will be sure to NEVER play) – I made a successful effort to pull a Zig and avoid everything else regarding this movie until I saw it in all of its glory. Was it worth it? I'll say this: the last time a movie had a part that made goose bumps crawl up my arms was Ju-on, and The Conjuring had three such scenes. So, yeah, I'd say it was worth it.
Roger and Carolyn Perron along with their five daughters move into an old farmhouse, and almost immediately things are off, starting with the family dog simply refusing to enter the abode. Things continue to escalate from clocks stopping every night at 3:07 AM, the daughters seeing people who shouldn't be there, to finally Carolyn having one messed up experience while playing a child's game (as seen in the trailer) before the family reaches out to parapsychologists Ed and Lorraine Warren for help.
Once the Warrens' get involved, things really get interesting. It turns out that the Perron's problems are far, far worse than a run-of-the-mill haunted house. They discover quite an evil history about the building and the land around it, and the homeowners – through no fault of their own – simply can't "Get out of the house." Things go from bad to much, much worse for the family, all culminating in one bang up ending.
It should be noted that The Conjuring is based on a true story, and the movie is billed as the Warren's' most frightening case. The Warrens are probably most well known for their investigation of the infamous Amityville house for the Lutz family. If anyone has ever bothered to even briefly look at the facts in that case, they would most likely, like me, call bullshit on the whole thing. So, because of this, even though I took the whole "based on a true story" bit with a grain of salt (as I do with most films that make such a claim at this point), The Conjuring still managed to scare the ever living hell out of me at points.
Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) does a superb job in building suspense from beginning to end. Like most great movies about haunts, The Conjuring is not just about the evil that resides in the house, but the people fighting it. He brilliantly opens the movie not with the Perrons, but with Ed and Lorraine Warren interviewing three young adults who are having a bad time with a possessed doll. Not only does this quickly establish the role the parapsychologists are going to have and their experience with the supernatural, but it also effectively drives home that the film is going to absolutely terrify you. While this first bit is probably no more than five or 10 minutes, I desperately want a full movie on this particular story. From there, Wan never lets up delivering equal amounts tension and terror all the way up until the end of the movie.
The acting in The Conjuring is solid across the board. Lili Taylor, someone whose work I've been a fan of since I Shot Andy Warhol, is wonderful as Carolyn, easily carrying the role of the mother who will simply do anything to protect her children. Ron Livingston (Office Space) does a great job playing Roger as a father who is clearly having an internal battle with everything going on. Patrick Wilson (Insidious) does well with the to-the-point Ed Warren and Vera Farmiga, who is fantastic in The Bates Motel, is great here to playing yin to Ed's yang as his wife Lorraine.
The Conjuring is a haunted house story at its finest. It's a good old-fashioned fearfest with an atmosphere thick with dread and is engrossing from beginning to end. This is one of those wonderful movies that actually lives up to the hype that surrounds it, and if you haven't seen it yet, you should fix that right now.
Video and Audio:
The Conjuring comes to Blu-ray with a beautiful 2:40: 1 1080p presentation. Skin tones are natural and detail never misses a beat either outside in broad daylight or down in the creepy corners of the dark cellar.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack wonderfully elevates the scares happening on screen with a welcomed, ample use of the surrounds. Sounds is crucial in a movie such as this, and it's knocked out of the park here.
- The Conjuring: Face-to-Face with Terror
- A Life in Demonology
- Scaring the "@$*%" Out of You
The Perron family is interviewed in the seven-minute piece The Conjuring: Face-to-Face with Terror. They come across as extremely believable, in particular Carolyn.
At 16 minutes, A Life in Demonology is the longest of the offered featurettes. Centering on the Warrens, it consists of a brief history of their career, as well as touching a little on their personal collection of 'haunted' items.
Rounding it out is the eight-minute featurette Scaring the '@$*%' Out of You. It's more of an electronic press kit than anything else, but I did like Wan addressing some of the tropes found in the film.
Lastly, there is an Ultraviolet digital copy of the film for those who want to take it with them.
The Conjuring Blu-ray delivers everywhere else, but falters here on the special features. The three offered featurettes beg to be longer as just as you are getting into them, they are over.