Guest reviewer Charles Ward takes a look at one of the summer’s surprise successful movies.
After the huge success of 2010’s Insidious, director James Wan set himself a tough standard to surpass.
Whilst his latest project The Conjuring may not surpass the heights of his previous films it nevertheless stands out as a solid horror film establishing itself firmly within the realm of traditional horror and sets itself apart from this year’s competition in terms of both content and quality.
The premise of this film is nothing new; a family contacts a couple specialising in the paranormal with reports of strange occurrences within their newly purchased home.
Jump scares and disturbing imagery abound. However what Wan conveys expertly throughout the film is the sense of the era in which it was set – 1970s.
Everything from clothes to music helps to bring this across and creates a unique setting and atmosphere with an attention to detail rarely seen.
The methods that contribute towards the film’s scarier scenes also stand out. The imagery and fear created comes from traditional sources.
There is a reliance with new films on computer graphics to create effects that would be difficult to create otherwise or would be simply too costly.
Wan moves away from this, choosing to instead focus on more classic, archetypal themes with little computer generated effects.
Notable examples include the possessed doll and the haunted house feel complete with slamming and creaking doors. This helps retain that which is commonly being lost amongst the new era of horror – a pervading sense of dread embedded within a credible story.
Wan utilizes this throughout the film from the opening scenes to the very last frames.
The ending does nothing revolutionary and interestingly plays it safe.
However this is to be expected when working within the grounds of a ‘true story’ premise. Overall, what would normally be the films weakest factor - playing it safe and not attempting to revolutionise the horror genre, is actually its biggest strength.
It reinvigorates the traditional horror genre showing off the best it has to offer. If The Conjuring teaches a modern day horror director anything is that there is still a lot of power that remains in the scares of the past.