Movies: The Conjuring

I love a good haunted house movie. So long as it isn't gory, I'm all in. Admittedly, though, they're all kind of alike. A couple, or more often a family, moves into a house (it's usually old, was remarkably cheap) . . . Strange things happen. Sounds, things moving, glimpses of stuff in mirrors and out of the corners of one's eyes. The wife and/or child(ren) begin to be tormented, or maybe become obsessed with some pervasive notion . . . Someone may be possessed before it's all over . . .

In this sense, The Conjuring is pretty typical of the genre. Not even all that many jump moments. And yet, what I can appreciate about this film over others like it is the treatment of the subject matter. And I think that's because of the Warrens.

Ed and Lorraine Warren were paranormal investigators known for helping people suffering from problems with ghosts, demons, spirits. Ed passed away some years ago, and I don't think Lorraine does much work any more (she's 86 now). But as someone who has dealt with her share of the otherworldly, I liked the way the Warrens explained things in The Conjuring. It was very similar to the ways I explain it when people ask me about it. That more than anything, for me, gave this film a ring of truth that most other such movies don't have—even if they say they're based on real events.

The Conjuring is based on a true story of one of the Warrens' cases. I haven't done any particular research to discern how much of the film is true to the story, though I'm guessing a lot of the stuff toward the end might have been built up to make for a grander climax.

Either way, these kinds of movies have been hits at the box office, counterpoints to the epic FX films. (Pretty soon we'll have a two-party system at the cinema: tentpoles on the one side, horror flix on the other.) The Conjuring made twice its production budget in its opening weekend and a sequel is already in the works. Will it tackle that case in Long Island? Or, that having been done a few times now, will they choose another of the Warrens' undertakings? So long as Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are back (and they are signed), I'll probably watch it, whatever "it" is.

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