March 4, 2014

‘‘Show me the cellar’’

The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013). Horror Retromania. The hauntings in this fact-based (aren’t they all?) early 70s-set horror can feel like a warm-up for the Amityville story that came later in the same decade, with bits of The Exorcist and The Birds thrown in. Creaky old houses, the creepiness of toys and mirrors, sleeping children, mysterious noises, stopped clocks, secret basements, heroic priests, paranormal-research technology: director James Wan (Saw) and cinematographer John Leonetti – great subjective camera set-ups – deliver old-fashioned shocks with intense regularity. But the best feature might be Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga (above) as demonology duo Ed and Lorraine Warren who appear like a Masters and Johnson of the paranormal. You could call it Masters of Ghostbusting and it makes sense that a franchise will follow. Incidentally, this must be the only horror film in which “Caroline, no!” appears as a line of dialogue.