Last weekend, when I went to see The Conjuring, I expected to be scared, and I also thought that I was walking into a haunted-house movie. It certainly starts off as a haunted-house movie, with director James Wan throwing in every goose-the-audience gothic scare tactic (alarming blasts of music, sinister Victorian clown faces, ghostly figures popping up in mirrors) but the rattling of the kitchen sink. The film is, of course, “based on a true story,” in much the same way that virtually every rattletrap ghost thriller since The Amityville Horror (1979) has been “based on a true story.” (It really happened, folks! Step right up!) In this case, though, the presence of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a pair of legendary true-life paranormal investigators played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, really does lend the proceedings a creepy, homespun verisimilitude. Not because, as the film tells us, she’s a “clairvoyant” and he’s a “demonologist” (which is borderline hilarious, as if they were worked in different science departments of the same university). No, it’s because The Conjuring, after a while, turns into an exorcist movie, at which point you realize that that’s what it was all along. When the Warrens are setting up their primitive camera equipment to record ghosts on film, they seem to be fairly standard movie characters (though they do exude the soft interpersonal touch of Christian marriage counselors). But when Patrick Wilson starts spouting Latin and shouting into the bloody face of a woman possessed, you understand why The Conjuring has scared up the enthusiastic audience it has. As a culture, we’re right in the middle of an exorcist moment. And we have been ever since the very, very scary day of Sept. 9, 2005. READ FULL STORY
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