WATCH THE CONJURING ONLINE FREE - DOWNLOAD CONJURING MOVIE Can a haunted house still be frightening? This surprise American hit of the summer, which out-grossed every blockbuster it was up against, delivers spectacular reassurance that it can.
Among the most efficient horror films of the past two years was Insidious, by Australian director James Wan.
Previously, he made Saw — a better-crafted movie than its many sequels, and much classier than the flood of torture porn it regrettably inspired.
Now he’s turned his back on out-and-out violence, and applied his talents to a ghost story that really happened.
WATCH THE CONJURING ONLINE FREE - DOWNLOAD CONJURING MOVIE Director James Wan delivers guts and gore in Saw. Here, he crafts a much classier ghost story based on real-life events that brings claustrophobia, fear and panic to the screen
The Conjuring records how real-life paranormal investigators and devout Catholics Ed and Lorraine Warren (played for maximum realism, squareness and humourlessness by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) were summoned to investigate a demonic presence in a family house in Harrisville, Rhode Island.
WATCH THE CONJURING ONLINE FREE - DOWNLOAD CONJURING MOVIE This was occupied by laid-back non-believers Carolyn and Roger Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) and their five daughters. It was nearly occupied by their dog, but the mutt refused to go in.
Birds started flying into the house and breaking their necks. All the clocks stopped at 3.07am. Then there were the noises . . .
Horror fans may already recognise the names of the Warrens.
Later in their careers, they investigated horrific happenings in a place called Amityville, events which gave rise to several highly fictionalised motion pictures, sequels and remakes.
Unusually, screenwriters Chad and Carey W. Hayes choose to tell this earlier story from two quite different viewpoints: the Warrens’ and the Perrons’.
This slightly diminishes the intensity of haunted house movies — claustrophobia, fear and finally panic — but hugely adds to the sense of documentary realism and lack of contrivance.
WATCH THE CONJURING ONLINE FREE - DOWNLOAD CONJURING MOVIE Fine acting also helps. We haven’t seen enough of Vera Farmiga since her Oscar-nominated performance in Up In The Air.
She brings a barely controlled anxiety to the proceedings that reminded me pleasurably of Nicole Kidman in The Others and the Spanish actress Belen Rueda’s remarkable performance in the outstanding haunted house film of recent years, The Orphanage.
Lili Taylor is another remarkable but under-used acting talent. She has the ability to run the gamut of emotions from happy housewife to . . . well, I won’t spoil it for you.
The sequence where she hunts for her youngest daughter in an ill-advised blindfold game of hide-and-seek is a classic.
WATCH THE CONJURING ONLINE FREE - DOWNLOAD CONJURING MOVIE The film-makers make no attempt to explain precisely how ghosts operate or, indeed, any other mysteries surrounding the afterlife.
Lili Taylor (pictured) and Vera Farmiga are under-used but remarkable actresses who shine in this spooky setting
WATCH THE CONJURING ONLINE FREE - DOWNLOAD CONJURING MOVIE This may sound like a cop-out, but within the picture it adds to the sense that the characters are discovering more as they go along — and may never know the whole truth.
Will The Conjuring revolutionise horror films? No. Does it deliver violence and gore? Not by modern horror standards.
But it is scary, and it conveys something even rarer in horror films — the ring of truth.
There will be those who dismiss The Conjuring as the kind of hokum they’ve seen many times before.
Liberties with the truth have been taken to compress the events of a year into just under two hours.
I am interested that in real life the daughters were keener to stay in the house than their parents, and the youngest felt a real connection to the ghostly son of the family who built the house.
Many of the spirits were (according to the children who recorded their experiences) benign, and it was the mother who was terrorised by a spirit who regarded her as a threat. If more of that detail had been left in, the story might have felt more original and less generic.
But Wan has clearly watched such masterpieces as Jack Clayton’s The Innocents.
He knows that creaking doors, spooky cellars and the feeling that there may be something hiding in that old wardrobe are tried-and-tested ingredients.
Given the right director — one who knows the value of long, suspenseful tracking shots and leaving parts of the frame suggestively in shadow — these films still have the power to unsettle and terrify.
WATCH THE CONJURING ONLINE FREE - DOWNLOAD CONJURING MOVIE I promise you one thing. Watch this and you’ll always think twice about playing hide and seek. And you’ll never, ever use a blindfold.