The Conjuring: A New Take on Old-School Terror

I am 22 years old, and I am afraid of dolls.

Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) unleashed his latest creation, The Conjuring, July 19, and it instantly rose to the top of the box office charts through its sensational filming and relentless outpour of terrifying imagery and subject matter. From the movie’s onset, which depicts a possessed porcelain doll sporting a positively Linda Blair-esque getup, Wan effectively warns the audience to curl up and prepare for terror.

Based on true events, The Conjuring takes form when the Perrons, a family of seven, move to an antiquated farmhouse in Rhode Island for a “fresh start.” On the first night in their new home, the only male figure in the family, Roger (Ron Livingston), uncovers a hidden stairwell which reveals a dark, musty, classic horror-story basement.

I am a 22-year-old male, and I am afraid of dolls…and dark, musty basements.

Mounting chaos ensues. Although Roger does not find anything noteworthy during his first trek into the dungeon, he unknowingly has opened a portal to a supernatural realm, allowing a demonic spirit to pass freely into his home.

The floors become extra creaky. Doors slam. Pictures fly off walls. The family’s five small girls become restless with fear, chilled by the icy sensation that they are being watched at all times. Slowly, the Perrons realize that these occurrences are not founded in imagination but in reality, and they enlist the help of two demonologists, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga)—the real-life investigators of the Amityville incidents—to eradicate the spirit and to free their family from the powers at play.

Of course, demons do not care for mortal wishes, and the presence of two experienced ghost hunters does nothing but amplify the horror throughout the house. As Ed and Lorraine uncover secrets about the house’s past, evil manifests itself more and more. We can see it. We can hear it. We can feel it lurking about.

I am a 22-year-old, tattooed male, and I am afraid of dolls, dark, musty basements, and demonic manifestations.

These devices are certainly scary, but The Conjuring is brilliant not for its innovative content (the storyline is essentially a hybrid of The Amityville Horror and The Exorcist) but for its masterful direction. Audiences are on edge for the movie’s two-hour duration, and the tension becomes increasingly palpable as the disorder progresses.

Even with nothing wicked in sight, there is a mirror, a window, or an eerie doorway in frame—something to make you visualize the potential dread lurking just out of view. This heightens the anticipation of each and every scare, making them all the more powerful when finally exposed.

Despite the fact that The Conjuring relies on classic horror movie tropes, it stands on the shoulders of giants to create a masterpiece that is exponentially scarier than any mainstream horror movie released in the last decade. Even Wan’s hugely successful previous works do not stack up to this one in terms of the panic and anxiety fashioned throughout, and it possesses all the ingredients to stand as an all-time classic horror movie.

I am a 22-year-old, tattooed male who loves mixed martial arts, and The Conjuring left me trembling in fear.