There are only so many scenes you can write into a horror story, especially that of a haunted house story. Darkness just beyond the doors, creaking noises, automatic doors, smashed photo frames, figures in mirrors, being pulled out of your bed.
They’ve been done to death, honestly. But when James Wan does it, fuck it’s scary!
Of course, it helps when the tag “Based on a True Story” is neatly sewn on at the start of the film.
The Conjuring tells the story of 2 families, the Warrens who are a couple of paranormal investigators and the Perrons, who shares their new home with 5 daughters, a demon witch, and a few other wandering ghosts.
The usual things happen. Strange noises at night, unexplained bruises appearing after a fitful night’s sleep. Then things begin to escalate. At almost 2 hours long, which is unusual for a horror flick, it allows for a pretty slow burn, and to establish the characters, so that when shit hits the fan, we really wish to see the Perrons come out of it alive, rather than anticipate the kill scenes.
Compared to James’ earlier effort Insidious, I find The Conjuring a much more suspenseful film. The hide and clap scene in particular, and the subsequent cellar scene was intense!
Now excuse me while I go hide under my sheets.
The Annabelle Doll Story
In an unrelated case in the film, a large part of the story revolved around an earlier case investigated by the Warrens, whereby they retrieved the Annabelle Doll.
The doll would apparently move on its own, with minute position changes initially, and then moved on to appearing in a different room altogether. A medium was invited, and he told of the story of 7 year old Annabelle Higgins, whose spirit had latched on to the doll, and who felt an affinity for the doll’s owner, Donna, and wanted to be friends.
Being a nursing student and probably never seen any horror movies, she felt sympathy for the ghost, and allowed her to remain in the doll. Then things escalated.
The Warrens were invited, and they said it was not a ghost, but a demon that was manipulating the doll in order to get close to, and possess Donna. They did an exorcism and brought Annabelle the doll back with them,
The doll currently resides in the private Occult Museum (where it apparently still moves, sometimes), managed by Lorraine Warren at the back of her house, together with other supernatural artifacts / possessed stuff.
That story really intrigued me, and I hope James Wan will pursue that story in the inevitable sequel.
Of course, how “true” this is, depends entirely on how much you believe in the supernatural, and one couple’s word.
Below is an image of the real Annabelle doll. Above is the movie’s version.
Which is scarier?