I must admit I put this movie on, knowing that this was just another haunted house story. I’ve come to dislike this specific subgenre over the course of time since only a handful of decent movies about haunted houses have been made, Poltergeist for one, but I can’t think of another one which I deeply love. The whole subgenre is in dire need of a meta approach like Scream brought to the slasher subgenre. The Conjuring is no different than any other supernatural horror movie dealing with haunted houses and possessions.
Let me walk you through the usual steps these movies take and apply them to The Conjuring:
The Perron family consisting of two parents and their five daughters moves into a remotely located house. While the family is happy to move in the dog refuses to get in and is found dead the next morning. Other strange things begin to happen like strange bruises that appear on mom’s body, one of the daughters has an invisible friend, the usual slamming doors and strangely moving shadows. The family then seeks the the aid of paranormal investigators of Ed and Lorainne Warren who give lectures about their investigations and help people cast demons out of their house, you know because this is a common thing in the 70’s, somehow the decade when all these supposedly “true” stories happened. Oh yeah, this all happened in real life… or so they say, and the movie goes to great lengths to convince us with all sorts of newspaper clippings during the end credits.
But back to the story:
So the investigators come in, do their investigation find out that this is the most malevolent entity they’ve ever come across with and go to great lengths to cast the demon out by using the Bible. It’s funny these entities are always much stronger than they’ve ever come across. It would be original for them to say “ow, this is just a level 2 demon, last week we exorcised a level 8 one, now that was a bitch.” Other cliche’s the movie uses are the facts that these demons are almost always female and vulnerable to quotes from the Bible. Wouldn’t it be great if these Christian exorcisers are called in and the demon turns out to be Muslim. Those are twists I want to see.
The Conjuring pulls all the basic strings and the only remotely original element was the fact that it went from The Amityville Horror to The Exorcist in the third act. Other “original” elements are that for once the child isn’t the one who’s being possessed and the inclusion of a subplot about a possessed doll which eventually goes to nowhere. The rest is a tired formula that has been used over and over again.