jswysin’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Hey, wanna play hide and clap?"
The Conjuring is James Wan's most accomplished film, with confident camera work and extremely creepy shots, the detailed seventies setting populated by characters I can actually care about, played by higher quality actors than this sort of content usually deserves. Whether it be the most disturbing doll ever or a music box or a game of hide and seek that involves a blindfold and handclapping, the film creates great threads that it uses repeatedly yet effectively. Ultimately, though, it's at its scariest anytime it suggests something is there without showing it, instead focusing on the terror seen on a little girl's face. The best moment comes when one of the daughters feels something pulling her from her bed, followed up by some wonderful upside down shots (which the film uses often) and a shadow behind a door. There's a rumbling bass that I found to be a nice substitute for the higher pitch score usually accompanying a buildup to a scare and I always love it when a film moves away from the idea of safety in numbers, able to create terror with every character in the same room. Unfortunately, the rules of a ghost or possession story are hard to establish, they seem fluid and ever changing which makes the conclusion seem questionable. Also, the constant talk of how Lorraine's gift takes a piece of her every time isn't paid off in the end, though the flashback to the scene during an exorcism, the moment when Vera Farmiga screams, the genuine horror on her face gave me an unexpected chill. Probably the best scary movie of the year and one of the best of recent years, James Wan is improving with each film and I'm excited to see what he does with The Fast and the Furious 7: Killer Kars.