Second Opinion: The Best Trick In ‘The Conjuring’ Was Its Marketing

the conjuring opinion

What would you rather see? A horror film with a “PG13” rating for violence, some nudity, and language? Or a horror film with an “R” rating for being too scary?

This was the main hook for James Wan’s The Conjuring, which served as his spiritual followup to Insidious and perhaps even Saw for sheer inventiveness with the genre. The care he put into crafting a horror film where the horror comes first is probably what set The Conjuring apart for its hit box office run in 2013.

Even the incredibly loose “based on a true story” gimmick is underplayed here, as the movie centers around a couple of the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were actual paranormal investigators for decades known best for the story that became another well-known film, The Amityville Horror (along with its 2005 remake).

Set in the 70s, The Conjuring goes back in forth between point of view characters. First with the Warren couple (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) during some introductory exposition concerning the “Annabelle doll” case file, which was intriguing enough to green-light a standalone to release just a year later. The film then pivots to a standard haunted house narrative centered around a family with Ron Livingston and Lilli Taylor as the parents.

the conjuring opinion

Its the typical horror film fare with sudden noises, creepy atmosphere, and near-misses between ghost and human. But Wan prevents some of this familiarity to feel like fatigue, offering some much needed surprises in the form of his technique, always shifting perspective on the rooms and preventing the specters from getting too much facetime. Instead, we study the reactions of the humans who witness the supernatural for themselves, allowing us to fill in the blanks according to their fine performances.

None of these filming techniques are new when it comes to classic horror, but they’re a breath of fresh, foggy air for modern scare films that have adapted perhaps a little too much to the inviting world of “anything can happen” visual effects that are purely built in a computer. Perhaps it’s easy to accept the throwback nature of Conjuring due to the fact that its set in the 70s and has a slight filter that softens the picture.

While every performance is above grade here, there are some instances of somewhat forced drama used to round out the Warren couple, with lots of added dialogue concerning God’s purpose in their lives and how that will play into their marriage and family. Some of it works to contrast nicely with the chaos that ensues once they decide to aid the central family of The Conjuring, but the nicest thing to say about it is the fact that James Wan does a far better job with atmosphere and pacing than he does with living, breathing characters.

the conjuring opinion

Still, The Conjuring is one of the best horror films in the last few years, and mostly because of its restraint. As a result, the marketing for said movie (while inundated with the annoying Twitter quotes from screenings) was successful because of what it said about the love put into the film’s creation, rather than a forced superlative that would have sounded like white noise for most audiences.

(Second Opinion) Grade: A-

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni


5 Movies You Don’t Want to Miss This Fall


Well, I mean you can if you want. I can’t force you. But I can give you tons of reasons for why you should make the effort to go out and see these.

Go on…5 Movies You Don’t Want to Miss This Fall

15 Most Anticipated Movies For 2013

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If you haven’t noticed already, I am a fanatic when it comes to movies. I’ve been scouring the upcoming movies for 2013 and have compiled a list of features I am most excited about.

Enjoy the list! Let me know if there’s anything good I missed.

15. Sinatra. 

Finally. A movie about Frank Sinatra is hitting the big screen. All we know so far is that it will be directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese. The script is being rewritten, so there is a slight chance this might be delayed to 2014. Let’s hope the movie lives up to Walk the Line and Ray.

14. Oz: The Great and Powerful (March 8)

We’re finally getting a glimpse into the backstory of the Wizard of Oz. I’m not sure anyone actually asked for it, but the trailer looks like this could be a fun prequel for one of the best movies of all time. See the trailer here.

13. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (March 15)

The only reason I’m excited about this is because Steve Carell and Jim Carrey are finally in a movie together. It has something to do with magicians, but I don’t really care. See the trailer here.


12. The Hangover Part III (May 24)

Yes, part II was disappointing, but it’s looking like the final movie will be breaking new ground. There’s no wedding or bachelor party this time, freeing up the script to new possibilities. I’m excited to see this one live up to the classic part I.

11. Kane and Lynch 

This one’s still in pre-production, so a 2013 release is still up in the air. Regardless, I’m excited to see the popular video game being translated into film with Jamie Foxx and Bruce Willis handling the lead roles. The casting is spot on. The movie is about death row inmates who escape and wreak havoc. There’s no trailer, but you can see the poster here.

10. Hancock 2

We know nothing about this for sure, except that Will Smith is returning and it will be released in 2013. Fingers crossed.

9. Zombieland 2

Another tight-lipped sequel, but hopefully the better complement to a less-than-stellar looking zombie flick we’ll be getting with World War Z (at least for people like me who actually read the book).

8. Oblivion (April 19) and After Earth (June 7)

I bunched them together because they’re essentially the same movie. Tom Cruise movies are pretty hit or miss these days, but Oblivion actually looks to be a fairly original take on the post-apocalyptic genre. PLUS it has Morgan Freeman. See the trailer here.  After Earth is pretty similar in comparison, only this one stars Will Smith and his son (remember the kid from Karate Kid?) Also, it’s M. Night Shyamalan’s allegedly last chance to make something good again. See the trailer here.

7. Iron Man 3 (May 3) and Thor: The Dark World (November 8)

You know what the deal is with these.

6. Pacific Rim (July 12)

One of the few original blockbusters coming out this year, this one looks amazing just because it’s a simple aliens versus humans action fest that isn’t based on board games, video games, books, or movies that came out decades ago. Seriously, see the trailer for yourself here.

5. The Wolverine (July 26)

Skeptical? It takes place in Japan, has samurai, doesn’t have a terrible version of Deadpool, and has Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Oh, and it’s not X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So it has that going for it. See the awesome poster here.

4. Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)

Though I’ve never gotten into Star Trek aside from the 2009 reboot, I’m definitely excited to see the Enterprise crew return in another special effects heavy adventure. I love the characters, and the settings are just jaw-dropping. See the trailer here.

3. The Lone Ranger (July 3)

So, it finally happened. Really, I’m just excited to see Johnny Depp play Tonto (like everyone else). See the trailer here.

2. Ender’s Game (November 1)

Never read the books or comics? You’ve been missing out. This movie has taken way too long to take shape and will hopefully be a surprise hit. It’s basically about a supergenius child who is called upon to save mankind from an overwhelming alien invasion. See some screenshots and a full description here.

1. Man of Steel (June 14)

When Batman Begins came out in 2005, I immediately craved the same stylistic reboot for Superman. Unfortunately, we got Superman Returns which was more of a memorial to the originals than it was a reboot adapted to modern times, so it flopped. When The Dark Knight came out, that was it for me. Many people, myself included, knew then that Superman would be treated with the same justice, and we finally have it taking shape under the direction of Watchmen and 300‘s Zack Snyder. Everything from the trailers points to this being a significant step forward in the Superman franchise. See for yourself here.

There are some other high-profile sequels that I’m honestly not that excited about. Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Hunger Games: Catching Fire are both coming out and will be probably be well-received, but I’m not desperate to see them since we just saw the franchises start out in 2012. Take a breath Hollywood! Also, 300 is coming out with a sequel, even though the last one was fairly conclusive and we’ll be getting a RoboCop reboot. Even Pixar is doing another sequel. This is basically 2009 all over again…

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

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