The Conjuring: Spooky Season Favorites

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Liza Boguslavsky, Scoop Writer

The Conjuring series can be found on Netflix, HBO Max, and Prime Video.

Released in 2013, the box office hit stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Ed and Lorraine Warren, married paranormal investigators and demonologists who take on possible paranormal cases while also teaching college lectures. It only adds to the horror that every Conjuring movie is based on real cases, taken from real accounts from the Warrens in the late 1900s. 

Taking place in 1971, the movie centers around a couple, Carolyn and Roger Perron, who have just moved to a farmhouse in Rhode Island with their five daughters and dog. Too soon, paranormal happenings begin to occur, with the clocks all stopping at a precise time and Carolyn waking up with unexplained bruises. Their dog even refuses to go into the house and is soon found dead outside. 

Terrified and desperate for an explanation, the family reaches out for help from the famous investigators.

When Ed and Lorraine begin investigating, they discover the house had previously belonged to an accused witch, Bathsheba, who had sacrificed her baby to the devil and then killed herself, cursing the house. Throughout the years, numerous deaths, murders and suicides have all been recorded at the property. Unfortunately for the Perrons at this point, moving off the property wouldn’t save them now, as they’ve been marked and latched onto by the malevolent spirit. The movie soon escalates to life or death, when the spirit of the witch possesses Carolyn and urges her to kill her own daughters, just as the witch did. 

But what makes The Conjuring scary? Certainly not cheap jumpscares or gratuitous gore. Instead, the cinematography is excellent, building up suspense not only in pivotal scenes but instead throughout the entire movie. Every moment, the audience feels as though something is about to happen, never allowing for a moment of rest, lest they be duped at any second.

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The mastery of horror within The Conjuring truly lies with buildup. Everyone knows when a jumpscare is about to happen: the light flickers or dims, the music turns creepy and there is a moment where everything slows down. Here the build up is less obvious, and as a result, the climaxes of the scenes are much more effective. Every scene plays out slowly, with a building feeling of dread and suspense until the metaphorical gun is fired (as Alfred Hitchcock said). 

But what are the methods to make a scene scary rather than tacky? The key components are buildup, misdirection and limited view. A tacky scene avoids or misuses all of these. Instead of build up, the scene is obvious and relies only on shock factor or bloody costumes. The Conjuring’s director, James Wan, on the other hand, demonstrates incredible skill and craftsmanship with each method. Misdirection again plays into buildup. There is a sense of dread and anticipation in every scene, but the audience naturally predicts a jumpscare. When a character approaches a corner, it is easy to think the monster is lurking behind it, but therein lies the trick. Wan leads the audience to the obvious conclusion and at the last second foils them, making the scene far more terrifying than a run of the mill jumpscare.

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Limited view is quite literally limiting the audience’s view by using a poorly lit, small or closed off space, or anything that forces the audience into a position where they cannot fully see the area used, feeding into the feeling of anxiety and dread stemming from the natural fear of the unknown and unseen by making the movie feel claustrophobic. 

The Conjuring is a work of art, achieving an electrifying atmosphere. Anyone looking for a good scare should be sure to watch The Conjuring, but maybe in the daytime and with friends, unless they are looking to be kept up all night.