The warm reception this throwback received globally speaks to this quality. Mainstream horror has recently become oversaturated with dwelling upon the immediate suffering of whatever the threat, be it ghost or monster or madman's trap, has chosen to attack with little concern for the psychological aftermath. The old "keep the blood runnin' down the screen" mantra.
That's not to say genre movies need to be after-school specials, but as proven by the most lasting horror staples, the easiest method to garner an audience's respect is through well-honed characters. Wan never lets attention stray from those often desperately trying to help, even in the most intense scenes of horror, rather than the obvious terror of the afflicted. This only makes the bond with reality stronger, as most have experienced the struggle of trying to help others in at least potentially serious circumstances, rather than dissolving into a scene of grisly violence probably alien to the average person. An defining aspect shared with The Exorcist (1973), The Omen (1976), and The Changeling (1980).
|"...but we prefer to be known simply as Ed and Lorraine Warren."|
It's also refreshing that while the Perron's children are targeted, they don't become the vessel of possession like many screen ghost stories have driven into the dirt in recent years. Of course, if this is all supposed to be true, that's not something that can be accredited to creativity. As a related aside, I've read negative comments solely predicated on whether or not the real Warrens or Perrons are being honest, if you're basing your opinion of the film on that, you're frankly stupid.
If there was a gripe, it's the demon witch ladies looking too typical of "old hags" with grey skin, frizzed hair, and runny mascara. Maybe that's just from years of listening to Art Bell with verbal depictions of the demonic entities being far more unsettling than wigged-out shopping cart ladies. Still, the scares are certainly there and Wan delivers an experience that'll actually creep you out by "the dead hour" far more than some TV show of teens with dowsing rods in green night vision. The Conjuring is one of those rarities that belongs to an elite group, playing off basic fears, that again re-establishes the staying power of the horror genre. It'll be a classic in short order.