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The Conjuring

Get rid of all your dolls, now!

Ron Livingston moves his wife and daughters into an isolated house in the country only to discover there’s a presence in the house that’s out to do harm to his family in The Conjuring. <<© Warner Bros. Pictures>>

Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) don’t scare easily. Ed is the only ordained demonologist who’s not a Catholic priest. Lorraine is a powerful clairvoyant who helps her husband investigate reported hauntings around the world.
    Nine times out of 10, the couple finds a rational explanation for an alleged haunting, and their smart science soothes the supposedly possessed. The 10th time, however, they discover a demonic presence and must set about exorcising the evil. The Warrens collect and keep all possessed, cursed and terrifying objects in a locked room in their home.
    Who wouldn’t want a possessed doll near their bed?
    Things that go bump in the night don’t scare this spooky couple, until they get to Rhode Island.
    The farmhouse was supposed to give Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) and their five daughters a fresh start. Instead of country air and friendly neighbors, they find fetid smells, slamming doors and a dank basement filled with dusty furniture and angry spirits.
    As the days go by the threats come closer. Unexplained bruises form all over our heroine. Desperate, Carolyn seeks the Warrens, who add a third big question.
    Why would anyone buy a deeply sinister farmhouse in the middle of nowhere? Will the Perrons escape it with their lives? Can the Warrens banish the evil back to hell?
    Harkening back to the great ghoulish horror movies of the 1970s, The Conjuring offers smart scares and beautiful camera work to those brave enough to screen it. Director James Wan (Insidious) painstakingly sets the stage in his haunted farmhouse. He attends to detail, dingy stains in the corners to the cracks on the face of world’s creepiest doll.
    He builds tension slowly, layering eerie occurrences and odd backstories, until it’s almost unbearable.
    If you’re squeamish, you needn’t worry about The Conjuring, which spares in depicting blood and guts. The real frights are in the unseen presence that moves doors and snatches children from their beds.
    While The Conjuring will probably be chilling on DVD, it’s scarier when you see it as part of an audience in the community of another dark room. We laugh together, we cry together and, in this case, together we yell, Dear god, don’t go in there!
    The Conjuring will help you beat the heat by giving you goose bumps.

Good Horror • R • 112 mins.