Just how scary is The Conjuring? Well, with little to no gore, sex, or language, The Conjuring has been rated R by the MPAA for scares alone.
Without revealing too much, The Conjuring follows the story of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren, two paranormal investigators who are travelling around America giving lectures, and close to retirement. However, when Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) seeks the couple's help with a case of increasingly disturbing incidents within her family's farmhouse in Rhode Island. The Warrens soon discover the haunting past of the farmhouse and that something malevolent is afflicting the family, but two questions remain: what is it, and what does it want?
While the basic premise of possession is far from original, The Conjuring makes up for this weakness through something most horror flicks lack today: amazing execution. The director, James Wan, is a master of the horror genre. He builds suspense that finally shatters into old-school, clever scares that never feel cheap in the slightest. Additionally, he utilizes the universal fear of the unknown to great effect; never does Wan reveal too much of what threats the Perron's home, but rather lets the audience's minds come up with whatever horrible entity or entities may be lurking just within the shadows.
Another aspect The Conjuring possesses that many horror movies seem to lack these days is a sympathetic cast of characters. In most horror movies, the audience can't help but root against most of the characters, largely due to their extremely dumb life choices, such as going to investigate a noise that is clearly something dangerous. With those kinds of characters, most viewers believe that they "had it coming." While the characters in The Conjuring do make their fair share of dumb choices, overall, the characters are smart, well-written, relatable, and above all, likeable. I found myself pleasantly surprised that I was wholly rooting for the characters, and this fact shows that The Conjuring succeeds with its characters and their stories, and not just the thrills.
In short, The Conjuring is one of the most terrifying films I have seen in recent years, and, in general, a great film. In a genre dominated by slasher movies with unnecessary amounts of gore, The Conjuring is a breath of fresh air. With clever scares, suspense, and a cast of believable and sympathetic characters, The Conjuring blows every horror movie of late out of the water, and is definitely a must see movie.