Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Wan|
|Music by||Joseph Bishara|
|Cinematography||John R. Leonetti|
|Edited by||Kirk M. Morri|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||112 minutes|
The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were American paranormal investigators and authors associated with prominent cases of haunting. Their reports inspired the Amityville Horror. The Warrens come to the assistance of the Perron family (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor), who are experiencing increasingly disturbing events in their farmhouse in Rhode Island in 1971.
The Conjuring was released in the United States and Canada on July 19, 2013, and in the United Kingdom and India on August 6, 2013. The film opened to generally positive reviews, and grossed over $318 million worldwide from its $20 million budget, making it one of the highest grossing horror films of all time.
In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron move into a dilapidated farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island with their five daughters Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April. During the first day, their move goes smoothly, though their dog Sadie refuses to enter the house and one of the daughters finds a boarded up entrance to a cellar.
The next morning, Carolyn wakes up with a mysterious bruise and Sadie is found lying dead outside the house by April, the youngest daughter, who also finds a strange music box. Over the next several days, various instances of paranormal disturbance occur, most notably when Christine and Nancy are attacked one night by an unseen figure behind their door; the activity culminates one night while Roger is away in Florida. After hearing various clapping and giggling noises, and seeing the picture frames shattered on the stairs, Carolyn is locked up in the cellar. Later Cindy, one of the daughters, is awakened after sleepwalking into her sister Andrea's room and she sees a spirit on top of a wardrobe in the room that leaps on and attacks Andrea.
Carolyn contacts noted paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to help her family. The Warrens conduct an initial investigation and conclude that the house may require an exorcism, but they needed authorization from the Catholic Church and further evidence before they can proceed.
While researching the history of the house, Ed and Lorraine discover that the house once belonged to an accused witch, Bathsheba (a relative of Mary Eastey), who tried to sacrifice her week-old child to the devil and killed herself in 1863 after cursing all who would take her land. The property was once more than 200 acres but has since been divided up into smaller parcels. They find reports of numerous murders and suicides in houses that have since been built upon parcels that were once part of the property.
Ed and Lorraine return to the house to gather evidence to receive authorization for the exorcism. Cindy again sleepwalks into Andrea's room and reveals a secret passage behind the wardrobe. Lorraine enters the passage and falls through the floorboards into the cellar, where she sees the spirit of a woman whom Bathsheba had long ago possessed and used to kill her child. Another of the Perron children, Nancy, is violently dragged by her hair along the floor by an unseen force.
The Perron family decides to take refuge at a hotel while Ed and Lorraine take their evidence to the Church to arrange an exorcism. While the Warrens are on their way home, their daughter is attacked in their own home by the spirit of Bathsheba, though Ed arrives in time to prevent her from being harmed.
Carolyn, now possessed by the spirit of Bathsheba, takes two of her daughters, Christine and April, and drives back to the house. Ed, Lorraine, Roger, and two assistants rush to the house where they find Carolyn trying to stab Christine with scissors. After subduing Carolyn and tying her to a chair, Ed decides to perform the exorcism himself. Though Carolyn escapes and attempts to kill April, who is hiding under the floorboards, Lorraine is able to temporarily distract the possessed Carolyn from killing her daughter by reminding her of a special memory she shared with her family, allowing Ed to complete the exorcism, saving Carolyn and her daughter.
Returning home, Lorraine tells Ed that the priest who they sought for the exorcism had called back and left a message, saying that he had gained approval from the Catholic Church to perform it. In addition to this, he also has another case for them to investigate on Long Island. When they leave, the music box that April had found opens and plays music, revealing the Annabelle doll in the middle of the music box mirror.
- Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
- Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
- Lili Taylor as Carolyn Perron
- Ron Livingston as Roger Perron
- Shanley Caswell as Andrea Perron
- Hayley McFarland as Nancy Perron
- Joey King as Christine Perron
- Mackenzie Foy as Cindy Perron
- Kyla Deaver as April Perron
- Shannon Kook as Drew
- John Brotherton as Brad
- Sterling Jerins as Judy Warren
- Marion Gayot as Georgiana Moran
- Steve Coulter as Father Gordon
- Joseph Bishara as Bathsheba
- Morgana Bridgers as Debbie
- Amy Tipton as Camilla
- Christof Veillon as Maurice
Development began over 20 years ago when Ed Warren played a tape of Lorraine's original interview with Carolyn Perron for producer Tony DeRosa-Grund. DeRosa-Grund made a recording of Warren playing back the tape and of their subsequent discussion. At the end of the tape, Warren said to DeRosa-Grund, "If we can't make this into a film I don't know what we can." DeRosa-Grund then described his vision of the film for Ed.
DeRosa-Grund wrote the original treatment and titled the project The Conjuring. For nearly 14 years, he tried to get the movie made without any success. He landed a deal to make the movie at Gold Circle Films, the production company behind The Haunting in Connecticut, but a contract could not be finalized and the deal was dropped.
DeRosa-Grund allied with producer Peter Safran, and sibling writers Chad and Carey Hayes were brought on board to refine the script. Using DeRosa-Grund's treatment and the Ed Warren tape, the Hayes brothers changed the story's point of view from the Perron family to the Warrens'. The brothers interviewed Lorraine Warren many times over the phone to clarify details. By mid-2009, the property became the subject of a six-studio bidding war that landed the film at Summit Entertainment. However, DeRosa-Grund and Summit could not conclude the transaction and the film went into turnaround. DeRosa-Grund reconnected with New Line Cinema, who had lost in the original bidding war but who ultimately picked up the film. On November 11, 2009, a deal was made between New Line and DeRosa-Grund's Evergreen Media Group.
Pre-production began in early 2011, with reports surfacing in early June that James Wan was in talks to direct the film. This was later confirmed by Warner Bros., which also stated that the film would be loosely based on real-life events surrounding Ed and Lorraine Warren. In January 2012, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson were cast to star in the film. That month, Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor were also confirmed for roles in the film, which at that time was developing under the working title of The Untitled Warren Files Project. The film's title was temporarily changed to The Warren Files based on a suggestion by Wan, but was later reverted to The Conjuring prior to the commencement of the film's marketing campaign.
In preparation for their roles, Farmiga and Wilson traveled to Connecticut to spend time with Lorraine Warren, who also visited the set during production. Over the course of spending three days at the Warren home, both actors took in information that could not otherwise be achieved from secondary research. "I just wanted to absorb her essence. I wanted to see the details, she has such mad style. I just wanted to see — the way she communicates with her hands, these gestures, her smile, how she moves through space," said Farmiga on her observations of Warren.
Principal photography began in late February 2012. Lasting for 38 days, shooting took place primarily at EUE/Screen Gems Studios as well as other locations in and around Wilmington, North Carolina. Filming also took place at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in March 2012 while the campus was on its spring break. Diana Pasulka, professor of Religious Studies at UNC-Wilmington, was the chief religious consultant for the project. After wrapping up in Wilmington on April 20, the film concluded its principal photography on April 26, 2012. All scenes were shot in chronological order.
The film was in post-production in August of the same year. Around 20 to 30 minutes of footage was removed from the first cut of the film, which initially ran at about two hours in duration. After positive test screenings, the final edit of the film was locked in December 2012 and awaited its summer release.
The musical score for The Conjuring was composed by Joseph Bishara, who previously collaborated with director Wan on Insidious (2011). "James asked me early on about [The Conjuring] while the film was still coming together," explained Bishara on his involvement. "The studio and producers were very supportive in allowing him to bring along who he wanted, with many of his longtime crew from Insidious and even earlier returning." Further into the development process, Wan offered Bishara the chance to act in the film, which he had previously done in Insidious. "We talked about music first and then James had mentioned that he might want me to play one of the entities in this. After reading the script it turned out it was Bathsheba," said Bishara. Because of his early involvement, Bishara was given more time to work out the musical palette of the film. "For whatever reason I was hearing brass clustering as an early response to the material, a quiet shimmering flutter tongue effect, and it grew from there," said Bishara on his creative process.
A soundtrack album was released by La-La Land Records and WaterTower Music on July 16, 2013. In addition to Bishara's themes, the soundtrack also includes a track entitled "Family Theme" by composer Mark Isham. Avant-garde musician Diamanda Galás also contributed to Bishara's score, performing raw vocal improvisation on top of the previously recorded brass instrumentation.
Other songs featured in the film include:
- "In the Room Where you Sleep" by Dead Man's Bones
- "Sleep Walk" by Betsy Bryce
- "Time of the Season" by The Zombies
The first promotional images were released in November 2012, introducing Farmiga and Wilson as Ed and Lorraine Warren. A teaser trailer, previously shown at the 2012 New York Comic Con, kicked off the film's marketing campaign in February 2013. Throughout the campaign, the film was promoted heavily as "based on a true story." In the weeks leading up to the film's release, trailers and TV spots began to feature the real-life Perron family. This was followed by a featurette entitled The Devil's Hour in which Lorraine Warren and other paranormal investigators explain some of the supernatural occurrences seen in the film.
Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema initially intended to release The Conjuring in early 2013, but decided on a summer release date after gaining a positive reception from test audiences. The film was ultimately released on July 19 in North America, and in the United Kingdom and in India on August 2. Because of this, it is one of the first horror films to receive a wide release in the United States during the months of June or July since 2006's The Omen. A trailer and a clip from the film were shown at the 2012 New York Comic Con. In March 2013, the film was given an R-rating by the MPAA for being what Wan described as "too adult." "When we sent it [to the MPAA], they gave us the R-rating," said executive producer Walter Hamada. "When we asked them why, they basically said, 'It's just so scary. [There are] no specific scenes or tone you could take out to get it PG-13.'"
The world premiere took place June 6, 2013, at the closing night of the first edition of Nocturna: Madrid International Fantastic Film Festival. This was followed by two screenings of the film at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 21 that also featured a Q&A segment with director James Wan. A red carpet premiere was then held for the film on July 15, 2013 at Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles.
Preliminary reports had the film tracking for a $30–$35 million debut in North America. The film earned $3.3 million from its Thursday night showings, and reached a $17 million 1.25-day total, doing slightly better than The Purge a month earlier. The film went on to take $41.5 million during its opening weekend, breaking The Purge's previous record as the biggest opening for an original R-rated horror film. While horror films usually drop at least 50 percent over their second weekend, The Conjuring only dropped 47 percent to $22.2 million. After its initial run in theatres, the film turned out to be a box office hit by grossing over fifteen times its production budget with a worldwide total of $318,000,141.
The Conjuring was met with generally positive reviews from both critics and audiences. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an 86% "Certified Fresh" approval rating based on 186 reviews, and an average score of 7.2/10. Its consensus reads: "Well-crafted and gleefully creepy, The Conjuring ratchets up dread through a series of effective old-school scares" Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on 35 reviews from mainstream critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film an A- grade.
In her review following the Los Angeles Film Festival, Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter said, "With its minimal use of digital effects, its strong, sympathetic performances and ace design work, the pic harks back in themes and methods to The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror, not quite attaining the poignancy and depth of the former but far exceeding the latter in sheer cinematic beauty." Justin Chang of Variety gave the film a positive review, calling the film "a sensationally entertaining old-school freakout and one of the smartest, most viscerally effective thrillers in recent memory." Additionally, Alonso Duralde of The Wrap also praised the effectiveness of the film, explaining that it "doesn't try to reinvent the tropes of horror movies, whether it's ghosts or demons or exorcisms, but Fred Astaire didn't invent tap-dancing, either."
Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A-", citing the effectiveness of "mood and sound effects for shocks that never feel cheap." However, some critics reacted negatively to the film's similarities with films such as The Exorcist and Poltergeist. IndieWire's Eric Kohn explained that "The Warrens may know how to handle demonic possessions, but The Conjuring suffers from a different invading force: the ghosts of familiarity." Andrew O'Hehir of Salon said the film provided "all the scream-inducing shocks you could want, right on schedule", but thought the central concept—that the innocent women accused and executed in the Salem witch trials "actually were witches, who slaughtered children and pledged their love to Satan and everything!"—was "reprehensible and inexcusable bullshit".
|Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Wide Release Film||Won|
|Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Lili Taylor||Won|
|Empire Awards||Best Horror||Won|
|Saturn Awards||Best Horror Film||Won|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association Award||Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie||Nominated|
|Denver Film Critics Society Award||Best Science-Fiction/Horror Film||Nominated|
|Fright Meter Awards||Best Makeup||Nominated|
|Fright Meter Awards||Best Special Effects||Nominated|
|Hollywood Film Festival||Hollywood Movie Award||James Wan||Nominated|
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Scared-as-S**t Performance||Vera Farmiga||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite Horror Movie||Nominated|
|Key Art Awards||Best Trailer - Audio/Visual||Warner Bros.||3rd Place|
|Key Art Awards||Best Audio/Visual Technique||3rd Place|
|Saturn Awards||Best Horror Film||N/A||Won|
In June 2013, it was reported that New Line Cinema was already developing a sequel. Both Farmiga and Wilson are signed on to reprise their roles for an additional film. The sequel is scheduled to be released on October 23, 2015.
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