The real scary thing is how good of a marketing company they have.
When it comes to horror movies, especially "R" rated ones, we have grown to expect a certain tempo, and morbidly enough, some brutal death scenes. The Conjuring somehow achieved an "R" rating for being terrifying alone, not for language, gore, sequences of torture, or anything else. It was marketed as "crap-in-the-pants you are wearing scary" and it seems enough people fell for that trap, as they are about to have a $40 Million opening weekend on a movie that only cost $13 Million to make in the first place.
Set in 1971, The Conjuring follows the Perron family as they try to start a new life in Rhode Island. The Perron's purchase a farm house at auction without ever seeing it in the first place and knowing nothing about its history, they pack up and move right in. I will hand it to James Wan (Saw) for moving the story right along, they didn't waste any time getting to the point and within a day of the Perron family moving into their new home, things start to get a little weird. But, only a little weird.
The usual "Paranormal Activity" stuff starts to happen: doors slamming, strange sounds, unexplained injuries to the body, all the usual ghost stuff. But unlike the "Paranormal Activity" movies, no one ever dies. Sorry if I ruined this for you, but it just never happens and 45 minutes into the movie it becomes painfully obvious that we have all been duped. After a couple days of things going odd Carolyn Perron seeks out the help of paranormal investigators (code word for full of shit) Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are giving college lectures on paranormal experiences and supernatural possessions. Carolyn begs them to come observe the house that is terrifying her family, and the Warrens reluctantly oblige, after Lorraine had a run in with a nasty demon in Long Island months previously.. From here nothing new is brought to the table, we have all seen Poltergeist and pretty much know where this is going and I feel explaining it is a waste of keystrokes.
Directed by James Wan, the man who brought the Saw franchise to life, he directed the original, produced all 5 sequels, and wrote a couple of them. He also directed Insidious and is writing and directing Insidious: Chapter 2 set to release later this year. Insidious was easily the scariest PG-13 movie I have ever seen, I thought it was really good and am looking forward to the next one. I am a huge fan of the Saw series though, I can't get enough of it – because it constantly delivers what you expect from a horror movie – people dieing, and creatively at that.
The Conjuring offers nothing in the department of people getting killed, or even being a true horror movie. It stands as a pillar of the recent trend of "scary" movies; Marketing, Marketing – Marketing. You no longer need to actually make a horror movie, you just need some found footage and cheap scares to give enough free tickets away to 10th grade kids for them to tell everyone how they almost died watching it.
The Conjuring, and 90% of the movies like it are killing what used to be known as "Horror", one blurryghost at a time. We no longer have a brooding serial killer stalking sex-having teenagers, or a disfigured child molester who kills you in your dreams. Ghostface is dead, Michael Myers is in a retirement home with Jason Vorhees, and the rules that gave them all life have been buried under countless HandyCam batteries.
I for one, call Bullshit on The Conjuring and all movies like it. Lili Taylor is officially a scary movie assasin, and Ron Livingston gave me a serious case of "The Mondays" while Vera Farmiga proved she has only one trick up her sleeve, because she plays the same person in any role she touches. Go ahead, I will wait here while you re-watch The Departed and Bates Motel all day.
Oh, and lastly, the above mentioned "Incident" in Long Island, is also known as The Amityville Horror, which took place in 1975. 4 years after The Conjuring takes place, but who cares about cohesive storytelling anyway.