The Conjuring (2013) directed by James Wan
This summer has lots of sequels and remakes coming out, so I'm reviewing the earlier works and seeing if they will inspire me to see the new films!
Ed and Lorraine Warren are paranormal investigators working in the northeastern United States during the 1960s and 1970s. They uncover fake and real hauntings, lecture at universities about the real ones, and occasionally work with the Catholic Church when they need an exorcism done. Their home has a room full of objects from various cases, all of which are, if not haunted, at least tainted by demonic forces. Their latest case is helping out the Perron family. The Perrons bought a fixer-upper farm house in Rhode Island. Things have started going bump in the night and their five daughters (from middle-school age to a pre-schooler) are being harassed by whatever infernal forces infest the home.
The movie slowly builds up the tension, following the Warrens' work with others and the Perron's plight separately for a good third to half of the film. Once everyone is together, the Warrens bring out their technical equipment (microphones and cameras hooked to thermometers so they'll turn on when the temperature suddenly drops) and their expertise (Lorraine has some psychic abilities). They also do historical research, discovering a lot of disturbing things about the farm house and neighborhood. The story, the scares, and the information come at a good pace.
The movie goes into a bit of overdrive at the end which ruined it for me. Things start happening at different locations for no apparent reason other than to add tense scenes. The movie started looking like a "greatest hits" compilation of scary things that happened during the Warrens' career. Maybe what happened is based on true events, but it looks like a lot of unrelated true events that don't fit together effectively.
It's easy to see how the movie has a sequel (in American theaters as this is posted) since the Warrens have hundreds of cases, but I honestly have no interest in seeing the sequel. Just look at the trailer:
If they were going for the fun house scares of something like Drag Me to Hell, I'd probably enjoy the movie. But they try too hard to be very serious and very scary, which is hard to do.