The Conjuring scores with classic horror

OLD-SCHOOL STILL WORKS: Reviewers hailed The Conjuring's classic techniques of perpetuating the notion that the unseen is scarier than the seen, accentuating the build-up of tension.


    Aug 22, 2013

    The Conjuring scores with classic horror

    THE Conjuring, by Malaysia-born Australian film director James Wan, has been dubbed the scariest horror film of all time by the vox populi.

    According to movie website Rotten Tomatoes, The Conjuring - a movie based on the real-life events involving paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren - "ratchets up the dread with a series of smartly delivered, terribly effective old-school scares".

    But was the scariness of the American supernatural horror film overplayed?

    Horror-movie buff and critic Tay Yek Keak told My Paper that the film was "not really scary" but, rather, a classic, old-school interpretation of horror that "plays on the unseen, rather than the seen".

    Mr Tay, who has reviewed films for My Paper and TV shows for The Straits Times Life!, added that it was "a terrific movie where there was no need to resort to a lot of tricks".

    Film critic Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter said that the film "excels at putting a refining gloss on cheap shocks".

    According to Mr Tay, Wan successfully perpetuated the notion that the unseen is scarier than the seen, citing instances of the sinister hand-clapping - a recurring motif in the movie - and a pitch-dark basement in a haunted farmhouse.

    Horror-film enthusiast and prominent film-maker Eric Khoo said that The Conjuring is a horror classic, and was one of the most frightening movies he has watched.

    Khoo, who is known for Singapore films such as Mee Pok Man (1995) and 12 Storeys (1997), said that it was "a smart movie with extremely good directing", and a well-developed storyline - substantiated with good pacing - which accentuated the build-up of tension.

    However, he said: "The exorcism scene was a little 'safe', as opposed to that of other exorcism films like The Exorcist (1973) and The Changeling (1980)."

    While The Conjuring impressed him, Khoo said he would have appreciated "something scarier".

    So, how scary was the film? Khoo rated it 41/2 out of five, with five being extremely scary, while Mr Tay rated it 31/2.

    Mr Tay said: "Wan has successfully managed to appeal to all types of audiences.

    "This movie is definitely the best horror film of the year and, probably, one of the biggest horror films of the generation."

    The Conjuring is showing in cinemas now.