The Conjuring (Blu-ray) (2013)
|Category||Horror / Thriller||
Featurette-A Life in Demonology
Featurette-The Conjuring: Face-to-Face with Terror
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Scaring the '@$*%' Out of You
|Year Of Production||2013|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||James Wan|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
†††† The Conjuring is 2013ís must-see scary movie, following in the shadow of 2012's Sinister and director James Wanís own 2011 flick Insidious. Written by Chad and Carey Hayes, this is a horror outing which favours tension and restraint over in-your-face bedlam, confirming that Wan is a master of the genre whoís almost unparalleled in his ability to conjure pure terror. Wan is also notable for paying attention to one aspect here thatís often neglected by his contemporaries: atmosphere. Horror movies can have jump-scares and bloodletting, but itís ultimately the mood and tone that matters in the long run, as such elements can transform bumps in the night into an experience that will haunt you for weeks. Add to this a handful of strong performances from an able cast, beautiful filmmaking and a sharp script, and The Conjuring deserves every bit of acclaim that it receives.
†††† Real-life figures Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) examined a number of supernatural occurrences during their time as paranormal investigators. Supposedly, the married pair once encountered a case so petrifying and malevolent that they tried to keep it under wraps - and itís this case which forms the basis of The Conjuring. Set in 1971, the Perron family move into a rural house purchased at auction, with parents Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) looking to build a cosy new life with their five daughters. At night, the family begin to encounter strange smells, weird noises and unexplained events, which rapidly escalate in viciousness. Low on options, the frantic Carolyn convinces the Warrens to investigate, ultimately discovering that the householdís supernatural presence is far more devious and sinister than they could have imagined.
†††† As with any film purported to be based on true events, one must wonder how much of the script is actually true (my guess: not much), but this query hardly spoils the nail-biting experience of The Conjuring. Wan and his writers actually defy expectations by assembling a character-based horror, rather than a straight-up haunted house movie draped in unoriginality. Ed and Lorraine function as the trademark experts, but the characters here are fully-realised, three-dimensional, and interesting. In fact, they approach each case as sceptics, making them a lot more relatable. For its first two thirds, The Conjuring splits its focus, covering the woes of the Perron family whilst occasionally cutting away to the Warrens to give us a glimpse into their personal lives. Itís absorbing. Furthermore, the lingering query of ďWhy donít they just leave the house?Ē is addressed almost instantaneously once the Warrens enter the picture, asserting that the family do not have the funds to move and explaining that the ghostly presence will follow them anywhere they go. However, there are a few horror chestnuts that show up here and play out exactly as one would expect, including the youngest daughter befriending a ghost.
†††† To be sure, the storyline is nothing spectacular, but the craftsmanship is something to behold, with Wan giving The Conjuring an A-grade look and feel. The period setting endows the picture with a unique flavour, and the production values are spot-on, with authentic sets and costumes, and Frank Leonettiís well-judged cinematography that makes brilliant use of inventive angles and shadows. Better yet, a lot of the special effects were created practically, resulting in a realistic, lived-in disposition that heightens the sense of atmosphere. Thereís a retro mood to The Conjuring thatís very refreshing, and it reinforces that Wanís understated approach was influenced by the iconic horror movies of the 1970s.
†††† The hype machine for The Conjuring emphasised its scary disposition, and the experience is quite frightening indeed. Wanís flick carries an MA rating, but not because of blood, gore or nudity; instead, the rating is due to Wanís inherent understanding of how to unnerve and disturb us. The directorís confidence is astonishing, as intensity levels are continually heightened and we become increasingly convinced that a demonic presence is lurking in the dark corners of the Perronís residence. Even a cynical theatre crowd will have trouble finding things to laugh at or ridicule here - the characters are so convincing, and the suspense so competently executed that the obnoxious viewers should be silenced for the most part. The Conjuring especially comes alive towards the end. Whereas Insidiousí final act was lightened by a sense of funhouse camp, The Conjuring culminates with a callous climax that fires on all cylinders. Wan holds nothing back - the imagery is disturbing, while the layered sound design will have you riveted in your seat, provoking nonstop goosebumps for 10 minutes. Itís a vicious, malevolent sequence, benefitting from flawless staging, lensing and editing; possibly Wanís best motion picture work to date.
†††† Another enormous strength of The Conjuring is the flawless cast. Acting is not often a strong suit in horror, but Wan assembled a sublime selection of actors and coaxed top-flight work from all of them. Remarkably, the child actors fare extremely well here; they all manage to effectively convey fear, and seem perpetually in the moment. Wilson and Farmiga are brilliant here too, imbuing the Warrens with depth and warmth. And Taylor deserves a massive kudos for her work as Carolyn, as she expertly handles the tough material. Rounding out the main players is Ron Livingston (Office Space, Swingers), burying his comic chops for a completely serious role, and pulling it off with confidence.
†††† The Conjuring is James Wanís masterpiece, and thatís a tough call considering his efforts on Saw and Insidious. Admittedly, there is nothing original left to be mined in the haunted house genre, and every such production is going to be narratively familiar to an extent, hence itís the execution that matters - and in this respect, Wan hits it out of the park. The Conjuring is an instant classic, one of the best traditional horror flicks of this era and one of the most frightening movies of the decade.
†††† The Conjuring was shot digitally by director of photography Frank Leonetti, who used Arri Alexa rigs, and the resulting Blu-ray presentation is a real winner. This 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer retains the movieís original aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and manages to faithfully replicate the theatrical presentation, with its deep blacks and deliberately muted colour palette. The transfer was presumably sourced from the movieís digital intermediate, and therefore looks refined and sharp across the board.
†††† As with Wanís Insidious movies, a number of the movieís key fright sequences take place at night under low-light, with shadows that could be masking anything. Luckily, the encode handles such scenes with utmost confidence; blacks look inky, and thereís absolutely no trace of black crush creeping in. The colour palette here was designed to reflect vintage 1970s movies, and again the Blu-ray retains the intentions of the filmmakers. Object delineation remains exceptionally strong throughout, with above-average sharpness and pristine clarity. The HD image reveals every wrinkle and pore on the faces of the actors, and every crack and imperfection on the walls of the Perron farmhouse. Textures on clothing are lifelike and detailed, and at no point does the transfer look too smooth or undefined. Some roaming shots can look a touch smeary, but thatís it.
†††† A thin layer of source-related noise occasionally creeps in, which only serves to make the movie look more cinematic and filmic. I did not detect any aliasing, ringing or banding, with the image welcomely free of encoding artefacts. This is a first-class effort from Roadshow on the whole, leaving very little to be desired.
†††† A whole heap of subtitle options are available. The English track posed no issues to my eyes.
†††† In the time since the release of The Conjuring in 2013, standards for audio have advanced significantly, with 7.1 and Atmos tracks becoming the norm for high-profile releases such as this (the Blu-ray release for the movieís 2016 sequel sports a Dolby Atmos mix). By comparison, the lossless DTS-HD-MA 5.1 track we have here seems a bit underwhelming, but donít let the channel number fool you - The Conjuring absolutely delivers from an aural perspective, with the Blu-ray doing a suburb job of handling Wanís intricate sound design.
†††† There are a lot of loud noises, which are given sufficient oomph by the subwoofer to make you jump. Thereís plenty of deliberate channel usage as well, with creepy noises, creaks and whispers to create an immersive soundfield that will probably disturb your neighbours if youíre watching it late at night. Joseph Bisharaís insanely unnerving score comes through with top-notch clarity as well, and I never had any issues hearing the dialogue. There are simply no issues to report.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† Not much to see here. It's borderline criminal that Roadshow/Warner Bros. denied a more comprehensive package considering the movie's tremendous critical and commercial success.
†††† Rather than a movie-specific behind-the-scenes featurette, this segment is all about the real-life tale of what happened to the Perrons. Recent interviews are conducted with the family, who convey their memories of the terror they endured. Vintage photos of the family and the house are also provided.
†††† As the title of this featurette implies, this piece is all about the real Ed and Lorraine Warren. There are interviews with Lorraine, as well as archive footage and vintage photos of the pair. Wan even discusses his fascination with the Warrens, while other members of the crew delve into the development of the movie.
†††† Finally, we have a behind-the-scenes look at the movie. This much-too-short EPK-style featurette traces the origins of the project, and the producers explain that Wan was everybodyís first choice to direct. Wan touches upon his approach to the film and his thought process when it comes to creating scares in a number of sequences. Good stuff, but this should be a lot longer.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
† † All editions worldwide appear to be identical, aside from some difference in audio and subtitle options. Buy local.
|DVD||PlayStation 4, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||LG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W|