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The Conjuring (Blu-ray Review)

ConjuringI’m going to be completely honest with everyone here.  The Conjuring flat out looked like a movie I would want to see upon first viewing of the film’s trailer earlier in the year.  If I didn’t get into an early press screening of the film, then you’d better believe I would have laid down my hard earned cash to cover the price of admission.  Before I even saw the flick, I believed The Conjuring had four main things going for it right out of the gate.  First, word of mouth…it had received rave reviews from critics who were treated to special advanced showings of it.  Second…James Wan!  The man did Saw and Insidious, people!  And now’s he graduating onto much larger things like the seventh Fast and Furious sequel.  How grand is that?  He’s a big boy with Universal now.  Kudos!  Third…Vera Farmiga.  I love her in everything she does!  She just brings it.  And finally…the following quote I found online regarding the film’s rating had me absolutely dying to see this.  “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.’”  If that’s not written encouragement, then I don’t know what is?!  You agree, don’t you?

Film 

So it seems Warner Bros./New Line Cinema had big hopes for The Conjuring as it was one of the first horror films to receive a wide release during the months of June or July since 2006’s The Omen.  Let’s be honest here.  Anyway you slice it, The Conjuring was destined to enjoy much more success than Disney’s The Lone Ranger which was released the week prior.  To date, I believe it has made 305 million at the box office.  Wow!  And can you believe…the film’s budget was only 20 million?!  Cha ching!  The Lone Ranger…well…not even sure it made a profit yet when you consider the budget and marketing expenses.

We already covered Director James Wan and my feelings for Vera so let’s move onto the rest of the cast that brings to life this story based on the true case files of paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Vera).  Ed is portrayed by Patrick Wilson and he is supported by a cast that includes Lili Taylor (Six Feet Under), Ron Livingston (you may remember him as Peter Gibbons from Office Space), Mackenzie Foy, Shannon Kook, Joey King and more.  Not too shabby huh?  Come on!  There’s much more to cover here.

As I just mentioned above, the film is based on true events when paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Wilson, came to the aide of the Perron family, who were under a demonic attack in their own Rhode Island farmhouse.  In actuality, it’s also 20 years in the making too since this idea was first brought to producer Tony DeRosa-Grund.  So when this pitch finally landed screenwriters, Chad and Carey Hayes, and was aligned with Summit Entertainment back in 2009, what better man than Saw’s James Wan to direct it!?  Also, in preparation for their roles, Vera and Patrick Wilson even travelled to Connecticut to spend time with the real Lorraine Warren.  Come on folks.  You know this has winner written all over it!  I’ve given you so many good reasons to believe so.  And now it’s that time in my review when I drop the written word of the day on you and tell you, the moviegoer, whether it’s a bust or a see.  Are you ready?  This sh1t’s about to get freaky real!

So I had a funny feeling that how I initially scored The Conjuring over the summer was about to change.  I was curious to see what feelings or emotions a second viewing would “conjure” in me.  So with open hands, I agreed to accept the challenge from Warner Bros. of tackling this one on Blu-ray.  Duh!  That’s the reason you’re all here, is it not?

In my opinion, The Conjuring is the closest flick in modern times that has captured the essence and caress of the classic Exorcist.  I’ll give it that title, but definitely not one of the scariest flicks to come out in recent years…in my opinion of course.  And so as you can see from my film score above, once again for I believe the third time this year (and I fear that could add up in a couple weeks when I tackle Man of Steel on Blu-ray and I am able to objectively score it), regrettably, I have committed a Matt Goodman as I raised my initial score here to a 4 as is prominently displayed.  Why?  I’m not entirely sure, but perhaps it had to do with no insanely high expectations the second time around and I was able to sit back, take in and appreciate everything James Wan, cast and crew and the screenwriters brought to life on the big screen.  I guess I’m not doing that good as being an objective critic this year.  I’m letting my emotions cloud my initial judgment I guess.  I apologize for that.  I’ll try harder.  At least I admit when I’m wrong, eh?

I truly think the thing that kept me ticking and clinging for hope throughout the feature was the fact that it’s based on a true story and it was in the hands of a very capable filmmaker James Wan, not to mention two faves of mine, Patrick Wilson and the delightful Vera Farmiga.  I’m also a sucker for that “true story” tagline and it got me here.  I’m fascinated by the supernatural and I wanted to see just how far and freaky things went down the rabbit hole here.  However, it never ventured too far beyond the norm of what I expect from these kind of movies, always keeping things safe with the strong actor performances and the incredible vision that Wan brings to the horror genre.  Everything here is pretty spot on from the cinematography to the effects and of course the acting, which I’m constantly praising here.  James Wan has that uncanny talent of making gold out of copper  pennies and it shows here as well as the huge box office numbers this one put up too.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!  And regardless of the fact that I did not enjoy this feature as much as I wanted to the first time around, I’m stoked that I was able to appreciate it for what it was during my second viewing on Blu-ray.  My eyes are open and loving emotions have been “conjured.”  You got me, James!

Video 

In my opinion, Warner Bros. has been hitting home runs out of the ballpark left and right as of late with their new title Blu-ray releases.  Why?  It’s because they look and sound like the sweetest candy your eyes can ever gaze upon and your ears will ever hear.  And I’m happy to report, their home run streak continues here as WB knocks it out of the park once again with a gorgeous, haunting AVC MPEG-4 video encode transfer framed in a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio.  The deep and inky black levels will haunt your dreams.  The detail in the picture is chiseled razor sharp here.  You’ll see every strand of hair, pore and wrinkle in the actors’ skin.  All the skin tones look natural and normal, making the palest of possession moments even scarier here.  The color palette is a bit dull, but that’s to give it that earthy and realistic feel that goes hand-in-hand with the spot on skin tone levels.  There’s not a single blemish, speck or ugly artifact to be found anywhere in this print.  For a low budget horror movie (well I guess 20 million is high for a Wan film), this one looks like a million dollars on Blu-ray.

Audio 

Following suit with all the praise given above, Warner Bros. brings us a ferocious monster of an audio surround track here with a demon-filled DTS-HD Master Audio lossless engagement.  Things definitely go BUMP in the middle of the night here.  Your subwoofer will definitely be working overtime here with all the pounding going on around the house.  The Insidious-like soundtrack will infuse your sound space as the eerie effects such as clapping, haunting voices and giggling demonic laughter will rapture the rear channels.  You’re definitely in the middle of this one.  It’s obviously not as bombastic as Pacific Rim, but for the type of the film it is you can’t find fault with the lossless audio track in this one  I dare you to try!  Wait until the exorcism when the whole house rumbles and glass all around you explodes.  It’s like nothing else and I have nothing but praise for this audio presentation…nothing but love and praise.  And yes, last but certainly not least, the audio is always loud, clear and intelligible and I couldn’t be happier.  Also selectable from the disc’s main menu one can find alternate audio cuts such as French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and subtitles in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Extras 

Unfortunately, Warner Bros. only hit a double here in the supplemental features ballpark.  There are only three short featurettes to be found on the Blu-ray, a separate DVD housing a copy of the film in standard definition and redemption code to redeem for an HD version of the film on the UltraViolet format, which I guess WB is not listening to my cries for an iTunes Digital Copy…so I guess I’m giving up the fight once and for all.  Like the wise always say, be happy and appreciate what you have and don’t obsess on what you don’t.  It will only “conjure” and foster ugly negativity.

  • The Conjuring: Face-to-Face with Terror (HD, 6:39) – Here you get to re-live the real-life horror as the Perron family comes together via interviews to reflect back on the farmhouse they all shared with diabolical spirits for nearly a decade.  It was interesting to learn a lot of interesting facts here such as the actual house is 110 feet long and that the previous family warned the Perrons to leave the lights illuminated 24×7.  The real-life Lorraine Warren chimes in as well.
  • A Life in Demonology (HD, 15:39) – This one is the coolest because the real-life demonologist and paranormal experts from this case on display in this film take you down to the Warren’s cellar where the real and horrific artifacts are kept.  You also get to learn a little more about Ed Warren like the fact that he was the only one who escaped a tragic Navy accident and he actually grew up in a real haunted house.  So I guess you can see why he was curious about the occult and supernatural, huh?
  • Scaring the “@$*%” Out of You (HD, 8:04) – This one is all about Director James Wan and his brilliance as the cast, crew and producers all talk about the man’s gift and visions.  James goes on record saying sound is the most important thing to him in creating a horror film.  I also enjoyed seeing how they built the entire two-story house on a stage.  Many good things to be found here, and of course, some Vera moments too!

Just like my recent review of Pacific Rim on Blu-ray over here, The Conjuring also comes to Blu-ray with a reflective lenticular slipcase so I thought it would be great to show it off  in the below exclusive unboxing pics.  Enjoy!

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Here’s a shot of the full lenticular cover that protects the beautiful blue case.

Conjuring 1

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You start to turn the cover and you see hands appear.

Conjuring 3

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You turn it a little more and viola!  Hands clap!  Pretty cool, huh?

Conjuring 4

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Here’s the back of the slipcover, which is the same as the rear Blu-ray cover art.

Conjuring 2

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I’m getting eager to rip the plastic off this one!  The anticipation swells!

Conjuring 5

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And last but not least, here are the discs!  Conjure up a Blu-ray player!

Conjuring 6

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Summary  

So I guess without saying that any fan of the horror genre or disciple of James Wan should definitely pick this one up on the Blu-ray format.  With reference video and audio to boot, the flick alone is guaranteed to “conjure” up plenty of scares so why not enjoy it in the finest way possible this Halloween season…on Blu-ray of course!  Thanks to Warner Bros. with their recent streak of homeruns by delivering hot and crisp Blu-ray releases as of late.  This one is a no-brainer in my opinion.  A MUST-OWN!  Happy Halloween!

If you like what you read above, please help support our site and own The Conjuring on Blu-ray Combo Pack and HD Digital Download 10/22 by pre-ordering here.

The Conjuring Blu-ray

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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