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The Conjuring: A horror movie that thrills
There is nothing like a horror movie to liven up the night. Of late, though, horror movies emanating from Hollywood tend to be yawn-inducing like the Paranormal Activity series which could put even hardened insomniacs to sleep. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if doctors prescribe the series for such patients.

But 'The Conjuring' by director James Wan whose earlier films include Insidious and Saw, takes  the good, old-fashioned route to induce thrills and chills. It also helps that the movie is based on a real life incident featuring renowned paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who also investigated the famous Amityville incident in New York.

The story takes place in Harrisville, Rhode Island where the Perron family, comprising a couple (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) and their five daughters move to. The house and its location provide great atmosphere for the movie. Borrowing from earlier movies in the same genre like 'The Exorcist' and 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose', the film soon gets down to business with the children experiencing strange things at night (like someone yanking their legs while sleeping).

A spooky cellar hints darkly at hidden crimes and clocks stop mysteriously at 3.07 am. The scene in which the children play hide and clap with the mother is one of the best. Soon things move to the next level as the spirits become more malevolent and violent putting the children’s lives at risk. This is when the Warrens are called in to investigate.

Vera Farmiga is very convincing as the devout Catholic wife and mother who sees her vocation as a divine calling while Patrick Wilson provides good support as her husband. The Warrens dig up the dirt on the house and find that its history includes several unnatural deaths and an alleged witch who committed suicide on the property.

In other words, the house has too much bad karma accumulated over the years. It does not help that the Perrons are not regular church-goers.  Consequently, the church is hesitant to intervene once evidence has been collected about the demonic presence in the house. Finally it is up to the Warrens and they roll up their sleeves and get down to the task of exorcism. I don’t wish to give the ending away so I will stop here.

Every time I see a ghost movie, I can’t help asking myself the same question once again: do ghosts and demons really exist? Strangely, ghosts in most Hollywood horror movies seem to target women. The women who are their targets seem to be troubled in some manner. Either they are very sensitive like Emily Rose or they are battling inner demons.

Is it that these inner demons manifest themselves as demonic beings? There is a school of thought that holds that possession is actually a psychological condition. This is quite plausible but is it the complete answer? In 'The Conjuring', it is obvious that Carolyn Perron is under some stress—the husband has some financial problems and it does not require a clairvoyant to conclude that managing five rambunctious children is bound to be extremely stressful on a woman.

The year was 1971, when many women had begun to question gender roles and were chafing under the restraints imposed on them by a patriarchal society. Being the angel of the house can take a toll on a woman’s body and mind and many women of the time in fact led lives of quiet desperation. There have been women who killed their own children when marriage and motherhood become too oppressive. Susan Smith and Andrea Yates are just two examples.

But then again there have been people, the people who seem normal by most standards-who have had similar experiences. Whatever, it seems reasonable to conclude that ghosts are fond of lonely women and houses.

There is one annoying thing about watching such movies-- the disruption caused by a section of the audience which laughs and makes loud comments during the spookiest moments. Somehow I don’t feel that they are genuinely amused. It looks like an attempt to mask fear and I think this fact alone would lead one to suppose that The Conjuring works as a movie after all.

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