Matthew Lickona 1 p.m., March 7
In the decades since Linda Blair first hocked up a pea-soup facial, Hollywood xerographers have found in demonic possession a perennial cash absorber. Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) stylishly resists the easy temptation of schlock-shocks and CGI as a means of supplanting storytelling. For its its first hour, this fact-based haunted-house chiller (Harrisville, not Amityville) effectively delivers the jolts. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as a team of husband-and-wife exorcists — he’s the official demonologist of the Catholic Church — brought in to repossess a remote farm that has placed its occupants — Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, and their five daughters — under permanent house arrest. The trailer for The Conjuring is scarier than most horror features of recent vintage, and the feature makes good on the promise. Audience members at the screening I attended appeared to have been seated on pogo sticks. And clap hands for sound designer Joe Dzuban’s exquisite aurally-induced anxiety. 2013.
— Scott Marks
- "Oh, by the way: The Conjuring" • July 26, 2013