Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
In The Conjuring, the scary casts out the spirit of the silly, permanently, and with a vengeance.
New York Magazine/Vulture:
The damned thing works you so well that you may even consider leaving halfway through, for fear you'll have a heart attack.
A trim, effective haunted-house spook show, "The Conjuring" is both a throwback to early-'70s real estate shriekers like "The Amityville Horror" and a big-studio response to the "Paranormal Activity" found-footage genre.
... it surpasses the hallmarks of its genre with an actually dramatic storyline and all-around solid acting. Just don't think you can go see it alone.
New York Times:
The dread gathers and surges while the blood scarcely trickles in "The Conjuring," a fantastically effective haunted-house movie.
Wall Street Journal:
This saga of demonic possession deploys the full audio firepower of modern multiplexes, and does so with brain-battering frequency, like a ghostbusting version of a Japanese Taiko drum ensemble.
One of the scarier haunted house/demon possession movies in recent years, it brings to mind '70s supernatural horror films such as The Exorcist with its stillness, steady build of suspense and handsome cinematography.
James Wan's haunted-house saga is well-crafted, convincingly acted, surprisingly restrained and scary as hell.
A sensationally entertaining old-school freakout and one of the smartest, most viscerally effective thrillers in recent memory.
As an exercise in classical scare tactics, delivered through an escalating series of primo setpieces, The Conjuring is often supremely effective.
James Wan proves himself to be moving quickly up the ranks of terror auteurs. The timing, pacing and character movement are outstanding. And it's scary as hell.
It's generic and lazy as storytelling, but this time there's almost enough playful camerawork to distract from the feeble conception.
An "Amityville Horror" for a new century (and a far better movie than that 1979 hit), yet firmly rooted, without being slavish or self-conscious, in the visual language of 1970s filmmaking.
As "The Conjuring" progresses, the scares don't register beyond standard issue horror gotchas. They're as telegraphed as the musical cues alerting you something spooky is about to happen.
Wan masterfully tightens the vise on the audience's nerves, using mood and sound effects for shocks that never feel cheap (the harmless kids' game of hide-and-clap has never been so bloodcurdling).
All the contorting girls and pea-soup vomit in the world can hardly compete with a blood-stained sheet and a well-placed doll.
Every hand that reaches into a wardrobe, every nervous trip into that basement just gets on your nerves. Satan needs to get over himself.
Taut and effective edge-of-the-seat horror, delivered with style and an especially haunting performance by Vera Farmiga.
San Jose Mercury News:
Working with cinematographer John R. Leonetti and editor Kirk Morri, Wan carefully crafts each setpiece so that each visual punch has maximum impact to a nerve-shredding musical soundtrack from composer Joseph Bihara.
What saves the movie is a surprisingly fine cast and deft direction from James Wan, the horror veteran who gave us "Saw."
Wan ... builds the many bumps in the night into a small Hitchcockian symphony of terror by way of long, eerie tracking shots, dramatic silences, and sudden scares that are frighteningly immersive.
New York Daily News:
"The Conjuring" wants Dan and Lorraine to seem like Indiana Jones-style hunters of the supernatural, but in this basic jolt-provider, they're as fascinating as the Jersey Devil.
New York Post:
"The Conjuring'' depends more on its excellent cast and atmospheric direction than cheap gimmicks to raise hairs on the back of your neck. Which it does, quite frequently.
Orange County Register:
[Wan] cuts The Conjuring into two halves -- an exhilarating haunted-house thriller and a grueling post-Exorcist horror film -- but they don't come back together in a living, breathing whole.
If I was to use a single word to describe The Conjuring, it would be "intense."
It scared the living crap out of me. Only at the movies is that a compliment. So kudos to The Conjuring for putting fresh fire into the overworked haunted-house genre.
Horror buffs will find [it] a highly satisfying, well-crafted film in a classical mode, with plenty of scares and very little gore.
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Without recourse to the gruesome S&M excesses of his "Saw" franchise, Wan conjures the chill of a demon breathing down your neck.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
With its forked tongue planted loosely in cheek, this haunted-house flick is enjoyably retro in both style and substance.
...there were moments where it seemed the entire theater was holding its breath. We were united in one feeling: terror.
Globe and Mail:
The Conjuring uses every stock scare in the horror movie playbook for a dumb, yet charmingly traditional haunted house picture that manages to feel more retro than rehashed.
This is a horror film where a pair of suddenly clapping hands gives you the heebie-jeebies, and Wan doesn't cheat with his jump scares.
The Conjuring doesn't try to reinvent the tropes of horror movies, whether it's ghosts or demons or exorcisms, but Fred Astaire didn't invent tap-dancing, either.
Wan builds mounting dread with silence and suspense, lingering the camera unsettlingly long here, creaking a door there.
It takes a retro-fashioned winner like The Conjuring to remind us that if the creaky, old house ain't broke, don't fix it.
Damned if director James Wan, the auteur of Saw's rusted-edge cruelty, isn't an ace with enjoyable spookhouse trap-springing.