Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Jul 25, 2013
    100
    I'd be shocked if we see a better horror film in 2013.
  2. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jul 16, 2013
    100
    Like the wood-grained farmhouse itself — a beautiful piece of production design by Julie Berghoff — The Conjuring has an analog solidity that makes the terror to come almost unbearable.
  3. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Jul 17, 2013
    91
    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).
  4. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jul 18, 2013
    90
    The dread gathers and surges while the blood scarcely trickles in The Conjuring, a fantastically effective haunted-house movie.
  5. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Jul 12, 2013
    90
    A sensationally entertaining old-school freakout and one of the smartest, most viscerally effective thrillers in recent memory.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jul 18, 2013
    88
    The net result is an entertainingly frightening film that keeps the audience in a state of alarmed, but eager, anticipation.
  7. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jul 17, 2013
    88
    The pervasive aura of creepiness more than compensates for the low body count and inventive use of sharp instrumentation.
  8. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jul 16, 2013
    88
    The movie belongs to the women, for once, and The Conjuring doesn't exploit or mangle the female characters in the usual ways. Farmiga, playing a true believer, makes every spectral sighting and human response matter; Taylor is equally fine, and when she's playing a "hide-and-clap" blindfold game with her girls, she's like a kid herself, about to get the jolt of her life.
  9. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Jul 17, 2013
    83
    As an exercise in classical scare tactics, delivered through an escalating series of primo setpieces, The Conjuring is often supremely effective.
  10. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Jul 18, 2013
    80
    The Conjuring succeeds because of all that anticipation of dread things to come. The damned thing works you so well that you may even consider leaving halfway through, for fear you'll have a heart attack.
  11. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 17, 2013
    80
    A sense of dread permeates The Conjuring from the start, and it’s delightful.
  12. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Jul 12, 2013
    80
    The handsomely shot, expertly button-pushing scare-fest has the polish and the cast to draw older audiences who grew up on shockers built from performances rather than CGI.
  13. Reviewed by: William Goss
    Jul 12, 2013
    80
    Wan has marshaled his crack sense of supernatural menace into making his most satisfying scare story yet.
  14. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jul 19, 2013
    75
    It scared the living crap out of me. Only at the movies is that a compliment.
  15. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Jul 19, 2013
    75
    The Conjuring manages to place individuals in one isolated situation after another, where the editing and music are perfectly timed to capitalize on the payoff scare moment. We also get a level of writing and acting rarely seen in this genre, particularly when the mothers bond over the fiercely protective love that a parent feels for a child.
  16. Reviewed by: M. E. Russell
    Jul 18, 2013
    75
    As horror movies go, The Conjuring is an extremely skillful, entertaining remix album. That's not an insult.
  17. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Jul 18, 2013
    75
    Classy old-school horror, James Wan’s 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.
  18. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Jul 18, 2013
    75
    Whatever your belief system, this much is gospel: Movies like The Conjuring are less about the battle between God and Satan than the battle between the silly and the scary.
  19. Reviewed by: Tirdad Derakhshani
    Jul 18, 2013
    75
    Unexpectedly fresh, alive, and vibrant - and wonderfully traumatizing.
  20. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Jul 18, 2013
    75
    An uncommonly intense and frightening experience, The Conjuring is the first genuinely scary release in ages by a major studio that features practically no violence and spills only a bit of blood.
  21. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jul 17, 2013
    75
    The Conjuring is a throwback to old-school spine tingling, although this movie is less Halloween theme ride and more 1970s post-"Exorcist" terror.
  22. Reviewed by: Gabe Toro
    Jul 16, 2013
    75
    The Conjuring, at points, is terrifying. Wan really understands how active, acrobatic camerawork can enhance the storytelling without breaking the fourth wall, a technique abused by today’s horror craftsmen.
  23. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Jul 17, 2013
    70
    With The Conjuring, [Wan] once more turns the familiar terrifying, making it easy to fear what’s behind that closed door, or under the bed, or just around the corner, making a creaking noise that doesn’t sound quite right.
  24. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jul 18, 2013
    63
    With its forked tongue planted loosely in cheek, this haunted-house flick is enjoyably retro in both style and substance.
  25. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jul 17, 2013
    63
    The Conjuring digs up no new ground — indeed, it seems almost proud of its old school bona fides — but it plows the classic terrain with a skill that feels a lot like affection. The ghost that’s really haunting this movie is nostalgia.
  26. 63
    The Conjuring is like a prequel to 40 years of demonic possession thrillers.
  27. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Aug 3, 2013
    60
    Wan’s film is a sturdily built supernatural chiller, with next-to-no digital effects or gore, and it delivers its scares with a breezy lack of urgency.
  28. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jul 17, 2013
    58
    Wan seems to critique the third act failings of The Conjuring during the alarmingly superior first half.
  29. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 18, 2013
    50
    The big difference is that "The Exorcist" took the nation by storm with fresh ideas and brilliant filmmaking. The Conjuring conjures with amped-up echoes of old ideas, and represents a bet that they still retain their creepy appeal for today's audience.
  30. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jul 18, 2013
    50
    As a ninth-generation descendant of Abigail Faulkner, a convicted Salem witch who only escaped execution because she was pregnant at the time, I call down a terrible malediction upon the people who made this entertaining but indefensible movie.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 575 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 19 out of 153
  1. Jul 20, 2013
    10
    My girlfriend loves horror movies and has dragged me to a lot of stinkers, but this movie was not one of them. Possibly the best horror movie I have seen to date! Here are the top reasons why I enjoyed this movie so much

    1. crapped my pants
    2. surprised my girlfriend didn't leave hand prints because she was gripping my arm so tightly
    3. the "brave" guys beside me made lame jokes to lighten the mood (I assume they didn't like being so scared)
    4. the plot was very good for a horror movie and did I mention I crapped my pants?

    if you like horror go see this movie! wear a diaper...
    Full Review »
  2. Jul 20, 2013
    1
    Why is this movie getting awesome scores? What happened in this movie that hasn't happened in every other horror movie? Random substories that popped up are never resolved, and the main plot never really goes anywhere outside the obvious foreshadowing it sets up. Most scenes involve a lot of characters staring at something that barely moved, followed by a jump scare that quickly cuts to a "safe" scene. Boring horror movie that'll eventually play every weekend on tv. Full Review »
  3. Jul 21, 2013
    4
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. I'm feeling as though I'm in a rather small majority on this one. The Conjuring was the horror film equivalent to Prometheus: concerning all of its high expectations. To put it simply, horror films are all about the set up and the release (or the "pay-off"), and I felt neither. In my opinion, having felt the lack of the release was due in part to the weak or unclear set up. I don't consider myself a writer, although I believe I could be capable of writing a screenplay that could get away with murder.
    Speaking of murder, how many deaths occurred in the span of this film? Well, there are certainly various instances of implied murders, but other than that we only see the family’s dog and a scene that contains flocks upon flocks of birds that fall (or fly rather) to their death. All of the slayings surrounding any humans had taken occurrence in the past in regard to the history leading up to the family’s arrival. Whether a story is illustrated through a movie, a play, or a book (or any other medium), death is to be used as a plot device: a means to give a strong punctuation to the overall storyline. So what is death? Death is the looming threat that will eventually get the better of us, if we’re ready for it or if we’re not. The element of death can be represented symbolically as a warning, as significance, or the consequence of there being one.
    If there isn’t a single main character that doesn’t die in a HORROR film amid the first and second act (even up to the third act), then the film instinctively looses its power, and one’s attentiveness along with it. At the conclusion of the film, one might ask, “So, what did we gain from this?” Well, we relearned that at the end of any successful exorcism, the film would automatically instill a peaceful and a settling mood to the environment. That type of mood is over portrayed in the conclusion, and doesn’t benefit the film at all; it felt forced. We also learned that “jump scares” are still being used as a gimmick these days (yes, there are “jump scares” in this) only to lift audience’s eyelids of slumber. And lastly, if there are occurrences of paranormal activity at any time shown in a horror film, it better had be at night (or in this case, at 3:07 am precisely).
    Which now brings myself to the time to talk about the aspects of the film that I did enjoy, and thought that the film did justice to. The characters in the film are likeable enough to care for (to an extent) the cinematography is some of the best work I’ve seen in most recent years, the first shot and the last shot felt like the two highest points of visual stimulation, the score for the film was nice and booming (although in scene of the exorcism, the film decides to splice it along side with a character searching for someone in another section of the house, which lacks the tension in the score when it shifts back to him). There were a couple of Amityville Horror references that provided some sparks. And the exorcism scene itself was creative and inventive with the environment of which it was set.
    However, the film did not deliver any emotional connection between my associates and I. We found ourselves pointing out (and chuckling about) where the next big scare would be, and we weren’t all that far off for the majority of them. There was only one time that the film caught me off guard. It dealt with the character Lorraine Warren, who was standing outside by the lake (or river) when her husband comes from behind her when, she spots a corpse hanging from the tree behind him, which gave the film some points. The reason the sequence worked as well as it did was due to the time it occurred: MIDDAY. Which is perfect in any horror film to strive for, because it will not be anticipated.
    I went into this film the same way I go into any film these days, which is to go into it without any knowledge of the plot, characters or anything. It is simply the trailers these days that can give away crucial large chucks of the film; thus I avoid them at all costs (though I wouldn’t have felt any more letdown than if I had). A lessor film would have added a cheap jump scare to the ending shot; this one does not, which it earns some more points for that as well.
    Overall, I thought there were various elements of the film that were rather rewarding to its plot. Though the film as a whole, felt somewhat lousy in its execution. Now there are some critics out there that are calling it something like “This generation’s The Exorcist!” It’s a statement that sounds a bit hefty for a film that might not age as well as the classic. In the end, if one were to compare the two, they will find a clear and strong difference between the two films: AUTHENTIC HORROR. Can you guess which one?
    Full Review »