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The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and written by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes. It is the first installment in The Conjuring Universe. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators and authors associated with prominent cases of haunting.

Their purportedly real-life reports inspired The Amityville Horror story and film franchise. The Warrens come to the assistance of the Perron family, who experienced increasingly disturbing events in their farmhouse in Rhode Island in 1971.

It was released in the United States and Canada on July 19, 2013, and received positive reviews from critics. It grossed over $319 million worldwide against its $20 million budget. A sequel, The Conjuring 2, was released on June 10, 2016, with a third film currently in development.

Synopsis

In 1971, paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) are summoned to the home of Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger Perron (Ron Livingston). The Perrons and their five daughters: Andrea (Shanley Caswell), Nancy (Hayley McFarland), Christine (Joey King), Cindy (Mackenzie Foy) and April (Kyla Deaver), have recently moved into a secluded farmhouse, where a supernatural presence has made itself known. Though the manifestations are relatively benign at first, events soon escalate in horrifying fashion, especially after the Warrens discover the house's macabre history.

Plot

In 1971, Carolyn and Roger Perron move into a dilapidated, old farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island with their five daughters: Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy and April. During the first day, the family moves in smoothly except for the dog, who refuses to come into the house. That night, the children play a game called hide-and-clap; while playing, one of the daughters finds the boarded up entrance to a cellar. After Roger inspects the basement with a match, the family goes to bed. Carolyn expresses concern because the dog is barking outside, and one of the daughters feels someone pulling at her feet.

In the morning, Carolyn wakes up with a mysterious bruise and their dog Sadie, is found dead. Over the next couple of days, various paranormal activities occur; doors open and close seemingly by themselves and Carolyn hears clapping when nobody is there. At night, their young daughter, Cindy, sleepwalks into the eldest daughter's bedroom, where she bangs her head repeatedly against an old wardrobe. The activity culminates in the eldest daughter being attacked by a spirit that looks like an elderly woman. Carolyn seeks the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren, noted paranormal investigators, to validate their concerns. Lorraine senses that a particular malevolent spirit has latched on to the family. They conduct an initial investigation, and conclude they should get involved, explaining to the Perron family that the house may require an exorcism. However, this cannot be done without further evidence and authorization from the Catholic Church.

During the process of researching the house's history, Ed and Lorraine Warren find out that the house belonged to an accused witch, Bathsheba Sherman. When Bathsheba's husband caught her sacrificing their week-old infant, she climbed to the top of a tree on the property, cursed all those who would take her land, and proclaimed her love for Satan before committing suicide. This is followed by reports found of numerous murders and suicides in houses that have since been built upon the property.

Ed and Lorraine return to the house with a police officer, and another paranormal investigator, Drew Thomas. They set up thermal cameras, and alarm systems throughout the house in an attempt to prove the spirit of Bathsheba is inhabiting the house and receive authorization from the Catholic Church. For the first night, nothing happens, and the clocks do not stop at 3:07AM. The next day, they all eat breakfast together and Roger Perron thanks Ed Warren for doing what they can to help. Ed explains that with every exorcism they do, a little piece of his wife Lorraine is taken, but he promises they will do what they can to help them.

During another night of investigation, nothing seems to happen until nightfall, when Cindy begins to sleepwalk again. While walking upstairs, thermal cameras observe a temperature drop around her as she enters into the wardrobe, whereupon the door slams shut behind her. The others force their way into the room and find a secret passage behind the wardrobe. After Cindy is taken out, Lorraine enters the wardrobe and falls through the floor boards down into the cellar. There, she sees the spirits of people whom Bathsheba has possessed, and realizes Bathsheba's purpose: to possess mothers and use them to kill their children.

After Lorraine escapes the cellar, she and Ed take their evidence to Father Gordon to organize an exorcism while the Perron family takes refuge at a hotel. Their relief is interrupted when Carolyn suddenly drives back to the house with two of the daughters. Ed and Lorraine rush to the house, where they find Roger and the police officer struggling with Carolyn as she tries to stab one of her daughters with a pair of scissors. Ed suggests they call the priest, but Lorraine reminds him that the priest is too far away, forcing Ed to perform the exorcism himself. While the others hold the tormented Carolyn down, Ed continues the exorcism.

Carolyn seemingly stops struggling, and for a brief moment it seems the excorism was successful. Suddenly, her chairs flips over end and she is held upside down. Ed yells for the demon to put her down, and after a few tense moments, she is released onto the ground. Ed rushes over to Carolyn, and tells the demon to leave her body. Carolyn slowly turns to Ed and says, "She's already gone.".

Meanwhile, Drew finds April hiding under the floorboards in the kitchen. He yells down the cellar that he found her, and this alerts the Demon inside Carolyn and she dashes up cellar stairs to find April, in order to complete the sacrifice. Ed and Lorraine Warren, along with Roger, rush up the stairs after her in order to stop her from going through with it. The possessed Carolyn chases after April through a tunnel underneath the floorboards. Carolyn grabs a hold of April, but at the same time, Lorraine reaches down through the floor and grabs Carolyn's head. She tells Carolyn to remember how much her family means to her, and to remember what she told her about how special they were to her and that they mean the world to her, and what she would leave behind if she went through with it. This seems to get through to Carolyn, as her face relaxes, and her breathing returns to normal. The demonic presence in her eyes seems to fade, and she puts April down.

The scene changes to Carolyn being helped out of the front door, to a now sunny morning. As she crosses from threshold of the door into the sunlight, the bruises on her skin fade away and she returns to her normal self. Roger and Carolyn rejoice with their family in the front yard, embracing one another, knowing that it's finally over.

After they ward off the demon at the Perron household, the Warrens return to their home. The scene cuts to Ed Warren entering his room of possessed objects and artifacts. He places the old music box from the house on an empty space on a shelf. Lorraine enters the room, and they leave together. After a few seconds, the music box starts to play on its own, and the camera slowly pans back to the music box. The camera zooms in on the mirror of the open music box, and the music slowly comes to a stop. The screen cuts to black, and the credits roll.

Cast

Reception

Box office

The Conjuring grossed $137.4 million in North America and $182.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $319.5 million, against a budget of $20 million.

In North America, the film opened on July 19, 2013, and was projected to gross $30–$35 million from 2,903 theaters in its opening weekend. The film earned $3.3 million from its Thursday night showings and $17 million on its first day. The film went on to gross $41.9 million in its opening weekend, landing in first place and breaking The Purges record as the biggest opening for an original R-rated horror film. For Warner Bros., The Conjuring surpassed the debut weekend of the distributor's big-budget film Pacific Rim, which had opened to $37.3 million the weekend prior. While horror films usually drop at least 50% in their second weekend, The Conjuring only dropped 47%, taking in $22.2 million and placing in second behind new release The Wolverine. After its run in theaters, the film was officially named a box office hit, grossing over fifteen times its production budget with a worldwide total of $318 million. Calculating in all production and promotional expenses, Deadline Hollywood estimated that the film made a total profit of $161.7 million.

Outside North America, the film had a total gross of $180.6 million from all its overseas markets. In Australia, it grossed $1.8 million in its debut weekend, placing third at the box office behind The Heat and This Is the End. Its total gross in Australia was $8.2 million. In the United Kingdom, the film opened on August 6 alongside The Smurfs 2, making £2.6 million ($3.3 million) in its opening weekend, and grossing $16.2 million in total there. It had its biggest international gross in Mexico, opening in first place on August 23, where the film made $18.9 million overall.

Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an 86% approval rating based on 214 reviews and a weighted average of 7.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Well-crafted and gleefully creepy, The Conjuring ratchets up dread through a series of effective old-school scares." Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 68 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". CinemaScore reported that audiences gave The Conjuring an "A-" grade on a scale of A to F; it was the first horror film to receive an A grade from the company.

In her review following the Los Angeles Film Festival, Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter said, "With its minimal use of digital effects, its strong, sympathetic performances and ace design work, the pic harks back in themes and methods to The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror, not quite attaining the poignancy and depth of the former but far exceeding the latter in sheer cinematic beauty." Justin Chang of Variety gave the film a positive review, calling the film "a sensationally entertaining old-school freakout and one of the smartest, most viscerally effective thrillers in recent memory." Additionally, Alonso Duralde of TheWrap also praised the effectiveness of the film, explaining that it 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." Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A-, citing the effectiveness of "mood and sound effects for shocks that never feel cheap."

However, some critics reacted negatively to the film's similarities with films such as The Exorcist and Poltergeist. Indiewire's Eric Kohn explained that, "The Warrens may know how to handle demonic possessions, but The Conjuring suffers from a different invading force: the ghosts of familiarity." Andrew O'Hehir of Salon said the film provided "all the scream-inducing shocks you could want, right on schedule", but thought the central concept – that the innocent women accused and executed in the Salem witch trials "actually were witches, who slaughtered children and pledged their love to Satan and everything!" – was "reprehensible and inexcusable bullshit".

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