Daniel’s review published on Letterboxd:
Demons are real. Or so we are told. Believe it or not: We have almost seen a decade pass since horror was shifted. There was a quiet period. Until we saw James Wan breathe refreshing new life into fear for a new generation.
When revisiting this: it is hard to not immediately feel the impact. Even for a film that is still only a decade old. It is still felt upon many new releases. Not something we had really seen prior to this true lightning in a bottle.
None of that is to say it is among the best. At least for myself. Never has been a film that overly impressed me. Outside of many fun moments, but when I do return to it. My feelings grow fonder as it stands the test of time.
James Wan created something remarkable. It is your classic haunted house tale with his filmmaking sensibilities; but much more reserved than usual. Unlike some of his films; this was much more respectable of the tension.
Jump scares did not feel cheap in this. Mostly. Maybe a couple. Not nearly enough to hurt the experience or take away from the perfectly building sense of dread; as it comes to a rather terrifying and intense conclusion.
Say what you will about the Warrens. One thing is for sure: Seriously hard not to love Patrick Wilson or Vera Farmiga in these roles. Perfect chemistry that has you caring for them; and feeling a warmth in their very presence.
Do not get me started on the locations most of all. Everything is perfect. Beautifully shot with haunting sound design that has you covering your eyes plenty of times. Just waiting and fearing for something bad coming.
So much about this is worth admiring. Even as a film that isn't entirely for me. James Wan dedicates as much time to establishing these characters as he does to slowly unveiling the horrors that face them; and it's really good.
It is more entertaining than it is scary in the end. Not that it is a bad thing. Sometimes you need films like this; and it's built a large franchise. One could almost say this revived an entire genre; or maybe only a sub-genre.