🩸⚰️ 𝔰𝔞𝔳𝔞𝔤𝔢 (㇏(•̀ᵥᵥ•́)ノ)’s review published on Letterboxd:
"So the doll was never possessed."
"No, it was used as a conduit, moved around to give the impression of possession. Demonic spirits don't possess things - they possess people. It wanted to get inside of you."
There are a few things in The Conjuring that legitimately put me on edge and ratchet up my anxiety. The early shots of Annabelle make my skin crawl a bit thanks to watching things like films on this list in my formative years. The banging on doors and walls usually spikes my anxiety horribly - there's a scene at the funeral home in The Haunting of Hill House that's absolutely horrifying for this. And the semi-casual-but-still-serious mentioning of an else-thing having tricked its way into people's lives... it's a lot. It gets to me, and I love that it does, especially being so jaded when it comes to most horror. All these things play into fears I remember having most of my life, so when they're combined this well, particularly right in the beginning of a film, it sets up a mood that keeps me at least a little bit on edge throughout the entire watch.
The use of silence combined with the use of distorted and muffled sound at times when paranormal things are happening I feel is a subtle and probably underappreciated part of this film. I'm always actively listening for background noise (or the absence of it) to see what else is going on, since we get a lot of subconscious context from things like that. I like to try and pay attention to the layers to see how the soundscape is built and helping to paint the entire piece for us. When a film is nearly dead quiet outside of what it purposely puts there, it makes the silence so much more unnerving, whether we consciously realize it or not.
The complete and total pitch black darkness in corners or just past doorways or engulfing hallways has me wanting to pull my feet up off the floor and tuck them underneath me in the chair where they might be safe from whatever's lurking in that unnatural absence of light. Wan knows how to draw out the focus on those spots for just the right amount of time, my heart beating faster as I watch terror overcoming the people on screen, until the anticipation nearly has me sweating before the payoff happens. This film taps into some primal fears and does it elegantly, without the use of bland and cheap tactics present in so much modern horror. Yes, there are jump scares in the form of loud noises and abrupt scene changes, but they're earned, which makes a world of difference. Everything here fits contextually, and everything builds on the previous scare tactic to make the next one just as satisfying (or gut-wrenching, depending on how you look at it).
I've seen this twice before - both times I had a lot of the same thoughts but for some reason didn't give it 5 stars, despite having an actual physical reaction. I blame having watched it with a friend both times, which always diminishes the effects of a film somewhat. Part of my attention is always on that other person, and we're most likely communicating and inevitably missing bits or breaking the flow and tension the film is setting up. This time, though... this time it felt like a 5. I've seen this twice before and it still physically affects me, so how could it not be.
I think it falls off a bit in the last 20 minutes or so, but not enough to bump it down from 5 stars. I still got chills, and it damn sure wasn't cause of the summer heat. Also helps watching it alone, in the dark, with the good surround sound headphones on. 🙌