In this Associated Press photo, Vera Farmiga portrays Lorraine Warren in a scene from "The Conjuring."
It's a matter of hope versus hype, with hope so often the loser.
Horror film aficionados are familiar with the struggle. We're the people who sound off at length — no doubt annoyingly, to those less engaged with the topic — about the merits of classic fright flicks. Our cinematic bedrock is "Halloween," "The Exorcist," "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Psycho," "Night of the Living Dead." We acknowledge the visceral jolt of these movies, but are more than happy to chat about their Deeper Meaning. In our view, we offer enjoyable company. Others may disagree.
Horror film buffs are forever on a quest for the next classic. We're often disappointed. We've been hurt before.
Truth be told, we've had a good run in recent years. "The Last Exorcism" and the first "Paranormal Activity" — file them under the "found footage" horror film subset — satisfied our need for 1.) In-the-moment impact, and 2.) Lingering unease and something to think about long after the credits rolled.
So we were primed for "The Conjuring," brimming as it was with advance praise. It's a demon possession/haunted house-themed movie that certain critics promised was so...very....scary.
This particular viewer was filled to bursting with hope. His reward?
"The Conjuring" is by no means a bad film. It delivers the requisite frights, fleeting as they are. But I failed to find much more in it than run-of-the-mill multiplex shock-warfare scare fare.
Critical aside: Actress Vera Farmiga is in this film. As in any other movie she's been in — "Orphan," "Joshua," "Up in the Air," etc. — she inhabits her role in "The Conjuring." In other words, watch "The Conjuring" if for nothing else than to see Vera Farmiga at work.
"The Conjuring" won't be the world's last horror film. Horror movie fans? We'll see what comes next. We cling to hope.