Starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Joey King and Mackenzie Foy.
Directed by James Wan.
James Wan made his name with Saw, a clever, grisly indie that spawned several sequels with diminishing returns. He then came back with Insidious, where he kept the scares within a PG-13 realm, and while it had numerous flaws, it did a great job with its primary goal - to be scary.
The Conjuring is similar to Insidious in that it goes for PG-13 scares with supernatural forces. The MPAA rated it R simply because it was too scary.
The movie's based on a true story from Ed & Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators who were also involved in researching what came to be known as the Amityville Horror. Here, they're helping the Perron family, who've moved into a farmhouse that's apparently haunted by some former occupants.
What holds The Conjuring back is that notion that it's "a true story." Even if you believe in spirits, it goes places where you just know they're embellishing for the movie's sake. I even tried looking up the "true story" and it wasn't easy to find. The oldest daughter has since written a book based on her experiences from that house; I'm sure it may have been spooky for her but didn't come close to what the house manifests here.
Is it scary? Yes. Especially in the middle, Wan and his crew do a great job with lingering camera shots, dim lighting, and playing with audience expectations and outsmarting them for effective jump-scares. This movie is now the answer to "What film has the scariest hand-clap in cinematic history?"