Watch the Surprisingly Intriguing Trailer for The Conjuring

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Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 28 2013 12:53 PM

Trailer Critic: The Conjuring

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Still of Lili Taylor in The Conjuring

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By now we’ve become accustomed to horror movie trailer tropes—the tenuous declaration that the narrative is “based on a true story,” the ominous music, the jump scare (and the moment of silence as someone creeps around a dark space that precedes it). The new trailer for The Conjuring, from Saw director James Wan, employs all of these tactics but with a crucial difference: They are toned down significantly.

Setting up the familiar haunted house element, actress Lili Taylor plays hide and seek with a few kids (her role is currently unknown according to the IMDb), only to find that others (spirits, perhaps) have unexpectedly joined in on their game. The overall effect is much more like the “red light, green light” scenes in The Orphanage, or the subtle spooks of Paranormal Activity, than the gruesome torture porn of the Saw franchise.

It’s hard to be truly scared by trailers anymore (or the movies themselves, for that matter), but The Conjuring comes quite close to succeeding. At the very least, by holding back, it sparks rare curiosity—the lack of context, overbearing music, and a big reveal adds a layer of suspense, leaving you guessing as to what the film might ultimately entail. With a cast that also features Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, this could very well be as satisfying as it looks.

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Grade: A-

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

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