The Conjuring review

James Wan's latest ghost story proves to be a truly hair-raising treat in high-definition

Purporting to be based on actual events, The Conjuring stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Set in 1971, the film follows the Warrens' attempts to help Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) and their five daughters, when their new home proves to be a locus for some terrifying supernatural activity.

If this all sounds a little like The Amityville Horror, then it's pretty fitting, as the Warrens were best-known for their investigations into that case. And anyway, The Conjuring is a much more effective shocker than any of the Amityville flicks – thanks primarily to director James Wan, who is rapidly becoming one of the genre's brightest talents.

Picture: It may have been shot using Arri Alexa HD cameras, but that doesn't stop The Conjuring from looking like an authentic 1970s production. While detailing is extremely refined, the colour palette is deliberately drab, shadows are ominously dark and skin tones frequently look rather pallid.

This might not make for optimum hi-def eye candy, but is exactly the look that the filmmakers wanted. And this Blu-ray's AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode replicates it very well indeed.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: As director James Wan says in one of the accompanying featurettes: 'I've always said what makes scary movies work is not so much the visuals, it's the sound. It's what you think you see through the sound design that is the most important thing'.

This definitely holds true for The Conjuring's excellent DTS-HD MA 5.1 track – indeed, the mix does everything you'd expect from a top-notch ghost story. Directional effects are constantly employed to spooky effect, while the LFE is withheld until the optimum moments, when it suddenly roars into life to scare the bejeezus out of you. Add to that some surprising subtlety in quieter moments and a perfect ability to prioritise dialogue no matter what else is occurring and you have a soundtrack that's pretty much impossible to fault.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: Disappointingly, this Blu-ray release only manages to conjure up a very limited set of extras.

The seven-minute The Conjuring: Face to Face with Terror talks to the Perron family and Lorraine Warren about the events that inspired the film. On a similar tack, the 16-minute A Life in Demonology takes a look at the life and career of the Warrens.

Finally, Scaring the '@$*%' Out of You offers an eight-minute look at the making of The Conjuring and James Wan's methodologies for making audiences jump out of their seats.
Extras rating: 1.5/5

We say: A superior scare-fest with a killer DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix – although the disc's bonus features are a mite disappointing

The Conjuring, Warner Home Video, All-region BD, £25 Approx