THE CONJURING is set to thrill and scare the pants of cinema audiences this summer. The film tells the story of the Perron family, who are put through all sorts of mental and physical terrors by a dark and aggressive presence in their isolated farmhouse home in Harrisville, Rhode Island, USA. Things become so disturbing that the family enlist the aid of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are recognized and respected paranormal investigators to try and help them find out what the presence is and what it is doing in their home and more to the point why is it making their lives a living hell. The film which is a terrifying and fraught viewing experience is based upon true life events, which when one thinks about it makes the jumps, bumps and shocks unfolding on screen become even more frightening because this is something that actually took place in the 1970’s.The Warrens came to the public eye because of their involvement with THE AMITYVILLE case, which of course became the huge cinema success THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and spawned a sequel or two in later years. But THE CONJURING tells us a story that up until recently was kept a guarded secret by the Warren’s. The music is by Joseph Bishara
, who has built a reputation for himself as a composer who more or less specializes in films that have the scare or gore factor. His score for THE CONJURING marks a further collaboration with Director James Wan and underlines perfectly the malevolent happenings within the films storyline and enhances and embellishes the traumatic and hostile scenes on screen. Written for a 60 plus orchestra, the majority of which is made up of strings, but also includes a small woodwind section and a scattering of brass with added performances from piano and harp, plus there is also support from a small choir and synthetic elements with the inclusion of the amazing solo voice performance of Avant-Garde music marvel, Diamanda Galas in parts. Bishara’s music is not shall we say a pleasant listening experience, but it is not supposed to be given the subject matter it has been created for. It is however an inventive and above all original sounding work that I would add should not be listened to in the dark nor through headphones and probably not alone. Or if you are that way inclined maybe you should try it in the dark with headphones when everyone is out and wait for the men in white coats to come and get you? The score is a dark, taught and brooding one, full of tormented, and sinewy sounds that are at times overpowered by shocking and jarring stabs that come from both brass and strings with synthetic assistance, it is in my opinion an unearthly, unsettling work that posses the ability to scare on its own without any images whatsoever. Bishara’s score not only underlines and punctuates this vexing story but succeeds in giving it even more emotional depth and creates numerous atmospheric nuances that assist the movie greatly. In fact the only respite within the score that gives the listener some sort of melodic interlude or a breather from the fraught-ness is THE FAMILY THEME which comes at the end of the disc and is composed by Mark Isham
. But even this composition contains some dark sounding undertones within its make up as it begins with an aire of uncertainty but builds gradually until it concludes with a sound that is milder, pleasant, settled and purveys a feeling that is hopeful. Isham’s brief theme on the score is worlds away from the style employed by Joseph Bishara
, as the main score is a modern and somewhat complex sounding musical exercise which borders on the experimental, a fusion of music and also musical sounds which are themselves underlined or interspersed with brash and crashing crescendos that create unease and a sense of urgency, but let us just say it is an exercise that works marvellously within the context of the movie, it brings to the story another echelon of horror a more heightened stage of terror and in fact a more intense and frenzied feeling of fear. The score is filled to overflowing with foreboding and dread, and is a nerve jangling, gut wrenching rollercoaster ride for any listener. As I have said the music is at times complex and it oozes a virulent persona which is hard to describe, in fact the best way in which to describe the score as a whole is to say that it is formidable, at times dissonant and certainly an unrelenting musical assault upon ones nerves and senses. Wonderfully orchestrated meticulously performed and written by a composer that is most certainly talented, highly original and ingenious. THE CONJURING is a well thought out and well made horror film, it draws from past movies within the genre but never becomes clichéd or predictable and the score too manages to break new ground in an area of music and sound design that is constantly evolving. Recommended.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light