So, you're a couple moving to a remote New England farm-house available at a suspiciously low price in the American heartland of Steven King and HP Lovecraft. Um, with your five young daughters. What could possibly go wrong?
Quite a bit as it turns out. This elegantly-fashioned ghost story – based on actual events in the early 1970s – is an atmospheric back-to-basics chiller, taking the view that restrained direction techniques and correctly deployed lights and shadows alongside characters with understandable motivations and back stories will be far more effective than cheap and nasty 'torture porn'. Skilled director James Wan certainly seems to have come around to this way of thinking, with every release of his after the first grisly Saw film in 2004 marking him out as something of a standard-bearer for top-drawer supernatural cinema.
Taking the case notes of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorrine Warren (also involved with The Amityville Horror) as its inspiration, the film occasionally seems slightly over-keen to state its 'trueness', but any misgivings about this are blown away by the jumps and expertly-crafted frights in store. Clap, clap... And once more, clap.
The Conjuring | Directed by James Wan (USA 2013) With Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Kyla Deaver. Starts August 1