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A trim, effective haunted-house spook show, “The Conjuring” is both a throwback to early-’70s real estate shriekers like “The Amityville Horror” and a big-studio response to the “Paranormal Activity” found-footage genre. In place of bumptious hand-held realism and a no-name cast, we get elegant camera work and actual Hollywood stars: Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as married paranormal investigators, and Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston as a couple whose dream home has a bad case of the Beelzebubs.
Taylor gets to run the gamut from good-hearted mama bear to full-on Bad Mother, but Farmiga almost turns “The Conjuring” into a different movie altogether, one about a loving wife and mother whose gifts for clairvoyance slowly eat her away with sorrow.