At almost two hours this supernatural horror film by James Wan can’t quite maintain the fearful tension of its opening acts but there’s plenty here to make you turn on the hall lights on the way to the bathroom. Many familiar gothic tropes are present: an uncanny doll, a terrifying crime in the past, a dilapidated country house, unaccountable noises, and strange visions. Plenty to think about too: the supernatural entity requires an object to manifest its power in the material world. In this instance not only a doll but a music box and a locket. It’s as if these items function as conduits. There’s also the question of Catholicism, which is probably indispensable for any story of demonic possession and exorcism. You can go all the way back to Matthew Lewis’s notorious novel The Monk to see just how crucial the mise-en-scene of the church and its rituals are to the creation of a properly spooky atmosphere. In any case, The Conjuring was scary enough to start a franchise!