MORE SCREAM TIME Ron Livingston as Roger Perron, Lili Taylor as Carolyn Perron, and Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren in The Conjuring
Credit: Michael Tackett

James Wan’s surprise summer shockbuster The Conjuring (2013, 1 hr., 41 mins., R), a throwback ghost story that incorporates all the genre’s classic ingredients (moldering real estate, unsuspecting new tenants, mysterious cold spots), is now on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s a respectable entry in the eerie portrait gallery of haunted-house movies, but it doesn’t hold a spookily guttering candle to one of its earliest forebears. The Uninvited (1944, 1 hr., 39 mins., Not Rated) was one of the very first Hollywood films to treat a paranormal entity as a serious dramatic occurrence — not just a pile of possessed bed linens chasing around Abbott and Costello — and it still has the power to haunt. Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey play a brother and sister who move into Windward, a creaky old estate looking out over the jagged coastal cliffs of England. Everything is copacetic until late-night moaning and diaphanous apparitions convince the pair that they aren’t the home’s only inhabitants. Jauntier than the gothic horror films of the early ’60s like The Haunting or The Innocents, the film is plenty creepy, even when it’s being lighthearted. The Uninvited has been cited as a favorite by the likes of Martin Scorsese and Guillermo del Toro, and Criterion has burnished its legacy with a gorgeous new restoration. While the EXTRAS are about as immaterial as the film’s spirits, the movie remains scary good. The Conjuring: B The Uninvited A-

The Conjuring
  • Movie
  • 111 minutes