Opinions can change drastically, despite what some people say.
The first time I saw The Conjuring was in 2013, shortly after it was released on DVD. (Back before my Blu-Ray addiction.) I was 15 and my appreciation for film wasn't nearly as strong as it is now. Nor was my appreciation for the paranormal.
I remember watched The Conjuring in my living room, with all the lights on, sun glaring on the TV screen and my cellphone in my hands. I gave it far from the fair chance then.
I remember thinking "this isn't scary at all."
I remember thinking that there was too much time spent on characters and build up, and not enough "scary moments." I also remember HATING the fact that there were so many characters in the house at once. That paranormal stuff was happening in a room of 6 people. It felt at the time that it ruined any tension, any sense of dread was squashed by the fact the setting was very unscary.
It's funny that those things are what made me LOVE it the second time around.
I just watched it for the second time a couple nights ago. And it's ironic that all those things I listed as negatives now feel like it's biggest strengths.
A lot of ghost and paranormal films don't have characters as strong as the Warrens. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga give some of the best performances in any paranormal film.
Also, I think it's true mastery on the part of director James Wan, who can manage to make the film scary DESPITE the fact that there are often so many people in the house, and that a lot of the scares take place in the daytime. It used to feel like a blunder, now I see that it's masterful.
But one of the things that makes me love The Conjuring the most, is that you can tell that it has a true respect for the paranormal field.
I'm not saying I believe in the paranormal. I consider myself a very open minded skeptic. I don't think I'll ever fully believe in ghosts until I witness something myself that is absolutely unexplainable. Like a Civil War general standing in front of my refrigerator.
But with that said, I know a lot about the paranormal field, common beliefs and practices, and how real life believers and paranormal researchers view things and conduct investigations. And The Conjuring respects real life paranormal views more than most other films like it.
There are some films, like 1408, that take the paranormal and create something unique with it, albeit unrealistic. Then there are films like the later Paranormal Activity films and the Poltergeist remake that drain the genre of any realism. Then there are some films like The Conjuring, that give off the sense that they respect the real life research of the paranormal.
Don't get me wrong. There are some ridiculous aspects of The Conjuring that wouldn't happen in a million years. This is a big budget horror film made by Warner Bros. after all. Of course they need their big "scary moments" in there.
The stuff with Annabelle, the floating people, etc. In my opinion that all felt like stuff Warner Bros. made James Wan put in there, to make all the average films goers have fun. But underneath that stuff, and to the core of the actual film, you can feel the real dedication to make a good film, while trying hard to respect what's considered real.
And with all that said, OTHER films in The Conjuring Universe do not do this. But The Conjuring films themselves do, in my opinion.