(Photo: Screen Crush)
The most horrifying part about watching a horror movie is realizing it’s based on a true story. The Conjuring is that kind of movie. It’s easy to assume the movie is fake and that the characters are phonies, but unfortunately for my anxieties, research shows that a version of The Conjuring might’ve happened in real life. There’s just one minor problem. Even though the film is based on a true story, this “true” story involves ghosts and demonic possessions. Sooo in order to believe the events in this film happened, you’d have to believe in ghosts, Satan, and possessed Raggedy Ann dolls… And frankly, I loved my Raggedy Ann doll and was offended the demon “Annabelle” doll in The Conjuring was based on the same kind of doll I had growing up. Watching this movie really had me questioning whether it was based on true events or not. But since I do deep down believe in the supernatural (I watch Long Island Medium religiously), I’ll go along with what I learned about the true story.
The film begins and it’s 1971 and everything seems groovy when the Perron family moves into a rundown, Rhode Island farmhouse. Roger and Carolyn Perron (played by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) have five daughters who fight over bedrooms and play a game called “hide-and-clap” on their first night since, you know, there’s no TLC or iPhones yet. The girls accidently discover a sealed off basement, which Roger decides to explore alone with matches. Mistake number one…
He fights through the cobwebs and finds an old piano and an assortment of junk. In the following days, a series of scary things happen like the dog dying unexpectedly and Carolyn being locked inside the basement when a ghost joins her during a game of hide-and-clap gone wrong. At night, two daughters feel someone pulling on their feet and see a spirit in their room, while another begins banging her head into a wardrobe while sleepwalking. Finally, a spirit physically leaps onto the back of the oldest daughter, guaranteeing that, yeah, their house is 100% infested with unfriendly ghosts.
The Perrons do what any ghost-fearing people would. They stay in the house and suffer until convincing Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to help them exterminate the ghostly intruders. Unfortunately for them and all innocent bystanders involved (including the volunteer cop), this turns out to be more difficult than expected because a witch-ghost possesses Carolyn. In the 1800s, the witch attempted to sacrifice her baby and then hanged herself outside after cursing anyone who moved onto her property. Lorraine, a clairvoyant, and her husband Ed, a demonologist, eradicate the witch from Carolyn’s body and the house by performing an illegal exorcism.
(Photo: Super Marcy)
Immediately after seeing this movie, I began furiously googling because I had to know before falling asleep whether it was true or not. What I discovered appears to be more disturbing than what I saw on screen. In the film version, the house contained three solid ghosts; a little boy, his mother, and the witch, Bathsheba Sherman. The Perron’s oldest daughter, Andrea Perron, writes in her book House of Darkness, House of Light: The True Story that multiple generations of ghosts from the same family inhabited their house. According to Andrea Perron’s account in her book: “Most of them were completely benign and some of them didn’t even seem to notice that we were there, but eight generations lived and died in that house prior to our arrival and some of them never left.” The Perron family reportedly did hear and see doors slam shut and also encountered spirits speaking to them especially in dreams.
The film changes the details of the paranormal events the Perron’s encountered, but according to the family these events did occur in a similar fashion. But what about Ed and Lorraine Warren? Did they experience the haunting the way the Perron family describe it? I can’t say for sure since Ed Warren is deceased, but in an interview with Lorraine Warren from the Christian Post, we learn that the basement depicted in the film was based on the original cellar in the Rhode Island farmhouse. Lorraine admits to having felt evil spirits in the house’s cellar: “When I got to the top of the stairs and I looked in this room and it was all dark and this grotesque face was in there and I made the sign of the cross in the air and said, ‘in the name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave and go back to where you came from.’”
(Photo: Cross Map)
In another interview with Lorraine from Badass Digest, she discusses the Warrens other cases besides the Perron’s haunted farmhouse. For instance, the Warrens investigated a case in Enfield, England of twins being controlled by “inhuman spirits.” One twin even disappeared for 17 minutes and was found twisted and shoved inside some sort of toolbox or cabinet.
I’m all about being on the ghost bandwagon. I mean, anytime my lamp flickers I assume it’s a spirit trying to contact me rather than the bulb burning out. But, I will say, I’m not so sure about the mental state of these so-called ghost hunters. Having read quite a few of Lorraine Warren’s interviews, sometimes I’m confused by her answers to the interview questions. In an interview from Trailer Addict, she goes from preaching about Jesus one minute and then lusting over The Conjuring’s director, James Wan, the next minute. There’s also the issue of the Warrens being associated with The Amityville Horror case, which is now being criticized as a hoax. Lorraine Warren might be a sweet, old lady who’s off her rocker… but I believe The Conjuring is true and that she and her husband were legitimate ghost-hunters. Then again it will be the nonbelievers who are going to be able to sleep again after watching this movie.