Movie Review of The Conjuring (2013)

by JoHarrington

Ed and Lorraine Warren were famous paranormal investigators from New England, USA. 'The Conjuring' chronicles the terrifying case of an entity in the Perron home.

I'll be honest. I watched this film in daylight. I hadn't meant to. I'd had it all set up and ready to go the night before. But then I jumped three times just watching the trailer.

Perhaps I'm just a coward. In my defense, I had someone tell me that it was the scariest film that she'd ever watched. A host of reviews told me that otherwise hardened, desensitized horror movie fans were professing fear over this one.

I watched it in daylight. It took the edge off the creepy atmosphere, but still provided enough to get my heart racing at times. It's not the most frightening film ever produced, but it's good enough.

Ed and Lorraine Warren: Ghost-hunters

Image: The Warrens from The ConjuringAnyone with a keen interest in paranormal investigations will have encountered the Warrens at some time.

They were a real husband and wife team involved in some of the best recorded American hauntings of the late 20th century. The Conjuring highlights a couple of their cases.

Ed Warren died in 2006, but Lorraine Warren was a consultant on the movie. She even played a cameo role, as her own mother.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson (pictured left) were welcomed into the Warren home. They spent several days there, as Lorraine's guests, learning private details about the couple, in order to portray them on screen. Vera was able to study Lorraine's actual mannerisms and intonation, as the lady was right there.

In addition, the actors were able to step inside a museum of haunted objects, which features heavily in the movie. It's located inside the Warren home.

But it wasn't Ed and Lorraine Warren's house which was the subject of The Conjuring. It was another in Harrisville, Rhode Island. What haunted the Perron family wasn't at all pleasant.

Official Trailer for The Conjuring (2013)

The Perron House Haunting in Rhode Island

If you liked The Amityville Horror, then you will love this movie.

Roger and Carolyn Perron worked hard to secure their beautiful country home.

They moved in, with their five young daughters, seeing only the lovely aspect, the scenery, the fresh air and the large amount of rooms in which to spread out.

What they hadn't counted upon was that the property wasn't entirely vacant.

Within hours - before they'd even made headway with the unpacking - the phenomena had begun. It was subtle, but didn't stay that way for long.

The Conjuring on DVD

Something unseen was battering Carolyn and terrorizing their daughters in their beds. That was only the beginning.

By the time Ed and Lorraine Warren were involved in the case, the Perron family had taken to sleeping all together in a single room. They were too terrified to remain apart, and with good reason too.

An entity in their home had begun to attack.

Nor was that particular spirit alone. This wasn't just one haunting. There were several ghosts to be glimpsed by those who entered the Perron house. Some much more friendly than others.

It seemed that something in the history of that place had been preying on its residents for a very long time. The spiritual fall-out was about to spiral out of control.

The Conjuring on Amazon Instant Video

The Conjuring: Official Main Trailer

The Conjuring: Not Just Another Amityville Horror Remake

New England, haunted house, fleeing family... haven't we all seen this before?

Image: Joey King in The ConjuringIt's become a cinematic trope now. The family besieged by ghosts and/or demonic entities in their home, usually to the point of fleeing, is way too familiar on the silver screen.

In many ways, The Conjuring brings nothing new to the table. Just about every one of those scares has a precedent somewhere in the annals of classic horror movies.

There's even a possessed doll (based on the real life Annabelle case), which has shades of Chucky.

Nevertheless, this movie feels different. There's something quite wonderful in the fact that not every bump in the night is supernatural in origin. There's even the occasional dash of comic relief.

All of this serves to keep the viewer on edge. When we can't guess whether something will jump out or not, then we're startled every time. There's just enough, perfectly paced, to keep the momentum going. A truly quality paranormal movie.

Moreover, the acting is very convincing. I had goose-bumps watching Christine (Joey King) react to a figure, which only she could see. Hell! I believed her! She genuinely seemed that afraid.

My recommendation is not to write The Conjuring off as just another Amityville trope. It's much, much more than that.

Historical Accuracy in The Conjuring Movie

The trouble with dramatizing a well known tale is that we already know what happened to the Perron family.

We've been reading about it in books for years. Andrea Perron - the eldest daughter - has a two volume book out telling everything that occurred. It's included in most books by or about the Warrens too.

Director James Wan, and his script-writers, pretty much took the essence of that story and turned it into something condensed and polished.

Twelve years worth of terror got compressed into about a single week. Most of the myriad of ghostly sightings were missed out. Other events were added in, which I don't recall ever encountering in these tellings.

However, the Perron girls (now all adults) have professed themselves fine with the streamlining and additions, so it would be peevish of me to complain on their behalf!

What did annoy me though was the portrayal of a famous witch event in New England. I can't say more without incurring a spoiler.

Let me just say, as a Pagan, that witchcraft does not look like that, particularly the history highlighted in the movie. If there was any truth in the potential origin of the haunting uncovered, then the individual concerned was almost certainly not a witch.

True Accounts of the Perron Family Haunting

House of Darkness House of Light: The True Story Volume One

Roger and Carolyn Perron purchased the home of their dreams and eventual nightmares in December of 1970. The Arnold Estate, located just beyond the village of Harrisville, Rhode...

View on Amazon

House of Darkness House of Light: The True Story Volume Two

For almost a decade our family lived among the dead. There we came to understand that we are not alone and there is something beyond mortal existence...

View on Amazon

The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren

If you think ghosts are only responsible for hauntings, think again. The Demonologist reveals the grave religious process behind supernatural events and how it can happen to you...

View on Amazon

Ed and Lorraine Warren: Deliver Us From Evil - True Cases of Haunted Houses and Demonic Attacks

Deliver Us From Evil, by J. F. Sawyer, is the first book to introduce Ed and Lorraine Warren and their unique occupation to the world. All cases in this book are prior to 1973. ...

View on Amazon

The Conjuring DOES Pass the Bechdel Test

With six Perron and three Warren female characters, it would have been really hard pushed not to have passed!

Image: Lorraine and Carolyn in The ConjuringThe Bechdel Test asks that there are more than one named female characters in a film. They must have a conversation with each other, which is not about a male character.

The Conjuring passes this low standard time and time again.

In the image to the left, Lorraine and Carolyn are discussing the possibility that the latter's house is haunted. That's only one example.

In fact, one of the earliest scenes has Cindy and April talking about toys!

Three questions are asked of each movie. They are so simple that it would be harder to fail than pass. They examine the role of females in that film. Nearly half fail.

More Articles about Haunted Houses and Ghost Hunters

In 1922, a high profile paranormal case in Nova Scotia saw a family fleeing for their lives, scientists cat-calling in the press and a young woman sectioned for life.
An aggressive ghost attacked a family and visitors to a home in Atchinson, Kansas. No-one can live there now.
It took a personal tragedy to shift Gary Galka's attention towards the paranormal. Now he's using his engineering skills to speak with his deceased daughter.
It's all well and good visiting a haunted location, but for evidence you're going to need more than a story. Check out what you can take to capture proof of ghosts.
Updated: 11/08/2013, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 12/27/2014

There's another by the same people about Annabelle, which I haven't seen yet. I know about - and have written about - Annabelle the doll in real life though.

JoHarrington on 12/28/2013

Wow! That must have been quite an experience. I'd love to visit it sometime.

Nelda_Hoxie on 12/27/2013

I have actually been to the Warren's museum in Connecticut. They are definitely into the darker side of ghostly activity. Creepy doesn't begin to describe it.

JoHarrington on 11/05/2013

You'd be absolutely amazed. I always add the Bechdel Test at the end of my reviews, and most of them fail. The bar is so low, yet apparently still too high.

Jyreeil on 11/05/2013

Is it really that rare that you have two named female characters talking about something other than a man?

JoHarrington on 10/31/2013

It's so rare that one does, isn't it?

I'm not saying that The Conjuring isn't frightening - it is - but the trailer is much more so. I didn't jump nearly so much when it was all spread out, as I did in those condensed moments. You may be fine.

dustytoes on 10/31/2013

The trailer had my nerves on edge so I don't know if I could sit through this movie. I may buy the book instead! I need an interesting one to read. I like that you always include that Bechdel test and it's nice to know this one passes.

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