Life is stressful enough without watching horror movies so that I can spend the next two weeks trying to sleep without the flashbacks. But that’s just me. Given that the movie The Conjuring came in first at the box office last weekend, there are obviously many people who don’t share my sentiments.
The Conjuring, a haunted-house thriller from Warner Bros. debuted at the #1 spot with $41.5 million in North American ticket sales—the best debut for an R-rated horror flick ever. Yet, not even all the rave reviews tempt me. As a stay-at-home mom, if I want to be scared, I’ll just peek into one of the kids’ messy rooms. Still, I am a fan of this movie and I encourage people who like to scream and stop breathing at the same time to see it.
My reason for liking it is the God-factor. Through this true event is revealed that evil is no match for God. When the movie is over and your pulse returns to normal, you cannot tell yourself, “Well, that could never happen.” Instead, your first and best option to calm residual fear is to cling to God. After all, it’s what worked for the family in the movie.
The Conjuring is based on an evil presence doing hair-raising things, including hiding on top of wardrobes, and playing clapping games. Creepy. The story happened in the Seventies and centers around the Perron family, a couple and their five daughters, who were terrorized by a dark presence in their secluded Rhode Island farmhouse. They contacted world-renown paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens, Catholic and daily Communicants, always answered pleas for help but never charged anyone a dime. They felt it was a calling to help people. Lorraine was — and still is at age 86 — clairvoyant. Her husband, Ed, died in 2006, but he grew up in a haunted house and was one of only eight demonologists recognized by the Vatican; the only one who was not a priest.
Adapting the true-life story were the screenwriting siblings, Chad and Carey Hayes. “It’s not just about the scare, but about the story,” said Carey.
“A lot of horror movies are just about the scare but this one jumped out at us because of Ed and Loraine Warren.” He explained, “They often stepped into people’s lives to help them, but this time, something followed them home.”
Carey said that although the story is true, we are not shortchanged on the horror. “When we listed all of the scares that had happened to them, it was mind blowing, “ he said. Although a PG-13 rating would have been preferable to include teens easier, the movie’s rating board gave it an R due to the terror-factor.
“There’s very little blood, no sex, and no gore, but there was not a scene or two that could have been removed to bring down the rating,” Chad explained. “The tension is throughout.”
The Hughes brothers are Christian and share an admiration for the faith and courage of the Warrens. “The sharpest tool in their shed was their faith,’ Carey explained. “For them to conquer evil through using their faith was a strong message.” He pointed out that the difference between the Perrons and the Warrens was their faith. “Ed asked them if their children were baptized and was told no because they were not a church going family. Ed told them, ‘Well, You might want to rethink that.’”
The response from priests and Protestant pastors has been very positive. “A priest that attended the screening told me, ‘You and your brother got it right,” Carey said.
Chad said it is opening up discussions that lead to God and in some cases from unbelief to belief. “If there is evil, then there has to be good,” he said. “And if you are a believer, you know you have the tools.”
Lorraine was very involved in the making of the movie and helped get the characters right, according to Chad. “She came out to the set and met Vera Farmiga who plays her.”
While on the set, Lorraine walked around and her clairvoyance kicked in. The farmhouse had been recreated for the set. Carey said Lorraine walked into one of the rooms and said she did not like what was happening in there. The house had just built a few weeks earlier as part of the set, but that room was full of antiques. “We ended up not using it,” Carey said.
At one point, Chad’s son was working with the camera crew and walked into a room where a child’s toy top on a top shelf started spinning on it’s own. He ran out as fast as he could and refused to ever go back into that room.
Chad said it was common, whenever they spoke with Lorraine to do research over the phone, to hear static on the line. “She would say, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave,’ and the static would go away.”
Carey quoted Scripture as being at the heart of the movie. “Ephesians 6:12 says: ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,’ and that sums it up.” He added that the ending is also based on Scripture, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19).
The Conjuring is far more than just a horror movie, it’s a portal into another dimension that we rarely see but never need to fear. “We want you to feel the fear the family went through and enjoy the triumph through the power of God,” Chad said.
Well, who knows, maybe I will go to see this movie after all. I do love happy endings and I do love God. And anyways, after seeing so many messy kids’ bedrooms, how scary could this really be?
Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She is an award-winning author and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series. She has appeared on TV and radio stations across the country. Her latest books, Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and children’s book, Dear God, I Don’t Get It are both available now.
Looking for a Catholic Speaker? Check out Patti’s speaker page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.
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