Conjures Up Scare Factor
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
The late Ed Warren and his wife Lorraine were real-life paranormal investigators, perhaps best known for their involvement in the Amityville Horror case. You know, the one where a nice couple bought a house that was supposedly haunted by a violent, demonic presence that eventually drove them out of their home. It spawned a 1977 book (“The Amityville Horror”) and two movies of the same name.
Now another of their paranormal cases has made it to the screen. “The Conjuring” is now playing at Tropic Cinema.
Directed by James Wan, “The Conjuring” stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren in this real-life story about disturbing events in a Rhode Island farmhouse.
In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron (played by Ron Livingston and Lily Taylor), along with their five daughters, move into a spooky old house. Their dog refuses to come inside. After discovering the boarded up entrance to a cellar, strange things start to happen (else, this wouldn’t be a horror movie). Doors open and close. The dog dies. The wife gets mysterious bruises. They hear the sound of someone clapping.
So the family calls in Ed and Lorraine. Their research shows that the house used to belong to a witch who believed in child sacrifice. Yes, it’s time they call in a priest to conduct an exorcism. But what if the priest doesn’t arrive in time to rescue the family…
Do Ed and Lorraine save the day? Well, it’s kinda their movie.
Development of the film began over 20 years ago when Ed Warren played a tape recording of their interview with the Perron family for a movie producer. After languishing in turnaround and false starts, the film was eventually picked up by New Line Cinema.
Have the Perrons seen the film? “Everyone has, yeah,” nods director James Wan. “They all loved it and they all felt… There’s a lot of gratitude that we didn’t portray them as a crazy nutty family and that we saw them as normal people that went through these extraordinary circumstances.”
Although Wan is often pegged as a horror filmmaker, he demurs. “I am a student of cinema, and I love filmmaking of all kinds.” Yet, he’s the guy who gave us “Saw,” “Dead Silence,” and “Insidious.” He’s been called the jump-scare master.
Scriptwriters Chad and Carey Hayes signed on because they liked the scare factor in the story.
As Carey tells it, “When Bathsheba killed herself, she proclaimed her love for Satan and cursed anyone who would try to take her land, and then, over that course of time from the late 1800s to the present there has been a phenomenal amount of deaths on what was once that 500 acres.”
“Really unusual deaths,” nods Chad. “Like you’d have a better chance winning the lottery than you would… You’ll see it in the movie, we put them in there. Drownings, suicides, hunting accidents.”
“Car accidents,” adds Carey. “ People lost in the wintertime. Very odd in such a small, small area.”
“I guess the other thing that really drew us,” says Chad, “is that it’s a true story. To be able to look these people up, I mean, we met the Perron girls, these girls came to set. And you still see the scare in her eyes.”
Question is, will you see scare in the eyes of your fellow moviegoers? Yes, I’d predict you will.