The Conjuring (review) is a horror movie about the haunting experience of the Perron family in the 1970s, and paranormal investigators Ed and Lorrain Warren and their attempts to help rid the Perron home of it’s unwelcome specters. The Conjuring, directed by James Wan of Saw and Insidious fame, was heavily marketed leading up to the July 19, 2013 U.S. Theatrical release date with claims that the film is “based on a true story”, and whenever such claims are made there is an obvious question – is The Conjuring really based on a true story, and if so… how accurate is it to the true events?
There are a number of elements in The Conjuring, and each can be taken in turn to examine the truth or fiction associated with those elements. These include: The Perron family – did they actually exist and experience a haunting? The Warren couple – are they in fact known paranormal investigators and did they actually work with the Perron’s on a haunting? The haunted house itself – the the old farm house in Rhode Island actually exist, and was it the host of some grisly occurrences over the years? And finally, the specific haunting situation depicted in the film – is that actually the way it went down in real life? Let’s have a look at each of those elements:
The Conjuring, Fact or Fiction
The Perron Family – Fact
Carolyn Perron, the mother in The Conjuring, today
The Perron family did actually exist, well DOES exist for the most part as many members of this family are still alive. One of the daughters, in fact, lectures about paranormal activities she has experienced and leverages those experiences to hypothesize about the nature of death and the afterlife.
The Warren Family – Fact
Ed and Lorraine Warren
The exploits of Ed and Lorraine Warren are well documented, and their exploits in the supernatural realm have been seen on the silver screen before the release of The Conjuring with the famous tale of The Amityville Horror house. Ed Warren, legally Edward Warren Miney, (1926-2006) passed away while his wife Lorraine Rita Moran (1927-present) continues to comment on her past adventures and share details of the hauntings and possessions she has encountered. Lorraine actually provided advisory services and spent time with the cast members for The Conjuring to add her perspective and tone to the presentation.
The Farmhouse – Fact
The Farmhouse described in The Conjuring does indeed exist, actually known as “The Arnold Estate”, and it is the site of the reported haunting of the Perron family where the Warren couple attempted to help them rid the place of the evil inhabitants. According to daughter Andrea Perron and mother Carolyn the family moved to the country house in 1971 and remained there for 10 years. According to their accounts the house was already 300 years old at the time they took up residence, and was purchased through a real estate agent who offered the cryptic warning “leave the lights on at night” just before turning over the keys and taking his leave. According to reports from the current owner of the farmhouse, Norma Sutcliff, supernatural happenings are still a frequent occurance at the site.
The Haunting Events Depicted in The Conjuring – Questionable
In The Conjuring there are some very overt supernatural happenings that quickly convince the entire family that something very strange is happening in the old farm house. According to accounts from survivors from the actual event, however, the mother and daughters had independent experiences that they kept from each other for some time to avoid upsetting the household, and the father was highly resistant to accepting that there was anything strange about the house. A few of the daughters report having “a feeling” that someone was there, or that someone was watching them, and that they were afraid to go into the cellar on their own because of a highly uncomfortable mood and atmosphere. It was reported by Andrea Perron that she was a point of comfort for her sisters when they would hear voices or believe they were touched in the night because they could all sense that their mother was very upset and despondent about the house. One particular experience related by Andrea is that her little sister heard many voices talking in unison, saying the phrase “There are seven dead solders buried in your walls” over and over.
Andrea Perron wrote a trilogy titled “House of Darkness, House of Light” that details the experiences of the Perron family, from her point of view, in the old farm house. Perron reports that her mother was “under siege” by the spirits in the house, but there doesn’t seem to be an accounting of the level of possession, or that the spirit was that of an old witch looking to kill children for the glory of Satan.
It would seem, then, that the telling of a ten year saga for a family in an old country home in the two hour timeframe of a motion picture required quite bit of poetic license. It is possible that the legend of the child-killing witch Bethesda Sherman may exist, but the accounts of the Perron family do not indicate that it was this particular spirit that caused the haunting trouble for the family to the extent that the film suggests. If this spirit was indeed one of the many in the home, it wanted the mother out of the house so that she could be the mistress, as she may have coveted the children and had ghostly romantic inklings toward the father. That’s all hard to say… Is The Conjuring Really based on a true story? Yes, mostly… with a bit of artistic license.
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