The Conjuring

The Conjuring

Kevin J. Wetmore

Print publication date: 2022

ISBN: 9781800859265

Publisher: Liverpool University Press


James Wan’s 2013 film The Conjuring appears on many critics’ best horror films of the decade lists and was rated R by the MPAA solely “for terror.” Allegedly based on the true story of the Perron family’s experiences in a haunted farmhouse in rural Rhode Island, the film comes from the files of pioneer paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, and tells the story of how the Perron family came under supernatural assault from Bathsheba Sherman, a demonic eighteenth century witch, and how the Warrens investigated and eventually exorcised her. The book examines how Wan created the paragon of virtuosic, effective, terrifying haunted house movies, and then goes on to consider how the film plays with the idea of “a true story,” the role of religion in the film, how children’s games and toys are made the source of adult terror, how The Conjuring is a female-centered but not feminist film, and how the film spawned the “Conjuring Universe,” a growing series of half a dozen sequels, prequels, and related films. The Conjuring is an effective, good, old-fashioned horror film. It is genuinely scary and anxiety-inducing, greater than the sum of its parts and it is greater than its marketing campaign of “based on a true story” would seem to suggest. The book analyses the film on multiple levels and contextualizes it as a twenty-first century horror classic.