Fear is one of the primal feelings of humankind. After all, negative energy can exist in many shapes and forms like demonic forces, monsters, and spirits which we may fail to comprehend. Cinema has long tried to capture its visual depiction since its heydays. Modern horror films explore these fears by focusing on occult phenomena like Satan worship, demonic possessions, and spirit hauntings. A common trope is the involvement of a family that has to fight through supernatural happenings.
Many such films claim to be based on stories derived from real-life happenings. ‘The Conjuring’ is one such fable that takes pride in its story as it has become one of the highest-grossing horror films. The Perron family’s story in the film caught our attention, and we decided to look into the hauntings’ truth. Here’s what we found out!
Is The Conjuring Based on a True Story?
Yes, ‘The Conjuring’ is based on a true story. The hauntings and the turbulent situations of the Perron family depicted in the film are based on real-life happenings. Their troubles were investigated by Edward and Lorraine Warren, real-life paranormal investigators who are famous for their countless investigations into supernatural events. The Perron family haunting remains one of their infamous cases to date.
Producer Tony DeRosa-Grund came across the Ed Warren tape regarding the investigation and wanted to create a film from the Perron family’s perspective. Writers Chad and Carey Hayes changed the narrative of the story after interviewing Lorraine Warren. By 2009, the film was green-lit for production. Let us look further into the film’s characters.
Edward and Lorraine Warren were a couple who worked together in the field of paranormal research. Edward was a demonologist by profession, and Lorraine professed to having clairvoyant abilities. They rose to prominence in their involvement with the Amityville haunting, a supernatural case in which the couple George and Kathy Lutz claimed to be plagued by demonic possession that drove them out of their house. The Amityville hauntings have been the inspiration of countless horror films like ‘The Amityville Horror’ and ‘Amityville II: The Possession.’
The Warrens founded the New England Society for Psychic Research and established the Occult Museum in their home in Monroe, Connecticut, which is depicted in ‘The Conjuring.’ The museum contains many artifacts, including the real Annabelle doll acquired by the Warrens in the early 1970s. The original doll reportedly began terrorizing people after it was purchased from a hobby shop.
The Warrens were called to investigate the Perron family estate in Rhode Island during the 1970s. Before the Perrons moved into the Rhode Island property, eight generations of families lived there. Multiple deaths, including the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, were documented in the house. Unfortunately, the news couldn’t reach the Perron family because the state of Rhode Island does not require homeowners to disclose the history of the properties before selling them.
Although many of the hauntings depicted in the film are claimed to be true by the Perrons, the climactic exorcism performed by Ed Warren did not actually take place. Ed was not authorized to perform an exorcism since he was not an ordained priest. Nevertheless, Andrea Perron claimed that she indeed saw her mother Carolyn being possessed during a séance conducted by Lorraine Warren in the basement of their house.
Andrea said in an interview with USA Today, “I thought I was going to pass out, my mother began to speak a language not of this world in a voice not her own. Her chair levitated, and she was thrown across the room.” (Andrea converted her experiences into a three-part book titled ‘House of Darkness House of Light’). The film depicts Carolyn contacting the Warrens, but in real life, Barbara, a neighbor of the Perrons, reportedly informed the Warrens about the ordeal. The hauntings were never resolved during the Perrons’ nine-year stay at the property (1971-1980).
The story of the real Bathsheba Sherman deviates a lot from her portrayal in the film. She was a resident of the property during the mid-1800s and died of natural causes in 1885, unlike the suicide depicted in the film. Although she was accused of witchcraft because of the death of an infant in her care, she was legally cleared of the charges as she was found not guilty.
Bathsheba Thayer (her maiden name) was buried in Harrisville, Rhode Island. Readers can get an informed detail on her in Sam Baltrusis’ book ‘Mass Murders: Bloodstained Crime Scenes Haunting The Bay State.’ Baltrusis interviewed Andrea Perron for his research, where she stated that Bathsheba couldn’t have been practicing witchcraft because she was accorded a proper catholic burial. The hauntings were attributed to Bathsheba as local lore despite the fact that the infant who died in her care succumbed to a puncture wound in his skull.
Andrea stated that her mother had a similar injury on her leg when the hauntings started to occur. Lorraine reached this conclusion after extrapolating these observations. Interestingly, Lorraine Warren served as a consultant for the film and Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson visited her to prepare for their role. The Perron family also visited the sets of ‘The Conjuring.’ Unfortunately, Ed Warren died in 2006, followed by Lorraine, who breathed her last in 2019.
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