ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

Ed and Lorraine Warren have a long-standing reputation of being paranormal researchers. Their reports helped inspire The Amityville Horror back in 1976. That story was debunked, and was even admitted to be a hoax. The Warrens ended up being exposed as frauds. But that didn't matter - they kept going and making up other stories, which were also disproved. But there are still a lot of gullible people that want to believe Hollywood has discovered scary truths that no scientist or news organization ever found, so the movies keep coming.

The Conjuring is supposed to be based on one of their scariest cases, about the Perron family. The movie is "based on a true story" because the Perron family is real and they said their house was haunted. But that's it. Both the movie and the Perron family's story were proved to be completely false. More than that, the current owners of the real house are suing Warner Bros. and director James Wan, for making up a story that is bringing curious people to trespass on their property.

TOP: house in the movie.    BOTTOM: the real house
TOP: house in the movie. BOTTOM: the real house

It makes sense that the movie is completely false, because it's also completely bad. There is an endless list of things wrong with this movie, but if you've seen it, here are nine of the sillier things to consider (of course, there are spoilers).

1. Nothing ever really happens.

Nobody is killed, nobody is seriously injured. The dog is found dead in the yard, and a few birds hit the house, but that's it. Up until the last 20 minutes, the movie is all clapping, matches, banging, and yanking body parts. The only thing that makes the movie scary is the sound editing - which is awesome, I must admit.

This is the only real death in the whole movie.
This is the only real death in the whole movie.

2. The story doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

It's about Bathsheba, a witch in Salem that sacrificed her kid to Satan and cursed anyone that tried to take her land. Then, over the last few hundred years, Bathsheba's ghost would possess people that move onto her land and make them kill their kids. And now that the Perrons have moved into the house, Bathsheba targets them.

Umm, what? There were no actual Satanic witches in Salem, and ghosts don't possess people. And if the Perrons moved, then they would be off Bathsheba's land. Problem solved. Roll credits.

3. The stupid "technology"

If all it takes to show evidence of ghosts and demons is a UV light, stoned college kids would have proven the existence of ghosts a long time ago.

4. The movie contradicts itself

Anyway, Bathsheba is a ghost protecting her land in the name of Satan or something. Carolyn actually thinks of the solution - just move. But not so fast. The Warrens tell Carolyn that moving won't help, because Bathsheba has attached itself to the family. Then the funniest quote of the movie happens. Ed says, "Sometimes when you get haunted, it’s like stepping on gum. You take it with you."

Yeah, because gum abuses you in your house at night, and you can't ever get rid of it.

But again, ummm... what? If Bathsheba is protecting her property, why would she leave it to follow a family? Then she would miss the next people to move into her house.

However, to prove the Warrens right, Bathsheba figures out where the Warrens live and goes to their house to threaten their daughter. Oh, and she can also apparently control the weather and make birds commit suicide.

Don't even get me started about Annabelle.
Don't even get me started about Annabelle.

5. The stupid pranks that Bathsheba pulls

If Bathsheba can control physical objects, why does she just squeeze and pull body parts? Speaking of which, when Bathsheba is dragging the girl around by the hair, and somebody chases her with scissors and cuts her hair so she can be free, why doesn't Bathsheba just grab more hair and keep pulling? How is that an escape?

6. The brain-dead family

Once the family figures out that weird and potentially dangerous things are going on, why doesn't anybody ever think about all sleeping in the same room? Why does everybody still go to their own bedrooms every night so they can get terrorized again, until the Warrens show up?

7. The "convenient" plot devices

When Bathsheba finally decides to actually possess Carolyn, she doesn't do it at the house. She follows the family to a hotel, and then possesses Carolyn, so that she can drive the kids back to the house to kill them. Which just happens to give the Warrens enough time to also get back to the house.

8. The possession scene is more funny than scary

When Possessed Carolyn is tied to the chair, and the exorcism really pisses Bathsheba off, what does she do? Kill Carolyn? Throw objects at the other characters? No, she turns the chair upside down so that Carolyn is sitting on the ceiling, until Ed tells her to stop it. That's all.

Again, I must say... umm, what?

9. The Warrens actually failed the exorcism

The point is made over and over that the only thing that can save them is a Catholic exorcism. But when they do the exorcism, it doesn't work. God can't save Carolyn. Only her memories of a day at the beach can drive out the centuries-old satanic demon/witch/ghost.

Hey, where's the beach?
Hey, where's the beach?

The only thing that the movie is good for is a meta-game. Your goal is to count how many other horror movies are referenced or copied in this one, and how many times each movie is referenced or copied. Hint: it's a lot.

After watching the movie a second time, I have a suspicion that director James Wan and writers Chad and Carey Hayes used the movie to play a joke on people. You see, the term "conjuring" has two meanings. The first is to call up or command a spirit. The second definition is something that looks magic but is actually fake. Several times in the movie, the Warrens mention that a lot of people don't believe their stories. And remember, the girl kept getting her leg pulled. Literally.

Perhaps the movie was made bad on purpose, to make fun of people who believe this trash. It's a patchwork quilt of random parts taken from other movies with no thought given to the actual story. It was a cynical cash grab, and James Wan made the right bet. It was a monster hit that spawned a sequel based on another Warren case, the "Enfield poltergeist"... which was also a hoax.

Anyway, to refresh your memory, here's the trailer:

What do you think? Was the movie scary? Are you looking forward to the sequel? Let us know!


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