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"The Conjuring" (2013): Movie Reviews, True Story, and Videos

Holle is a retired English and creative writing teacher who also writes movie reviews.

The Conjuring movie house

The Conjuring movie house

"The Conjuring" Interest

My best friend and I went to see The Conjuring. We’re both big fans of scary movies, and we’d heard this one was really creepy. I was so excited about seeing the film that I read all I could find about it, including the supposedly true story the movie was based on. I’ve seen a lot of movies that claimed to be based on true stories, so I was pretty skeptical about this one. Based on my research, however, it seems The Conjuring stuck pretty close to the original source of the material, so whether or not viewers believe what’s offered is most likely based on their beliefs in the paranormal. I have somewhat mixed feelings on this subject, or at least I did before I had a couple of experiences myself. Still, I certainly don’t believe most of the claims about haunted houses, ghosts, and other paranormal experiences. Even though I wasn’t totally impressed with The Conjuring movie, I am impressed by the story behind it. To learn more, and to read our The Conjuring movie reviews, please continue!

The Conjuring Movie Trailer:

Location of the Real Conjuring House:

The Story Behind "The Conjuring"

The Conjuring tells the story of a normal, average American family who experienced several years of very unusual and terrifying events. The family includes seven members: Roger and Carolyn Perron and their five daughters – Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April. Carolyn had always wanted a house in the country with lots of room for outdoor playing and romping, and she found the house of her dreams in Harrisville, Rhode Island. The property included 200 acres, a barn, and an old farmhouse.

The Perrons moved into the house in 1970, during a winter storm. According to Andrea, the eldest child, strange things began to happen immediately. As she and her sisters were bringing in boxes, they passed a man standing in the dining room, and he totally ignored them. Suddenly, the man vanished into thin air. Also, the family dog refused to enter the house and was found dead the following morning. Numerous other paranormal events began happening in the home. The Perrons and visitors to the home would often hear banging, knocking, footsteps, and voices. Doors would open by themselves and chairs would vibrate. Physical contact from paranormal presences was also experienced. The daughters were sometimes grabbed by their feet and pulled from their beds, for example. Strange, scary apparitions were sometimes seen.

Not all the spirits seemed evil. In fact, a couple seemed to be benevolent. The spirit of a little boy, later identified as Oliver Richardson, befriended one of the Perron daughters. Another, presumably the ghost of Johnny Arnold, often watched lovingly as the girls played. There was also an elderly female spirit who would sometimes kiss the girls goodnight.

At least one spirit was evil, however. For the most part, the most malevolent presence seemed to concentrate its attention on Carolyn, the mother. She would sometimes wake up with unexplained bruises and scratches, and she once suffered a mysterious puncture wound in her leg. When the Perron family realized that they were in actual physical danger, they contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren, famous paranormal investigators.

The Warrens felt the strong presence of a very evil spirit. In order to learn the possible identity of the presence, the couple did extensive research on the home and the land adjoining the house. They discovered that Bathsheba Sherman, a woman accused of witchcraft, once lived nearby. Bathsheba was blamed for killing a baby she was caring for and was charged with manslaughter. The infant was killed when a knitting needle was plunged into the base of its skull. The alleged murderess was never found guilty, due to a lack of evidence, but the locals continued believing that she was guilty. According to regional folklore, Bathsheba sacrificed the baby as a gift to the devil. Whether the baby was her own or not is debatable. She had at least one child who grew to adulthood, Herbert Sherman.

In the movie, Bathsheba is reported to have hanged herself when her husband, Judson Sherman, discovered the murdered infant, but that isn’t true, according to records. Bathsheba actually died at the age of 73. The dead infant event had happened when Bathsheba was a teen or young adult. Bathsheba’s death, however, is rather unusual. According to local legend, her body turned to stone when she died.

While Ed and Lorraine Warren were holding a séance in the Perron’s home, Carolyn is reported to have been possessed by Bathsheba’s spirit, and the chair in which she was sitting rose from the floor. Supposedly, Bathsheba wished to remain mistress of the house as she had been in life, and she wanted Roger and the five children to be hers – not Carolyn’s.

In 1980, the Perron family sold the haunted house and moved to my home state of Georgia. According to Andrea, the man who moved in to do some restorations on the house upon the Perron’s exit was so frightened that he left suddenly, without his tools or his other belongings. She added that afterward, the house stood vacant for several years.

The Warrens have stated that this was the most disturbing haunting they’d ever experienced. They taped an interview with Carolyn Perron, in which Perron revealed many of the paranormal occurrences she and her family had endured in the old Rhode Island house. Around 1990, Ed Warren shared the interview tape with Tony DeRosa-Grund, a movie producer. The producer felt sure the material could be made into a hit movie, but he had trouble selling the idea to a production company. Finally, in 2009, a deal was made with New Line Cinema.

Lorraine Warren Interview about The Conjuring:

Ed and Lorraine Warren

Ed Warren, born in 1926, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He later became involved with the Catholic Church and demonology, becoming the only demonologist in the U.S. who wasn’t a priest. He reported that he grew up in a haunted house, and he wanted to help other individuals who were experiencing the same thing.

Lorraine Moran, medium and clairvoyant, was born in 1927. She and Ed met when both were sixteen years old. They were married while Ed was on leave from the Navy, after his ship was destroyed. When Ed returned home after the war was over, he and Lorraine had a child together, a daughter. The young family traveled around New England, while Ed made sketches of haunted houses. To get inside the house, he’d offer the drawing to the homeowner. This was the couple’s first step in investigating hauntings.

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In 1952, the Warrens started the New England Center for Psychic Research. The paranormal investigators have studied thousands of cases over the years, including the Smurl family haunting, the demon murder case, the Amityville haunting, and the haunted house owned by the Perron family. Ed died in 2006, but Lorraine is still involved with paranormal investigations.

Interview with the Perron Family:

"House of Darkness House of Light"

Andrea Perron, oldest among the Perron daughters, was eleven years old when her family moved into the haunted house. She wrote a book series about her family’s experiences, entitled House of Darkness House of Light. The first volume was published in 2011, and volume two was published in March 2013. The third book of the trilogy has not been published yet.

Ms. Perron has always enjoyed writing poetry and short stories, so it was inevitable that her experiences in the Harrisville house would eventually be written down. In fact, she said while she was living through the occurrences, she was taking mental notes. She and the other family members met numerous times to compare notes and share experiences for the books. Some shared willingly, while others were reticent about reliving the more disturbing events.

I haven’t read the books yet, but I soon will. I just ordered the first volume from Amazon. Even though I haven’t read Andrea Perron’s books, I have read excerpts from them, and I’ve watched numerous interviews with the author. She comes across as genuine and honest, and she’s also very likeable. I fully believe that something strange and mysterious happened to the Perron family in the Rhode Island farmhouse.

According to Andrea Perron, most of what was depicted in The Conjuring movie was true, although she explained that there were some discrepancies. Also, she said much was omitted due to the time constraints of a two-hour movie. I can hardly wait to read the books and find out what else the Perron family experienced! In my experience, the book is always better than the movie made from it. Well, I’ve found that that’s true about 99% of the time, anyway.

It’s important to understand that The Conjuring isn’t based on House of Darkness, House of Light. Instead, the film is based on the Warren’s interview tape and records, and Lorraine Warren was consulted numerous times during the development of the film. From what I’ve read, the Perron family supported the making of the film, and some even visited The Conjuring movie set in North Carolina.

Bathsheba of The Conjuring

Bathsheba Sherman was a real person. I’d never heard of her before reading about the true story of The Conjuring, but apparently, she’s well known in the New England area. There are numerous tales and legends about her and her alleged witchcraft and satanic rituals.

She was born Bathsheba Thayer in 1812, in the state of Rhode Island. In 1844, she married Judson Sherman, a local farmer. Bathsheba is reported to have been beautiful as a young woman, but there are also reports of her being difficult and somewhat cruel. After the death of the baby in her care, she was reportedly shunned by most of the town and forced to live her life in loneliness and seclusion. According to records, she died on May 25, 1885.

Bathsheba Sherman’s grave can be seen at the Harrisville Cemetery, in Burrillville, Rhode Island. It’s located in the old cemetery at the corner of Hill Road/Callahan School Street and Sherman Farm Road, at telephone pole 15, across the street from the local fire department. By the way, Harrisville is a village in Burrillville, and both are in Providence County. The headstone is almost black now, and there’s a large crack near the base that runs from side to side. The inscription is hard to read, but “Bathsheba” is inscribed in large letters across the top. Directly under the name is “Wife of Judson Sherman.” I can’t read the rest of the inscription on Bathsheba Sherman’s headstone.

"The Conjuring" House

The house in The Conjuring was built in 1736 by Dexter Richardson. The original home was a small saltbox, but over the years, it was added to several times. Eight generations of the Arnold family had lived in the house before the Perrons purchased it. The house and barn are still standing.

The Conjuring house supposedly has a long history of tragedy attached to it, including suicides and violent deaths. The suicide by hanging committed by Mrs. John Arnold, who was ninety-three years old at the time, might have served as the idea to have Bathsheba hang herself in the movie. Mrs. Arnold did the deed in the barn. Johnny Arnold, another former inhabitant of the house, poisoned himself. There were also victims of drownings and freezing to death.

The house is currently owned by Norma Sutcliffe and her husband, Gerry Nelfrich, who live in it. I watched an interview with her, and she describes some strange occurrences she’s experienced since moving into the house. None have been as intense or as frightening as those experienced by the Perron family, but they do sound rather spooky. She’s heard the loud banging and the voices described by the Perrons, and she once saw a blue light move across a room. Gerry once witnessed a fog or mist in one of the rooms. The bed vibrates, too, and so does a chair in the study. A door in the house once shuddered and banged so violently that Sutcliffe and her husband were afraid the glass was going to break. When Jerry grabbed the doorknob, the door became still immediately. Norma and Gerry have also heard a small child crying and talking, according to her interview. She made it a point to explain, however, they've never felt afraid or frightened in the house. The odd occurrences happened a couple of decades ago, and Norma and Gerry love their home.

Sutcliffe reports that visitors to her home, along with housesitters, have also reported strange events. At least three visitors have seen an apparition of an older woman with her hair in a bun, and many have heard the strange sounds associated with the house. Numerous guests have also reported an eerie feeling or presence.

The Conjuring wasn’t filmed on location at the original house. It was filmed at a movie set house in Wilmington, North Carolina. Unfortunately for the present owners of the home, curious onlookers are constantly coming to and driving by the house in order to get a peek at it. What do these curiosity-seekers hope to see from the outside? The current owners deserve their privacy. They had no part in the making of the film. If you have the urge to try to find the house, try to put yourself in the owners' place. You wouldn't want total strangers hanging around your home!

Ghost Hunters, the popular television show, investigated the Sutcliffe house, and the episode was aired in season two. The crew filmed a door opening by itself, heard unexplained noises, and felt a coldness. They also felt the chair in the study vibrate. After the investigations, the team concluded that the house is, indeed, haunted.

Read our reviews of The Conjuring.

Read our reviews of The Conjuring.

"The Conjuring" Movie Reviews

The Conjuring was released in the U.S. on July 19, 2013, and has big a big hit at the box office. The film was directed by James Wan, who also directed Insidious, Death Sentence, Saw, and Dead Silence. The Conjuring stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren, and Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston as Carolyn and Roger Perron. The five daughters are played by Shanley Caswell (as Andrea), Hayley McFarland (Nancy), Joey King (Christine), Mackenzie Foy (Cindy), and Kyla Deaver (April).

It seems that by now I would have learned that movies I’m super excited about rarely meet my expectations. Such was the case with The Conjuring. I’d heard lots of people say it was the scariest movie they’d ever seen. I was all set to be scared out of my wits, but I wasn’t. Actually, the emotion I felt most strongly in regard to the movie was pity and compassion for the Perron family.

On the other hand, I thought The Conjuring movie was a pretty good film. The fact that it was based on a true story made it especially interesting, and I enjoyed the old fashioned elements of creepiness. You won’t see a lot of dazzling special effects in the movie. Instead, it uses more “bumps in the night,” creaking doors, and hidden passageways to convey the frights. Unfortunately, my pal and I simply didn’t find the movie to be terrifying. There were a couple of surprises, along with a startle or two, but it just wasn’t very scary. In our opinions, The Conjuring didn’t come close to the “fear factor” of Poltergeist, The Exorcist, The Omen, Nightmare on Elm Street, Pet Sematary, It, or the original version of The Changeling.

I felt that the actors did a decent job of portraying their characters, and the house used in the film was pretty spooky. I also thought it was an interesting concept to tell the story more from the perspective of the Warrens. On the down side, I felt that the plot dragged at times. I wasn’t nearly as interested in the Warrens as I was in the story of the house and its ghostly inhabitants and history, so I wish the film had spent more time on those elements and less on the Warrens. I think the movie would have been a lot scarier if it had been more personal from the point of view of the Perron family. As it is, the emotion of fear is somewhat detached, in my opinion.

Another thing I didn’t like about the movie was it didn’t seem to provide viewers with any closure. I left the theater wondering what happened to the Perrons after Bathsheba was cast out of Carolyn. Did all the paranormal events stop? Did the benevolent spirits stay? Of course, this “non-closure” could have been done on purpose – a sequel to The Conjuring is already in the works.

My friend, another fan of horror movies and the paranormal, enjoyed the movie slightly more than I did. Her overall review of The Conjuring pretty much agreed with mine, although she thought the film was scarier than I found it to be. Even so, she didn’t find it particularly scary when compared to other scary movies. Perhaps the two of us are just too jaded by watching too many horror films. I’m anxious to read The Conjuring movie reviews written by readers here.

As I said, I find the story behind The Conjuring to be fascinating. I’m convinced that the events actually happened, and if I had been in the Perrons’ shoes, I would have been absolutely terrified. I’ve experienced a couple of paranormal events in my own home, but they weren’t scary. I believe they were friendly visits from my deceased parents. Had they been visitations from some evil spirit or demon, I’d probably be in the market for a new home. I just wish the movie had delivered more nail-biting, seat-gripping scares like the ones I was hoping for. If you’re in the mood for an interesting story with some twists and turns, you’ll enjoy The Conjuring, but don’t expect any huge frights. If you’ve seen The Conjuring, please let me know what you thought of it in the comments section below!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Holle Abee


Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 27, 2014:

Motherbynature, sources differ. Some say she did; others say she didn't. Sorry for the confusion!

Liv Carradine from Los Angeles, CA on September 27, 2014:

I'm a little confused. Your article says Bathsheba lived nearby but then you say her spirit wanted to remain mistress of the house. Did Bathsheba live in the house?

Norma Sutcliffe. on November 07, 2013:

I am adding more truth about house research done by several people we have created a group to go public. Bathsheba was never an Arnold never lived in the house could not have been mistress no murders suicides or hanging ever recorded here. Bathsheba died of a stroke no records ever of her being accused of a death she was a practicing Baptist Mrs Arnold claim died inher home Harrisville road John Arnold died near his home in Tarkiln. Prudence Arnold murder in Uxbridge Mass. All these names used in attempt to make it seem a reason for haunting s. Warren claim murder in our pantry she was found on second floor of house in Uxbridge Dexter Richardson s. house which is not ours. Many facts distorted claims made about this house since movie is false. The interview was a year and 1/2 ago long before movie and if you listen I joked every thing I mentioned was 23 years ago when many people claimed as soon as they alleged haunted house. Ghost Hunters asked us and same story i told them 8 years ago was 15 years prior. Funny the felt same the night they were here interesting?. Bathsheba story never heard of until Perrons . Mr Kenyon's family never haunted and angered about ghost stories considering there family lived in home 150 years. His grandmother lived during Bathshebas time and never told any story. I never called noises supernatural paranormal or ghosts. Comments varied from I was a sceptic to continuous paranormal. Shows very subjective opinions. Selective reading or hearing. I feel it not right that historical real names used in the story the have ancestors . No reference to death of child even in articles of Bathshebas funeral or will. News articles commonly referred to people's history when they died. There is more and will be made public soon. Norma Sutcliffe

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 28, 2013:

It is, Zack! Glad you stopped by.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 28, 2013:

Mrs. Sutcliffe, I only included the experiences you said had happened, in your Youtube interview with Andrea Perron. Unlike some articles about the house, I didn't include your address. I think you deserve your privacy. I believe the visitors who saw some of the strange things were at your home for cooking lessons, if memory serves - according to the interview.

It's a beautiful home, and I can understand why you love it. I live in a home I love, too, although we've experienced a few strange occurrences.

Norma Sutcliffe on August 28, 2013:

Current owner of farm although I told the stories of some things that happened over 22 years ago even then I never assumed it was ghosts i also mention in the interview I come from background in science and never jump to conclusions. We have never had a negative experience a made a point to say we have loved this home since we moved here and certainly never feared any thing about this house. Lies are also now out in the public that have angered us. We try to correct when we can. The Kenyon's were angry about the ghost stories never experienced anything and the new owners before us brother lived here for 3 1/2 years and then a minister who I became friends with and they never had any experiences stories have been exaggerated we are now tormented by trespassers and thrill seekers. Our security has been threatened we will never feel safe Like the Amityville which proven hoax yet the house is still having thrill seekers. We never made any money it is not our story but have to suffer in our elder years when we should be enjoying our beautifully restored historic property instead we cannot sleep and feel anxious leaving .

Zach Kaer from Ohio on August 07, 2013:

Habee, after I read this I've been scouring the internet this whole time looking for more information. It truly is very interesting!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 07, 2013:

Zach, The Conjuring true story is way more interesting than the movie!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 07, 2013:

Mike, I love the background story and can't wait to read House of Darkness House of Light.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 07, 2013:

Yep, Doc - folks seem to love it!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 07, 2013:

Alastar, you old scoundrel, how the heck are ya? Great to hear from you!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 07, 2013:

Karinthia, I can understand your love for The Conjuring movie, but did you think it was super scary?

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 07, 2013:

epbooks, thanks for the share!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 07, 2013:

Jeannie, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for visiting!

Zach Kaer from Ohio on August 07, 2013:

I had no idea the film was based on a true story. I'm going to see it this weekend, now it should be a little more scary knowing that it actually happened!

Mike Robbers from London on August 02, 2013:

Haven't seen the movie yet but I will soon. Excellent hub and review while the background story was also quite interesting.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 01, 2013:

I haven't seen the film yet, Holle, but based on your review I will probably go to view it for myself. It seems to be making money at the box office though.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on July 31, 2013:

Very nicely put together, habee. You cover just about all one would want to know concerning the story, movie and all. I wonder if Jeannieinabottle's skepticism would have been sufficient for her to spend a night alone in the house back in 1971?:)

KarinthiaCeres on July 31, 2013:

I love this movie and I love how you did an article about the movie and its true story :)

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on July 31, 2013:

Thank you for posting this. I haven't had a chance to go see it yet, but I can't wait to go. I like the history you've provided as well. Voted this up and shared!

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on July 31, 2013:

I saw the movie a few days ago. I don't necessarily believe everything that family claims happened. Yes, it might have been haunted, but some of those claims seem a bit far fetched. The movie was OK, but I could not get past my skepticism the whole time. Thanks for researching all of this and sharing it! Voted up!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on July 31, 2013:

parachute, thanks for that! Let me know what you think about the film.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on July 31, 2013:

Austin, I don't go to the cinema often, but I really, really wanted to see this movie!

Carol from Greenwood, B.C., Canada on July 31, 2013:

This is a very interesting, well written hub. I enjoyed reading it very much. I'm now looking forward to seeing the movie. Thanks also for all the videos - especially the movie trailer! I love a good, spooky movie and this looks like it's right up my alley!

Voted up and shared.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on July 31, 2013:

I haven't seen it, so I don't have a comment on the movie. I did find the trailer and advertisements very intriguing though. The movie looks like it is going to go down on the top scary movies list. I will wait until it comes out on DVD to see it, however.

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