The Conjuring came out five years ago, and there hasn’t been a better faith movie since. I Can Only Imagine, War Room and God’s Not Dead were cute affirmations, but they’re too simple-minded and preachy. Hacksaw Ridge, Silence and First Reformed are more nuanced, but their artsiness permits you to keep them at arm’s length, so they don’t stick. The Conjuring marks you. It’s scary, no doubt, but it’s also grounded, complicated and hyper-intelligent. Call it blasphemy, but it’s the decade’s gold standard for how a movie can engage with spiritual ideas.
Upon its release in 2013, The Conjuring was heralded as a potential revival for the horror genre. For years, the genre had been slumming in truly sick and repulsive territory. The Saw franchise was eyeing its eighth movie, found-footage had devolved from an immersive device to a cheap, slapdash gimmick and you couldn’t enter a theater without seeing another exploitative poster for whatever “based on a true story” demon flick was coming out next. If you liked horror movies, it was a brutal period. If you thought they were evil, you were justified. These movies were irredeemable trash.
And at first glance, The Conjuring appeared to fall into that lowbrow rut. Its director, James Wan, was the creator of Saw, and its story was another silly-seeming recreation of a famous exorcism. You had seen this one before, right?
Well, actually no. A look deeper into the movie’s roster of cast and crew members reveals a surprise: The Conjuring boasts a pair of Christian screenwriters, Chad and Carey Hayes. The two brothers had been hacking their way through TV movies for a couple decades, but after gaining a bit of horror-genre traction with The Reaping and House of Wax, they broke through with The Conjuring. And it might not be a coincidence because the characters in The Conjuring are based on a pair of honest-to-God believers.
Ed and Lorraine Warren are the lead characters in The Conjuring (they’re played by genre veterans Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga—excellent together). In real life, Ed and Lorraine were a husband-wife team of paranormal investigators. They traveled around the world looking into alleged hauntings and possessions, opening numerous famous cases like the Amityville Horror and the Perron Family haunting (the latter is portrayed in The Conjuring). Of course, their work is controversial, but one of the triumphs of The Conjuring is how it sets Ed and Lorraine upon a serious and dimensional spiritual foundation. They do this because they believe actual souls are at stake. It’s spiritual warfare at its most literal, and while the demonic threats might be real, Ed and Lorraine counter the darkness with legitimate faith in Christ.
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Source: Relevant Magazine