Hollywood loves horror, and it also loves the idea of the Catholic faith going up against demonic evil — and “The Conjuring” franchise is one good example of both.
The two, and soon to be three, “The Conjuring” films are based on the case files of Catholic paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.
Our own head of production, Father David Guffey, reviewed the first “Conjuring” movie for this blog; and I reviewed “The Conjuring 2” for my Pax Culturati blog at Patheos.
While not everyone in the Church approves of the Warrens’ involvement in the paranormal — Lorraine is now 90, and Ed died in 2006 — the two previous movies featured the spouses relying heavily on their Catholic faith to battle demonic forces.
The first movie ended with this quote from Ed Warren:
“Diabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.”
The third “Conjuring” film is underway, with a June 26 announcement of a writer and producer.
New Line is moving forward on its third iteration of the “Conjuring” franchise with “The Conjuring 3.” David Leslie Johnson is on board to script. James Wan will serve as producer through his Atomic Monster production company with Peter Safran.
Johnson wrote “The Conjuring 2,” which went on to gross $320 million worldwide.
No plot details are available about the new movie, but the franchise has already spawned three spin-offs: “Annabelle” (2014) and “Annabelle: Creation” (due out Aug. 11, 2017), about a possessed doll; and the upcoming “The Nun” (due out on July 13, 2018), about a demon posing as a nun.
As a side note, one of the cases the Warrens consulted on became the two movies — a 1979 original and a 2005 remake — called “The Amityville Horror.”
Recently, while browsing on Netflix, I caught a 2013 documentary called “My Amityville Horror.” It focuses on now-adult Daniel Lutz, who was one of the children in the family that lived in the real Amityville house.
Not sure if it’s still available on Netflix, but the film can be streamed from Amazon Prime Video. Also featuring the reporters who originally covered the story, it’s a fascinating, compelling and even moving study of a man still psychologically traumatized and even haunted by his strange experiences as a child, and the notoriety that resulted from his parents’ choice to make the story public.
The film also features a reunion between Daniel and Lorraine Warren, who reveals that she carried a relic of Padre Pio into the house and claims to have had a vision of the saint. It is comforting to see that Daniel is still connected to his mother’s Catholic faith, and he shares that with Warren.
While Catholics absolutely believe in the Devil, and demonic influences and possession, the world of the paranormal beyond that — from ghosts to evil spirits to clairvoyance and talking to the dead — is a source of theological debate.
Some things in the movie portrayals of the Warrens aren’t in sync with Catholic teaching, but as Deacon Steven Greydanus points out in his review of “The Conjuring 2,” while the theology may be in dispute, the Warrens provide a strong witness.
Ultimately, the most persuasive image of goodness may not be crosses or crucifixes, but the Warrens themselves, who are so decent, upright and loving, they’re almost too good to be true. (How many movies can you say that about?) A spirit of positivity, solidarity and even fun is as important as anything else Ed brings to Enfield. If malicious spirits are drawn to negative emotions, a guitar and a sense of humor might be as useful in their own way as a crucifix in banishing darkness.
NOTE: If the previous two films are any indication, “The Conjuring” movies are not for anyone younger than their mid-teens, because of their intense supernatural violence (which earned both an R rating).
Images: Courtesy New Line Cinema
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