Warner Bros. sent me an early Blu-Ray copy of their latest box-office success The Conjuring. I never got the opportunity to watch this film in theaters but I have to admit that watching The Conjuring in the comfort of my living room was a better choice. Halfway through the story I had to resort to watching parts of it through my fingers, cowardly shielding my eyes from the nerve-racking scenes.
The Conjuring is directed by James Wan, a man who truly knows his horror. The Conjuring felt like a simplistic and cohesive horror story that kept me at the edge of my seat. From the beginning scene with the 1970’s style title card, Wan directs us through haunted scenes that are reminiscent of classics such as The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist.
The storyline was very linear, never straying from the fundamentals of what a horror movie should be. The big empty house, the loving family that moves int and is oblivious to its dark past. Disembodied voices and noises. All the cliche stuff is there yet the cast and those behind the cameras are talented enough to make this story look alive and unnervingly authentic.
I like the theme and tone that The Conjuring carried. It could easily become one of my all-time favorite horror films. Well, behind The Exorcist and a few others of course.
As far as a horror movie goes, this one is well done. But what about the supposed real stories behind the movie? The story of a haunted doll that terrorized two nursing students in their apartment? Or the story behind the Perron family? Those who claimed to be haunted by several ghosts while living in their isolated farmhouse in the 1970s.
Who was Annabelle the doll?
The story of the haunted Raggedy Ann doll comes from a case the Warrens investigated in the 1970s. A nursing student received the stuffed doll as a birthday present from her mother. Donna took the doll home, a small apartment she shared with her roommate Angie.
Within days of Donna bring home the doll, strange things began happening inside their apartment. Donna and Angie would often find that the doll had made its way throughout the house. Always finding it in different rooms and places, apparently moving on its own.
Things got worse when the two of them began to find childlike scribbles on pieces of parchment paper around the apartment. Both Donna and Angie denied having anyone over at night or playing a prank on one another and therefore concluded that it must have been the doll who wrote the messages Help Us and Help Lou on the torn pieces of paper.
Lou happened to be a friend of the two women and had his own scare with the doll. One night, he awoke in a frantic state. He gasped for air as he realized that he was unable to move a muscle in his body. He awoke in what appeared to be a hypnagogic experience. The Raggedy Ann doll appeared next to his feet, on top of the covers. To Lou’s terror, the doll then began moving up his leg, slowly climbing up until reaching his chest, close to his face. Lou stated that the doll began to “asphyxiate” him and he was paralyzed completely. Unable to defend himself. Lou blacked out and awoke the following morning. Alive but traumatized. He told Donna and Angie about his horrifying experience and asked them to get rid of the doll.
So what did they nursing students do? Perform a seance of course!
A medium aided in the seance one night and soon they all found out that the doll had been possessed by the spirit of a young girl named Annabelle. Annabelle lived in the property long before any apartment building existed. The medium then informed the current tenants that Annabelle had been murdered when she was just seven years old. her body had been found in some barren field close to the apartment.
Who were The Perrons?
The Perron family lived in an old farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island. During the 1970s Roger and Carolyn Perron moved their family to the 200 acre farm. Together with their five daughters, the Perrons enjoyed life in the farm until unexplained things started to haunt them.
Things got worse when one night Mrs. Perron awoke to find an apparition next to her bed. An old woman with a grey dress that told her to ‘Get out. Get out. I’ll drive you out with death and gloom.‘
Soon the Perron family began experiencing poltergeist-like events across the farmhouse. footsteps, disembodied voices, and apparitions of the ghost of a child in certain parts of the house.
The family lived in terror for ten years before abandoning the property.
How long did the Perron Family live in the Rhode Island farmhouse?
The real Perron family lived in the farmhouse for approximately ten years. Located in the small country town of Harrisville, Rhode Island, Roger Perron and his wife Carolyn purchased the home in the winter of 1970. The 200 acre property offered plenty of space for them to raise their five daughters: Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cynthia and April. They moved out in June of 1980.
The real Perron sisters (top) with their movie counterparts (bottom) in 2012. Yes. Our research into The Conjuring true story reveals that paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren acted as a consultant to director James Wan and the filmmakers. She even visited the Wilmington, North Carolina set on the lot of EUE/Screen Gems Studios. The film itself was mostly inspired by she and her late husband Ed Warren’s case files and recordings dealing with the 1970s Perron family haunting.
The entire Perron family also put their support behind the film, having already come together to support daughter Andrea Perron’s self-published 2011 book about their experience, titled House of Darkness House of Light (available in the right column). Like Lorraine, various members of the Perron family, who where friends with producer Tony DeRosa-Grund, also visited the Wilmington, NC set. Andrea, as expected, has been the most vocal of the group while her sister Christine has been the most reluctant to talk about her experiences in the house.
Who was the real Bathsheba Sherman?
The most haunting spirit in the movie is that of suspected witch Bathsheba Sherman. Born Bathsheba Thayer in Rhode Island in 1812, she married fellow Rhode Islander Judson Sherman (one year her senior) in Thompson, Connecticut on March 10, 1844. The two were married by Vernon Stiles, a local Justice of the Peace. Bathsheba filled the role of housewife while her husband Judson worked as a farmer on their land. Fairly well-off, Bathsheba and Judson had a son, Herbert L. Sherman, born when Bathsheba was approximately 37 years of age in March of 1849. It is possible that they had three other children as well, all of whom did not survive past the age of seven, though no census records could be found to confirm these reports. The family also usually took in a boarder, most likely to help them on the farm. Source: HistoryVSHollywood
How did the Perron family figure out that the spirit haunting them was that of Bathsheba Sherman?
The family’s connection to the spirit of Bathsheba Sherman came at the suggestion of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The mother, Carolyn Perron, told Ed and Lorraine about an incident that had happened a few years earlier. She said that she had been lying on the sofa and all of the sudden felt a piercing type of pain in her calf and then the muscle began to spasm. Upon examination, she noticed a puddle of blood at the point of impact. She checked for bees or anything else that could have caused the puncture in her leg but found nothing. In her daughter’s book, Andrea Perron describes the wound as a “perfectly concentric circle” … “as if a large sewing needle had impaled her skin.”
When Carolyn told Ed and Lorraine Warren this story in conjunction with the tale of Bathsheba Sherman, who had been suspected of killing an infant with a knitting needle (see above), Lorraine suggested that Bathsheba Sherman could have taken the needle with her to the afterlife and used it to stab Carolyn in the calf. From that point on, Lorraine Warren referred to the demonic presence in the Perron house as “Bathsheba.” -House of Darkness House of Light