Horror, 112 Minutes, 2013
The movie is based on the reports of noted paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. It presents them as learned, respected and heroic. They were none of these things. None of their evidence has ever stood up to investigation, and none of their claims have ever been confirmed. Most of their cases, such as the famous Amityville Horror, have been thoroughly debunked as hoaxes and the rest are highly explainable.
The Warrens were devout Catholics that twisted the teachings of their faith to support the stories they created to explain their findings. The movie repeats Ed’s claim that he had been “recognized” by the Catholic Church, although no evidence of this has ever been forthcoming. It’s also worth noting that the Warrens were active ghost hunters for a decade, rarely, if ever mentioning demons. It was only after the success of “The Exorcist” that nearly every case they investigated became caused by demons.
It’s highly likely that the Warrens were simply self-deluded, fantasy-prone individuals with delusions of grandeur. They may have even been well-meaning, at least at first. Practically, however, they convinced troubled people not to seek actual help, abetted admitted hoaxers and refused to consider any evidence they did create.
For it’s part, the movie paints an utterly credulous view of them. They are shown as honest, dedicated and above reproach. There are several scenes where they’re shown giving lectures, screening highly convincing movies of past cases, none of which ever existed in actuality. Lorraine’s clairvoyance is accepted, and greatly magnified, and extends to unquestionable feats of mind-reading, prediction and insight. It also lends them more scientific capability than they displayed in real-life with complex camera rigs, infrared, ultraviolet and other gadgets.
Watching the movie uncritically there’s no way that any reasonable person wouldn’t come to the conclusion that Lorraine and Ed Warren were selfless heroes able to see through our world into another. The movie shows the couple become friends to the family, helping them with the laundry, fixing the car, watching the kids. It also details the horrific toll the investigation took on the Warrens and their family. These people are god-damn saints!
The movie also shows them gathering absolutely indisputable evidence of possession and the supernatural. Videos of people and things flying through the air, pulled by invisible forces. Photographs of spirits walking with the living. It shows this happening in rooms full of witnesses. How could anybody in their right mind ignore such clear-cut evidence!
The trouble, of course, is that the movie is (almost) entirely bullshit. It’s not total bullshit, of course. Ed and Lorraine really did exist… and so does Rhode Island. Pretty much everything else is just pulled directly out of the filmmakers asses, tho’.
So, as you may have guessed, I walked into this with just a little bit of a chip on my shoulder about it. It sickened me to think that this movie further lined the pockets of these crackpots and introduced a whole new generation to their particular brand of nonsense.
Still, I have to admit, it’s a pretty damn good horror movie! A completely fictional, utterly fabricated, totally made-up pretty damn good horror movie. The retro vibe works exceedingly well and the scares are all the more effective for the simplicity of their design. The child-actors, especially, impressively sell their roles with everything they have.
So, sure, watch the movie. It’s good. Just don’t actually pay for it if you can at all help it.