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Film / The Conjuring

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The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and written by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes. It is the first film in The Conjuring Universe, and stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, with Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston in the supporting cast.

In 1971, Carolyn and Roger Perron (Taylor and Livingston) move into a Rhode Island farmhouse with their five daughters. Soon after, strange and increasingly nightmarish things start happening around the house, leading the Perrons to contact Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga), a pair of paranormal investigators, to examine their home.

In the process of studying the house, the Warrens discover the dark, formidable presence responsible for the Perrons' horrors, and will have to call upon all their skills and spiritual strength to defeat it in what turns into the most terrifying case of their lives.

Ed and Lorraine Warren were real-life paranormal investigators, with the dramatization of their cases turning into the foundation for the eventual franchise kickstarted by this film. (Their cases had also previously inspired The Amityville Horror book and film franchise.) While Ed passed away in 2006, Lorraine was still alive by the time of this film's production; she makes a cameo and was also credited as a consultant on the film. She later passed away in 2019.

The film was followed by two sequels, The Conjuring 2 (2016) and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021), as well as several Spin-Off franchises, Annabelle and The Nun.

The Conjuring contain examples of:

  • The '70s: Most of the film takes place in 1971, while the opening scene with Annabelle is set in 1968. A later retcon moved it to 1971, though.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Carolyn and Lorraine's conversation about the former's family's vacation to the beach is very calm compared to the rest of the film. This scene is recalled by Lorraine to force Carolyn out of the possession.
  • Actor Allusion: The toy monkey with the cymbals is reminiscent of the one from The Phantom of the Opera, also starring Patrick Wilson.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The movie version of the Annabelle doll is much creepier than the real life Raggedy Ann doll.
  • Anger Born of Worry: The only time we see Ed get angry is when Lorraine is upset or in danger.
  • Ankle Drag: This happens to Christine Perron and Judy Warren in two separate occasions.
  • Arc Words: "Look what she made me do..."
  • Ax-Crazy: Bathsheba is insane and extremely violent, as her possession of Carolyn shows quite tellingly.
  • Big Bad: Bathesheba.
  • Care-Bear Stare: Lorraine tries this tactic to exorcise Bathsheba from Carolyn's body.
  • Christianity is Catholic: The Warrens are authorized by the Vatican to perform an exorcism against a witch of Salem, even though the Catholic church wasn’t behind the Salem Witch trials.
  • Creepy Basement: The Perrons' basement is the setting of some of the movie's scariest scenes.
  • Creepy Child: Rory, on the few occasions you get a good look at him. However, creepy is as bad as he gets, as he's actually a benevolent ghost due to being a victim of Bathsheba's curse.
  • Creepy Doll: Annabelle is creepy enough even without the demonic backstory behind her.
  • Crosscast Role: Bathsheba is played by the film's composer Joseph Bishara (who would also go on to play Valak's true form in the sequel and the demon using Annabelle as a conduit in both prequels centred around the doll).
  • Cue the Sun: Right after the exorcism.
  • Cymbal-Banging Monkey: Warren's collection of cursed items includes a cymbal monkey. As Ed says to a journalist visiting it: "Nothing in here is a toy. Even the toy monkey."
  • Demonic Possession: In the first film, Carolyn Perron, the mother of the Perron family, gets possessed by the witch Bathsheba.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Inverted in this case. They wanted to provoke a reaction from the spirits, so the Warrens placed several religious relics around the house.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Carolyn successfully fights Bathsheba's urge to kill her children. Despite all they go through, the Perrons and Warrens all survive the haunting.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Bathsheba the phantom witch is exorcised and the music box the spirits appear in is placed in the Warrens' occult museum. Then it starts playing on its own. Ironically, of all the villains in the franchise, Bathsheba is the only one to not make a return.
  • Event Title: The Conjuring.
  • Everybody Lives: With the exception of the Evil-Detecting Dog, none of the characters die.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The Perrons' dog refuses to enter the house, sensing malevolent forces within. For its trouble, it becomes the film's only casualty.
  • Fooled by the Sound: When playing Hide and Clap with April, Carolyn hears the ghost boy clapping; as she is blindfolded, she believes it is April clapping, and goes to hunt for her.
  • Ghostly Goals: Bathsheba possesses mothers and forces them to kill her children, as well as killing the dog For the Evulz. Most definitely Type B.
  • Happily Married: Ed and Lorraine are absolutely devoted to each other, with their relationship forming the emotional core of the film. Even when they argue, it's only because they're desperate to keep each other safe.
  • Hero of Another Story: Maurice, the exorcism patient who gave Lorraine the vision of Ed's death, is one of the main characters of The Nun.
  • Haunted House: It soon becomes a haunted family, as the spirits latch onto the Perrons to the point that leaving the house doesn't help them.
  • Hide-and-Seek Horror: The family likes to play "Hide and Clap", in which one person is blindfolded, and the others clap to indicate where they are. The first time they do this, they accidentally discover the Creepy Basement; and the second time, the ghost boy Rory joins in the game, by clapping.
  • Hollywood Satanism: Something that involves killing your own baby, hanging yourself, and making others do the same.
  • Human Sacrifice: Bathsheba sacrificed her baby to Satan in life, and in death she possesses mothers to sacrifice their children too.
  • Kick the Dog: The spirits murder Sadie the dog just to be cruel. And also because she can feel what they are.
  • Kill It with Fire: Discussed and averted. When asked point-blank why he doesn't burn his possessed artifacts, Ed says that it's sometimes better to keep the genie in its bottle. Burning them might just let the spirits run rampant.
  • Living Prop: Two of them. One is Georgiana, Lorraine's mother, who is simply in the movie to have someone to watch over Judy while Ed and Lorraine help the Perrons. The second and more blatant example is at the beginning of the movie, where we learn about Annabelle. Debbie and Camilla are telling everything to the Warrens, but there is a man with the girls, whose name is never mentioned, nor his relation to either of the girls, and he doesn't even speak a word.
  • Lovecraft Country: The entirety of the film takes place in rural New England. The Perrons live in Rhode Island, while the Warrens live in Connecticut.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    God brought us together for a reason.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Oh Drew. When one of the younger daughters goes missing, Drew decides to find her himself while the rest of the adults are dealing with the ensuing craziness. Upon finding her, he announces to everyone in the house, very loudly and in precise detail, exactly where she is located. Bathsheba, while possessing Carolyn, has just broken free of her captors. Yes, she hears Drew, and yes, she heads straight towards the daughter.
  • Noodle Incident: Ed is reluctant to continue with any paranormal investigations due to an incident where Lorraine had a vision of "something" during an exorcism. We never find out what that something was, but it was enough to send Lorraine into a Heroic BSoD so serious that she locked herself away for eight days. This becomes a plot point in the second film, where we find out that it was a vision of Ed's death.
  • Offing the Offspring: What Batsheba attempted to do in life, and what she forced many mothers to do to their children.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: The circus music box.
  • Parlor Games: The children play "hide and clap" soon after arriving at the house, for which the seeker is blindfolded while everyone else hides, and the seeker can ask the others to clap. When Christine is blindfolded, they accidentally discover the basement. Later, Carolyn is blindfolded while April hides; when Carolyn asks for a clap, a pair of ghostly hands clap from the wardrobe. Carolyn goes to hunt for April there, still blindfolded; when she takes her blindfold off, the audience receives a small Jump Scare from April laughing in excitement from the other end of the room.
  • Perverse Puppet: Annabelle. The first thing we see in the film is this extraordinarily horrible doll from an earlier case, and we learn right away from the Warrens that she's pure evil. She even joins in the Perron haunting for a bit when the spirits breach the Warrens' home.
  • Real-Person Cameo: The real Lorraine Warren plays the elder woman in the front row of the classroom when Carolyn is listening to the Warrens' presentation.
  • Rule of Three: The clocks always stop at 3:07 AM, and the angry disembodied knocks always come in threes. In the case of the former, this is Bathsheba's time of death, while for the latter, this is meant as an affront to the Holy Trinity, according to the Warrens.
  • Salem Is Witch Country: When she was alive, Bathsheba was a satanic witch descended from Mary Eastey, one of the women hanged at the trials.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Ed asks the Perrons why they didn't just leave, but all their money's tied down to the house, and they know of nobody who'd willingly take in a whole family of seven in their home. Eventually, Ed realizes that the spirit has latched itself to the family, so it would just follow them wherever they went. He is proven correct when the family finally goes to a motel.
  • Sequel Hook: After depositing the music box in the museum, Ed comments that they've been asked to investigate something on Long Island, a reference to The Amityville Horror, though it would not occur for several years.
  • The Titling: The Conjuring.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: A lot of details were changed (in real life, Carolyn Perron was already 'possessed' by the time the Warrens were called, the Perrons later dismissed the Warrens for not being of any help, the Perrons actually endured hauntings for ten years before moving out rather than the short time depicted in the film, etc.), but the real people involved don't seem to mind. Additionally, the Real Life version of the "Annabelle" doll is actually a Raggedy Ann doll instead of a creepy porcelain doll like in the film. The film's backstory about Annabelle is also a bit different than the real-life version. You can also see the comparison between the film and the real-life version here.
  • Villain of Another Story: The demon who possesses Annabelle has terrorized two other films as the main villain before being relegated into a footnote in the opening scene of this film.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The ghost, Bathsheba, overwhelmingly targets the Perron children, down to possessing Carolyn and trying to use her hands to kill April and Christine during the climax. It repeats her actions in life, when she killed her seven-day-old son in a Human Sacrifice. The amount of times the girls are screaming, inches away from their parents, but incredibly difficult to get to, will chill anybody's bones.