I’ve been struggling with the concept of incorporeality. Well, not me personally, but in how it fits into demon movies. Specifically the Conjuring universe. I’ve recently been watching the series through again and the corporeality of demons strikes me as problematic. As spiritual entities demons don’t have bodies—that’s why they possess people. Yet in these films they can be contained by blessed spaces, or objects. The doll Annabelle, in particular, has to be kept in a locked glass case to prevent the demon (apparently Valak) from gaining its full power. Annabelle Comes Home discusses this directly. After the priest blesses the doll, Lorraine Warren says it’s not enough. The evil has to be encased in another layer. In this case, glass from “Trinity Church” which has, ironically, been torn down.
Watching the entire series, as it currently stands, Annabelle appears in four of the eight films and is named in a fifth. Annabelle: Creation implies that the demon in the doll is Valak (a.k.a. “The Nun”), and she has her own movie as well. In each case the demon has to be contained within a sacred space. Once out, it manifests in corporeal form with the ability to harm, or even kill, human beings. Now, I know this is movie magic. I also know these movies have been carefully pieced together. The corporeal/incorporeal question is a standard of seminary training. While the topic of ghosts, and demons for that matter, was never raised in the curriculum, we did have to deal with God and angels and what it means for a being without a body to become incarnate in one. These movies could use some seminary.
In Holy Horror, and especially Nightmares with the Bible, I wrote quite a bit about The Conjuring and the universe it’s building. I’ve seen demons physically attacking characters, and even taking on classic demon shape. The viewers wants to see the monster. If they’re truly incorporeal they can cross between glass cases, doors, windows, and walls. Some of them do, when it suits their purpose. Yet they can be quieted by being locked into a glass case, as long as it’s been blessed. Of course, I’m trying to figure this out on my own. There are entire fandom wikis out there based on the films and they probably have much more detail than I could ever find on my own. But then, in a sense, information on the internet is, well, incorporeal.