In both Holy Horror and Nightmares with the Bible I discuss The Conjuring. In the latter I actually go through the universe that the films spin around the investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Like most series where the writers and directors shift, the story line isn’t always consistent. I suppose that one of the features of the series that appeals to those of us who love monsters is the fact that many of the movies have more than one. The main threat, however, always seems to be demonic. I enjoyed exploring this in both my book and in my recent piece on Horror Homeroom—check it out here.
This series, in financial terms, has been highly successful. There is little that attracts attention in any media more than money. The Conjuring universe also shows that people are very interested in the topic. A materialistic worldview doesn’t work for everyone. We sense that there’s more going on that what the laboratory reveals. I’ve often wondered why we can’t consider the world “both and” rather than “either or.” We seem to think knowledge is some kind of zero-sum game. I suppose that’s because the spiritual interferes with the material. If there are outside forces working against the “laws” of physics then all that hard work is open to question. It’s far easier to suggest that human beings (and other animals) who experience something “supernatural” are deluded. Or superstitious. Demons are a good case in point. If they exist it would complicate the world of science. And yet people pay good money to see movies based on them.
The Conjuring franchise pays off most of the time. Some of the stories—those of the main series especially—are based on cases that the Warrens actually investigated. There’s sometimes an element of the sideshow (the amazing Warrens!) to some of their work, but that doesn’t necessarily detract from the experience of real people. Experience is an important way to navigate this strange world in which we find ourselves. I’m not the only one who finds horror films to be a reasonable guide through this territory. The Warrens’ case files leave lots of opportunities to explore this strange world of demons, and there are further movies in the franchise currently under development. The most recent film, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, changed basic concepts from its early days. It was delayed by the pandemic. And yet, it made money. There must be a lesson to be learned here.