It’s the summer of Wan. Before Insidious 2 haunts screens in September, we get The Conjuring. James Wan’s newest haunted house film is based on the true story of famed “ghost hunters” and demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. In 1971 they are called out to help the Perron family, whose new home is haunted by a particularly violent and evil demon.
I got a chance to see The Conjuring at the Los Angeles Film Festival. It is a solid haunted house flick, one that doesn’t really break new ground, but delivers on the scares and proves once again that James Wan is one of the new masters of horror. While we wait for Scott Weinberg’s official review, here are five things from the film that you should keep an eye out for.
You may have seen it in a few of the commercials, or heard it in the background. The clapping starts with a game that the Perron children play, but it quickly becomes something far more sinister.
Reference to the Amityville Haunting
The Warrens were one of the teams that investigated the Amityville haunting. I did not know this before seeing the movie, but reference was not lost on me: when they are done with the Perrons, Ed tells his wife that they have been requested for a case in Long Island.
The Annabelle Doll
You don’t just get the Perron story in The Conjuring; you get a taste of another famous case the Warrens handled: the Annabelle doll. A nursing student named Donna is given an antique Raggedy Anne doll by her mother, and it soon shows signs of being haunted like moving on its own and writing little notes. A medium is called in, who determines the doll is possessed by a young girl named Annabelle, who was murdered at age seven. Donna takes pity on the lost soul and invites her to possess the doll. Of course, Annabelle lied and turned out to be a demonic spirit that tries to kill Donna’s friend Lou.
Lorraine’s Terrible Secret
In the film, something happens to Lorraine during a particularly intense exorcism. Ed can see that she is particularly damaged psychologically by this event, but she won’t talk about it. There is no resolution to this storyline, leaving the audience to decide on their own what happened to Lorraine.
The Warrens have a fantastic “museum” of horribly haunted objects that they have collected from cases over the years. The reason that they do not burn or destroy the objects is that it won’t destroy the evil spirits; the spirits will just move on to another object. The Warrens prefer to keep them all locked up in one place. The Annabelle doll is included in this museum, but it gets its own, special glass case - it is just that evil. The real-life Warrens have a real-life museum of evil. Director James Wan was invited into the room; he declined.
The Conjuring opens in theaters July 19th.