The record-breaking box office success of The Conjuring suggests the movie has a certain mass appeal, and yet I sincerely doubt that the usual core scary movie demographic of teenagers and 20-somethings could begin to fathom what makes this movie so terrifying. There’s a clue to be found in its ‘based on a true story’ premise, of course, but the ‘demons are real’ tangent is only the half of it.
A deceptively small snippet of dialogue exchanged between Patrick Wilson’s and Ron Livingston’s characters drives the true terror of this tale home (in all its wall-shaking, creepy-hand-clapping-game-playing glory). When ghost hunter Wilson addresses the demon-shaped elephant in the room with his query of, “Why are you still living here?,” Livingston’s blue-collar homeowner response tugs at the heartstrings of every responsible grown-up with a job, a mortgage and a family to support. “We have all our money in this house,” he says, and then adds, quietly, “And there’ve been repairs…..”
Here is where The Conjuring‘s supernatural terror intersects so nicely with the more banal and realistic terror of being in over your head financially. You have to live through the latter in order to understand how a person could face the former and refuse to give way. Go ahead and drool your festering black spoodge upon me, demon witch from hell. You’re in MY house now. I’ve stood in line for over an hour at the Customer Service Desk at my local Home Depot in my quest to find the most cost efficient way to DIY my way out of both water damage and faulty plumbing, and I can’t back out of this life-altering purchase without taking a different kind of bath altogether.
When you become a homeowner, you open yourself up to all sorts of Faustian thoughts that your carefree, unencumbered 20-something self would never have entertained. Thoughts like, “OK, I do have five daughters. If I let the demon feast on ONE of their souls, can we remain living here without further incident?”
You can’t even blame the Perrons for not having done their homework prior to making their big purchase. This fun fact courtesy of imdb.com:
The state of Rhode Island does not require home sellers to disclose documented paranormal and supernatural hauntings to potential buyers. This is why the Perrons were unaware of all previous events.
So don’t judge the Perrons too harshly. Plus, the “extra square footage” of that hidden and haunted basement probably made for a nice post-exorcism craft nook or rec room….eventually.