The Conjuring

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The Conjuring
Conjuring poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Wan
Produced by
Written by
Music by Joseph Bishara
Cinematography John R. Leonetti
Edited by Kirk M. Morri
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • June 8, 2013 (2013-06-08) (Madrid)
  • July 19, 2013 (2013-07-19) (United States)
Running time
112 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million[2]
Box office $318 million[2]

The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan.[3] Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators and authors associated with prominent cases of haunting. Their reports inspired the Amityville Horror.[4] The Warrens come to the assistance of the Perron family (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor), who are experiencing increasingly disturbing events in their farmhouse in Rhode Island in 1971.[5]

The Conjuring was released in the United States and Canada on July 19, 2013, and in the United Kingdom and India on August 6, 2013. The film received positive reviews from critics and grossed over $318 million worldwide from its $20 million budget, making it one of the highest-grossing horror films of all time. A sequel, The Conjuring 2, is scheduled to be released on June 10, 2016.[6]


In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron move into a dilapidated farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island with their five daughters Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April. During the first day, their move goes smoothly, though their dog Sadie refuses to enter the house and one of the daughters finds a boarded up entrance to a cellar.

A few paranormal events happen within the first few nights, including all of the clocks stopping at exactly 3:07 AM and Sadie being found dead in the back yard. One night, while they are both in bed, Christine feels a tugging on her leg, which she first expects to be Nancy, but is a spirit only she can see. She begins to scream and tells her family that the spirit wants the family dead. Carolyn is folding laundry in the night when she hears clapping in the hallway. When she goes to investigate, all the picture frames along the wall fall and shatter on the floor. She goes downstairs following laughter and finds the basement door opening slowly. When she goes inside to investigate, she's trapped there by the spirit who claps beside her as her matchstick flickers out. At the same moment, Andrea and Cindy are attacked by a spirit on top of the wardrobe.

Carolyn decides to contact noted paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who agree to take on the case. The Warrens conduct an initial investigation and conclude that the house may require an exorcism, but they need authorization from the Catholic Church and further evidence before they can proceed.

While researching the history of the house, Ed and Lorraine discover that the house once belonged to an accused witch, Bathsheba (a relative of Mary Towne Eastey), who sacrificed her week-old child to the devil and killed herself in 1863 after cursing all who would take her land. The property was once more than 200 acres but has since been divided up into smaller parcels. They find reports of numerous murders and suicides in houses that have since been built upon parcels that were once part of the property.

Ed and Lorraine return to the house to gather evidence to receive authorization for the exorcism, placing cameras and bells around the house. A bell goes off near Cindy after they finish setting up. They catch a glimpse of Cindy sleep walking into Andrea's room, and from the EVPs coming from the radio, they hear a spirit luring Cindy into the wardrobe, where she reveals a secret passage inside. Lorraine enters the passage and falls through the floorboards into the cellar, where she sees the spirit of a woman whom Bathsheba had long ago possessed and used to kill her child. Another of the Perron children, Nancy, is violently dragged by her hair along the floor by an unseen force.

The Perron family decides to take refuge at a hotel while Ed and Lorraine take their evidence to the Church to arrange an exorcism. While the Warrens are on their way home, their daughter Judy is attacked in their own home by the spirit of Bathsheba, along with the haunted Annabelle doll from the Warrens' previous case, though Ed arrives in time to prevent her from being harmed.

Carolyn, now possessed by the spirit of Bathsheba, takes two of her daughters, Christine and April, and drives back to the house. Ed, Lorraine, Roger, their two assistants, and a police officer rush to the house where they find Carolyn in the cellar trying to stab Christine with scissors. After subduing Carolyn and tying her to a chair, Ed decides to perform the exorcism himself. Though Carolyn escapes and attempts to kill April, who is hiding under the floorboards, Lorraine is able to temporarily distract the possessed Carolyn from killing her daughter by reminding her of a special memory she shared with her family, allowing Ed to complete the exorcism, saving Carolyn and April.

Returning home, Lorraine tells Ed that the priest whom they sought for the exorcism had called back and left a message, saying that he had gained approval from the Catholic Church to perform it. In addition to this, he also has another case for them to investigate on Long Island. When they leave, the music box that April had found opens and plays music, revealing the Annabelle doll sitting in front of the door, and the screen goes black.




Development began over 20 years prior when Ed Warren played a tape of Lorraine's original interview with Carolyn Perron for producer Tony DeRosa-Grund.[7] DeRosa-Grund made a recording of Warren playing back the tape and of their subsequent discussion. At the end of the tape, Warren said to DeRosa-Grund: "If we can't make this into a film I don't know what we can." DeRosa-Grund then described his vision of the film for Ed.[8]

DeRosa-Grund wrote the original treatment and titled the project The Conjuring.[9] For nearly 14 years, he tried to get the movie made without any success. He landed a deal to make the movie at Gold Circle Films, the production company behind The Haunting in Connecticut, but a contract could not be finalized and the deal was dropped.[10]

DeRosa-Grund allied with producer Peter Safran, and sibling writers Chad and Carey Hayes were brought on board to refine the script.[9] Using DeRosa-Grund's treatment and the Ed Warren tape, the Hayes brothers changed the story's point of view from the Perron family to the Warrens'. The brothers interviewed Lorraine Warren many times over the phone to clarify details.[11] By mid-2009, the property became the subject of a six-studio bidding war that landed the film at Summit Entertainment.[12] However, DeRosa-Grund and Summit could not conclude the transaction and the film went into turnaround. DeRosa-Grund reconnected with New Line Cinema, who had lost in the original bidding war but who ultimately picked up the film. On November 11, 2009, a deal was made between New Line and DeRosa-Grund's Evergreen Media Group.[13]


"When Insidious came out and was successful the story about the Warrens came to me and I was like, "Oh, my gosh, this is really cool." [...] But I didn't just want to make another ghost story or another supernatural film. One thing I had never explored was the chance to tell a story that's based on real-life characters, real-life people. So those were the things that led me to The Conjuring."

James Wan, explaining his reason for directing The Conjuring.[14]

Pre-production began in early 2011, with reports surfacing in early June that James Wan was in talks to direct the film.[15] This was later confirmed by Warner Bros., which also stated that the film would be loosely based on real-life events surrounding Ed and Lorraine Warren. In January 2012, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson were cast to star in the film.[16] That month, Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor were also confirmed for roles in the film, which at that time was developing under the working title of The Untitled Warren Files Project.[17] The film's title was temporarily changed to The Warren Files based on a suggestion by Wan, but was later reverted to The Conjuring prior to the commencement of the film's marketing campaign.[18][19]

In preparation for their roles, Farmiga and Wilson traveled to Connecticut to spend time with Lorraine Warren,[20] who also visited the set during production.[21] Over the course of spending three days at the Warren home, both actors took in information that could not otherwise be achieved from secondary research. "I just wanted to absorb her essence. I wanted to see the details, she has such mad style. I just wanted to see – the way she communicates with her hands, these gestures, her smile, how she moves through space," said Farmiga on her observations of Warren.[22]


Principal photography began in late February 2012.[23] Lasting for 38 days,[24] shooting took place primarily at EUE/Screen Gems Studios as well as other locations in and around Wilmington, North Carolina.[25] Filming also took place at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in March 2012 while the campus was on its spring break.[26] Diana Pasulka, professor of Religious Studies at UNC-Wilmington, was the chief religious consultant for the project.[27] After wrapping up in Wilmington on April 20, the film concluded its principal photography on April 26, 2012.[28] All scenes were shot in chronological order.[20]


The film was in post-production in August of the same year.[29] Around 20 to 30 minutes of footage was removed from the first cut of the film, which initially ran at about two hours in duration.[30] After positive test screenings, the final edit of the film was locked in December 2012 and awaited its summer release.[31]


The musical score for The Conjuring was composed by Joseph Bishara, who previously collaborated with director Wan on Insidious (2011). "James asked me early on about [The Conjuring] while the film was still coming together," explained Bishara on his involvement. "The studio and producers were very supportive in allowing him to bring along who he wanted, with many of his longtime crew from Insidious and even earlier returning."[32] Further into the development process, Wan offered Bishara the chance to act in the film, which he had previously done in Insidious. "We talked about music first and then James had mentioned that he might want me to play one of the entities in this. After reading the script it turned out it was Bathsheba," said Bishara.[33] Because of his early involvement, Bishara was given more time to work out the musical palette of the film. "For whatever reason I was hearing brass clustering as an early response to the material, a quiet shimmering flutter tongue effect, and it grew from there," said Bishara on his creative process.[34]

A soundtrack album was released by La-La Land Records and WaterTower Music on July 16, 2013. In addition to Bishara's themes, the soundtrack also includes a track entitled "Family Theme" by composer Mark Isham.[35] Avant-garde musician Diamanda Galás also contributed to Bishara's score,[36] performing raw vocal improvisation on top of the previously recorded brass instrumentation.[32] Other songs featured in the film include: "In the Room Where you Sleep" by Dead Man's Bones, "Sleep Walk" by Betsy Brye, "Time of the Season" by The Zombies, and "Wish I May" by Breaking Benjamin.[37]



The first promotional images were released in November 2012, introducing Farmiga and Wilson as Ed and Lorraine Warren.[3] A teaser trailer, previously shown at the 2012 New York Comic Con, kicked off the film's marketing campaign in February 2013.[38] Throughout the campaign, the film was promoted heavily as "based on a true story." In the weeks leading up to the film's release, trailers and TV spots began to feature the real-life Perron family.[39][40] This was followed by a featurette entitled The Devil's Hour in which Lorraine Warren and other paranormal investigators explain some of the supernatural occurrences seen in the film.[41]

Theatrical release[edit]

Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema initially intended to release The Conjuring in early 2013, but decided on a summer release date after gaining a positive reception from test audiences.[42] The film was ultimately released on July 19 in North America, and in the United Kingdom and in India on August 2.[43][44] Because of this, it is one of the first horror films to receive a wide release in the United States during the months of June or July since 2006's The Omen.[45] A trailer and a clip from the film were shown at the 2012 New York Comic Con.[46][47] In March 2013, the film was given an R-rating by the MPAA for being what Wan described as "too adult."[21] "When we sent it [to the MPAA], they gave us the R-rating," said executive producer Walter Hamada. "When we asked them why, they basically said, 'It's just so scary. [There are] no specific scenes or tone you could take out to get it PG-13.'"[48]

The world premiere took place June 6, 2013, at the closing night of the first edition of Nocturna: Madrid International Fantastic Film Festival.[49] This was followed by two screenings of the film at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 21 that also featured a Q&A segment with director James Wan.[50] A red carpet premiere was then held for the film on July 15, 2013 at Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles.[51][52]

Home media[edit]

The Conjuring was released in DVD and Blu-ray formats by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on October 22, 2013.[53]


Norman Sutcliffe and Gerald Helfrich, the current owners of the house on which the film was based, are suing James Wan, Warner Bros. and other producers, on the ground that their property is being vandalized constantly as a consequence of the film. Entertainment Weekly obtained documents in which the owners affirm various invasions and ratify that they have found numerous objects affiliated with satanic cults. The lawsuit also reveals that the current owners bought the house in 1987 and lived "in peace" until 2013. Both owners are seeking unspecified damages. When questioned, a spokesperson for Warner Bros. declined to comment on the issue.[54]


Box office[edit]

Preliminary reports had the film tracking for a $30–$35 million debut in North America.[55][56][57] The film earned $3.3 million from its Thursday night showings,[58] and reached a $17 million 1.25-day total, doing slightly better than The Purge a month earlier.[59] The film went on to take $41.5 million during its opening weekend, breaking The Purge's previous record as the biggest opening for an original R-rated horror film.[60] While horror films usually drop at least 50 percent over their second weekend, The Conjuring only dropped 47 percent to $22.2 million.[61] After its initial run in theatres, the film turned out to be a box office hit by grossing over fifteen times its production budget with a worldwide total of $318,000,141.[2] Calculating in all expenses, estimated that the film made a profit of $161.7 million.[62]

Critical reception[edit]

The Conjuring received positive reviews from critics.[63] The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an 86% approval rating based on 196 reviews, with a rating average of 8 out of 10. Its consensus reads: "Well-crafted and gleefully creepy, The Conjuring ratchets up dread through a series of effective old-school scares."[64] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on 35 reviews from mainstream critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[63] CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film an "A-" grade on a scale of A to F.[65]

In her review following the Los Angeles Film Festival, Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter said: "With its minimal use of digital effects, its strong, sympathetic performances and ace design work, the pic harks back in themes and methods to The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror, not quite attaining the poignancy and depth of the former but far exceeding the latter in sheer cinematic beauty."[36] Justin Chang of Variety gave the film a positive review, calling the film "a sensationally entertaining old-school freakout and one of the smartest, most viscerally effective thrillers in recent memory."[66] Additionally, Alonso Duralde of The Wrap also praised the effectiveness of the film, explaining that it "doesn't try to reinvent the tropes of horror movies, whether it's ghosts or demons or exorcisms, but Fred Astaire didn't invent tap-dancing, either."[67] Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A-, citing the effectiveness of "mood and sound effects for shocks that never feel cheap."[68]

However, some critics reacted negatively to the film's similarities with films such as The Exorcist and Poltergeist.[69][70] Indiewire's Eric Kohn explained that: "The Warrens may know how to handle demonic possessions, but The Conjuring suffers from a different invading force: the ghosts of familiarity."[71] Andrew O'Hehir of Salon said the film provided "all the scream-inducing shocks you could want, right on schedule," but thought the central concept – that the innocent women accused and executed in the Salem witch trials "actually were witches, who slaughtered children and pledged their love to Satan and everything!" – was "reprehensible and inexcusable bullshit."[72]


Award Category Recipient Result
Empire Awards Best Horror Won
Saturn Awards Best Horror Film Won
Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie Nominated
Denver Film Critics Society Awards Best Science-Fiction/Horror Film Nominated
North Carolina Film Critics Association Tar Heel Award Nominated
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Wide Release Film Won
Best Supporting Actress Lili Taylor Won
Fright Meter Awards Best Horror Movie Won
Best Director James Wan Won
Best Screenplay Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes Nominated
Best Cinematography John R. Leonetti Won
Best Editing Kirk M. Morri Nominated
Best Score Joseph Bishara Nominated
Best Makeup Nominated
Best Special Effects Nominated
Best Ensemble Cast Won
Best Actor in a Leading Role Patrick Wilson Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role Vera Farmiga Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Ron Livingston Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Lili Taylor Won
Hollywood Film Festival Hollywood Movie Award James Wan Nominated
CinEuphoria Awards Best Special Effects (Sound or Visual) Nominated
IGN Summer Movie Awards Best Horror Movie Won
MTV Movie Awards Best Scared-as-S**t Performance Vera Farmiga Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite Horror Movie Nominated
Key Art Awards Best Trailer – Audio/Visual Warner Bros. 3rd Place
3rd Place
Best Audio/Visual Technique 3rd Place
3rd Place
Golden Trailer Awards Best Horror Won
Best Horror TV Spot Won
Best Voice Over TV Spot Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Titles Sequence Won
Golden Schmoes Awards Best Horror Movie of the Year Won
Biggest Surprise of the Year Nominated

Related films[edit]


Main article: The Conjuring 2

In June 2013, it was reported that New Line Cinema was already developing a sequel.[73] Both Farmiga and Wilson are signed on to reprise their roles for an additional film.[74] The Conjuring 2 was scheduled to be released on October 23, 2015,[75] but in October 2014, Warner Bros. moved the film's release date to an unspecified 2016 release date.[76] On October 21, it was announced that James Wan would return to direct the sequel.[77] On November 11, 2014, the film was set for a June 10, 2016 release.[6] The sequel was later re-written by David Leslie Johnson, with a script from Eric Heisserer.[78] The film will deal with the Enfield Poltergeist case, which occurred in London from 1977 to 1979.[79] Principal photography began in September 2015.[80]

Spin-off film[edit]

A spin-off film, Annabelle, directed by The Conjuring cinematographer John R. Leonetti and produced by Wan, began production in late January 2014.[81] It was released worldwide on October 3, 2014 to commercial success, despite receiving negative reviews.[82] Many critics found Annabelle to be an inferior film compared to The Conjuring.[83]

See also[edit]


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