From Preview editor Phil Boatwright:
“Despite the fact that The Conjuring has a Christian couple doing an exorcism, I decided to skip the screening of this R-rated horror flick about demonic possession. Over the years, I’ve seen several, including The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Rite and Angels and Demons. But it’s a genre that bothers me spiritually. I know demons exist and it is a good idea for people to be aware of their existence. If the film is successful in making young moviegoers understand evil’s existence, that’s a good thing. But I personally felt uncomfortable with my going. I’d rather put something more spiritually uplifting in my head and soul. But that’s just how I feel. Here’s a different perspective.”
Screenwriting Twins Conjure Up Victory for God
Horror might not be the first film genre that leaps to mind when you think of a movie that spotlights biblical truths and sparks deep conversations about faith, but that’s precisely what audiences get from the upcoming Warner Bros. frightfest THE CONJURING.
No, it’s not a “message” movie or even a “Christian” film: It’s a good old-fashioned terrifying thriller earning rave reviews from critics for the way it startles and unsettles viewers. But at the center of the story is basic tenet of Scripture: Evil exists, and God is the only way to overcome it.
The screenwriting duo of Chad and Carey Hayes, twin brothers whose previous films include THE REAPING and WHITEOUT, are believers themselves who say there’s only one non-negotiable for them in tackling subject matter like that explored in THE CONJURING: God has to win.
“We would never glorify evil. We would never score points for the other team,” Carey Hayes says. “We really wanted to show that as much as horror can scare you in the dark world, God can give you relief.
“How do you overcome darkness? With the light. God’s light.”
That’s what the film’s protagonists, Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmigia) discover in THE CONJURING. The entertaining and engrossing film (directed by SAW’s James Wan) is based on the real-life experiences of the couple, famed demonologists whose work ridding homes of evil spirits also inspired THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Here, helping a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse, they are forced to confront a powerful demonic entity and find themselves caught in what they described as the most terrifying case of their lives.
In researching the story and talking with Lorraine Warren (Ed passed away in 2006), Chad Hayes said it became clear to him and his brother that “the sharpest tool they had to fight the evil they encountered was their faith.”
“That’s what Lorraine told us: The only way they were able to deal with what they encountered was relying on God.” It’s the same for all of us, he added, noting that “we should never be ignorant of evil and think it can’t affect us.”
According to both brothers, THE CONJURING isn’t just putting a good jolt in to those who see it – it’s also getting them talking about God. Carey Hayes tells of a friend who took his 18-year-old son – who has not shown much interest in matters of faith -- to see an early screening. That it was based on a true story, and so starkly showed the reality of evil and the triumph of God, really “stirred the pot” for the boy and got him to start thinking in meaningful ways about the spiritual themes of the film.
“His dad told me, ‘Who would have thought a horror movie would bring my son to God?’ ”
Chad Hayes says he got an email from one of his friends after an advance screening who said the conversation that followed among him and those who went with him was “the deepest discussion of good and evil and God I’ve ever had after watching a movie.”
“That’s why men and women of faith should see this movie,” Chad explains. “They will see the power that only God holds to overcome darkness. We want people to feel great after seeing it. To be scared, yes, but to have a good feeling afterward because good – God – wins in the end.”
Carey Hayes agrees.
“If you discover that darkness exists, as the characters in the movie and the audiences who watch it do,” he says, “that means God exists. And that means eternal life exists. That’s something to feel great about.”