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'The Conjuring' on Blu-ray: Faith-Based Horror Hit Lacks Cynicism, Not Scares

'The Conjuring' on Blu-ray: Faith-Based Horror Hit Lacks Cynicism, Not Scares

Carolyn Buchanan says she studied the major world religions as a younger woman and once considered herself an atheist. After the events depicted in the film The Conjuring, purportedly based on Buchanan’s otherworldly experiences, she now gives far more weight to spiritual matters.

The Conjuring, the horror hit of the summer, fused standard genre tropes with a respectful embrace of theology. Director James Wan teamed with spiritual screenwriters brothers Chad and Carey Hayes to make a brilliantly old-school shocker that lacked the cynicism too often employed with spiritual themes.

Viewers may cluck their tongues at the “based on actual events” tag, but what’s impossible to deny is the film’s respect for religion, a service that never gets in the way of the shocks or storytelling. The film follows a paranormal investigative team (Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson) who are called in to help a couple and their children deal with some strange–and dangerous–apparitions in their home.

The film’s Blu-ray edition features three mini-documentaries detailing the film’s creation and its faith-based underpinnings.

In Face to Face with Fear, Buchanan recalls the dawn of the horrific happenings in her former home. She won’t be watching the Blu-ray edition of her story, though.

“I doubt very much I’ll be willing to see the film for the same reason I’m unwilling to go back into the house,” she says. 

A Life in Demonology lets us get to know Lorraine Warren, the woman played in the film by Farmiga. A team of theologians and paranormal investigators support the Warrens’ work as well as their religious beliefs.

“My Catholic faith is very, very important to me and still is today,” Warren says. “That helped me to help others.”

The segment takes a thoroughly unskeptical look at the Warrens’ chosen profession. That certainly amplifies the film’s ghastly mood and serves the studio’s publicity requirements.

Behind-the-Scenes: Scaring the &$*% Out of You is a more conventional featurette paying homage to Wan’s considerable vision in the genre. 

The Exorcist showed the power of leveraging faith in the service of scares, and The Conjuring honors that legacy even if viewers don’t believe everything–or anything–on the screen really happened.


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