Any degree of skepticism in your mind should flare up wildly whenever the harrowing words “Based on a Story” fade onto the screen leading the first few minutes of an instillation in any movie that features Lorraine and Ed Warren. Beyond simply falling into the category of supernatural hucksters and classic frauds, the two spent a lifetime preying on the fears of the religious and those who believe in the supernatural.
To Ed and Lorraine Warren, superstitious ears are the wounded animals that lean down to take a sip from the watering hole. The treacherous pair, with eyes that share the same hungry glint as the panther that stalks its wounded prey from the bushes, were either masters of deception or as unhinged as many of the people they pretended to help. Their history of making money off of everything that will soon follow speaks to their art of deception more so than their piety: seven movies (“The Conjuring,” “A Haunting in Connecticut,” “The Amityville Horror,” etc.), an exuberant amount of royalties, a small fortunes’ worth of book sales and a quote by Ed Warren to author Ray Garton after hiring him to write about “A Haunting in Connecticut:” “Everybody who comes to us is crazy. Otherwise why would they come to us? You’ve got some of the story – just use what works and make the rest up. And make it scary. You write scary books, right? That’s why we hired you. So just make it up and make it scary.” Lorraine, a self-proclaimed clairvoyant and demonologist, worked alongside her husband who shared the demonology degree until his death on August 23, 2006. The pair was built for a relatively niche subset of the population, myself included, who worshipped them as pious individuals that sought to protect the innocent from the red eyes that stare back at you from behind the furnace when you shut the basement lights off. Lorraine remained relatively obscure from mainstream media until her recent success with the “Conjuring” series, which helped propel her ramblings back into the limelight under the guise of apparent truths.
I remember back when “Paranormal State,” the TV show starring college-aged ghost hunters that sought to help families who were supposedly terrorized by hauntings, would periodically have Lorraine stumble onto the show ready to confirm whatever preternatural claim lined up with the synopsis at the beginning of each episode. A particular episode comes to mind in which a man believed he was possessed by some sort of evil spirit, so the paranormal investigative team called in the infallible psychic to figure out what was really going on. Lorraine spared no time jumping into a seemingly sympathetic line of questioning as soon as the cameras started rolling. She takes a seat across from the gentleman and his wife in a room lit only by the white LED lights attached to the cameras and the faint yellow of the street lights that crept their way in through the windows. Sporting a red blazer and shiny silver earrings, she lifts her chin up higher than normal and lets the seriousness of her facial expression weigh down the room, before asking her string of hogwash, demonologist questions. “Give me your hands when I talk to you… Do you ever get very, very, very riled up, like you could really hurt somebody?” Warren asks. The man soberly nods his head back in response, “Oh yeah, it’s very scary. I have to stop myself.” She wastes no time feeding him some leading ideas about his condition, saying, “What do you get angry and out of control about? Nothing-huh?” “To think about it, yeah, it does just come out of nowhere,” he responds. “What did happen to you?” she asks. “I’ve actually seen things, eyes…” The opportunity arises, and Lorraine quickly grabs at the man’s hesitation. “Demonic spirits?”
How this particular case ends is besides the point. Think to yourself briefly what a frightened, potentially unstable person may believe after a so-called expert has just slithered into their home and confirmed their worst fears. Their first course of action won’t be to seek out help that would actually benefit them, for the couple is already within the talons of the paranormal trickster. They’ll continue to entertain the idea long enough for Lorraine to “save the house” and make money off of the story later.
“The Conjuring,” and other stories advertised as true, are at best a collection of half-decent, Christian-horror flicks and at worst a continued con to keep half of America thinking preternatural entities, especially the evil ones, are real. Next time you watch a movie or read a book that Lorraine is making money and credibility off of, turn to the internet for the truth of the matter, the truth of her intent, and move any Warren books into the fiction section.
Devin Caramma is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.