Scary, not nasty

By Tom Quiner


“Dad, do you like horror movies?”

This is the question my 29 year old daughter asked me yesterday. Karen and I are in Alaska visiting her and her husband. It was a rainy day, so we decided to go to a movie.

I told her I used to love horror movies until they changed. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but horror movies went from being scary to being nasty. Graphic blood, guts, and gore became the hallmark of the modern horror film.

Gone were the good old chills and spills that were suggested rather than shown.

We had a dilemma, though. There’s not much showing in Anchorage that we wanted to see, so we decided on a horror film, “The Conjuring.”

The Conjuring tells the tale of a Rhode Island haunted house and how its resident demon terrorized the family that moved in.

It is based on true events.

I recommend the film. It is totally entertaining in a way horror films are supposed to entertain: it scares without being nasty. It has been thirty years since I saw “The Exorcism,” but The Conjuring was much scarier.

The entire film was cohesive and spot on. The actors were understated, employing a deft touch to keep the film from reeling out of control. The soundtrack was properly creepy, preventing you from relaxing for even ten seconds.

A lot of films fall apart in the editing. Not The Conjuring.” Director James Wan kept the pacing tight and tense.

My wife typically avoids horror films like the plague, but she even liked it:

“It was well-done. I liked the way it showed the reality of both good and evil in a way that was believable. It did not make religious people look like fools or the bad guys, as so many other films do. The dissatisfying part is we don’t know what impact the scary events depicted in the film had on the faith life of the family depicted in the film.”

As a practicing Roman Catholic, I am hyper-sensitive to the anti-Catholicism rampant among the Hollywood crowd. This film actually makes a good case for God, for baptism, and for the Church. After the movie was over, Karen and I laughed that if it were our family, we would have hauled our family to the nearest Catholic Church and camped out in the pews until a priest had completed an exorcism at our house.

How accurate is the film? One of the daughters depicted in the film, Andrea Perron, weighed in:

“There is no conceivable way to condense what we as a family endured in the farmhouse into a two-hour motion picture but James (Wan) captured the essence of it and for this I will remain eternally grateful.”

For a Catholic, the film is plausible. For an evangelical atheist, the premise is laughable. Nonetheless, Ms. Perron who lived through the terror in real life sticks to her guns that this is a fair reflection of what happened:

“… the screenwriters had much to pick & choose from, amalgamating it into a cohesive rendering which I am proud of, having been privileged to see it as a private screening last March. The film is amazing and nothing anyone expects. It is a fair reflection of the chaos and danger we faced at the farm. The entire true story is chronicled in the books but the movie stands alone as a work of art — not fiction.”

I’m a fan of a website called The reviewer, Steven Greydanus, presents reviews from a Catholic perspective. He offers a 60 second review in the clip above.

Whether you buy into the premise, The Conjuring holds up as a first rate thriller.



  1. Monte Gray on August 10, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    If Karen could watch it maybe I can persuade my wife to watch it!

  2. JoeC on August 11, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    If this is really based on a “true” story, they really need to cash in then. offers a million dollars to anyone who can show proof of the supernatural. In the decades this has been offered, no one has ever collected.

  3. skyedog27 on August 13, 2013 at 7:30 am

    We saw this film a few wks ago. Very intense but well done. I agree with your critique. Just can’t seem to got on WordPress to express it. Happy vacationing! On Aug 10, 2013 1:33 PM, “A Heapin’ Plate of Conservative Politics &