Being a skeptic towards anything of the paranormal variety does not limit my fascination or the terror I feel when viewing a well-executed ghost story. While I have no personal experience with things that go bump in the night, I understand the grip of fear accompanied by perceiving the unknown. Whether someone’s tale of the supernatural can be proven or completely discredited makes no difference because to them it is reality.
The label, “based on a true story,” has been used loosely as a gimmick for nearly a century of celluloid. Dan O’Bannon’s punk-zombie-comedy Return Of The Living Dead used the label for comedic effect. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer took elements of true crime and fictionalized the narrative backdrop.
In The Conjuring we have this label again. In this case there are no documented police files to collaborate the story. Instead, we have living eye witnesses – namely Andrea Perron and Lorraine Warren – providing the account of the family’s terrifying decade within an ancient home filled with its previous residents. Andrea Perron’s trilogy House Of Darkness, House Of Light gives a full description of the horrors they lived through. She worked closely with the screenwriters to ensure the truth of the final film. If we, the audience, choose to believe or not is of no consequence. The Conjuring will convey the torment the Perron family felt.
Since I have no personal relationship with entities beyond my cognitive perception, my fear of the paranormal is by proxy. When I go home to see my family, there are always new stories of hauntings or sightings which I never question their validity. The hairs raise on my arms and a cold chill tickles my spine. While the girlfriend and I attempt to sleep in the spare bedroom every sound in the house is amplified and because of what my family feels, the act of sleeping becomes a dreadful task.
It began when my brother and his wife moved into their first apartment together. There were unexplained incidents of objects missing, a feeling of being watched, and noises in the night. They have moved again and again, but each new place the feeling remained, and new experiences occurred. Cold spots, whispers, and finally the apparitions became visible. Their current home resides on a few acres with a shadowy past. The last owner committed suicide on the land and there was mystery surrounding him and the weeks that led up to his death. Before my family moved there I spent the night alone in the house with my camcorder ready to pick up anything strange, but the camera saw nothing.
Once they were moved in, the figure of the man was glimpsed by everyone in the house. My brother is a carpenter and his dream was to build his own house, so they tore down the structure that was there and he built his dream. They thought the sightings would end, but they became more vivid than ever before. He once awoke to the terrible vision of an old woman standing by his bed. My sister-in-law continues to see the figure walking past doorways or standing at the bottom of the stairs, and as a comedic gesture there is always a knock at the door prior to someone coming on the property.
While I have not experienced any of this first hand when I visit, their fear is very real. If their story became a film and the label “based on a true story” appeared, it would be accurate. It is impossible to try to validate perception. What say you? Do you know anyone that has been haunted or still is? How do you feel about the stories they tell you? Comment below.