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Things That Happen In Every One Of The Conjuring Movies

That shiver that runs down your spine and embeds itself deep in the fearful recesses of your mind might very well be the result of something supernatural. And if that's the case, just know that there's a lesser-known occupation out in the world of working-class people simply known as the demonologist — someone who specializes in the occult and otherworldly. Good luck finding one in the real world, however. 

Fortunately for the good folks of the '60s, '70s, and '80s, Ed and Lorraine Warren were popular paranormal investigators thanks to their involvement with the world-famous incident in Amityville. However, Amityville hardly scratches the surface of the Warrens' adventures into the dark, abyssal realm of frights and evil. The two allegedly share an extensive history of researching all manner of horrors from the great beyond in an effort to help the living make sense of it all. For horror fans, the stories that make up the Warrens' legacy have been adapted into some truly nail-biting cinematic experiences. James Wan launched the couple into the spotlight with his 2013 film, "The Conjuring." This horror experience on the silver screen revitalized the genre with Wan's ability to stoke fear through measured simplicity. 

Essentially, less is more. Give the audience something to become anxious about, and they'll do the work themselves. Then, when it comes time for a simple pair of ghostly hands to emerge from the darkness and clap, they'll be jumping out of their skins. The formula works, and "The Conjuring" films have employed a few of the same tried and true scare tactics since the beginning. Let's dive into the big three "Conjuring" films and see what similarities tie them together.

A demonic entity stirs up trouble

There's plenty of supernatural horror films in the genre ever since the dawn of cinema. Vampires, werewolves, and resurrected mummies among countless other horrors have stalked the silver screens of movie theaters for ages. When it comes to ghostly apparitions and hauntings, there are still a variety of experiences and lore within Hollywood's domain. For instance, some ghosts are trouble-making spirits from beyond the grave that are agitated much like the ones depicted in the 1982 film "Poltergeist." Other times, spirits within other cultures and religions rear their ugly heads such as the dybbuk of Jewish legend in "The Possession."

But oftentimes, the most horrific type of haunting is one perpetrated by an entirely insidious force that is hellbent on claiming souls and causing suffering. These malevolent beings are demons. "The Conjuring" series of films focuses specifically on the hauntings of demon spirits attempting to worm their way into the skin suits of innocent families. The original film focuses on a demonic force haunting the Perron family. Eventually, it attempts to possess the matriarch, Carolyn (Lili Taylor). The second film provides the stage for the terrifying demon nun known as Valek. The third film tells the story of the real-life murder trial in which demonic possession was used as a defense in court. Thankfully, demons are Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren's (Vera Farmiga) specialty.

Lorraine uses her gifts as a medium

The pair of demonologists might be plunging into the unknown with each case they take. However, they have one tool on their side that helps to illuminate their path forward: Lorraine is a professed clairvoyant. The films highlight her ability to see what the sinister forces of the underworld are trying to shield from prying human eyes. Oftentimes, Lorraine's gift takes a toll on her physically as depicted in the original 2013 film. After all, seeing such horrifying things could lead anyone to grow a few grey hairs and add a debilitating level of stress on their bodies.

Lorraine's particular condition as a medium not only enables her to commune with the entities at work but also to see a possible future as depicted in "The Conjuring 2." In that film, she learns in the beginning that Valek intends to claim Ed's life and soul. Because of this foresight, she is able to protect him in the climactic moments of the third act. Perhaps, the most terrifying depiction of a demon to ever be seen on screen, Valek will surely haunt your dreams.

In "The Devil Made Me Do It," Lorraine uses her gift to recreate murder scenes to determine the validity of demonic possession in a murder trial. Unfortunately, her testimony as a clairvoyant wouldn't be actually acknowledged by any courtroom. Arne Johnson (Ruairi O'Connor) still lands time behind bars for manslaughter, even though the film portrays him as entirely innocent in the affair considering his own demonic possession.

Visiting the home of Ed and Lorraine Warren

The Warrens are the connective tissue between each of the "Conjuring" films. While each film might position the affected families or individuals as the main characters, each film is truthfully a story about how the Warrens enter the lives of these victims and aid them in their fight against evil. So, in reality, Ed and Lorraine Warren are the main characters of these stories. They're most definitely the mascots of the entire "Conjuring" universe.

As such, we have the opportunity of seeing the pair work in their own home. The Warrens' home is a hot bed for paranormal activity should their "occult museum" ever be tampered with. Over the years, they have collected countless items in their travels that are tainted by spirits or malevolent forces ultimately linking the objects to perpetual supernatural activity. Of course, the room is blessed and all safeguards are taken into account. But all of the "Conjuring" films depict the Warrens in their home at one point or another researching the case, interacting with the daughter, or placing items in their supernatural "vault" so-to-speak. It's a consistent location that recalls their adventures with each new film. For instance, in the second film, an object and a painting can be seen depicting the events of the 2013 movie. Additionally, the Valek painting prominently displayed in the second film can be seen in the Warren home in "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It."

Ed and Lorraine's love for each other endures

The Warrens are a partnership. It becomes clear rather quickly into the first "Conjuring" film that the two buoy each other up when times are tough. It's quite possible that neither of them would be able to function in their roles as demonologists without the other. While the films are ultimately horror by design and genre, there's definitely an element of romanticism throughout each of the "Conjuring" movies that expounds on the love shared between Ed and Lorraine.

The first film depicts each of them supporting one another and Ed insisting that his wife take a step back for the sake of her mind and health. They both embrace one another in uplifting scenes in an otherwise dark scenario. In the sequel, Lorraine's entire arc is based on her desperation to save her husband from the demise she's envisioned at the hands of Valek. Conversely, Ed pushes forward with the case despite this knowledge and puts total faith in his spouse that she can help prevent whatever she's seen. In one particular scene, Ed grabs a guitar and performs both the acoustics and vocals for Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling In Love" for the troubled family. However, he and Lorraine longingly gaze at one another during the song adding a moment of light-hearted bliss to this story of terror.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson both agree that the "Conjuring" films are just as much about the Warrens' love story as they are about the supernatural. At a press event for the third film, Farmiga argued, "It's more of a love story than it is a horror story to me, and that's what makes it so unique and successful, and that's why I enjoy coming back." 

Someone's always being possessed

What would a great story about a demonic haunting be without a little bit of possession along the way? After all, isn't that the endgame for demon spirits? They are often depicted in the genre as lusting after the souls of humankind and jealously vying for a physical body. "The Conjuring" doesn't shy away from demonic possession. Carolyn Perron can attest to that. She undergoes the worst of it in the first "Conjuring" film. Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe), perhaps, suffers the strangest possession. It's initially thought that the spirit of Bill Wilkins, a man who once lived in the Hodgson home, is possessing Janet. However, it's later learned that the demon Valek is tormenting the spirit of Bill Wilkins forcing him to be an unwilling participant in its game.

"The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" is a pretty obvious one. The entire basis of the film revolves around Arne Johnson's possession and the subsequent murder he commits while under the influence of a demon. Of course, the end result is partially his fault. He did invite the demon to possess him in an effort to spare a young friend from the torment of demonic possession. Ed Warren witnesses this transference which eventually leads to the suspicion that there is more to Arne's crime than meets the eye.

Haunted souvenirs are locked away in the Warren's home

Are you a collector, of sorts? Maybe you collect baseball cards, Hot Wheels, antiques, or movie memorabilia. Having a collection is a fun hobby that often provides us with free conversation starters. The Warrens have a collection, too. But it's not exactly one that they wish to own by choice. However, it has most certainly been the topic of discussion among their circle of associates and friends. In their home, they have an entire room dedicated to haunted artifacts that they've gained possession of throughout their career as demonologists. While our header here might've been a bit cheeky, these artifacts are anything but souvenirs. In fact, they're typically linked to something haunted or evil. The Warrens have retrieved these objects in hopes of keeping them from wreaking havoc on others. The room they reside in has been blessed and sanctified in an effort to suppress any hauntings in their own home.

All three films depict the Warren's adding to their collection. The first movie shows Ed placing a haunted music box from the Perron's home on the shelf in their "occult museum." The second film ends with Ed adding the zoetrope haunted by the Crooked Man that was originally owned by the youngest Hodgson girl. "The Devil Made Me Do It" concludes with Ed once again entering their room of haunted trinkets to add a cup from the occultist's altar to the ever-growing collection. It's a fun and consistent way to cap off each of the Warrens' cinematic adventures.

An opening scrawl to set the mood

Many film series have a familiar structure throughout each of the movies. Familiar intros, story beats, or musical cues often provide a sense of consistency. Just think of the Skywalker saga within the "Star Wars" franchise. That iconic introductory scrawl sets the stage for the story about to unfold informing viewers of the story beats that occurred in between episodes. "The Conjuring" series is actually very similar. Each movie begins by catching up with the Warrens and eventually shifts to a yellow scrawl backed behind haunting music.

The words relay the basis of the investigative case that we're about to see claiming the truthfulness of the events. Of course, we all know better, right? While the events may be based on a real-life occurrence, films often bend the truth in favor of dramatization and peak entertainment value. Still, the yellow lettering and eerie track are synonymous with each of "The Conjuring" films further encapsulating the series with a consistent element.

A matter of record

We see it all the time. Ghost hunters take up air time on networks like the Travel Channel. And the formula between crews who are looking for supernatural frights is often the same. First, they recount the history of the place that they are investigating as a way to cultivate tension. Sometimes, however, these paranormal investigators share cool and insightful truths about decrepit structures and facilities that once thrived. But then, they suit up and bring a boatload of equipment along for the ride to capture their findings. Audio and visual recording devices are employed to capture images in dark, abandoned structures. There are plenty of skeptics and believers intermingled within the world population. However, many are prone to dismiss stories that don't come backed up with records.

As demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren often operate much like the paranormal investigators we see on TV. They bring a crew with them that provides the equipment they need to record what's happening. When the Warrens are talking to subjects prone to possession, they often do so with a recorder close by. Documentation is everything in a career that is often lambasted by critics and skeptics. All three "Conjuring" films depict the Warrens attempting to maintain proof of their encounters in order to substantiate the testimonies of the haunting victims and further their own studies.

Ed thrusts himself into the middle of the action

The "Conjuring" movies aren't for the faint of heart. While death rarely occurs, the threat of it is real. The demonic entities in these films all attempt to take the lives of others in some manner. While the horror might have us covering our eyes and wincing with each jump scare, the third act really should have us on our feet rooting for the Warrens to win the day. Lorraine typically does some of the most intensive work of communing with the dead and using her psychic talents for witnessing horrific events in order to help the victims.

However, Ed often plunges into the action and usually forces himself upon the entity in such a way that he becomes a target. Hopefully, the real-life Ed Warren was just as brave as his on-screen counterpart. If so, Ed is truly fearless and selfless. He puts himself in harms way just to perform an exorcism on Carolyn. He risks life and limb for the young Hodgson girls going toe-to-toe with a demon who has already prophesied his death. He even becomes so involved in the intensive investigative efforts of the third film that he suffers a heart attack. Ed is truly an unsung hero who wades into the muck and the mire willingly.

Based on a true story

"Mhm, right. A true story you say? That's got to be a stretch." We all know those people, right? Perhaps, you are one of those people. There's no shame in it. Everyone is built differently based on their own unique life experiences. But rest assured, there are skeptics scoffing at the "based on a true story" line that is plugged into the intro of each of these films in some shape or form. Whether you believe it or not, the Perron family, the Hodgsons, and Arne Johnson are all real people who allege the basic experiences depicted in each of "The Conjuring" films. Each film is based on truth. But how much of each of these stories are truth versus dramatized fiction?

Let's look at the biggest horror icon to come out of the "Conjuring" films aside from Annabelle: the demon nun known as Valek. While there are records of the Enfield haunting that are most certainly not definitive, the one entirely fabricated element in "The Conjuring 2" is the demon nun. That horrific monstrosity was all James Wan's creation. In the end of the first film, Carolyn Perron was possessed by the spirit of Bathsheba. Ed performed a life-saving exorcism on her. However, according to the family, an exorcism was neither performed nor required. Instead, the family underwent a séance where Carolyn Perron was attacked by an unseen force (via Global News). And the third film told the basic story of Arne Johnson, although with plenty of exaggerations. For example, the water bed scare never occurred and Annabelle was never introduced to the lawyers (via USA Today). That latter detail was likely added to inject the creepy icon into the film in some form.