If you’re a fan of horror movies and things that go bump in the night, the chances are you’ve already come into contact with the work of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Even before James Wan shone a light on the couple in his film The Conjuring, they’d already had a huge impact on the horror genre. As Wan says, “Since they've inspired so many stories, books and films, it was cool to actually make a movie where who they are is as much the focus as the family’s home they are investigating.”
But how do you get into demonology? It’s not the kind of subject your careers advisor is going to recommend to you. Lorraine and Edward came from very different places. While Ed Warren may not have started out in the field of the paranormal, he was already familiar with trying to help people and stand up for what he thought was right as a World War II naval veteran and police officer. With his wife Lorraine, a clairvoyant and light trance medium, he taught himself demonology as well as building a career as an author and lecturer on the unknown.The two of them went on to found the New England Society for Psychic Research, New England’s oldest ghost hunting group. Over their career they have recorded instances of werewolves, poltergeists, haunted dolls and worse.
Technological ghost hunters
But there had been ghost hunters before. What was it about Ed and Lorraine that has attracted so much attention? It’s partly the sheer amount of work they’ve done. Over their career they have amassed over 10,000 cases. While there are a number of movies directly based on their cases, countless others have taken elements from the Warren’s work as indirect inspiration. You may have heard their name connected with stories like Amityville, Harrisville, the Connecticut Haunting and most recently the Enfield Poltergeist which features in The Conjuring 2.
One of the key things that makes the Warrens stand out is that they were among the first ghost hunters to start using scientific equipment and instrumentation. You might be used to the idea of ghost hunters with thermal imaging and recording equipment by now, but the Warrens were some of the first to see how these technologies might be used to provide evidence of paranormal activity, rather than just stories.
Wan has stated, “They pioneered the modern-day style of ghost hunting with technical equipment, capturing evidence on film and audiotape.” Lila Taylor, who appeared in the first The Conjuring film can attest to how convincing these new kinds of evidence were. “The exorcism tapes I’ve seen and heard are persuasive,” she says. “And terrifying.”
A spiritual dimension
But there was more to Ed and Lorraine Warren than recordings and equipment. This couple decided to pursue demonology because of their profound beliefs. Patrick Wilson, who plays Ed Warren in The Conjuring films, rightly observed, “Ed Warren was a guy whose whole life was geared around being dangerously close to the dark side because he genuinely wanted to help people. He knew the terror they were experiencing could happen to anyone, including them—the ones there to help.”
The Conjuring 2 is out in UK cinemas June 17.