CAUTION - MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
This film is based on a true life case of supernatural investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. In 1971, they investigated a haunting in a farm house in Rhode Island that turned out to be a demonic manifestation that, according to the current homeowners, continues to this today. As far as movie quality goes, the film was well made, the acting was very good and the story moved along smoothly with not plot holes. I would give the production a high rating.
The content of the movie, however, is another story. I came out of the film with very mixed feelings. While the scenes of the actual haunting seemed authentic, the movie veered off, for me, when it got into the demonic possession of the Carolyn Perron. The basic plot of the film is the Perron family moves into a large farm house with a sinister past. The farm house is haunted by past occupants and other various ghosts who died in connection with the house. Famed demonologists, Ed and Lorrain Warren are called upon to help the family. The story progresses to the point where Carolyn Perron becomes possessed by the evil spirit of a witch who committed suicide after sacrificing her baby to Satan. Carolyn Perron then attempts to kill 2 of her 5 daughters as the Warrens race against time to rescue the children. The Warrens are able to prevent the murder of the little girls and exorcise the demon from Carolyn Perron and everyone lives happily ever after.
Normally, I would not give a film like this a second thought but due to the fact it was based on a true story, my wife, who hates horror movies, especially ones dealing with the demonic, showed an interest. I checked the content on Internet Movie Data Base, which is a great resource for checking inappropriate content in films (http://www.imdb.com/) and checked out the review on Christian Spotlight on Entertainment (http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/home.html) and decided that we could give the movie a shot.
The film deals with many Biblical themes such as God, demons, prayer, and baptism, and puts these subjects in the proper light, for the most part. To be honest, some scenes disturbed me to the point where I was actually wanting to get up and walk out of the theater on the ruse of using the rest room. I do not scare easily, nor do movies based on supernatural occurrences affect me, but this movie contained material that hit pretty close to home for me on a personal basis, any one who has lived in a home that was inhabited by an active demonic force would agree. The presentation of the haunting was extremely accurate and realistic. Where the film veers off into Hollywood fantasy was in the possession of Carolyn Perron. By this point in the film, reality had departed. The filmmakers knew that they needed to climatic ending so they wrote an exciting happy Hollywood ending.
The truth of the matter is that the Perron family lived in the house for 10 years and the activity never ended. No possession, no big exorcism, no big happy ending. Others have occupied the home and have also reported strange happenings. The film also failed to make the point that these manifestations were not the departed souls of dead people, but demons who had taken on the persona of those people to gain entry into the lives of the occupants of the home. Haunting is real, the spirit world is real, most people's idea of what haunting and spirits are is false. The Bible is very clear that to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. If one is to believe the Bible one has to conclude that the spirits of the dead are not trapped here unable to move on. The fact that the Warrens were called denonologists lends credence to the fact that they understood this truth.
I would not recommend this film to anyone unless they were grounded in the understanding that the demonic realm is very real and not to be dabbled in. I was pleased that Biblical themes were dealt with properly, but was very disappointed that the film went for the schlocky possession/exorcism ending. Overall I would give this film an A for production value, an A for entertainment value, and a C for redeeming content. I am not sorry I saw it, but it is not something I would run out and tell people to go see.