A Failure of WorldBuilding: How *The Conjuring* Doesn’t Make Sense

It only took me three years to realize The Conjuring doesn’t make sense.  I mean, I don’t think it fulfills a fundamental role of genre, but the film’s internal logic doesn’t hold up.

Or, for that matter, any theologically-based story where the forces from Hell try to tempt and subvert (and take over) those who aren’t Christian.

Think about this for a second.

Let’s go with the idea that “spiritual warfare” exists, and that the forces of Hell are actively trying to recruit souls.

In the plot of The Conjuring, the “fault” of the Perron family (those attacked by the evil spirit) is that they’re not religious enough, and that God is the answer.  I mean, the film writers confirmed this Christian message in an interview for the sequel.

But that doesn’t make sense. Why would the forces of Hell mess with non-believers?   

It’s wasting time.

In this movie-default idea of Christianity, literally the only people worth messing with are those who are “good” or “saved”. The heathens, the people who aren’t “saved” or believe the right kind of way are already screwed.  As the Hills said themselves:

“Conjuring 2” is a story told through the eyes of believers, whose strongest weapon is their faith in God. Our film allows believers and non-believers to travel their journey with them, and in some ways, maybe affect someone who is on the edge of faith, and somehow give them the strength they need.

The actions of the forces of evil in these stories literally lose them souls all the time.  Sure, some heathens die (they would eventually anyway), but the actions depicted in these stories (or in the IRL stories they’re loosely based upon) would drive people towards the one way they could get out of evil’s grasp.

The old bet between JHVH and a satan in the Book of Job is the only way this makes any kind of sense (though we’re never told whether Job’s wives or children are religious and good before they’re summarily slaughtered for a celestial bet)… but again, that makes the random shenanigans in all these films simply counterproductive. Even in The Exorcist, even with the priest’s questioning of their faith, the demon’s actions seem to do little but provide moments for people to die for their faith (automatic sainthood!) or give them a proof of theology not seen since Thomas placed his fingers in a resurrected Yeshua’s side.

But maybe that’s the point. Maybe I’m seeing these films all wrong.  They’re meant as a kind of theatrical “hell house”1 meant only to be scary to the non-believer and nothing but self-righteous back-patting for the believer.

1 If you wish to torment yourself with the live-action Jack Chick tract that is a “hell house”, you can find some video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5esn1jHOCuI