Whether or not I believe Lorraine Warren is not the point.
This past weekend, I moderated a panel at WonderCon that previewed both “Pacific Rim” and “The Conjuring,” and when I first spoke to Warner Bros. about doing that, they mention that there was a chance Lorraine Warren would be part of the panel. Growing up in the ’70s, I was aware of her name because of her involvement with the investigation around “The Amityville Horror,” and I remember hearing her name-checked as a partial inspiration for the Beatrice Straight character in “Poltergeist” as well.
Last year, I saw a documentary called “My Amityville Horror” that looks at the adult life of Daniel Lutz, the youngest kid from the family that was the focus of the famous story. He’s grown up with people always knowing that about him, and it’s obviously left a very deep mark on who he is as a man. Lutz struck me as a clenched fist, a guy who is angry and sad and frustrated and unable to fix himself, and part of the issues that define his life deal with the way people perceive him.
There’s only one moment in the film where we see Lutz relax at all, and it’s when he visits the home where Ed and Lorraine Warren lived and worked together before Ed’s death. Lorraine shows up, and immediately, there’s a change in Lutz. He unclenches and he opens up and, for a few minutes, we get a glimpse of who he might have been if his life had gone some other way. It is a very human moment in the middle of that documentary, and it made me like Lorraine Warren if for no other reason than she is so obviously someone who has enormous empathy for others.
So when we speak in this interview, don’t expect me to start poking holes in anything Lorraine has to say. That was not the point of our conversation. The point was to give her the same respect I give every interview subject and the same chance to speak about her life and her work. She was very sweet, and I think Vera Farmiga deserves props for just how laser-accurate her portrayal of Lorraine is in the film.
“The Conjuring” opens July 12, 2013.