The Conjuring is a horror movie with an R rating (for sequences of disturbing violence and terror)
Behind the Scenes
Screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes on The Conjuring and God
By Hannah Goodwyn
- Chad and Carey Hayes aren’t just twin brothers, they are writing partners. Past screenwriting credits include The Reaping and House of Wax, both of the horror film variety.
Their new exorcism thriller, The Conjuring, starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga and Ron Livingston, chronicles the true story of family terrorized by an oppressive darkness and the married couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who help to rid their house of evil.
Interestingly, the Hayes brothers grew up Baptist, but now consider themselves Messianic Jews. Recently, they shared in an interview CBN.com that their interest in The Conjuring is partly due to their faith. Here are excerpts from that conversation:
Hannah: Have you had any personal interactions with darkness?
Carey: I had a ghost follow me back from New Orleans, knocking pictures off the walls at the house. I had the house blessed, and the guy that blessed it said, “You know, you could be doing this, too. You don’t need me here.”
And he was talking about the strength of your own faith. You’re just calling somebody in who has more faith than you, basically to do the business, and that was a turning point for me.
Chad: You’ve got to take authority of your house.
Carey: Yeah, and being the king of your own house and all of that. People always ask us, ‘Gosh, how do you guys fight this stuff? Aren’t you afraid of coming under attack?’ and I go, ‘No.’ Because we have our shield. Faith is our shield.
Hannah: Demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren inspired the film, and she’s still around and shared some of her experience with you, as did the haunted family. Was the Bible used in your research?
Carey: Yeah, actually we did, because Ed Warren was raised in the Catholic Church. He was an altar boy, and as a result, all the language we wanted him to speak was going to be pre-Vatican II. We wanted to stay very, very true to that.
Chad: But also tonally in this movie, and this scripture is never stated in the films, but Carey and I tonally have always loved Ephesians 6:12, “For we fight not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and dominions, and powers of the air unseen. So put on the armor of God.”
On a scripture sense, yeah, we like to take things from the Bible, use it to set the tone, use it as truth in the film, and it just works on a subtle basis for us as writers, but it drives us through.
The other one we love, and we have these both on our boards here in the office, because we reference them, is Luke 10:19, “Where I have given you the power and authority to walk on the heads of serpents and scorpions and not be harmed. Nothing in the land may rise up against you.” So, if we can expose people to this kind of story where they realize, Wow, I have the power of faith. I can do this within myself. I just have to believe… The truth shall set you free.
Carey: If we can give that out in an entertaining way, we’ve done our job.
Chad: That’s our goal.
Hannah: In The Conjuring, Ed casts out a demon and says, “In the name of God, I command you back to hell.” But, doesn’t the Bible say to call on the name of Jesus. Was there thought about using Jesus’ name or was that talked about?
Chad: It was not discussed, to be honest with you. That part of the film virtually would remain unchanged from day one, which was interesting. Patrick Wilson’s such a good actor, and no one ever brought up the difference, there, to be honest with you, saying “in the name of Jesus.”
Carey: It would be more interesting if that was a big controversy, wouldn’t it?
Chad: But I understand your point, directly from the scripture as well.
Hannah: Some Christians might be a little anxious about Lorraine, as she’s said to be a psychic and a medium. What makes her different from psychics that the Bible warns against?
Chad: Well, it’s like—OK, I know Cindy Jacobs. Cindy Jacobs is gifted beyond any woman I’ve ever seen. This is how Lorraine is. Cindy Jacobs is accepted in the Christian world because she is a woman of devout faith and uses her tools for the Lord. Lorraine is the same way. She doesn’t charge money to do any of her stuff. And this is a quote that she gave my brother and I, because I said the same thing to her, I go, “Are you worried about judgment?” She laughs and she goes, “Honey, it’s just between me and the Lord.”
Carey: Yeah, “I don’t care what other people say.”
Chad: I would never go to a tarot reader or a psychic, or anything like that, but I’ve seen Lorraine use her gift, and her gift isn’t as a fortune teller, her gift is, “Wow! I can help change your life.” Because we all believe, as Christians, that’s why you just don’t give over your authority to any random person, because you don’t know what it is that they’re funneling your way, or if you’re in likeness in faith, and things like that. You have to be very, very careful. So, we don’t push her. What she has is psychic abilities, and that’s a gift she received from the Lord.
Carey: Well, she believed she was given that gift to help in that world.
Chad: Yeah, exactly.
Carey: You know, battle into darkness.
Hannah: At the end of The Conjuring, there’s a quote from Ed Warren:
“Diabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.”
That’s a very strong statement on which to end a Hollywood movie, encouraging people to call out to God as the answer, the relief from darkness. Is that what you want people to walk away with?
Chad: Yeah, to be honest with you. We want people after experiencing our movie to question where are they. Where am I in my own faith? Where am I in my belief? The Lord has the authority overall, and so here we are. If you find yourself in that kind of a situation like the parents did [in this movie] and you don’t have the Warrens there, where are you at?
Carey: Variety was doing a faith-based summit at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, and it was about the mergence of faith in TV and film. We’re on this panel, and afterwards this priest came up to me. [The line] was about four deep, and he waited patiently. Finally he reached out his hand. He said, ‘Can I shake your hand?’ I’m like, sure. He goes, ‘Man, you guys got it right. You got that movie right. Finally, you got it right.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow!’ And I didn’t even know Warner Brothers had done a screening for the clergy.
Chad: Yeah, they did a screening for youth pastors and that was filtered back to Carey and I, too, on separate occasions on how these guys were like, ‘Oh, this is awesome. I can bring these kids. And then, boy, do we have a lot of stuff to talk about afterwards.’
Carey: Yeah, he said you weren’t preachy. He goes, ‘You led by example by who these characters were, and where they were in their faith.’ And I went, ‘Well, thank you, that was the intent.’
Chad: Because we know in this genre that there will be a lot of preconceived notions. Oh, it’s a horror movie. Oh, it’s a thriller. Oh, it’s not really a true story. But when the word gets out that it’s really about the love of family and people who come to help, and God is at the center of it, you’ll understand that these events do happen. That’s why we put the Ed Warren quote in there. He just wished everyone had the faith they had, and then he wouldn’t have to do any of this. So, it was just really one of those opportunities for us to try to put forth a very straightforward, God-based theme movie and take advantage of the fact that we didn’t have to hide the religion. We could put the religion or the spiritualness of it right out front and hung a lantern on it. The movie talks more about God than anything else. It’s crazy.
Carey: It talks more about God than the devil.
Chad: Yeah, definitely.
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Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Entertainment and Family producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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