The Conjuring movie was a box office success grossing over $319 million globally. It had prominent actors and a world-renowned production crew. But what was the actual conjuring story really like? Andrea Perron has the answers for us — as she is the eldest of the five girls to actually endure the hauntings.
The Perron Family moved into the Harrisville farmhouse in June 1970, when Andrea was just 12 years old. Her mother, Carolyn, had given it all she had to persuade her husband, Roger, to pack the family up and move into the house; she found the historic charm of the home and its colonial status irresistible. The family had made several visits to the home before the actual big moving day. It was that day that Andrea says she first realized their sweet new home… was anything but. She was walking in from the outside to where Mr. Kenyon, the previous owner, was standing with another man. “I said hello to both Mr. Kenyon and the other man but the man did not respond.” Andrea says of the incident “When I went into the kitchen I said to my mother ‘who’s the man standing in the parlor with Mr. Kenyon?’ and she responded with ‘there is no man in the kitchen with Mr. Kenyon.’” That was Andrea’s first encounter with the dead, however it was not her last.
Over the course of the next 10 years the Perron Family experienced events that changed them forever. When asked why the family never left the home Andrea brought up the fact that it was the 70’s, the stock market had just crashed and everyone was struggling financially. Not to mention the fact that her mother had begged and pleaded to buy the home, so if they did leave her parents would be ruined. Another factor that kept them from leaving was that her father did not initially believe what was going on. Or better said, he didn’t accept it. For the first few years, he hadn’t personally seen anything like what his family was experiencing, so he simply didn’t believe it. Looking back, Ms. Perron has a different number one reason for staying. It wasn’t the money or her father’s disbelief. She believes they were there for a reason: “We were supposed to learn the lessons that house had to teach us.”
In the decade that the Perron Family lived in Harrisville they experienced numerous encounters with the spirits that occupied the farmhouse. Some of Andrea’s recollections about her encounters with the spirits are as innocent as seeing a rocking chair rock without anyone visually sitting in it, and as horrifying as witnessing her mother being stabbed in the leg by a spirit that, in Andrea’s words, “despised” her mother.
Carolyn was the one who was most affected by the spirits in the home. She became very frail and started talking in old English, almost as if she was going back to the time the house was built. The particular spirit that tortured Carolyn was relentless. One of Carolyn’s first encounters with the supernatural in that house was with that spirit when it beat her with a wooden coat hanger in the family coat closet, which Andrea was witness to. The spirit wanted Andrea’s mother to leave so badly, it spent all its time harassing her and only her. Andrea says it was one of the only actual evil spirits in that home.
Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were professional paranormal hunters, came to the Perron family hoping to chase away whatever diabolical spirit was torturing Carolyn. Fans of the movie may be surprised to learn that the well known exorcism scene in the movie never actually happened. It was, however, loosely based on the actual attempt Ed and Lorraine made to free Carolyn of the torturous spirit’s presence. Andrea recalls the night of the seance as the worst night and experience of her life, as it was an “absolutely dangerous thing to do” on Ed and Lorraine’s part. She classifies it as being “very irresponsible and spiritual malpractice.” In the movie Carolyn was possessed by the spirit, however in actuality she was picked up in her chair and thrown against the wall. Andrea notes that everyone thought she was dead. To this day Andrea says that Carolyn has no memory of the events of that night, passed Ed and Lorraine’s arrival at the house. “It was like she went somewhere else” She says sadly. Andrea says her father was so upset with how the night turned out “he threw the Warrens out and told them never to return.” It was Lorraine who originally wrote the book that was then turned into the famous blockbuster we now know as The Conjuring.
Apologies to the lovers of the movie, some inconvenient truth is about to be told. According to Andrea, “only 5%” of The Conjuring was true. She says that the movie producers had to tone it down so much to make sure that it didn’t get an R rating, and that when it eventually did they were absolutely shocked because of how much they took out. Andrea voices, that’s her biggest critic with The Conjuring film. Many think it’s the truth about what she and her family endured but in fact it only told a portion of it. She is still extremely grateful for the movie, even with its inaccuracies. In her words, “Had it not been for the success of The Conjuring our story wouldn’t be out there.” Because of the film she and her siblings are able to tell their story. The movie gave them a platform which they use to tell the real truth behind that decade spent living with the dead. The movie’s huge success has helped Andrea connect with so many people, and apparently she isn’t even close to being sick of all the interviews and commotion of being in the spotlight, stating, “I feel privileged that so many people care so much about my family and our story.” The limelight the movie has brought her and her family is something she’ll never walk away from.
When she was just 5, Andrea’s teachers wanted her to skip several grades – that smarts is now displayed in her career as a writer. Now residing in Florida, she has most definitely not forgotten her haunted roots. She attends many cons, speaks at lectures and stops and talks with anyone who recognizes her and wants to know more about her sometimes terrifying childhood. Ms. Perron has written two books, documenting her time while living among the dead, and has recently signed a movie deal to write the screenplays for three movies telling the true haunted story about her upbringing in that now-famous farmhouse.
Has she had any more experiences with ghosts or spirits? Her answer is almost too unbelievable to be true; “I live in a haunted house now” she says casually “the old man who built the house never left and we for the most part live peacefully together.” However peacefully doesn’t totally mean happily, “All my medium friends tell me that the ghost doesn’t like me, but he loves my father, who’s the one who originally purchased the home.” Now that’s proof that sometimes you just can’t escape your past.
Finally, when asked how the house affected her the most, her response proves that there is always a bright side. “It made me a deeply spiritual person because whenever something scary happened, me and my sisters would pray and almost always it would stop.”
Throughout our interview, there were numerous times that Andrea referred to the house in such a loving way it surprised me. To her it’s as simple as saying, “There were spirits that we liked and spirits that we didn’t.” After some time living in the house Andrea realized they weren’t just passing through which made her grow to respect the spirits. She now sees the world differently than others, stating that while everyone else sees the world in such a 3-dimensional way, she sees it beyond that; Andrea and her family see much more.
While most people would take living in a haunted house as a curse, they found the good in it. “We learned so much from that farmhouse, so much about life and death.” She’s not even bitter about apparently “going from a perfectly normal family to a paranormal family.” In one instance Mr. Kenyon said that they’d have to get used to the cold in the house. To her that’s what they had to do, only with the spirits — get used to them.
It’s that way of thinking that makes Andrea such an intriguing person to talk to with — something that is tough for any horror movie to capture: a noticeably genuine good heart. She’ll cherish the moments she spent in that farmhouse for as long as the spirits themselves live there.