The movie The Conjuring has been called “scary as hell” and “the summer’s scariest movie”—it’s so frightening, in fact, that it earned an R rating despite an absence of any explicit violence, sex, gore, or foul language. According to star Patrick Wilson, the film gave the ratings board a case of the willies that was simply too intense for a mere PG-13. Part of what makes the The Conjuring so very disturbing is that, like The Amityville Horror before it, it’s “based on true events.” The Conjuring tells the story of the Perrons, a family of seven who moved into a rural Rhode Island farmhouse in 1971 to find it already occupied by a variety of spirits, and the real-life paranormal investigators whom they called in to mediate. Those real-life investigators, by the way, were Lorraine and Ed Warren, who would later become known the as couple who investigated that famous house in Amityville.
By all accounts, the second thing that makes the movie horrifying is its central ghost, a terrifying apparition named Bathsheba. Bathsheba is a former resident of the house who may or may not have been a witch, and may or may not have made a deal with the devil, but who without a doubt believes she’s been wrongfully usurped by Carolyn Perron, the current lady of the house, played by Lili Taylor. Bathsheba goes to disturbing lengths to both drive Carolyn out and to seduce her husband. Bathsheba is seductive, vengeful, and relentless. In other words, she has a lot in common with her fellow female fearmongerers of movies, books, and beyond.