If you’re a fan of horror or just entertaining movies in general, you’ve probably seen The Conjuring. The story is a shocking tale of Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators who go into a home and help a family in getting rid of an evil spirit that is terrorizing the couple and their five daughters. As we all know, movies aren’t always the most accurate portrayals of what really happened in a story. I met Andrea Perron at Scarefest in Lexington, Kentucky. She’s the eldest daughter of the Perron family, off which The Conjuring is based. I wanted to know the real story of what happened in that house so I sat down with Andrea as well as John Zaffis, who is a paranormal investigator and the nephew of Ed and Lorraine Warren, to find out the actual events that transformed into one of the scariest movies of the last decade.
For the record, what’s your connection to the story, as we see it in the film?
Andrea: I’m the eldest of the five daughters that lived at the Harrisville House, the house that is the story behind The Conjuring. I wrote the books House of Darkness: House of Light that details everything that happened in the house. John Zaffis is one of the few investigators that ever went into that house, so he knows that every word of my books are true because he’s had some very significant experiences as well.
How accurate was The Conjuring compared to what you actually experienced?
Andrea: It was so toned down that it was almost unrecognizable to the actual experience that occurred there. We lived in that house for ten years. Ed and Lorraine Warren actually weren’t able to dispel what was in the house. There was no exorcism, like in the movie. There was a séance and things went so terribly wrong. Wouldn’t you say so, John?
John: Oh absolutely. Just about as bad as it could get.
Andrea: That night, my father, in a fit of rage, threw Ed and Lorraine out of the house as well as their entire staff that came along with them. Then after that we lived in the house for another seven years. So there were many, many things that happened in that house that the Warrens didn’t even know about. In fact, John had experiences in the house that were different from the ones we had. I do think that he was encountering the same spirits though, because the spirits that are in that house are attached to the property.
So John, what was the experience that you had that was so different?
John: I had heard about her family and what they had gone through for years and years from Ed and Lorraine, who are my aunt and uncle. I had an opportunity to go investigate the house with Jason and Grant from Ghost Hunters. We had some major experiences like doors slamming, we would be sitting in a room and the chairs would start moving and vibrating. It was one of those golden opportunities where I had heard about this place for years and finally had a chance to go into the home and verify what this family went through. It tells me that what they say they went through 30 years ago is still there and is definitely legitimate.
John, when did you go into the house?
John: It was in 2005.
And was the timeframe of when your family lived in the house, Andrea?
Andrea: My mom found the house in 1970 and we moved in at the beginning of 1971 then stayed until 1980.
Was there a breaking point or something that finally happened to cause you guys to leave?
Andrea: No. At the point when we left, leaving the farm fractured our family and was a terrible ordeal. Half of us never wanted to leave it and the other half never wanted to go back.
Why did some of you not want to leave?
Andrea: I loved it there. It’s the only place that I’ve ever felt calm and I had already made my peace with the spirits. They stopped bothering me and went after my mom and my sister Cindy.
Why did they leave you alone?
Andrea: They love me.
What did you do differently to make them love you?
Andrea: I don’t know. I wish I could answer that because it would answer so many other questions if I could solve that one. I will tell you that in March, 2010, after I had finished my original manuscript that ended up being three books because it was too long for one, I went back to the house to visit.
What did you feel when you went back?
Andrea: There was such a feeling of love. It was like being steeped in drawn butter. It was that kind of love and I knew that I had fulfilled my calling and my destiny. I always believed that I was meant to live in that house and I was meant to tell the story, but I waited more than 30 years to do it.
Do you think there was a reason you waited?
Andrea: The world had to be ready for it. It was just so extreme and over the top. You know, people will say, “Oh my goodness, The Conjuring. I’ve never seen anything like it.” You have no idea what it was like being there.
Do you remember the point of when things stopped happening?
Andrea: Things never stopped.
What about for you personally?
Andrea: They never stopped for me, either. We had constant experiences with the spirits. John and I have talked about it for hours on what we would feel and encounter. But they never stopped. In fact, they were pretty aggravated that we were leaving the house. So we had incidents right up until the day we moved and then after we moved the first incident was within two to three minutes.
After you got into the new house?
Andrea: Yeah almost immediately.
Do you have any advice for people who feel like they’re going through something similar to what you experienced?
Andrea: Well I would say virtually every situation is different. Wouldn’t you agree, John?
John: Absolutely. You have to look at the circumstances and try to understand. Now we have more understanding of these things than we did back then. Some people are drawn to these locations, but some people just end up moving into them. Either way, I tell people that they need to embrace it and learn from your experience no matter what it is. Sometimes the recommendations are to move forward with your life, which might mean moving to a new location, but I think that everyone who has experiences has them for a reason. As long as the person learns from it and doesn’t let it engulf them and take their lives over, something is achieved.
Do you think the spirits are attached to the house or are they now attached to your family?
Andrea: What I do know is that when we left the house, we thought we were leaving them behind and we were woefully mistaken about that.
What do you mean?
Andrea: There were profound attachments formed.
So you experience things now?
Andrea: About ten minutes ago I had an experience, but I’m so at peace with it and it’s so much a part of my life now. Keep in mind, I had my first full body apparition experience that was so opaque, I thought it was another human being and I greeted him.
When was this?
Andrea: I was 12 at the time. I’m almost 56 now and I still don’t know what it is, but I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not a figment of your imagination. It’s not an imaginary friend. It’s not anything that people want it to be because they’re afraid. They’re afraid of the unknown. I embrace it because I know that there is something beyond our mortal existence. I’m not sure what that is, though. I don’t know what it is, but I definitely know what it’s not. It is not just a part of a person’s imagination. It’s just as real as we are and they exist in an alternate realm.
Rob is a writer and comedian based in Louisville, KY. Follow @robfee on Twitter.