The owners of this iconic haunted house are suing Warner Bros.
I’m a pretty harsh judge when it comes to horror movies. It takes a lot to scare me at the theaters, but one movie that really did the trick for me was The Conjuring (2013). And I’m not alone: The spooky tale about Ed and Lorraine Warren investigating a haunting of the Perron family’s new home raked in over $318 million at the box office, making it one of the highest-grossing horror films ever. Why? Because it was CRAZY SCARY, GUYS. But here’s the thing: The Conjuring has actually made one family’s life a nightmare IRL, and now, they’re suing Warner Bros.
Let’s back up. The film was actually shot in North Carolina, but it was based on the supposed real-life haunting of a farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island during the 1970s (hence the ULTRA ’70s styles in the film). In 1987, now 68-year-old Norma Sutcliff purchased the home and has been living there in peace. . . that is, until two years ago. And no, the trouble isn’t a result of ghosts (which she doesn’t believe in, ICYWW).
While Warner Bros. obtained the rights to the story of the Perron family, Sutcliff wasn’t made aware of the film until her friend mentioned it was in production. Ever since the immense popularity of The Conjuring in 2013 — because the movie creators used the real names of previous owners and the actual location of the home — Sutcliff and her husband have been dealing with what court papers have been calling a “‘Conjuring’-instigated siege of their property” by thousands of horror fans. They’ve been sneaking onto the property, trying to peek into the home and see it for themselves.
“The Internet was bombarded by people who were actually going around the property, filming,” Sutcliff told CBS News. “. . .It’s a violation of our privacy, but they think they have the right to do it.”
Sutcliff has tried to tell people to leave her property, but they become confrontational, she told WPRO. She’s tried posting signs, but nothing has worked. “It really, really has taken away our entire sense of peace [and] privacy,” she told WPRO. “I live my life at the window, my entire time I’m in this house, I don’t even lay down anymore.”
The problem isn’t only with people trespassing on the property. Sutcliff has actually received harassment and threats from those who take the film at full face-value. “. . . We had harassing phone calls in the middle of the night,” she told CBS News. “They’ve had discussions of people destroying the house because ‘it’s so full of evil.'”
Sutcliff is seeking monetary damages and a security system from the production company. But another thing that can never be fixed: The “spooky” stigma that is now attached to her home, which Sutcliff says is not the least bit haunted. “We’ve been victimized by a huge industry that just doesn’t care,” she told WPRO. “That’s the problem – this stigma will be on this house forever.”
Warner Bros. spokesperson Paul Maguire told AP that the company hasn’t yet been served with a lawsuit. “If anything comes out of this, is to get the industry to understand how they affect real people,” Sutcliff told CBS News.
(Images via Twitter, Warner Bros.)