It is said that one of the best strategies of the devil is to make us believe that he doesn’t exist… and it seems to be working great. I have often found people that tell me: “I don’t believe in hell… to me, the devil doesn’t exist. God is too good to create a place like that.”
We must remember that the fallen angel actually exists and that he works all the time to make us fall into condemnation. These are some movies that show (viewer’s discretion is advised) real life cases about the devil’s existence and how he can possess people if they allow him to do so.
1. The Exorcist
This film by William Friedkin is based on a true story that took place in 1949. In the movie, the possessed person is a 12 year old girl, while in real life it was a 14 year old boy, whom the Church called “Ronald Doe” in order to protect his identity. The paranormal activities began in Ronald’s house on January 1949 when, in his grandmother’s bedroom, a picture that depicted Christ, appeared crooked and moved as if someone knocked it from behind the wall. When the picture was straightened, the squealing and scratching sounds continued behind the wall, “as if a claw scratched the wood;” it lasted 11 days. This noises stopped the day Harriet, Ronald’s spiritualist aunt, who had taught him how to play with the Ouija, died. When his aunt died, the teenager tried to contact her by using the esoteric Ouija board. From that moment, things began to turn bad.
The film helps us understand that things that may seem silly and harmless (like using a Ouija board) aren’t trifles to dabble with along with with friends or anything of that sort. The Devil responds to those who call him, just like God responds to prayer.
2. The Rite
This stunning movie starred by Anthony Hopkins and Colin O’Donoghue is based on the story of one of the few exorcists in the United States authorized by the Church: Father Gary Thomas. Fr. Gary was interviewed by journalist Matt Baglio, whose book inspirited the movie.
In the film, Michael Kovak is a faithless seminarian whose superior sends to an Exorcism course in Rome. There, Kovak meets Father Lucas and finds out that the devil is real and is beyond any fiction.
In an interview, Fr. Thomas affirms that: “A lot of folks dabble in the occult, or they will be involved in practices that… classical Christianity, at least, would consider to be idolatrous. People can get themselves involved in Wicca, or people will go see some sort of fortune-teller, or people will go to a séance, or they can go and they can learn how to channel spirits…” The journalist tells him that many people think it’s just a game, and Fr. Thomas answers: “Right. Absolutely. And it’s not.” Pointing out that those who fall away from the Church and from the faith have a greater chance of being attracted by these forces. “Demons are always looking for human beings who have broken relationships” says Fr. Thomas.
3. The Conjuring
This film alleges to be based on real life events, so it qualifies for this list. The Perron family really lived on that farm and the Warrens are real paranormal investigators who went to do a field investigation on the farm during the 1970’s. So, basically, what’s really scary about this film is the fact that it really happened.
In 1971, Roger and Carolyn moved to a colonial farm in Harrisville with their five daughters and, immediately afterwards, they began to experience supernatural events. They invited the Warrens to investigate what would later become the plot of the movie. The family lived 9 years in the house. Andrea, the oldest daughter, wrote the book “House of Darkness, House of Light,” which is an account of everything the family experienced there. According to a local legend, Bathsheba (the strongest apparition in the house) was suspected to be a witch when she was alive and was accused of sacrificing a boy as an offering to the devil. Over a dozen mysterious deaths took place while she lived there. Bathsheba lived a miserable life and died as an old woman in 1885.
Despite Ed and Lorraine’s attempts to cast out the evil spirits, they, contrary to the movie’s narrative, never succeeded in freeing their house from its horror and actually ended up causing more harm. The family lived on the property for ten more years, after which they were exorcized and were finally liberated from that terrible experience. They still live and give testimony that what they went through was real. They even attended the film’s premiere.
This last story, the real life story (not the happy-ending Hollywood version), teaches us that not everyone is capable of liberating people from evil spirits. To exorcize is not something priests do for fun. Expelling evil spirits is something that only a Catholic priest, with the proper training and permission of his Ordinary (presiding bishop) can do.
There are many other films based on real life events, like “The Conjuring II,” or “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” The devil can pretend to make us believe that he doesn’t exist but, on the other hand, his activities can be quite evident. A person can be possessed only when he or she consents. Playing games like “Charlie, Charlie,” or invoking spirits can seem silly, but they’re not. The devil takes advantage of every opportunity he can get. By the grace of the Sacraments and a strong devotion to our Guardian Angel, God will always be by our side: “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (Jn 16: 33).
This post originally appeared here for Catholic-Link Spanish and has been translated into English by Lorena Tabares.