One of the best of the current spate of occult films is James Wan’s The Conjuring (2013), which opened to critical acclaim and the distinction of being rated “R” simply for its terrifying sequences (on which promise, in my view, it certainly delivered).
One notable characteristic of occult horror is its seeming resistance to socio-political meanings. After all, it translates its principal conflict to the afterworld: human characters are beset by ghosts, demons and poltergeists—often forces of uncomplicated “Evil”—not by more recognizable and more complicated “evils” of this world. The “dark entity” in The Conjuring, for instance, simply wants the unoffending Perron family dead. Articulating what seems true of occult films in general, Douglas Kellner writes of Poltergeist that it “deflect[s] people’s legitimate fears onto irrational forces.”[i]