The owners of a Rhode Island farmhouse said to have inspired hit supernatural horror The Conjuring are suing studio Warner Bros over trespassing fans.
Norma Sutcliffe and Gerald Helfrich of the historic village of Harrisville in Providence County say they were subjected to “threats of physical violence and harm, sleepless nights, and worry that one day, one of the many trespassers will commit an act of destruction, violence, or harm,” according to court documents seen by Entertainment Weekly.
James Wan’s film stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. It became one of 2013’s biggest sleeper hits, earning strong reviews and a box-office haul of $137m (£90.4m) in the US alone on a budget of just $20m. A spin-off, Annabelle, was released in 2014 and Wan is directing The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist, which is due to hit multiplexes next summer.
During their 1970s heyday, the Warrens were said to have investigated ghostly happenings at Sutcliffe and Helfrich’s farmhouse, which was then owned by husband and wife Roger and Carolyn Perron. While the current occupiers, who purchased the home in 1987, have not experienced any supernatural occurrences, they began being troubled by what the court papers describe as a “Conjuring-instigated siege of their property” within days of the film’s July 2013 release in North America.
“The property was inundated by curiosity seekers and trespassers who, at all hours of night and day, come to and on to the property, approach and seek to enter the house, take photographs and videos, ignore the ‘no trespassing’ signs, fences, and barriers installed,” state the couple in court papers. They suggest producers “chose to market the movie as based on a true story and identified and published prominently the Harrisville, Rhode Island location of the house depicted in the film and in the marketing and promotion of the movie”.
Sutcliffe and Helfrich are now seeking unspecified damages from Warner Bros, its offshoot New Line, director Wan and others, claiming the film-makers produced and released the horror without notifying them. Their negligence suit also names five individual trespassers and up to 500 unnamed interlopers, referenced as Jane and John Does.
Warner Bros has not made any public comment on the lawsuit.