Any horror movie with a solid story can be scary, but what’s creepier than a horror movie with true roots? “The Conjuring” focuses on the case of the Perron family, a family that moves into a Rhode Island home to discover a certain someone doesn’t want them to be there. Bumps in the night and flickering lights are one thing, but when things gets increasingly violent, the Perrons have no choice but to call in Ed and Lorraine (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to investigate.
“The Conjuring’s” release may have recently been bumped back from January to July, but it still made its mark on New York Comic Con. Prior to the panel, director James Wan and stars Ron Livingston, Patrick Wilson and Lili Taylor sat down for a press conference to discuss the film’s true roots, the change in title, hopes for the future and more.
As the creator of the “Saw” franchise and the director of “Insidious,” James Wan knows what’s scary. However, in the case of “The Conjuring,” the horror doesn’t stem from gore or well-timed scares. Wan explains, “The scariest part about this story for me is the fact that it’s based on the lives of these two really amazing people.” Ed and Lorraine Warren are recognized as paranormal investigators having worked on a number of cases including The Amityville Horror and others assigned to them by religious authorities.
The Warrens were also one of a kind. When they first started and during the time of the Perron family case, “ghost hunter” was not a commonplace term. Wilson points out, “You have a very real situation, which happened to this family that freaked them out. There were no references points, so everything is coming at it from a very pure point of view.” He adds, “If you have any desire to watch any of those sort of paranormal stories, these are the people that put it on the map.”
Livingston jumps in and jokes, “Lili and I play a couple with five daughters who have just moved out to the country to their dream house with a huge mortgage. I find that alone to be terrifying.” In all seriousness, he poses the question, “How do you take an audience that is so jaded and they’re used to seeing six people killed in the first ten minutes?” It comes down to character. “You care enough about them that you don’t want to see anything bad happen to them.” Livingston likens the horror in “The Conjuring” to that of Hitchcock in that the scares have a long fuse. Even though you care about this family and appreciate experiencing their daily life, you also still recognize that they’re part of a horror movie, so when Wan doesn’t deliver scares where one might expect, and he makes you wait, “it really puts you on the edge of your seat.”
While Wan is still putting the finishing touches on “The Conjuring,” Livingston brings up that he has seen a cut of the film and, “it scared the beejeezus out of me.” Originally the film was slated for a January 2013 release, a release date that comes with the stigma of being a dumping zone. However, thanks to what Variety calls “scary-good test screening results,” the film was plucked back up and dropped in the July 19, 2013 slot. Wan admits, “I find scary movies tend to play better around the fall, like around Halloween,” but gets a laugh recalling that “Insidious” had an April 1st release. He does recognize the obvious though, pointing out, “I think it’s testament to the strength and quality of the film that the studio feels so strongly about it that they feel they can compete in the summertime and that is the reason why Warner Bros have given us Chris Nolan’s slot!”
In addition to the change in release dates, “The Conjuring” has also endured some title flip-flopping. “When I first came on board it was called ‘The Conjuring,’ and I was just coming off ‘Insidious,’ which I thought was a super f***ing cool title and I was trying to push in that direction,” Wan explained. “The belief was no one, at this point, fully knows who the Warrens are and so going with a more traditional title may actually be beneficial for the film so that if it becomes a franchise down the track and if there are more films, then you can call it ‘The Warren Files.’ Then people will know what it is because you’ve already established it.”
Between the talent and enthusiasm of Wan and co., the response at New York Comic Con, and the coveted July 19, 2013 release, “The Conjuring” really could be the start of a series of truly chilling horror movies.