Following up the record-breaking success of the first film, the supernatural thriller The Conjuring 2 explores another real case from the files of renowned demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). This time around, the loving couple travels to Enfield in north London to help a single mother (Frances O’Connor) raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits and to determine whether what’s going on is all a hoax.
During the film’s press day, actors Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor and Madison Wolfe, director James Wan, and screenwriters Carey & Chad Hayes and David Leslie Johnson spoke at roundtable interviews about why this storytelling structure is perfect for sequels, the most important aspects of a horror film, three types of fear, making sure the story feels like what happened even if it’s not 100% factually accurate, the love story between Lorraine and Ed Warren, the grueling casting process for the role of Janet, the extreme physicality of the shoot, and whether there could be The Conjuring 3. We’ve compiled a list of 18 things to know about The Conjuring franchise.
Because each film follows different cases from the files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, it makes The Conjuring perfect for a franchise. And since they worked thousands of cases, of all religious denominations, there are still many cases that they could explore for future films.
- Director James Wan returned for this second film, after taking on Furious 7, because he wanted “to go back and have a hug.” It was an emotional decision for him to do something for his soul, and to reunite with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, who he had such a great time with on the first film.
- Wan goes into a movie knowing exactly how he wants to make it, what every shot is going to be, and where he wants to put the camera. Even though sometimes he storyboards, he’s not a big fan of doing it. It’s just for the crew and producers to be comfortable with his vision. He also enjoys the freedom to make things up with his actors, on set, so that he can improvise with them.
- Wan does all of his preparation when he’s developing the screenplay. Even when he’s not on the script as a writer, he’s still extremely involved with how each scene is crafted.
- For Wan, the most important aspects of a horror film are creating characters and story that audiences can connect with. “It doesn’t matter what genre you work in – whether it’s horror, science fiction, drama or whatever – if you have characters you care about, that is the most important thing. Story that you engage with and characters that you care about, especially in the horror framework, are so important. If you want the audience to be terrified of what’s going on, you’ve gotta be invested in the characters, so you’ve gotta take the time to tell their story before you throw all these scary things at the audience. Otherwise, it just works on a very superficial surface level. You have to be engaged with a story that either is interesting or that you can find ways to surprise the audience with.”
According to Wan, fear comes down to three things – fear of the unknown, fear for one’s life, and fear of losing a loved one. Those are things that he always includes in his horror films.
- This story picks up six years later, post-Amityville and after six more years of skepticism and weariness. As a result, Lorraine Warren is tired and weary and is experiencing a certain amount of unwillingness to investigate, prior to traveling to the borough of Enfield in north London, England to help the Hodgson family. The resulting case because the most documented in paranormal history.
- The film is not exactly true to the events that happened, but the writers – Carey & Chad Hayes and David Leslie Johnson – wanted to make sure that, above all, it feels like what happened. They had to condense the timeline and manipulate the story to structurally make sense. The Hodgsons’ house did not actually have a basement in it, although they did have water issues. And the specific demon in the film was invented for story reasons.
- More than just a horror film, the love story between Lorraine and Ed Warren is so important. Because they didn’t need to set up their backstory again, they could more deeply explore their relationship.
- Lorraine Warren is still alive, and Farmiga and Wilson went to her house to visit with her prior to shooting. When they met her on the first film, they saw Ed Warren’s paintings, so that was incorporated into the story, this time around. She also does have an artifact room from their investigations, and a priest goes in to bless it, ever single day.
- For Lorraine, everything is very black and white. She knows she has the power and her faith is everything, but it takes a toll on her psyche, her mind, her body and her emotions. This gift was something she was born with and didn’t question until other people started punishing her for it or doubting her. For the actors, their job is not to judge the beliefs of Ed and Lorraine Warren, but to convey them without judgement.
- Ed Warren had such forcefulness with the demons, ghosts and poltergeists in the cases they explored that the instigation, provocation and humor he directed at them would be seen as outlandish, if they pushed it in the movies as far as he did, in real life. They wanted to authenticate it, as much as possible, to make it more believable for audiences.
When it came to casting the role of Janet, they searched all over the world. They needed someone who could play young and innocent, more troubled, and then very afflicted. Ultimately, they found Madison Wolfe in Louisiana, who came in for the audition with a wig and contact lenses, and spoke entirely with an English accent.
- Wolfe had an acting coach to help with the accent, prior to scoring the role, and then had a dialect coach on set. It was about finding the right working class accent, and not sounding posh.
- Because she lives in London, Frances O’Connor went to Enfield to look at the house and talk to some of the people there, in order to get a feel for the area and vibe. There are currently people living in that house.
- Wolfe got to meet Janet and her older sister, Margaret, which made her want to tell their story as well as she could. She said, “I think they deserve that much, after all they went through. I wanted their story to be told tastefully.”
- This was such a physical shoot that Farmiga still has a swollen lymph node from the amount of screaming she had to do, sometimes for as much as 50 takes a scene. For the moments when she had to work in the rain, the equipment needed to keep the water off of the camera lenses is so loud that she had to scream even more.
- They have not yet started discussing the possibility of The Conjuring 3, but when they put the first film together, they gathered the rights to 27 of the Warrens’ investigations, from all around the world.
The Conjuring 2 opens in theaters on June 10th.