Every once in a while a horror film comes along that completely shapes the genre for decades to come. Think Friday the 13th and how that inspired an onslaught of slasher films. Or Paranormal Activity and how that launched a thousand found footage flicks. These films come every once in a blue moon – so it’s downright startling that James Wan has made three such movies. With Saw, Wan ushered in a decade of so-called torture-porn films. With Insidious, he brought back the spook-a-minute ghost stories of the eighties. And with The Conjuring, Wan revitalized the exorcist genre. What type of Faustian deal did the filmmaker make?
The Conjuring 2 picks up with the first film’s two-breakout characters: paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga) as they investigate another ‘real case’. In the sequel, the two travel to London to help a single mother of four ward of a malevolent spirit. At the WonderCon Panel, filmmaker James Wan previewed a new trailer for the sequel and discussed its connection to Amityville. For panel highlights, read below.
Wan premiered a new The Conjuring 2 trailer – which you can watch right here.
Wan first spoke on the appeal of The Conjuring – which is the second highest grossing original horror film of all time. “A big part of it had to do with the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren” Wan said, “The reason why it resonates with a lot of people is because of the real life inspiration behind it.” Bringing great actors (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) brings these real people to life. Having characters you care about really helps to make “the scares play stronger.”
Wan said it was quite a process to choose which case of The Warrens to focus on for the sequel. The Warrens have investigated four to ten thousand cases in their lifetime so choosing which one to use in the sequel was “difficult.” “We knew we had to touch on their most famous case: Amityville” Wan revealed, “Amityville in a lot of ways dictated what the rest of the film would be. That’s how we came to the Enfield case. The Enfield Case and Amityville are probably the two most documented paranormal cases in history.”
How does James Wan construct a scare? “Scares are one of the hardest things to do” the director revealed, “A lot of people can be quite dismissive of scares in a horror film; but a good one is very hard to do right. One you haven’t even seen is even harder. I try to push myself to write something I haven’t seen before or think of things that scare me. And then I try to figure out a way to articulate that cinematically. I don’t think there’s a trick to it. But if I had to put my finger on it — I would say it’s coming up with something that is relevant to us. Something that is relevant to everyone alive.”
James Wan commented on his style, which tends to be “very classical”. “I know Saw doesn’t demonstrate that. Saw has a very kinetic aesthetic to it; but a lot of that had to do with how low budget it was.” “It was a very rough film” he continued, “I tried to hide as much of the flaws as I could. But I don’t feel like Saw is reflective of my aesthetic. I feel like Insidious and The Conjuring are more reflective of my taste.” Wan finished by describing his technique as “very grounded”.
James Wan has worked on films that cost less than million (Saw) and some that have cost hundreds of millions (Furious 7). Yet Wan was quick to note, “It’s all the same… Your approach to filmmaking is still the same.” Story and character are always the most important. That never changes. “If you create good characters – you can put them in any movie big or small.”
Wan stated that he has no particular desire to reboot any preexisting horror franchises. “I’ve never looked back and said I would take a franchise and do this or that to it.” Wan stated that his work is inspired from the horror stories he grew up with, but that he likes to create his own material from it.
The Conjuring 2 opens in theaters everywhere June 10th