Through the magic of the internet, it’ll be like you were sitting right there with us in the IGN theatre for Warner Bros.' presentation of THE CONJURING the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the original Ghostbusters, watching and jumping right along with the crowd... except that you saw things with words, which is an interesting ability.
In attendance were cast members Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston, along with director James Wan, who you might know as the director of a little movie called SAW. The first thing they showed was a nice, long trailer.
The trailer opened up in a bit of found footage-style with an old 8mm camera taking duty of filming Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren in a basement holding out a microphone, asking if anyone is there. The scene then switches to a university, where Ed and his wife, Lorraine, are answering questions, saying that they prefer to be called paranormal investigators. The scene changes to the haunted house in question. A character’s voice over tells us that there’s something horrible in the house. Picture frames fall off the walls, and crash to the floor. Ed Warren is shown interviewing Ron Livingston’s character, who is visibly unsettled by the events occurring, and, obviously, the incredibly 1970s haircut he’s been given. Ed and Lorraine are then shown outside from the front, with Lorraine upset by something. The shot switches to over Lorraine’s shoulder, and she sees feet hanging from the top of the screen, suddenly appearing behind Ed. Apparently there are a lot of spirits in the house, as Lili Taylor tells us, but one is particularly hateful. Ed and Lorraine search the house with a microphone. A room is shown, and a demonic form jumps off of a wardrobe and sends a character flying into the wall. Someone is shown falling down stairs. There are quick shots of a police car. One of the family’s daughters shows Lorraine a small mirror in a box. She tells Lorraine that the presence appears in it if it’s handled in a certain way, and sure enough, moments later, something appears behind Lorraine’s shoulder in that mirror.
It was a damn good trailer. But immediately after, as a second layer to the awesome cake that the panel already was, we were then shown exclusive footage from the film. James Wan said it was a bit out of context, but that it did well to show a section of the film. It started with Lili Taylor and her daughter beginning a game called “Hide & Clap.” Lili Taylor is blindfolded, and the daughter runs off. Taylor tells her daughter to give her the first clap, and she claps twice, off in another room. Taylor goes into the hallway, and asks for the second clap. Two claps. Taylor walks into the bedroom, a wardrobe standing in the background. As she walks in, the doors to the wardrobe open on their own, and Lili Taylor smiles. “Okay, give me the third clap.” After a moment, two quiet, ominous claps are heard from the direction of the wardrobe. (At this point the audience went wild.) Lili Taylor approaches the wardrobe, and reaches inside, but finds nothing. She takes off her blindfold, to look but as she does that her daughter comes out behind her, from another room. She’s taken off her blindfold, and therefore didn’t win. Lili Taylor looks back at the wardrobe, searches inside it, but finds nothing. She’s visibly perturbed by the occurrence. The clip goes forward in time, to that night. Lili Taylor is in her bedroom, and hears two claps from far off in the house. She yells for her daughter to go to sleep, being that it’s past her bedtime. But after visiting the girl’s room to find her asleep, it’s obvious that shit has now gotten real. Lili Taylor hears a loud crashing sound, and goes to the stairs to find that the pictures have been knocked off the walls. She goes down the steps, and looks in the empty living room. The clock strikes midnight, and those two especially unsettling claps are heard. “What is that?” Taylor asks. She ventures farther into the house, threatening whoever is there as she switches on the lights in the kitchen. Over her shoulder, the door to the basement slowly opens. Two claps. (Now would be the cue for you to go wild again, if you want to pretend you were watching it with us.) Taylor walks onto the basement’s top stair, and turns on the light. “Whoever is down there, I’m locking you in now!” She turns to leave to have the door slam her in the face, and break the light bulb. She breathes heavily for a few seconds as she gets out a match. She holds it up to her face, and over her shoulder, something lunges quickly enough to blow it out.
A bunch of interesting things came up during the Q&A section. One being that THE CONJURING is meant to be a nice homage to older movies. Wan said that he wanted to make a film that felt like he’d gone back in time to the 1970s to make a movie about Ed and Lorraine, one that feels like a 1970s horror flick. In keeping with that, most of the effects in the movie are practical, with GCI mostly being used to clean up bits and pieces that shouldn’t be there in a 1970s period piece, like the occasional stray ethernet port.
James Wan told us why he’s made horror movies for so long. He said that making scary movies came naturally to him, being that he is, in his own words, “chicken-shit.” He puts things on screen that scare him as a sort of therapy, and hopes that they can scare everyone else just as much. He also mentioned that while he probably had at least one more horror movie in him, eventually he’d like to direct an action movie, or even a comedy sometime in the future.
The recent change in release date was also addressed by Wan. Typically, horror movie tend to come out later in the year, or in the very beginning, as THE CONJURING was meant to with its former January 25th release. With the film now releasing on July 19th, Wan says that it’s a testament to how strongly Warner Brothers feels about the film, that it can stand in that coveted summer spot once held by WB blockbusters like INCEPTION and DARK KNIGHT RISES.
The Kidd and I have both heard through the grapevine that the film was apparently just killing it in screenings, causing Warner Brothers to reevaluate the release date to have it come out at a time when more people are going to the movies. Of course, with that date it’ll have to go up against big summer blockbusters like Fox’s THE WOLVERINE and Legendary’s PACIFIC RIM. We’ll just have to see how it works out for them, or even if the film is shifted again to avoid that stiff competition, but like I said, the trailer and the footage did look pretty great.
During the course of the Q&A, two very interesting audience members stepped up to the microphone. The first was a woman who had claimed to have grown up next to the house depicted in the film, and noted that it looked nothing like the way it had in the trailer. But someone farther back in line knew that she could not be outdone. The woman that approached the mic near the end of the Q&A had worked with Ed and Lorraine Warren, and was apparently the one who had originally brought the case depicted in THE CONJURING to their attention. She said there were some things that James Wan might like to know. Afterwards, she spoke privately with the James Wan and Patrick Wilson, and I can only imagine the things that she pointed out were wrong with their film.
Only at Comic Con, guys.
Keep an eye out for my abbreviated interview with Ron Livingston.