ANAHEIM – Sometimes a movie’s marketing campaign writes itself. That’s absolutely going to be the case with James Wan’s upcoming thriller “The Conjuring.”
Based on a case file of infamous supernatural investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren, the film is set in the early ’70s and is based on the true story of the Perron family and their battle with the not-so friendly spirits that haunted their home.
Director Wan (“Saw,” “Insidious”) admitted his goal with “The Conjuring” was to prove he could release a scary PG-13 movie to the studio [Updated from original quote from Wan during the panel]. Unfortunately, it’s so scary in its current form the MPAA has refused to award it a teen-friendly PG-13.
“When we sent it into the board they gave us the R-rating,” Executive Producer Walter Hamada says. “When we asked them why they basically said, ‘It’s just so scary. [There are] no specific scenes or tone you could take out to get it PG-13.'”
That, along with impressive test screenings, is one reason WB moved “The Conjuring” from its original February release date to the middle of the summer. And Wan, for one, is grateful for the studio’s decision.
“It’s a testament to the studio too for not [expletive] with the film,” Wan says. “It works and they are sticking to it and I’m very thankful for that.”
Wan and Warner Bros. also provided the audience with two extended scenes from the movie. The first, which is depicted in the movie’s first trailer, follows Carolyn Perron (Lily Taylor) as she tries to play hide and seek with her youngest daughter. She thinks she’s found her daughter in a bedroom dresser only to discover she was never in the room at all. At night the mother hears a massive crash as all of her hung photos are slammed to the floor from the stairway. She creeps downstairs wondering who or what caused it. The basement door opens to her and (some might stay stupidly) she goes down a few steps to see if anyone is down there. The door slams behind her and the lights are knocked out. She lights a match, hears a girl’s voice (not her own) and then a clap clap right behind her. It’s effective old school filmmaking (in the best way) in the trailer and even better in full context.
The second scene – never before screened – begins with a shot of young Christine Perron (Joe King) trying to sleep in her twin bed. She kicks her foot away and mumbles “stop pulling on my foot.” The audience is then shocked when her leg is grabbed by something we can’t see and pulls her down most of her bed. This jars Christine awake who turns to see her sister Andrea (Shanley Caswell) sound asleep. Christine starts to look around the room and becomes bug-eyed that there is something behind their bedroom door which is open. She pries her sister awake saying “There’s something behind the door. It’s eyes are staring at me.” Andrea sees nothing and much to the shock and “don’t do it!” yells from the WonderCon audience heads over to the corner. There’s nothing there, she says, but does note “There’s that weird smell again.” Christina is in full panic saying “It’s standing right behind you.” The door slam shut, the room goes dark and the scene ends.
Needless to say, the WonderCon audience immediately became passionate advocates for Wan’s new drama.
Taylor, Vera Farminga and Patrick Wilson (the latter duo play the Warrens) weren’t in attendance, but Wan did introduce the real life 86-year-old Lorraine and the two Perron daughters now all grown up.
“I’ve been aware and a big fan fof Lorainne and Ed Warren for a long time,” Wan says. “I’ve been fascinated by this world and it’s hard not to come across the Warrens. The opportunity arose for me to tackle a true story movie, [and] to do justice to what these guys went though That was the main thing for me.”
For Christine Perron, the finished product was eerily close to what she experienced.
“I was actually astounded that there were so many elements of our story that were actually captured on film,” Perron says. “The integral part of what needed to be be portrayed was the love bond between our family. I just need to take one moment and say that James Wan is a gifted director, truly.”
“One thing you have to realize is that when you have infestation in a home like that house it’s terrible, and terrifies children,” Warren says. “At that time we hadn’t met the father. We came rushing to their home as quickly as we could to see if we could calm them down and help them in any way at all. Everything about it was portrayed in a very, very good light.”
We’ll take that as an endorsement.
“The Conjuring” opens nationwide on July 19.