I love the Vista Theater in Los Angeles.
There aren’t many stand-alone single-screen theaters left in this city, and I can’t think of any other theater that features the kind of luxurious legroom that is one of the Vista’s most winning features. When Greg Ellwood proposed the Vista as the site for our special screening of James Wan’s new film “The Conjuring,” I was thrilled.
Monday night, we had a full house turn out, and the film played beautifully. There are few things I love more as a film fan than being in the theater when a horror film is really working on every level. I reviewed the film last week, and seeing it again only underlined for me just how controlled and carefully built it is. I think Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are really wonderful in it, and it would have been so easy for filmmakers to make the Warrens look silly or to overplay things and really ladle on the special effects.
Wan trusts his audience, though, and one of the things that makes “The Conjuring” special is seeing just how slow the slow-burn really is. The other thing that I think makes it work so well is that Wan takes the time to really give us a sense of the Perron family and how lovely they are together. When evil begins to push its way into this family, it is upsetting because they feel so genuinely bonded.
After the screening, Ron Livingston joined us, as did two of the young women who played the Perron sisters in the film. There are roughly 86 kids in the family, and Shanley Caswell and Hayley McFarland are two of the oldest of the daughters. What followed was about a half-hour of loose, fun, informative conversation with a cast that seems justifiably proud of what they’ve made and excited about the way people are responding to it. I think Livingston really made the evening work, and I was impressed by how he went out of his way to really commend his co-stars and his collaborators on the film.
In addition to “The Conjuring,” Livingston is starring in “Drinking Buddies” this year, and I cannot recommend that film enough to you. It’s a wonderful, wise little movie, and everyone in it is top-of-their-game good. It’s a great year for him. I want to thank him and Caswell and McFarland for coming out, and to all of you who packed that theater.
I especially want to thank the guy who sat next to me and who seemed completely unaware that he was talking out loud for at least a half an hour. “Get out of the house. I would burn the house down. Seriously. Screw that house. You gotta get out. Holy shit. Get out of the house.” Warner Bros should hire that guy to tour with the film, because I could not get enough of his blatant, out-of-control terror.
“The Conjuring” is in theaters everywhere July 19.