Warner Bros. was locked and loaded for Comic Con this year, armed with dual presentations for a couple of meaty genre flicks coming in 2013. The first was horror film “The Conjuring,” a James Wan effort about ghost hunters, which was recently given a plum July 19th release date. Wan and actors Patrick Wilson, Lily Taylor and Ron Livingston were onboard to present footage from the picture.
The crew premiered the trailer for the audience, a spooky mood-setter beginning with a found footage conceit before revealing itself as a more conventional narrative. The picture is a period piece, and the footage showcased a moody, angry witch, with ghost hunters Wilson and Vera Farmiga hunting their prey. As Wan reveals, “The Conjuring” is about “two of America’s foremost modern day ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren.”
For Wan, a lot of the film’s feel emerged from the choice of period setting, claiming, “I wanted to make a movie that feels like we went back in time to the seventies and shot one of these stories. So much of the love I have for horror films that I grew up with, films like ‘Amityville Horror‘ or ‘The Haunting.’ Because that’s what ‘The Conjuring’ is – a classic ghost story.”
Wilson reveals, “I’m an investigator who’s a very practical person. He’s at a point in his life where he thinks, is this worth it to keep doing it? What toll does this take on his family? Each time they go out to investigate, it takes a little piece away. It’s like a cop; how many dead bodies can you see? You just can’t do it.”
With Farmiga, Wilson researched the film by meeting the actual Warrens. “Vera and I drove up to see Lorraine,” he says. “Vera did not want to go into the haunted room but I went into it. I wanted to see the Annabelle doll. Somebody touched the doll and on the way from their house crashed his motorcycle and died.” The Annabelle doll is just one of many real artifacts collected by the Warrens and placed in their personal museum of ghostly material. Wan explains, “Over their career, they have collected items, stuff that’s supposedly haunted. Stuff that is supposed to have been used in rituals.”
Claiming “Insidious” was more fantasy-orientated, Wan says this film will be, “much scarier. I’m trying to be subjective and I’m trying to honor their point of view and in doing so, the realism makes it creepier.” He reveals, “I’m a chicken-shit. And that’s how I can make these films. If you want to do comedy you have to have a sense of humor. I put things that scare me up on the screen and that’s my therapy.”
But Wan isn’t planning on staying with the genre very long. “You might have one more with me,” he teases. “I always say I’m not a horror fan, I’m a film fan. There are other genres I want to make movies in – action, sci-fi or comic book.” He then brought up one potential idea, gesturing to Wilson and saying, “I’m going to make a ‘Batman’ movie one day and this is going to be your Bruce Wayne, so get used to it!”
WB also made their presence felt with YA adaptation “Beautiful Creatures,” a fantasy drama about sorceresses in the deep south — producer Broderick Johnson says, “They don’t like to be called witches.” The footage shown was a mixture of behind the scenes material, as the trailer had already premiered to audiences. They then showed off a brand new trailer far more bombastic than the last one, featuring several effects and clashes between the young Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) and the forces that would drag her into the dark side.
Onboard to discuss the film was a cast and crew that included director Richard LaGravenese. The experienced screenwriter has rarely directed a story of this magnitude, but that didn’t stop producers from pursuing him even before the book hit shelves, according to co-author Kami Garcia. Though she didn’t think the casting would come together in quite this way, noting how enthused she was for the finished product. “The young people in the movie are amazing. I think people are going to be blown away.”
One of those actors is Emmy Rossum, who plays the evil Ridley, cousin to Lena and a “siren” according to LaGravenese. Johnson says, “She’s a naughty, sexy troublemaker who is really just there to cause trouble. She wants her cousin to turn dark like she did.” Part of this is as a result of The Claiming, a mystical event in the film.
Garcia explains, “Basically, it’s called The Claiming because it’s the moment you’re claimed, light or dark. The theme of the book and the movie is that Lena wants to claim it for herself.” Rossum illustrates further, “It’s like your physical awake-ness where your body chooses if you’re light or dark. It’s pulling on the power of the moon. It’s showing what Lena could become.” She adds with sinister glee, “It is definitely a sensual, dark thing.”
But the adults in the cast behave almost nearly as mischievous as their younger counterparts. Explains Margaret Stohl, who co-wrote the book with Garcia, she suggests part of these characters’ powers come from, “Emotional immaturity. I have a daughter who’s 21 now. When you’re a parent of a teenager, you become a teenager again.” Pausing, she adds. “I don’t trust her.”
“Beautiful Creatures” opens February 13th with “The Conjuring” arriving on July 19th.