Insidious: Chapter 2 isn’t the only James Wan spookfest that moviegoers can look forward to this year. The director is doubling up with the release of his “true life” haunted house film The Conjuring, which is based on the story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, best known for their involvement in the Amityville haunting case.
Wan’s new film isn’t about Amityville or George and Kathy Lutz, however, but is instead about another family called the Perrons, played by Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston, who enlist the Warrens’ help after they start experiencing strange phenomena in their new home. It’s a horror film we’ve been predicting could be a breakout hit – and today’s news is only further evidence of that potential.
Speaking to PeliBlog, producer Walter Hamada revealed that The Conjuring has been given an “R” rating by the MPAA, and it’s not because of blood, gore, swearing, sex, or any of the other usual offenders:
“When we sent it [to MPAA], they gave us the R-rating. 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.’”
In most cases, earning an R rating can be fundamentally damaging to a movie’s potential box office intake, due to the loss in ticket sales to under-17s; however, a horror movie being rated “too scary” for PG-13 might actually be good publicity. Also, since the MPAA were unable to point to any particular scenes or moments that contributed to the film’s rating, Warner Bros. is keeping the July release date and will not be making any additional cuts. James Wan added that he’d received little studio interference during the making of The Conjuring, and says that the R rating:
“[Is] a testament to the studio for not f*cking with the film. It works and they are sticking to it and I’m very thankful for that.“
To give you a little perspective, other horror movies that were deemed not scary enough for an R rating include Drag Me to Hell, The Woman in Black, Mama, The Last Exorcism, The Others and The Ring. Not to mention, of course, Insidious. So just what did The Conjuring do that left the MPAA ratings board cowering in their executive chairs?
The film is already the subject of a significant amount of hype. In early test screenings, The Conjuring generated ”virtually unheard-of positive responses,” and when Screen Rant viewed early footage at last year’s New York Comic Con, we said that it was “going to be something special,” and that horror fans should start looking forward to what might be “the scariest movie of 2013.”
If you’re a fan of James Wan’s directorial style and were seriously spooked by Insidious, it’s a safe bet that The Conjuring will include the same brand of old-fashioned, bare-bones scare tactics. It’s not uncommon for children’s films to receive a ratings bump for scary imagery, but it’s usually only enough to take a G-rating up to PG. With horror, higher ratings are generally handed out due to the use of blood, language, or sexuality that are common in the genre, and it’s rare if not unheard-of to see a horror movie bumped up to an R purely because of an over-abundance of tension or fright. If the MPAA were deliberately trying to get people hyped for The Conjuring, it’s definitely worked on me.
The Conjuring trailer that premiered in February consists of the two preview clips that show Lili Taylor’s dealings with the hand-clapping, door-slamming ghost, so we’re expecting the second trailer, which features Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as the Warrens, to be released soon.
The Conjuring will manifest in theaters on July 19, 2013.