‘The Conjuring’: ‘Insidious’ Director’s New Film Might Be the Horror Movie Hit of 2013

Published 3 years ago by , Updated March 9th, 2013 at 2:02 pm,

James Wan The Conjuring 2013 The Conjuring: Insidious Directors New Film Might Be the Horror Movie Hit of 2013


The name “James Wan” is gaining more and more acclaim; the man who brought the world Saw (the original one, not those crazy sequels), the Kevin Bacon cult-hit Death Sentence, and the micro-budget hit Insidious ($54 million on a $1.5 million budget) is back with The Conjuring, a new ghost story about a pair of real-life ghost hunters who are played in the film by Insidious star Patrick Wilson and The Departed star Vera Farmiga.

Wan premiered footage of The Conjuring for the first time at New York Comic-Con, and it arguably became the surprise hit of the convention – which is saying something, considering that NYCC 2012 also featured high-profile horror flicks like the Carrie and Evil Dead reamakes. Read on for our breakdown of The Conjuring footage and panel – and a breakdown of why this might be the scariest movie of 2013.




The first footage screened was the forthcoming trailer for The Conjuring, which sets up the basic premise of a family – two parents (played by Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) and five kids – being terrorized by the angry spirit of a dead witch, complete with hair-raising sequences like a ghost hag pouncing onto an unsuspecting victim, and the usual (but no less effective) jump scares and switched perspective tactics. An end scene with Vera Farmiga’s character trying to use a small mirror to spot the witch was very startling, despite its clichéd nature.


The second footage was a clip from the film, showcasing a sequence in which Lili Taylor, as the mother of the haunted family, engages in a special clapping game with her daughter. A version of dry-land “Marco Polo,” Taylor’s character is blindfolded while the children hide; she then has to locate the hidden child (blindfold on), in the space of three claps provided by the child upon request. The twist in the scene comes when the claps lead Taylor to a remote room in the house; ghostly hands appear from within the armoire and lead Taylor’s character to think she’s found her daughter – but when her daughter suddenly appears behind her, Taylor (and we, the audience) is left startled and terrified. What was remarkable about the scene was its effectiveness when A)it takes place in daylight, and B) it uses shot angles, silence and simple sound to achieve its scares.


Cut to a later scene, at night this time, and Taylor is disrupted from her bedtime preparation by the sound of her girls playing the clapping game. However, the scene quickly takes a left turn when Taylor steps into the hallway, only to see every picture hung on the wall suddenly slam to the ground. Undaunted, Taylor goes downstairs to confront the intruder (who she still assumes is human), and we are then taken along for a slow-burn sequence, following Taylor through the darkened house, as she is beckoned by the phantom handclaps. By the time she arrives at a basement door (left ominously open), the audience was in a frenzy; but Wan once again upends convention, having Taylor suddenly gain that horror movie common sense so many characters seem to lack (do NOT go in the dark scary place) –  only to have the door slam shut in her face, trapping her at the top of the basement stairs in pitch blackness. The scene ends with Taylor striking a solitary match, in the dark, only to cry out in terror as the ghost hands reappear right behind her head.



The Conjuring NYCC Panel The Conjuring: Insidious Directors New Film Might Be the Horror Movie Hit of 2013

From what I’ve seen The Conjuring is even more stripped-down and practical in its execution than Insidious was. In all of the described footage, the scares were created through smart sequencing and camerawork, with clip 2 especially evidencing Wan’s maturing skill as a horror director – a genre that the director himself confessed he can only play in for so long, before moving on to other pastures (like sci-fi or superhero films).

Horror fans were pleased to hear Wan talk passionately about the need for old-school horror – ’70s and ’80s-era films he grew up with – and his desire to make The Conjuring a sort of stylistic throwback that relies on actual filmmaking technique and makeup over CGI effects and such.

In attendance at the panel were people connected to the actual events the film is based on: a girl who grew up next door to the haunted house in question, and a woman who claimed to be the liaison between the Warrens and the imperiled family, the Perrons. After that, Wan and cast members in attendance – Wilson, Taylor and Livingston – shared anecdotes, the most memorable being Wilson’s account of he and Farmiga’s trip to the Warrens’ home (Ed has passed away, Lorraine is still alive), and the discovery of their haunted objects room – which is literally a room behind their house where supposedly haunted or possessed objects are stored. One person apparently touch a possessed doll in the room, and died shortly thereafter. Creepy stuff.

Outside of NYCC, The Conjuring is making bigger waves: according to Variety, the film is achieving monumental scores in test screenings:

Since the summer, “Conjuring” has been generating virtually unheard-of positive responses from two test screenings… The move to July — a huge vote of confidence for “The Conjuring” – was made in direct response to those screenings: The film scored in the low-90% range when averaging the number of auds who rated the film either “excellent” or “very good.” Concerning men under 25, the pic scored even higher, just below 100%.

 The Conjuring: Insidious Directors New Film Might Be the Horror Movie Hit of 2013

Scene from James Wan’s ‘Insidious’

That “move to July” mention was addressed by Wan himself during the NYCC panel; he is surprised as anyone that Warner Bros. has now placed The Conjuring in a July 2013 slot – the prime battleground of summer blockbusters (as opposed to an early year release, when things are slower). Clearly the studio believes what test audiences (including the NYCC crowd) are already saying: that this horror flick is going to be something special.

However, it seems that every year we get presented with a new horror film that comes with the quote line from some random viewer, “Scariest movie I’ve seen in years!”  (this year it’s  Sinister) – so what makes The Conjuring worth any of the current hype surrounding it? From what I’ve seen, the answer is as simple as  good old-fashioned movie-making know-how. James Wan knows how to scare us.

Keep an eye out, as trailers and other promotional materials for The Conjuring are sure to drop any day now. Then you’ll be able to judge the hype for yourself.

The Conjuring will be in theaters in July 2013.

[Conjuring NYCC Panel Image Courtesy of Geeks of Doom]

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  1. Sounds awesome I can’t wait to see a trailer! That hand clap sounds intense.

    • The Warrens Home is 1/2 mile away from us. My friend has been in their Haunted Objects room at their House, Creepiest thing he has ever seen.
      Lorraine Warren does Talks every Halloween at local schools

      • Who has been to my house?

  2. i saw the preview for this at NYCC, looks scary as hell!!!!!!

  3. This looks really good. Just goes to show what you can do with the basics if you care and have some good ideas. That pic from ‘Insidious’ made my point for me about how its effectiveness is lessened by pausing the action, but ‘The Conjuring’ sounds less vulnerable to that.

  4. I was fortunate enought to be in one of the two test screens, and its true it was a really good scary film.

  5. To correct this article James Wan actually did write Saw 3. So he was involved with the first two sequels.

  6. In the film ” The Orphanage (Spanish: El Orfanato) by filmmaker J.A. Bayona The Mom used the ‘clapping game’ when she wanted to contact the ghosts of the Orphans.

    Interesting to see that turn up in another film

    • That wasn’t a clapping game. She was knocking. And the children would get close with every knock. In this, her clapping leads her to where the children are with her being blindfolded.

  7. Count me in…
    I know some people didn’t care for Insidious but I think it’s one of the scariest films I’ve seen in a while.
    I’ve talked about my love of horror films here a whole lot especially because I grew up watching the horror films of the 70′s and 80′s so I’m always excited when I hear that a director or writer looks to those films for inspiration.
    And I’m always intrigued when I hear that a film will go for “scares” in the daytime. IMO it can be easy to have things go bump in the night but if you can rattle me in broad daylight it’s always a treat…

  8. in – insidious – were also a scene at daytime,where the family was moving in their new house. then the husband was going to work,while she was making house work,washing clothes and so on,and in that moment was this creepy little child or a little man,after all a ghost who jumped out a desk. that scene was really creepy.

  9. Shannon Kook is starring in this film as well. I <3 me some him xoxoxoxoxo

  10. Insidious was pretty lousy, (started out kinda cool but completely fell of the rails in the latter third of the movie), but I’m always up for a good horror flick. Fingers crossed.

  11. Ugh. Another horror movie involving paranormal activities or ghost. How original. Sheesh ! Horror movies these day suck. Come on do something other than just ghosts. Plus, Insidious wasn’t even all that scary in my opinion. I just felt so bored throughout the whole film. Inisidious is overated. I’ll just skip this film.

    • Next time, Unknown, just do us all one better and skip this entire article.

      • +1!

  12. Sounds creepy! Can’t wait to see a trailer!

  13. Looking forward to this! Haven’t come across a good horror in a while, and I really loved the good old-fashioned style of Insidious.

    On a separate note, that Insidious pic – somehow looks like a photoshopped meme to me despite actually being in the movie.

  14. Let’s be fair, that Death Sentence with Bacon movie was hardly any sort of classic

    • i thought it was a pretty good flick, and had a pretty cool continuous shot in the parking garage. DS was a pretty straight forward revenge flick, and made no apologies for itself. i thought kevin bacon gave a great performance,as always, and am looking forward to him on following in january on fox

  15. When do you guys think we will see the trailer ???

  16. Death sentence is better than every other movie mentioned here besides The original saw.

  17. This movie is going to be AMAZING! SHANNON KOOK is one of the stars in this film, i love him from Durham County on HBO *Canada*.

    • Yea Shannon Kook is one sexy mofo (:

  18. Hmm. Sounds like it’ll be worth a bucket of popcorn and a medium soda for scares. I liked the first half of Insidious and thought it had some pretty effective scare tactics; to hear that Wan is looking towards ’70s and ’80s style horror for inspiration for The Conjuring definitely gives it a glimmer of hope—I too grew up watching horror flicks in that era and still say many of them just can’t be topped.

  19. The current trend of horror movies to move away from “torture porn” and splatter back into more cerebral ghost/haunted house themes is very encouraging to me, although I wonder if it’s a lasting trend. As good as “Insidious” was, and as profitable (45 million take on 1 million cost), it was still quickly available at Redbox and other DVD rental places. “Saw” made nearly 200 million worldwide.
    As to the veracity of the “true” story this is based on, I’ve read so many disparaging articles about the Warrens (who first gained fame with the Amityville Horror book and movie)that I go into movies like this simply to enjoy the scare, regardless of the nature of the story. It doesn’t need to be based on an actual event in order to scare and entertain me.

  20. Someone says they’ve been in my house? They live a 1/2 mile away? Really?

  21. “In attendance at the panel were people connected to the actual events the film is based on: a girl who grew up next door to the haunted house in question, and a woman who claimed to be the liaison between the Warrens and the imperiled family, the Perrons.”

    If anyone is interested, this woman’s name was Donna, and at the time of the case depicted in the movie she was the director of a college organization called P.I.R.O. (Parapsychology Investigation and Research Organization). I was a member oh that organization, and I am looking forward to seeing my dear friend Andrea Perron portrayed in the film!

  22. We were at the pre-screening of The Conjuring in Chicago which came complete with a preist and a demon protection kit. This movie was phenomenal! I haven’t been this afraid since i saw the Exorcist. Trully disturbing. I was so frightened I couldn’t sit still. A must see!!!

    • Cool that you were able to go to a pre-screening. The Exorcist has always been my #1 horror film, so for me to hear you say it topped that really piques my curiosity. Did I hear you right though—the screening included a priest??

    • Oh yeah! I heard that some people have been experiencing things after they watched it!

  23. Can’t wait. I’ve loved horror and scary things a lot. I really want to watch this. And I am prepared for some nights without sleep! I remember I used to be scared of Jeff the Killer’s face, but then I figured out that he’s not so scary anymore. I also remember when I used to be scared of Slender Man. Boy, did he give me nightmares for weeks! I’m currently now in the Creepypasta world. I just hope the same happens with this movie: I watch it, get scared for a few weeks, then get over it.

    But I’m having a bad feeling this movie will scar me for life. And not in a good way…

  24. I was just wondering what does the lady see in the eyes of the man they had in the basment when his eyes were bleeding??

  25. I’ve seen both films! I could honestly say there’s nothing new but the whole horror conventions was refined that made The Conjuring refreshing to watch. The story was even comparable to Haunting in the Connecticut but what made it way better is James Wan’s artistic sense and confident presentation.

    • Couldn’t agree more. But I think James Wan is overrated.

  26. So I saw Conjuring on opening weekend. It was good. Wan walks the walk and definitely knows how to set the mood and inject the scares at the right moments. Can’t say I was scared out of my wits though; that’s probably only because I’m a ’70s kid and had already been exposed to pure evil (i.e. The Exorcist) at an early age. Nonetheless, definitely on the better half of horror films I’ve seen lately. Is it just me or does the inclusion of “Annabelle” seem like an intro to a whole new flick?

  27. How many claps did they do when playing hide and seek

    • two.