James Wan demonstrated his adoration for old-fashioned horror tropes with his highly-profitable new twist on (and throwback to) traditional haunted house cinema, Insidious. Shortly after that movie hit theaters in 2011, Wan became attached to helm two other projects with paranormal elements: a mysterious thriller titled Spectre, along with The Conjuring, an Amityville Horror-style “based on true events” flick.
The Conjuring is being scripted by Carey and Chad Hayes, whose previous writing efforts include the House of Wax remake, The Reaping, and, most recently, Whiteout. Despite that brotherly writing duo’s decidedly mixed-to-weak resume, their Conjuring pitch has proven good enough to land Wan as a director – along with the commitment of both a respectable leading man and lady, alike.
Andrea Perron’s novel, “House of Darkness House of Light: The True Story” is in part the inspiration for The Conjuring, which is based primarily on the Perron family’s experiences when they lived in a seemingly-idyllic farmhouse, known as the Arnold Estate, in Rhode Island during the 1970s. The Perrons claim to have encountered many a spiritual being, both friendly and not-so-friendly alike, during their decade spent living in that “ancient and mysterious” piece of architecture. Make of that what you will, of course.
Variety says that the star of Wan’s Insidious, Patrick Wilson, is in final negotiations to appear in The Conjuring, where he would play Ed Warren, an investigator of paranormal happenings and expert on demonology – who, of course, gets in over his head while checking out a Rhode Island farmhouse (inspired by the Arnold Estate).
Vera Farmiga is also on the verge of signing on to portray Ed Warren’s wife and fellow real-life ghostbuster, Lorraine. The Osar-nominated starlet of films like The Departed and Up in the Air, as it were, will follow in the footsteps of her younger sister, Taissa Farmiga, who jump-started her acting career in 2011 by headlining a pretty different take on the sub-genre about old houses with dark pasts - ie. the first season of the cable TV series, American Horror Story.
It remains to be seen if The Conjuring will be another testament to the tried-and-true methods used by previous films about ghost-infested homes – or if it will mix up the haunted house narrative formula a bit more, in the wake of similar projects like Wan’s Insidous, American Horror Story, and even faux supernatural horror documentaries, like the Paranormal Activity franchise (to a lesser degree). Nowadays, because of movies and TV shows like those, sticking to older scare tactics can be a dicey proposition.
However, Wan is pretty solid as a director, when it comes to both effectively pulling off old-school scares AND serving up genuine exercises in horror that truly unsettle, beyond merely heaping on loads of gore (see: the Saw sequels) or devising creatively overelaborate ways to kill people (a la the Final Destination series). Combine that with reliable stars like Wilson and Farmiga in the lead, and The Conjuring sounds promising already – passing over questions about its script quality, that is.
Similarly, it’s encouraging to know that that a good chunk of the upcoming supernatural horror movie slate (The Woman in Black, The Conjuring, etc.) don’t subscribe to the “gore equals scary” mantra popularized by both many original horror flicks and lackluster remakes/reboots released over the past decade. Hopefully, that trend will continue on, in the foreseeable future.
The Conjuring is slated to begin production by March 2012 in North Carolina.