Ghost busters come to life 

click to enlarge Vera Farmiga and James Wan work on the set of "The Conjuring." - COURTESY PHOTO
  • courtesy photo
  • Vera Farmiga and James Wan work on the set of "The Conjuring."

"The Conjuring" isn't just another horror movie.

The new movie by James Wan — who co-created the infamous "Saw" franchise and whose film "Insidious" took the genre to a new level — is based on a true story about real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

"I've been fascinated with the Warrens since I was in high school," says Wan, recently in The City to promote the movie.

A TV movie, "The Haunted," based on one of the Warrens' cases, inspired him to start following them.

In "The Conjuring," he actually worked with Lorraine (her husband died in 2006) to bring perhaps their most startling case — the one Ed most wanted to see made into a movie — to the screen.

Set in 1971, the story describes the strange things that happen when a family of seven, the Perrons, moves into a Rhode Island farmhouse. The Warrens determine that a demon is responsible.

"I'm not reinventing the wheel here," says Wan, who explains that there are no "new" horrors in his movie.

"Doors slamming shut, creaking open on their own, things flying — these were the things that the family would tell us about," he says.

"I didn't want to come up with something that was too over that top that didn't really fit," he continues. "But the thing I could bring to it is how I show it to you."

He says he condensed a story that took place over nine years, but for the most part, he tried to stick to real details of the case.

He also changed perspective by not thinking about "The Conjuring" as a horror movie.

"We wanted to make a drama about two sets of families, coming together to deal with whatever they're dealing with," he says.

That was fine with Vera Farmiga, who portrays Lorraine and sees the movie as "a love story."

"I wasn't familiar with her," Farmiga says. "I went online and I typed 'L-O-R' into Google, and then the rest of her came up, and I thought, 'I should be familiar with her.'"

When Farmiga met with Warren, she says she mainly just listened.

What surprised her most were the roosters walking around the living room. "She would yell, 'Billie, be quiet!' and then continue talking. There were all these beautiful details that make her the love bug that she is."


The Conjuring

Starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston

Written by Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes

Directed by James Wan

Rated R

Running time 1 hour, 52 minutes

About The Author

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson has written about movies for the San Francisco Examiner since 2000, in addition to many other publications and websites. He holds a master's degree in cinema, and has appeared as an expert on film festival panels, television, and radio. He is a founding member of the San Francisco Film Critics... more
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