Evil lurks on set of Hol­ly­wood hor­ror

Even the crew and cast were caught up in the creepi­ness of writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

ERA Farmiga pulls out her iPhone, flicks through the photo li­brary, then shows an im­age of her thigh.

When a Hol­ly­wood beauty is will­ing to show you a pic­ture of her thigh, well, it’s usu­ally a good day at the of­fice, but on this oc­ca­sion it is a ter­ri­fy­ing ex­am­ple of just one of the freaky, un­ex­plained things that went on dur­ing the film­ing of Aus­tralian di­rec­tor James Wan’s new hor­ror film, The Con­jur­ing.

En­graved in Farmiga’s thigh are three blood-red scratch marks. It’s as if a wolf lashed out at her and ripped her leg.

‘‘I don’t know,’’ the Os­car-nom­i­nated 39-year-old shrugs.

‘‘Maybe I scratched my­self hard with th­ese three fin­gers. I don’t re­mem­ber.’’

The Con­jur­ing is ex­pected to be an­other box of­fice hit for Wan, the 36-year-old ex-ABC em­ployee from Melbourne who, along with Leigh Whan­nell, his class­mate at the Royal Melbourne In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, cre­ated the bil­lion-dol­lar Saw hor­ror film fran­chise in 2004.

The early US re­views for The Con­jur­ing are strong, with The Hol­ly­wood Re­porter com­par­ing the spinet­in­gling fear Wan cre­ates to some of the great films of the genre, The Ex­or­cist and The Ami­tyville Hor­ror.

Just like The Ami­tyville Hor­ror, The Con­jur­ing is based on the real-life in­ves­ti­ga­tion of hus­band and wife ghost hunt­ing team, Ed and Lor­raine War­ren.

‘‘For five decades they were the pre- em­i­nent para­nor­mal re­searchers,’’ says Pa­trick Wil­son, who plays Mr War­ren, a de­mo­nolo­gist, in The Con­jur­ing. ‘‘This is pre-Ami­tyville.’’ In 1971 the War­rens were sum­moned to a Rhode Is­land farm­house pur­chased by Roger and Carolyn Per­ron, a work­ing-class cou­ple with five daugh­ters. Al­most im­me­di­ately, the fam­ily was ter­rorised by an evil spirit and ghosts.

The Con­jur­ing’s screen­writ­ing team, broth­ers Chad and Carey Hayes, es­ti­mate 80 per cent of the movie is based on what hap­pened in the house.

While Mr War­ren died in 2006, Ms War­ren, a clair­voy­ant, opened up the files of their in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which in­cluded video and pho­tos, to the screen­writ­ers, Wan and the ac­tors.

They also in­ter­viewed the five daugh­ters to bring as much re­al­ity to the film as pos­si­ble.

In an­other odd oc­cur­rence dur­ing the pro­duc­tion, on the day Carolyn Per­ron was sched­uled to visit the North Carolina film set, she was in­volved in an ac­ci­dent and had to be hos­pi­talised.

‘‘The Ami­tyville case was the worst one be­cause it fol­lowed me all across this coun­try,’’ says Ms War­ren, who in­ves­ti­gated more than 10,000 haunt­ings with her hus­band.

‘‘It was ter­ri­ble. It came right into my bed­room. It messed with my pets. ‘‘The Rhode Is­land case was bad. ‘‘It was very, very bad.’’

The evil that resided in the farm­house, Ms War­ren says, was pow­er­ful.

‘‘When you can see things man­i­fest in the day­light, that’s bad,’’ she says.

While most peo­ple are shocked when Farmiga shows the iPhone photo of her ripped thigh, Ms War­ren, a renowned clair­voy­ant, sim­ply nods.

‘‘Lor­raine will tell you that is a mock­ing of the Trin­ity – Fa­ther, Son, Holy Ghost,’’ Farmiga says.

While the scratches ap­peared on Farmiga’s thigh at the end of The Con­jur­ing shoot, weird things hap­pened to the cast and crew from the be­gin­ning.

Just af­ter Farmiga had her first con­ver­sa­tion with Wan, an odd thing hap­pened to her lap­top com­puter.

‘‘I had just fin­ished my creative con­ver­sa­tion with James,’’ says Farmiga, best known for her roles in Up in the Air, The De­parted and the new hor­ror TV se­ries Bates Mo­tel.

‘‘I opened my lap­top and there were three claw marks across the screen which dis­ap­peared within an hour. ‘‘Maybe it was a mal­func­tion.’’ Wan wasn’t im­mune. ‘‘I like to work at night,’’ he says. ‘‘I’m a real night owl. ‘‘Mak­ing th­ese types of movies are the worse be­cause my imag­i­na­tion runs so wild that I end up creep­ing my­self out.’’

Late one night while writ­ing a scene where Farmiga falls through a crack in the wall of the haunted farm­house, Wan’s puppy started act­ing oddly.

‘‘My new puppy was mak­ing this low, deep growl­ing voice,’’ he says.

‘‘I looked at her and she was star­ing up into a cor­ner.

‘‘Then she started track­ing what­ever she was star­ing at across the room.

‘‘I was like, ‘No, stop it. You’re freak­ing me out’.’’

The Con­jur­ing opens to­day.

Vera Farmiga

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