Evil lurks on set of Hollywood horror
Even the crew and cast were caught up in the creepiness of writes
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.