The Next Trick

For The Con­jur­ing 2, James Wan brings hor­ror much closer to home


Maryle­bone sta­tion, and the train ar­riv­ing at plat­form one is late... by about four decades. Thanks to some epic set-dress­ing voodoo, the crew work­ing on The Con­jur­ing 2 have wound the clock back to 1977 and it’s scar­ily con­vinc­ing. raleigh Chop­pers are propped against fences. There’s a poster up for Ex­or­cist II: The Heretic. ex­tras are wear­ing enough cor­duroy and polyester to qual­ify as a fire hazard. Step­ping off an im­mac­u­lately grotty bri­tish rail car­riage, Pa­trick Wil­son and Vera Farmiga, re­turn­ing as ed and lor­raine War­ren, the real-life de­mon­busters whose ex­ploits an­chored 2013’s The Con­jur­ing, exit the plat­form and climb into an austin al­le­gro. Sud­denly, Farmiga freezes and her eyes glaze over. In the crowd, some­thing is look­ing back... Five min­utes in lon­don and she’s al­ready see­ing dead peo­ple.

The first Con­jur­ing took place in rhode Is­land, but for the se­quel, di­rec­tor James Wan and his team have re­lo­cated to en­field. at first glance, it’s all a bit hum­drum, but the lon­don sub­urb just

hap­pens to be home to the most ag­gres­sive poltergeist case ever recorded. What oc­curred at 284 Green Street is truly baf­fling — a sus­tained poltergeist as­sault on the Hodg­son fam­ily that saw 11 year-old Janet stran­gled by cur­tains, hurled across rooms and pos­sessed by a sin­is­ter en­tity call­ing it­self Bill.

“Oh, you’ll be hear­ing and see­ing Bill Wilkins,” smiles pro­ducer Peter Safran. “The War­rens in­ves­ti­gated thou­sands of cases — what drew us to En­field was the stark, dra­matic con­trast. Sin­gle mother, four kids, poverty, coun­cil house — op­po­site cir­cum­stances to the Amer­i­can fam­ily un­der at­tack in The Con­jur­ing.”

Wan, who’s re­turn­ing to his first love — hor­ror — af­ter break­ing the bil­lion-dol­lar bar­rier with 2015’s Fast & Fu­ri­ous 7, is keen to re­cap­ture the orig­i­nal’s black magic while avoid­ing its only on-set mis­cal­cu­la­tion. “You know, a lot of strange stuff hap­pened shoot­ing the first movie in Wilm­ing­ton,” says Safran. “Weird things, like ev­ery­one wak­ing up en masse at 3am. We’re more pre­pared this time. We had the set blessed by an ex­or­cist on the first day of pro­duc­tion.”

Wait decades for an En­field poltergeist, then two scream along at once. Sky’s The En­field Haunt­ing cov­ered sim­i­lar ter­ri­tory only last year. “That was adapted from This House Is Haunted, more a psy­cho­log­i­cal drama,” says Wan. “This is very dif­fer­ent: the script’s based on what the War­rens saw, along with the Hodg­sons’ own ex­pe­ri­ences.” In fact, Wan’s pledge to “stay close to events” has even won over the no­to­ri­ously reclu­sive Hodg­son sis­ters, Mar­garet and Janet. They were con­sulted on the script, ap­pear in a cameo and even toured their old house, al­beit a ver­sion re­built on an LA sound stage. By all ac­counts, the eerie ac­cu­racy brought back fright­en­ing mem­o­ries. God help the Hodg­sons when they see the fin­ished film.


APRIL 2016 Lor­raine War­ren (Vera Farmiga) pops in for a fly­ing visit in The Con­jur­ing 2.

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