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.
THE CONJURING 2 IS OUT ON JUNE 17.
APRIL 2016 Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) pops in for a flying visit in The Conjuring 2.