News Column

Q&A with 'Conjuring' director James Wan

July 18, 2013

YellowBrix

July 18--SAN FRANCISCO -- James Wan, the Asian-Australian director who spawned one of the great horror franchises with "Saw," plans to get away from the genre. He says his movies designed to scare the living daylights out of people are "The Conjuring" and the fall release "Insidious: Chapter 2."

He is moving to the action film genre as director of "Fast & Furious 7."

If this is the end, Wan leaves the world of scary movies on a terrifying note with "The Conjuring," which is based on the true story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Question: Were you looking to make an old-fashioned scary movie with "The Conjuring?"

Answer: That was really my aim. After "Saw," I became known as 'The Grandfather of Torture Porn,' which annoyed me. There's a big part of me that kept wanting to show people that I love the horror genre -- not because of the blood and guts, even though it has its place in the genre -- but because I love horror movies and there are many ways to scare people than just throwing buckets of blood.

How did you get connected to the movie?

I have known about the Warrens since I was a kid in high school. I saw them played by actors in a made-for-TV movie called 'The Haunted.' That movie was based on one of the Warrens' cases, and they had a cameo in it. The movie affected me because it showed how the family unit was so integral to how they survived what they went through. That seems to be the case with the Warrens, as they always want to help people with children and family that have been torn apart by what happened to them. Ever since that movie, I've been keeping track of the Warrens, and I always said someone should make a movie about Ed and Lorraine.

Why make "The Conjuring" a period film?

Setting it back in the '70s, I really wanted to capture that time period. Not just in the photography, the production design, the wardrobe and the hair, but also the sensibility as well.

Does putting it in the '70s reflect the turmoil that was going on in this country at that time?

That's what Lorraine would say all the time. If a family unit is fighting all the time, that's when this negative energy will feed off that.

Period films mean more costs. How did you like having a bigger budget compared to the small amount you could spend making "Saw"?

I loved it. It was good to have some money to make a film and not try to cut every corner like I do in all my indie films. When you do indie films, you give up a real budget so you can get creative control so you can make the movie you want. With 'The Conjuring,' the studio not only let me make the movie I wanted to make, but I had the money and time to shoot the film. It made a whole lot of difference.

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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(c)2013 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

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