Aug 06, 2013

    I love making people jump with fright

    Malaysian-Australian director James Wan's horror hit, The Conjuring, has become the season's biggest low-budget hit in the United States, heading towards US$100 million (S$127 million) at the US box office since its release on July 19.

    The Conjuring is based on the true story of world-renowned paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were called to help a family terrorised by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse.

    The 36-year-old director from Kuching, who is best known for cult film Saw (2004) and who will be helming the upcoming Fast & Furious 7, explains why he decided to take on the horror film.

    What made you want to make The Conjuring?

    Well, I've been following the lives of Ed and Lorraine Warren for a while now.

    I've always been fascinated by them; I thought their lives would make a really good story.

    What makes the film scary?

    Writers Chad and Carey Hayes had asked Lorraine: Out of the thousands of cases that you and Ed have investigated, which was the one that was the scariest to you? She told them this one - this story that eventually became The Conjuring.

    A lot of her stories are really scary, but I think this one had an emotional, personal reason behind it.

    I think this one hit home for her in a big way because she was helping a family that had daughters that were basically the same age as her daughter then.

    Do you like to keep your scares strictly in the fictional realm?

    I definitely do. I like to keep my creepiness and my (level of scariness) purely cinematic.

    I always tell people I'm a big chicken (laughs). I think it's all about the imagination and I have a really crazy, wild imagination.

    Did anything spooky happen on set?

    The only thing that really kind of spooked me was when Lorraine visited the set.

    She walked through a two-storey house that we built on a soundstage, and then said: "That mirror room upstairs? The one that's in the corner? I felt a vibe in that room. I felt a dark energy."

    I then discovered that the items used to dress the set were taken from old farmhouses that we had found around Wilmington, North Carolina.

    Lorraine has always said that with hauntings, it's not just the space, it's objects as well.

    Have you always been a fan of scary movies?

    Yes, I loved scary films while growing up.

    I saw Poltergeist (1982) at a very young age and that movie scarred me for life - that and Jaws (1975). I'm terrified of the ocean because of Jaws.

    Now, as a film-maker, these films make me realise the power of cinema. And I love that.

    I love the idea of thrilling people, making people laugh, making people jump with fright.

    So, I feel like the scary-movie genre really allows me to tug at the audience's heartstrings. And that's what they pay me to do to them. So, I'm going to do it.


    The Conjuring opens in cinemas here on Thursday. There will be a sneak preview tomorrow.