Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s four big releases, “Now You See Me 2,” the Cos Play freak-out “Warcraft,” the great Greta Gerwig’s “Maggie’s Plan,” and the spooky atmosphere of “The Conjuring 2.”
Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Marcia MacMillan chat up the weekend’s big releases, the magically delicious “Now You See Me 2,” the Cos Play freak-out “Warcraft,” Greta Gerwig’s marvelous “Maggie’s Plan,” and the spooky atmosphere of “The Conjuring 2.”
If self-described “demonologists, ghost hunters and kooks” Ed and Lorraine Warren didn’t really exist, Hollywood would have invented them.
In addition to investigating 10,000 cases of paranormal activity — including exorcising a “werewolf demon” — they founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, authored three books about their ghostly exploits and were the proprietors of Warren’s Occult Museum in Monroe, Conn.
They are colourful eccentrics whose wild exploits are perfect big-screen fodder.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga played them in 2013’s The Conjuring. Based on a real-life haunted house in Rhode Island, it comes complete with slamming doors, someone or something goosing family members in their sleep and the smell of rotten meat.
Directed by Saw co-creator James Wan, it’s a mashup of The Exorcist and a particularly unnerving episode of Ghost Hunters and earned Farmiga a nomination for the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared-As-S—t Performance.
The demon-hunting duo are back in theatres in The Conjuring 2. This time they’re looking into the Enfield Poltergeist incident. Instead of a ghost in a house, malevolent spirits possess young children who speak in strange voices, levitate and do all manner of spooky things.
“I’ve known about them since I was pretty young, back in high school,” Wan says of the Warrens.
“I was fascinated by what they did and who they are. I’ve sort of kept them in my peripheral all these years, and I’ve always thought their life stories would make a very interesting movie.”
The Conjuring films are scary but they’re not the only supernatural cases the Warrens investigated that went on to get the big-screen treatment.
Annabelle, a 2014 prequel to The Conjuring, proves you can’t keep a good doll down. It tells the story of Annabelle, that movie’s creepy, possessed dolly before she was safely locked away in Warren’s Occult Museum. Echoes of Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion reverberate throughout the movie’s low-key weird atmosphere.
The Warrens’ much-documented Carmen Snedeker situation gave us The Haunting in Connecticut. In a disturbing flick that breathes the same air as any movie involving evil spirits, a haunted house, an old aboriginal cemetery or former insane asylum, evil forces torment the Snedekers after they move into a converted funeral home in Southington, Conn.
In the real-life 1986 event, the Warrens were called in and declared the Snedeker house to be crawling with demons, the result of former funeral home workers practising necrophilia.
How accurate was the movie?
“I was also told about scratching on the walls, blood and séances,” Lorraine told MyRecordJournal.com. “That isn’t the type of thing … occurring within the house at all. The movie is very, very loosely based on the actual investigation.”
The eerie couple’s most celebrated case happened at 112 Ocean Ave. in Amityville, Long Island. Known as The Amityville Horror, their look into the Lutz family’s outrageous claims of supernatural terror after moving into the large house where Ronald DeFeo, Jr. shot and killed six members of his family, has been the subject of 10 movies and a number of books.
“The case itself has affected our personal lives more than any other case we’ve ever worked on in 54 years of research,” Lorraine said.
In 2013’s “The Conjuring” self-described “demonologists, ghost hunters and kooks” Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) battled spirits in a Rhode Island haunted house. Imagine a mash-up of “The Exorcist” and a particularly spooky episode of “Ghost Hunters.” The sequel, eerily titled “The Conjuring 2,” picks up their story seven years later.
This time around again their exploration of the Amityville Horror house has brought the Warrens fame but the case left Lorraine fatigued, too wearied for the weird stuff. “This is as close to hell with this I ever want to get,” she says. She is tormented by strange visions, unsure if she wants to continue exploring the paranormal. “After everything we’ve seen there isn’t much that rattles us anymore,” says Lorraine, “but [Amityville] still haunts me.”
She is drawn back into the world of ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night when the Catholic Church calls on the spooky duo to be their eyes and ears in another Ouija board cautionary tale. This one is the Enfield Poltergeist incident in Britain, a 1977 exploration into a case some called the English Amityville.
Once again there’s a haunting, but instead of a ghost in a house, malevolent spirits possess a young child, Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe), who speaks in strange voices—“I’ve come from the grave!”—levitates and does all manner of uncanny, violent things.
Director James Wan takes his time unveiling the scares in “The Conjuring 2,” allowing tensions to build slowly and surely. Even the innocent act of watching a bad sitcom takes on a sinister air, with the canned laughter adding to the audience anxiety. Some will think it moves too slowly, others will be edging towards the front of their seats.
Apart from the mouth-agape scared faces—Farmiga is a master at the terrified visage—“The Conjuring 2’s” terror is supplied by very simple special effects. Chairs rocking back-and-forth and slamming doors are simple, practical effects but the fear they deliver is amplified by Wan’s skill with old school timing and beautiful, atmospheric filmmaking. The story is occasionally silly, but still able to raise the hairs on the back of the neck because Wan carefully doles out details that add up to an unsettling night at the movies. Is it grim? Emotionally, perhaps, but there are no blood and guts, just a positive message that love conquers all, even evil.