We saw many cool things at New York Comic Con, but probably the scariest thing we saw was a taste of "The Conjuring," "Saw" director James Wan's true-life haunting tale starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as famed real-life paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren.
The Warrens had a storied history, including investigations into werewolf possessions, The Amityville Horror, and other WTF events, even opening up an Occult Museum in New England, but one of their most famous cases involved a terrifying ghostly presence in the family home of Rhode Island couple Mr. and Mrs. Perron.
The Perrons are played by Ron Livingston of "Office Space" fame and Lili Taylor, no stranger to such creepy shenanigans after starring in "The Haunting." Livingston, Taylor, Farmiga, Wilson, and Wan were all on hand for today's panel, along with Nerdist impresario/host Chris Hardwick.
We were treated to a scarifying trailer in which the Warrens are called upon to investigate the strange goings-on in the Perron house, caused by a bunch of creepy little dead girl spirits impishly hopping around closets and stairways like they own the joint. From the clothes to the lighting and décor, "The Conjuring" oozes '70s period atmosphere, and almost felt like a film from that era like "The Amityville Horror" or "Burnt Offerings," which Wan said was entirely intentional.
"I wanted to make a movie that looked like we went back to the seventies and shot one of these stories," said Wan.
Made for around $13-million, the healthiest budget of Wan's highly profitable career, "The Conjuring" (at one time titled "The Warren Files") shot in North Carolina to stand in for the Rhode Island home, and at one point during the Q&A a woman said she grew up next to that house and it looked nothing like its depicted in the footage, which Wan admitted had been "heightened" to give audiences the heebie jeebies.
One clip shown to very enthusiastic response at the IGN Theater was chock full o' jump scares, and involved Taylor playing a blindfolded hide-and-seek game with her daughter where she calls out for her to clap in order to catch her. Instead she hears unexplained noises in a closet. Later that night she hears clapping and assumes it's her daughter, but when she sees her kid is asleep there's a MASSIVE crash, in which all her family photos have fallen from the stairwell. Taylor then follows the clapping into the cellar, and threatens to lock whoever's down there in, at which point the door slams behind HER, and as she fumbles with a match we see a pair of ghostly hands behind her clap. AHHH!
Ghost claps aside, Hardwick got a chuckle when he exclaimed, "Lily Taylor, why the F would you go in that cellar?!?"
Portraying the ghost-plagued Perron children are Joey King, who played little Talia al Ghul in this past summer's "The Dark Knight Rises", not to mention Renesmee Cullen herself Mackenzie Foy ("The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn").
Farmiga's psychically sensitive Lorraine Warren says when first entering the Perron house, "Something awful happened here," and the real Warren assisted in the production, although her husband passed away in 2006. Wilson visited the museum in the back of her home, included the haunted room with possessed items used in demonic rituals of all kinds.
"We love it but we're jaded and always are trying to debunk all the paranormal activity, for lack of a better word," said Wilson. "It's a tough road to go down when you see how real it was to them."
Wan ended the panel on a positive note, saying he'd love to move beyond the horror genre and make a Batman movie… with Patrick Wilson as Bruce Wayne.
"The Conjuring" will scare the bejesus out of you next summer.