For the love of horror

Days ahead of the release of The Conjuring 2 , the master of horror, James Wan, talks about his rediscovered love for the genre

Do you know that The Conjuring was so well-received in India that the audiences were unusually quiet during the screening?

(Laughs) Really? I did have the impression that the movie did well there: mainly because lots of Indian fans tweeted to me about it.

After going on record saying that you “were done with horror”, it’s interesting that you’ve returned to the genre.

Well, till I made Furious 7 , I’d done so many horror films: Dead Silence , Insidious , The ConjuringInsidious: Chapter 2 … It was getting a bit repetitive. That’s why I thought it’d help to make Furious 7 . It rejuvenated my love for horror, for more slower-paced filmmaking.

I watched the preview of The Conjuring 2 , and wondered if being a believer would make such films more enjoyable.

I do think if you’re a believer in spirituality, you enjoy the film at a different level: a higher, more spiritual level, I guess. But people have told me that though they don’t believe in religion and ghosts, they have enjoyed my horror films and have been able to feel for its characters. I don’t think their lack of belief hampered their immersion. So, it all comes down to the filmmaker’s ability, I think.

Does being a believer make you a better filmmaker in this genre?

I’m a believer and like to think I’m open-minded. Just because I don’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, right? But I am not sure if it makes me a better filmmaker in this genre. I don’t think it helps me design scarier scenes.

But it does give me a good understanding of how to portray these characters; it helps me tell the story with a stronger perspective.

The Conjuring 2, just like The Conjuring , begins by stating it is based on a true story. Do such adaptations stifle your creativity?

In a franchise like Insidious , I can go crazy. I can bring in weird creatures, spectral beings. But in this franchise, I have to be respectful of the world it takes place in. I have to create believable situations, and the story needs to be grounded. So, yes, it restricts what I do, but that’s not really a bad thing. It’s that control and restraint that make these films as they are. If I want to make an over-the-top film, I can always go back to Insidious .

The film shows some cynicism about the Warrens, who have been accused, by sceptics, of misrepresenting facts.

The Warrens have a lot of fans; they also have a lot of sceptics. I thought it was important to address that in this film. The movie is subjective, and is told from the perspective of the Hodgson family in England, and the Warrens. But I think it’s still okay to touch upon these things. It makes for interesting storytelling.

There’s more on the relationship between the Warrens in this film. Even questions like life after death are mulled over. Do you think The Conjuring 2, in that sense, is deeper than the first film?

Glad you noticed. I definitely wanted to focus more on the Warrens. I think The Conjuring worked so well because people really cared for them. I wasn’t losing sight of that. The Conjuring 2 , in that sense, is more than just a horror film.

 This article was written for The Hindu. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to this page if you’d like to share it.
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