James Wan became a household name with Saw in 2004 and since then, he’s become a favorite among horror fans for the long-running Saw series and for such films as Insidious (2010) and The Conjuring (2013), but the director confesses that sequels have never been his strong suit. Wan now reveals feeling a measure of trepidation at the prospect of releasing The Conjuring 2, which will bring back Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren, because he fears that a sequel just won’t compare to the original film.
James Wan Opens Up About The Conjuring 2 And The Fan Reaction He’s Hoping To See
In a matter of days, The Conjuring 2 will be hitting theaters, drawing millions of horror fans to theaters for a glimpse into James Wan’s latest exploration of the paranormal, but Wan is worried that The Conjuring 2 won’t affect audiences in quite the same way as the first film.
“I was really apprehensive about making it,” Wan says about the new sequel. “The Conjuring was a massive success and honestly, it set the bar quite high. So I was nervous about making the sequel and I wasn’t sure if it will still have the same impact as the first one did. But that’s what moved me to make the sequel.”
James says that making The Conjuring 2 was especially challenging because he knew that fans of the first film are expecting something bigger and bolder. Recognizing this, Wan says he looked at fan reaction to 2013’s The Conjuring and observed that fans connected with the characters portrayed by Farmiga and Wilson more so than they reacted to the actual story. The director says he built up a story around those characters, hoping to thrill fans with the further adventures of Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Wan has only returned to a franchise as a director for one other film, Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), and says he doesn’t like directing sequels, particularly because he feels as though he’s repeating his past works. There has to be an original story to compel him to return to a franchise, as he’s done with The Conjuring 2.
“I will never make any movie, if I feel that a similar story has been shown already,” vows Wan. “Be it sequels or stand-alone films, I need to know that I have a story that has not been told before. If it’s the same story then it wouldn’t have any impact what so ever.”
Hollywood Director James Wan Recognizes The Vitality Of Indie Horror
James acknowledges that Hollywood is failing horror fans, delivering unoriginal reboots and poorly produced genre pictures that fail to inspire fear or even delight in the hearts of moviegoers, but The Conjuring 2 director also hopes to restore Hollywood horror to its former glory. Wan cites the success and adoration of horror films of the 70s and 80s, when asked what he hopes to achieve with his own films.
“Ask anyone,” says The Conjuring 2 director, “and they’ll tell you that most of the good horror films made in the U.S. are indie films. You might get The Ring or The Others, but most are independently produced.”
James hopes his sequel to The Conjuring will take a step in the right direction, bringing fans back to mainstream films by showing them that some Hollywood directors do still care about making quality genre films.
“I really wanted to try and bring the kind of respect back to studio horror filmmaking — Jaws, The Exorcist, Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror, these were big studio films. Real movies with real budgets.”
Speaking of budgets, Wan has a unique perspective in that he’s worked with both low and high budgets. James had a modest $1.5 million to work with on Insidious, as opposed to the $20 million he was given to complete The Conjuring, so he can appreciate what more resources will allow a filmmaker to achieve. Now that he’s earned the kind of reputation that will attract higher Hollywood budgets, James hopes to deliver powerful and thrilling horror films, which will revive dying big studio horror.
The Conjuring 2 opens in theaters on June 10.
[Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon]