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Q&A: Screenwriters Chad & Carey Hayes on “THE CONJURING 2”

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Three years after the original film scared the hell out of audiences around the world, THE CONJURING franchise returns this weekend with THE CONJURING 2, serving up another terrifying tale from the true case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Returning alongside director James Wan and stars Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga are Chad and Carey Hayes, the writing duo who have helped capture the intense, eerie and emotional horror stories on display in both CONJURING films. On the eve of the second film’s theatrical bow, FANGORIA caught up with the Hayes Brothers to talk about the demented details of THE CONJURING 2…

FANGORIA: How did you decide on the Enfield Case for THE CONJURING 2?

CAREY HAYES: Chad and I were able to go through several other case files that Ed and Lorraine had done, so we were able to pick it, but this one resonated with us because it was more of a heightened case with another family. They also paralleled a time in Ed and Lorraine’s life post-Amityville where they were being accused of being charlatans and the family that they went to help, in England, were accused of the same thing.

CHAD HAYES: But to answer your question, it was very soon after THE CONJURING came out that we just sort of got going on the next one. We realized it had became so successful and we got very excited about doing another one that we got to work immediately on that.

FANGORIA: The first film found an interesting angle with being based on a true story. With that in mind, how did you guys balance between the true case files and what worked for scarier effect?

CHAD: Well it’s very important to Carey and I to try to stick to as much of the truth as we can because in today’s world, our audience can look up these stories and they can do research like we researched to put them together. So, in that sense, we try to keep it honest; a lot of times we end up consolidating most of what’s in the timeline. These stories tend to happen over periods of time, and having two hours to show you on a movie theater, that’s much of the liberty we take.

Some of the liberties in this particular film are elements in the movie that James just does so well. You know, that he may take a toy and play with it in some sort of scary way, but, a lot of times when your with these kids and they’re telling you that “Oh my God, you know, I used to go out and I had this little fort at the end of the hallway and I used to think that something was in there,” and so then you say to them, “What was in there?” “I couldn’t see it, I could only see the eyes.” Well, as filmmakers, it’s fun to go inside those tents, and see what it is. So then you’re putting yourself in the mindset of a nine-year-old boy and what he might put in his little fort- his toys- or, what kind of things that surround him.

CAREY: Well, also to answer that, what happens in the movie and what happens to Janet Hodgson is a hundred percent truthful. The journey is truthful, as in what happens to her, and as far as the voice that comes out of her mouth, the spirit and the other spirits that were detected. What happened to that family was a very well documented in England, and Lorraine was a big help on it as well. You know, she shared just so much information and was such a big part of it. On THE CONJURING, when Carey and I worked very closely with Lorraine, she was just a prolifery of information, and to have it from an actual truthful experience, someone was there at that time going through it, it was very compelling. We try to stick to that and honor Lorraine, to tell you the truth, as well as that family.

FANGORIA: One of the more intriguing elements of THE CONJURING was the connectivity between Ed & Lorraine and their cases. Should we expect a more emotional journey for these characters in THE CONJURING 2?

CHAD: There’s a lot more of that; we tie in the first movie to the second movie- there’s a lot of what Lorraine explores. James pulled off an amazing opening which you’ll see that really ties in a bunch of different elements, such as a premonition that haunts her about Ed. We also go back to what her experience was with Maurice, when they were doing the exorcism on him, when he had those tears of blood in the first movie, and how she freaked out and shut herself in her room. So, all that kind of comes full circle in this one, so those stakes have all been raised.

Carey started telling you about when Ed and Lorraine took this case, it was at the height of Amityville and they were being called these charlatans. So they go to Enfield and meet a family that’s accused of the same thing. It’s like both of them from opposing sides, just seeking an answer from the truth and find a solution to [their problems]. We found that it was a really cool journey for all the characters.

CAREY: Also, because these are from the case files of Ed and Lorraine, it was really important for this sequel to elevate what happens to them. We built their characters and their story because it became very, very personal for the two of them, and I’m not going to say why, but it’s a big character journey for the two of them.

CHAD: Well, it was compelling, too, because in the first movie, Lorraine was very much identifying with the women, the girls, and Carolyn Perron, and in this movie, we see Ed come to the forefront because this is a family whose father was no longer with them. He had moved away, so Ed becomes sort of this father figure, which was a really cool exploration and how he takes on [the supernatural]. We always say that Ed likes to fix things, so you see Ed trying to fix a lot of things on a lot of different levels in this movie.

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CAREY: I think it’s really important to show that Ed and Lorraine had a beautiful relationship, and like any marriage, you go through ups and downs. How much do they support each other? How do they stand up for each other? It’s really fun to play with Ed in this because he got very defensive; somebody’s telling [him] that [he’s] something that [he’s] not, and there’s a certain period of time where he’s really standing up for himself. I think what we really wanted to do in this journey is really go deeper into their relationship, and reflect what special bonds that they have.

Also, in this journey, Ed and Lorraine were sent there not to solve this case, but to just verify it for the Catholic church. That’s all they were asked to do. And, of course, Ed and Lorraine, can’t say no; they have to help people in need, and that’s who they are.  

FANGORIA: What went into the decision to go into the “Creepy Nun” iconography?

CHAD: We’re going to be vey honest with you: that was James’ idea. And it was very clever. It’s haunting.

CAREY: If you had to visualize the ultimate battle of good and evil, you would have an evil face wearing the habit of a nun, right? So it’s kinda like visually both worlds colliding.

CHAD: It’s a very dark metaphor.

FANGORIA: In doing the research for the film, was there anything that particularly struck you guys as terrifying?

CHAD: Yes, oh yeah, there’s a couple of things; I mean, more than a couple. The first was the first people to report supernatural incidents and were witnessing them with the family were two cops. The police file- you can read it- is amazing, and how they reacted to what they saw, was terrifying.

CAREY: What disturbed me the most was just that with Janet- who is the daughter who THE CONJURING 2 focuses is on- literally had a voice that would come out of her, but, to make sure that she wasn’t faking it, they put marbles and water in her mouth and taped her mouth. And then, Chad and I listened to the interview, it was just the craziest thing, and we said, “Oh my God, we have to have that.”

CHAD: It’s haunting. It gave us chills. I still think about that, and it’s just scary; the idea of you being able to do that and that spirit that came out of her and the voice. Again, people can go online and check it out; you can listen to the original recordings, you’ll hear all of it.

CAREY: You could even hear a great interview with the real Janet, as a grown woman, who’s still haunted; that poor woman!

CHAD: She’s not haunted by it anymore; it’s just she’s haunted by her experience, what happened to her. It terrified her.

FANGORIA: Obviously, one of the most well-known details of this case is the “box discovery.” How did you go about approaching that, especially on a logistical level?

CHAD: It’s funny that you bring that up, because if I was going to say one more image that completely haunts me, is when we saw the picture of her in that. Janet had disappeared in front of some people, and then reappeared- they heard muffled voices and found her. That’s one of the things where you go, “That has to be in the movie, we have to figure out a way to put that in the movie.”

CAREY: Just the way Lorraine described it was bone chilling, and so we just figured it out. But it was really one of the most disturbing things. How did she get in there? There’s no way she could have climbed in there and done that. I mean, they had to cut stuff out to take her out of it. But anyway, to hear Ed and Lorraine talk about it was haunting.

THE CONJURING 2 hits theaters this Friday, with special preview engagements tonight from participating exhibitors, courtesy of New Line Cinema. Look for our chat with director James Wan in FANGORIA #347.

Special Thanks to Editorial Assistant Lexi Harrington for her contributions to this article.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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