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Wan’s “CONJURING 2” Scares Up Yet Another Scribe

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As one of the people who saw the very first footage from THE CONJURING at New York Comic Con in 2012 and seeing just how effectively it worked over that audience, I was certainly not surprised when the film lived up to the hype. And since the film became one of the few out-and-out blockbuster horror successes in… well, ever, I was certainly less surprised when New Line swiftly announced THE CONJURING 2 was in development. And with a June 2016 release date in its sights, THE CONJURING 2 is getting one last touch-up before lensing later this year, as The Wrap reports that ORPHAN scribe David Leslie Johnson will be rewriting the screenplay from original CONJURING writers Chad and Carey Hayes and FINAL DESTINATION 5 writer Eric Heisserer.

A protege of Frank Darabont (whom Darabont brought onto THE WALKING DEAD during his notoriously tumultuous tenure), Johnson’s resume is largely hit-or-miss, with this writer being a particular fan of the brutal, twisty ORPHAN while utterly despising his scripts for RED RIDING HOOD and WRATH OF THE TITANS. However, what is inspiring is exactly what WALKING DEAD episodes are attributed to him: “Chupacabra” and “Triggerfinger”, both of which are highlights of the Second Season that helped solidify Jon Bernthal’s “Shane” and Norman Reedus’s “Daryl” into the fan favorites that they soon became.

So what does Johnson’s rewrite say about THE CONJURING 2? For any Hollywood project, rewrites are par for the course, with many more hands going uncredited over a given script than those who do. But with THE CONJURING and ANNABELLE both being massive successes while bearing an R-rating, perhaps Leslie is looking to add a more visceral element to the proceedings, as his earlier credits may suggest. Inversely (and probably more likely) is Johnson’s penchant for character development from those early credits may have brought him to the table as well; after all, if you’re coming into a finished script, who better to get than someone who learned from the best script doctor in the business, Darabont?

For a film whose recipe for success was so driven by particular stylistic elements, I will admit that I am surprised about the amount of odd obstacles that have faced the development of THE CONJURING 2. Between Wan’s reluctance to continue in the field of horror to the shifting release dates and legal drama, THE CONJURING 2 isn’t quite shaping to be the quiet, unexpected sleeper that the first film was. And with the script not yet 100% locked down, there’s extra pressure on Johnson to deliver considering how little time there is before the film goes before cameras. Yet, as a longtime James Wan fan, I will say that I trust the filmmaker to deliver under any circumstances, so let’s hope for the best when THE CONJURING 2 hits theaters on June 10th, 2016.

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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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