Tales of spooky occurrences on the sets of horror movies like “The Exorcist” and “Poltergeist” have circulated for years, and it looks like “The Conjuring” franchise is following in their footsteps in that regard. The cast of “Annabelle Comes Home” shared their unnerving stories from set at the film’s premiere on Thursday night at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, Calif., but “Conjuring” veteran Patrick Wilson is not afraid of ghosts… or Annabelle dolls.
“That’s because it’s their first movie,” Wilson cracked to Variety on the red carpet when asked if he’d had any freak occurrences on set like his co-stars. The actor has starred as Ed Warren in the horror franchise since 2013 and says he’s pretty immune to the creepiness, usually finding himself trying to talk sense into everyone else.
“I’ll give you a quick synopsis how it works out: Vera [Farmiga, who stars as Lorraine Warren] usually comes in and says ‘Oh my God, this happened to me’ and I then have some very realistic explanation for it,” he explained. “[But] she doesn’t buy my practical nature… I don’t get freaked out.”
Contrary to what Wilson might think, some of these stories sure sound creepy.
“One time there was a cross on the side of the door. Madison [Iseman] and I, we slammed the door and Jesus flies off the cross. Just Jesus [flew off], not the cross,” actress Katie Sarife shared. “[Another time] I was trying to get into character and I went into a dark hallway by myself — not a good idea. I would be seeing shadows moving behind me.”
For her part, Iseman recalled her car sensor going off after midnight even though there was nothing nearby to set it off.
“I got in my car and tried to play music, but I didn’t have service — which was weird because I always do. So I started driving and in the middle of the road, at one in the morning, it started beeping, so I started praying and my music turned on,” Iseman said, adding that the lights also flickered on and off in her dressing room during filming.
In fact, several of the young cast members are firm believers in the curse of the Annabelle doll, even looking over their shoulders to keep tabs on the creepy toy who made a somewhat unwelcome guest appearance on the red carpet. Michael Cimino and Mckenna Grace both claimed they experienced mysterious nosebleeds while filming.
“All the lights turned off,” Grace remembered. “[We were asking] ‘Annabelle, are you here?’ When the lights turned on, my nose was bleeding really bad. There was blood pouring out of my nose and we were freaking out. As soon as I stepped off of the stage and outside, it just stopped.”
Actress Samara Lee revealed that writer-director Gary Dauberman was the most susceptible to scares on set, though he’s a veteran of the horror genre after writing all three “Annabelle” films, as well as the screenplays for “It” and the upcoming “It Chapter Two.” Dauberman spoke to Variety about the highly anticipated sequel to the killer clown reboot, admitting that distilling Stephen King’s behemoth “It” novel into shorter screenplays was challenging.
“What is the thing that you love that you have to lose?” Dauberman asked rhetorically, saying he invoked the old writing maxim, “you have to kill your darlings.”
But adaptation complicates that mantra. “They’re not my darlings. They’re Stephen King’s,” he opined, crediting the “It” films director Andy Muschietti for rising to the occasion in deciding which of King’s “darlings” to kill.
Another highly anticipated adaption that had the carpet buzzing was HBO’s upcoming “Watchmen” series. Wilson played Nite Owl in the 2009 “Watchmen” film and told Variety he’s so excited about the new series that had to stop watching the trailer midway — lest he catch any whiff of a spoiler.
“I saw the teaser and saw a bunch of people in Rorschach masks [and said] ‘I gotta stop,’” he said. (The “Watchmen” teaser features what seems to be a cult paying homage to the original character Rorschach, who wears a mask resembling the eponymous psychological test.)
“I want to stay away. I don’t want to know anything. I want to be surprised,” Wilson continued, adding “I’m thrilled to see it.”
The actor also gave high praise to the 1986-87 Alan Moore comic book, which serves as the source material, when asked if “Watchmen” is the “Citizen Kane” of the genre. Nite Owl’s verdict: “I think it is.”
“Annabelle Comes Home” hits theaters June 26.