Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson in ‘The Conjuring 2’ (Exclusive photo via Warner Bros.)
Vera Farmiga got spooked making the 2013 sleeper horror hit The Conjuring. On the night she accepted the role of real-life ghostbuster Lorraine Warren, the actress opened her laptop to find “digital claw marks” across the screen. During production, she’d inadvertently wake up every morning at 3:07 a.m., the same time a clock would repeatedly stop in the haunted home Lorraine and husband Ed (Patrick Wilson) investigated in the film.
“I’ve had some freaky stuff happen,” Farmiga told Yahoo Movies. “I’ve experienced some weird occurrences, especially since shooting this, like a teacup flying off a shelf… I oftentimes get little cuts in threes, like three little claw marks… The first time around, I had a really prominent bruise that was like three claw-mark bruises. [There were] a lot of weird, inexplicable things.” And she wasn’t alone. According to producer Peter Safran, many of the film’s crewmembers were waking up around the same witching hour as Farmiga. Things on set were breaking or mysteriously moved around. “People had a general sense of unease as we were shooting,” he said. (John R. Leonetti, the director of the Conjuring spin-off Annabelle, reported similarly eerie happenings on his set a year later.)
So when it came to shooting the upcoming sequel, The Conjuring 2, which sends the Warrens across the pond to Great Britain seven years after the events of the first movie, the filmmakers set out to preemptively counter any paranormal activity by bringing a priest to set to bless the production. They were inspired by Lorraine Warren, now 88, and her family, who routinely have a priest perform a ritual at their home, whose basement “archives” house that famous doll named Anabelle. So on Day One, in came Father Steve Sanchez, a Catholic priest at the Archdiocese of Sante Fe in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Father Steve Sanchez blessing the set (via Rob Cowan on Facebook)
“It was great and it was interesting because he came and did a whole blessing of the house,” producer Rob Cowan said of a residence built on the Warner Bros. lot to resemble the actual North London location. (The titular 1970s haunting is one of the most famous and well-documented purported paranormal incidents of all time.) “And he offered for people to get personal blessings and a number of people came up for personal blessings.”
“It’s a smart idea because you’re not talking about vampires and werewolves, you’re talking about human evil,” said Steve Coulter (The Walking Dead), who plays Father Gordon, the priest who summons the Lorraines to England to investigate the Enfield case. “Why not err on the side of caution?”
Patrick Wilson in ‘The Conjuring 2’ (Exclusive photo via Warner Bros.)
The priest’s involvement didn’t necessarily put Wilson at ease, but that’s because he wasn’t frightened in the first place. “Maybe it’s just the guy that I’m playing, but I’m not scared of anything,” the actor said. “ I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about evil forces.”
Regardless, whether there were supernatural forces at work on the first film or it was all in their heads, Part 2 hasn’t been nearly as spooky for folks like Farmiga. When we spoke to the cast and filmmakers near the end of production — which started in Los Angeles before moving to London — there were no new scratches, early wakeup calls, or general feelings of unease to report.
Father Steve may have very well saved the day before this story even began.
The Conjuring 2 opens everywhere June 10.