"The Conjuring," a horror thriller by James Wan, conjured up more laughs than screams or shivers Friday night at its premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
It seemed as though the audience had either attended the reception prior to the screening and enjoyed one too many cocktails or was attempting to disguise its terrible discomfort and fear as laughter.
Wan addressed the laughter afterward by saying the audience should imbibe a little less prior to seeing his films. But he said he was glad people had enjoyed the film. He found joy in watching them "squirm," he said.
Wan, who directed "Saw" and "Insidious" and will be helming the upcoming "Fast & Furious 7," said "The Conjuring" was his attempt at a period piece based on a couple he learned about in his youth.
The film, set in the early 1970s, depicts paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren as they attempt to save a family in Rhode Island from a dark presence that has possessed their home. Relying on their faith and on one another, the couple confronts an evil the likes of which they have never seen before.
Growing up a fan of horror and the paranormal, Wan said he frequently ran across cases the Warrens investigated and solved.
"It's hard to be intrigued with this world and not know the Warrens," Wan said.
But in a Q&A session after the screening, Wan was vague as to whether he believed the couple's stories, including one about a possessed doll named Annabelle and the more famous Amityville case on which "The Amityville Horror" was based.
"I believe that they believe in it," Wan said. "I think there is another level of things that make things happen that we don't fully understand. I also believe in Santa Claus."
Wan said the Warren family offered to let him tour their home, including a room in which they keep "possessed" items such as the Annabelle doll. He declined.
"Just because I make scary movies doesn't mean I want to live in a scary world," Wan said. "I'm nothing like the films I make."
"The Conjuring" will be released in theaters July 19.