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New Line Cinema on Wednesday jump-started San Diego Comic-Con by giving it a jolt of fright with a presentation of its upcoming horror movies, including The Curse of La Llorona and The Nun. There was even a peek at It: Chapter Two.
Both La Llorona and Nun seemed to show that New Line is betting on Latinos and Catholics as its core group of filmgoers looking to be frightened. Dubbed the second annual ScareDiego, the event was held offsite, away from the big halls of the San Diego Convention Center, at the Horton Grand Theater. The venue was packed with enthusiastic horror fans who couldn’t wait to get scared.
La Llorona, which received a lengthy presentation, is based on a Mexican folk tale of a weeping woman who drowned her two children in a fit of madness and now wanders the earth looking for other kids. The movie’s story is set in the 1970s when a social worker, played by Linda Cardellini, unleashes the curse accidentally on her own children.
“This has been done with much respect,” said actress Patricia Velasquez, addressing the Latinos in the crowd. Velasquez co-stars in the movie and shared the stage with Cardellini, actor Raymond Cruz and director Michael Chaves.
Velasquez and Cruz talked about the ghost story’s history and meaning to them growing up in Mexico, and shared what they considered to be supernatural occurrences on set.
“This story predates [Donald] Trump 200 years for separating Mexican children from their parents,” quipped Cruz to a laughing crowd.
The movie’s players praised the 1970s setting, noting it takes things such as the ability to Google everything out of the equation, as well as giving the pic a cool aesthetic.
“It grounds it in a true-crime film,” said Cardellini.
The presentation was generous in its clips, with the first two of the three smothering the crowd in a deathly silence until the scares began leaping from the screen.
Earlier in the day, New Line dated the movie for an April 19, 2019, release. The film had been operating under the title of The Children and was thought to have been part of the Conjuring horror universe, due to having producers James Wan and Gary Dauberman. But The Children turned out to be a fake title, designed to throw off competing La Llorona projects, and not part of Wan’s Conjuring slate.
New Line then brought out the Hail Marys for The Nun, which is set to open Sept 7.
Flanked by actresses Taissa Farmiga and Ingrid Bisu on one side and Wan and Dauberman on the other, director Corin Hardy recounted what he called “a supernatural experience, for real.”
The movie filmed on location in Romania in real castles, convents and rural villages. In one medieval fortress, Hardy set up shop in a dark cell in order to watch a complicated corridor scene involving a crane and floating crucifixes. He went into the dark room, saying hello to sound guys in the back before sitting down at a video monitor unit near the door to watch the shooting. After the scene was shot, he turned to the men behind him to give them a thumbs up, only to find out that there was no one there — no one had ever been there.
The footage shown was a mix of extended scenes and sizzle reel, giving a sense of plot (a priest and noviate are sent by the Vatican to investigate mysterious goings on and come face to face with a demonic nun) but also an almost Hammer Films-like atmosphere not seen in other Conjuring spinoffs. Fogs blanket graveyards. Cobwebs frame rooms. Coffins close claustrophobically around characters.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get creepier, when the lights came back on after one extended scene, both sides of the theater were lines with faceless nuns, jolting the audience.
New Line’s presentation began with a quick look at It: Chapter Two, still in production, showing parts of scenes, such as the adult version of the Losers Club meeting at a Chinese resturant, with Bill Hader’s Richie Tozer ringing a gong to mark the occasion. The event and ended with Dauberman and Wan confirming that Dauberman was going to direct the third installment of Annabelle. Wan described it as a “horror Night at the Museum.”
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