Movie News & Reviews

Vera Farmiga rejects horror label for film, TV show

“The Conjuring 2,” a sequel to the 2013 supernatural film, is based on one of the most heavily documented cases of paranormal activity in England’s history. The A&E series, “Bates Motel,” brings to the small screen one of the most terrifying psychos in film lore.

Both stand up next to other scary TV and film projects, but for Vera Farmiga, the Oscar-nominated actress who stars in both, there is more to each. She doesn’t believe either project should be lumped into the horror genre and prefers to look at “The Conjuring” as a love story and “Bates Motel” as a family drama.

Focusing on the relationship between paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren in the “Conjuring” films has been Farmiga’s approach from the first day.

“I knew nothing of Lorraine Warren when the offer came to play her. As soon as a I Googled all the videos of yesteryear I was absolutely delighted by that coupling,” Farmiga says. “They are so darn cute and they are connected. They have a connection that is undeniable. So for me, coming aboard this was going to be very much about them. It is a love story to me.”

The first film established the bond between the real-life subjects of the movies. Ed Warren died a decade ago but in conversations between Farmiga and Lorraine Warren, the paranormal investigator talks as if her husband is still in the room.

Farminga spent a lot of time with Lorraine before the original film to get an understanding of the couple’s link. All Farmiga had to do for the second film was step on the set with Patrick Wilson, who plays Ed Warren. The pair have known each other for years and their friendship comes through while discussing the movie. Wilson’s not afraid to poke fun at his co-star.

When Farmiga talks about strangers sharing their paranormal stories, Wilson slyly asks her if she’s been able to help any of them.

“What advice do you give them?” he says, giving a wicked grin.

Wilson also sees the movie as a love story, explaining that if the viewer didn’t care about this couple, or the family that was being haunted, then there would be no connection.

Being called a horror film isn’t completely bad. Director James Wan, who directed the first “Conjuring” to the second highest box-office gross among films in the horror genre behind “The Exorcist,” has returned to put the Warrens through another ordeal.

Wan was excited to expand on the love story in the sequel, which he does by weaving together the story of a ’70s family, living in one of the dodgy areas of London, who become the target of an evil spirit. The story also gives more insight into the lives of the Warrens.

Farmiga worked on “The Conjuring 2” between seasons of “Bates Motel,” where she has played Norma Louise Bates, mother of Norman Bates (Freddie Hightower). The series has had it fair share of terrifying moments. Again, Farmiga sees all of that as secondary to what has made the series work.

It’s all about family. This family just happens to be twisted.

“It’s not horror television. I think it’s misdiagnosed,” Farmiga says. “ ‘Bates’ is a family drama. It’s a horrifying to have a son with a different kind of neurology. She’s had a sordid and painful history which plays into it. I certainly wouldn’t put ‘Bates’ in the horror genre. I would fight that.”

She’s got one more season to fight the pigeonholing as “Bates Motel” will have a fifth, an final season, in 2017. Farmiga ends the fourth season after a very shocking – some may call horrifying – wrap-up.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1