INTERVIEW: It Screenwriter Reveals What’s Truly Scary About the Film

Often a movie receives its rating months after production has wrapped. How does that affect the way you craft your story?

It really didn’t, and I give so much credit to New Line. There was never a discussion of, “We have to make this PG-13 or R.” Anything I’ve worked on for them, there’s never been a discussion of ratings. You don’t want to really write towards one rating and I tend not to do that anyway. I always feel it’s easier to pull back for me than to push it, so I push it from the start. We knew this had to be R to be authentic and true to the book as much as possible. We just assumed it was going to be a hard R and had fun with that.

At the end of the day, how scary is It?

It’s terrifying. What I love about it is there’s a lot of various kinds of scares. I’m a big fan of that creeping sense of dread. For me, the best horror is when you are approaching the corner, but you are not yet turning it, and you are wondering what’s around the corner. It’s much scarier not knowing what’s around there. Andy has infused a lot of scenes with this creeping sense of dread that the book captures so well. But, then it has the big iconic moments and the set pieces. That’s what I love about it, is it doesn’t flatline on, “OK, it’s a jump scare.” Andy plays with a lot of different scares, which is this great reflection of playing around with a lot of different fears.

Your other film, Annabelle: Creation, is still killing it at the box office. During a summer when many franchises have failed to connect with audiences, what worked about Creation?

First and foremost, I think a lot of people have a trust in James Wan and his brand and that he’s going to deliver the goods. That’s the first thing for me. Second of all, David Sandberg directed a hell of a movie. He did a fantastic job. People responded to that. And, there hadn’t been a horror movie in a while, so, I think people were hungry for that as well. Most of it rests on James. He has a great relationship with his fans and with the audience. With The Conjuring Universe, people understand that now. And, the cast is great and it looks fantastic. It’s sold the quality there and people responded to it, and continue to do so.

Next up, you have The Nun in the pipeline, which premieres in 2018. When she was introduced in The Conjuring 2, was it simply a no-brainer to give this character her own spinoff?

I thought so. When I saw it for the first time, I said, “Oh, that’s a poster. That’s a movie.” Then you saw how the audience reacted to it. It was pretty much a no-brainer for me. Then, sitting down with James and hearing his ideas about her and where she came from, I was like, “I’m totally on board for this.”

That was a great experience. I was in Romania from early April to end of June. Just being a horror fan and being in Transylvania and visiting these castles, you are kind of in awe. And, being able to work with someone like Corin Hardy, who lives and breathes horror -- tat’s what is great about Sandberg, James, Corin and Andy, is that these guys have a true love and true passion for the genre, which is so nice and refreshing. They are going to go and do these bigger things, but they are going to always come back to horror, and influence the genre and be doing horror things, whether it’s writing or producing.

How does The Nun stand out compared to other Conjuring Universe movies?

James has done a really great job of making each movie its own thing. While each one fits within the universe, each has their own sense of style or flavor. For The Nun, we really drew on the Hammer movies. It’s very moody. It’s very atmospheric. It’s set in Romania. You have these big castles, surrounded by graveyards, with the fog and trees gnarled like skeletal fingers. It has that vibe to it that you don’t get in the others because of where they are set. The Nun has a distinct visual style. The story itself has a bit of an adventure component, which was fun to play around with.

It is in theaters now.

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