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Gary Dauberman is extremely well versed when it comes to The Conjuring Universe. After all, the filmmaker has written three of the five features within the franchise so far, and has had a massive hand in establishing both the brand of storytelling and the specific aesthetic that has defined the beloved horror world. He’ll soon be taking that involvement to the next level, as he is making his directorial debut helming the upcoming Annabelle Comes Home – and with that job he definitely has big plans when it comes to subverting audience expectations.
After visiting the set of the new movie late last year, I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Gary Dauberman later in the development of Annabelle Comes Home, joining a small group of journalists a couple months ago to visit the film’s edit bay and sit down with the writer/director for a conversation about the project. Of the subjects discussed, one was about the way in which he plans on mixing things up and letting the audience feel like they know everything that’s going to happen from scene to scene. Said Dauberman,
That's something I love to play around with, are the expectations. Let's lead them in this direction. I'm a huge fan of magic, and it's all about misdirect, right? So I tried to apply that in a lot of ways to scares. And I learned that from James [Wan] too. He's always trying to push the... like, 'I did this last time, so I'm going to give them that up to this, and then I'm going to go right when they thought I was going to go left.'
As noted, Gary Dauberman has worked with some great filmmakers within the Conjuring Universe so far, with the biggest name being James Wan – who served as a producer on Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and The Nun (all of which Dauberman wrote) in addition to directing the first two Conjuring titles. So while stepping into a directorial debut can be a daunting task, he’s had the opportunity to see how it’s properly done by a master.
Continuing, the writer/director explained that he’s making a concentrated effort with Annabelle Comes Home to change up the scares and perpetually keep audiences on their toes. So, for example, if a character is approaching a dark corner, your brain might tell you that there is definitely going to be something lurking around the bend, but Dauberman suggests that won’t always be the case. Said the filmmaker,
I really tried to do that with a bunch of the scares here. And also not just go for the jump scares all the time, like when you think something's going to happen, and then it doesn't, or maybe there's a sequence where it feels a little bit more Twilight Zone-y than a traditional sort of 'Approaching the corner, and is there a monster behind it?' So we tried to vary it up on that level.
This is honestly a great thing to hear, as this kind of approach can really do wonders for a movie’s atmosphere. Consistently bluffing in this fashion can not only keep ratchetting up the tension, but it can also have the effect of making the audience start to feel a little too comfortable. And right when movie-goers are beginning to feel relaxed, a well-timed scare can effectively throw them from their seat.
It’s an experience for which we’re tremendously excited, and it won’t be long until we will have the chance to have it. Annabelle Comes Home is now just a few weeks away from release, and will be arriving in theaters everywhere on June 26th. In the meantime, be sure to keep checking back here on CinemaBlend, as we’ll have plenty more awesome coverage coming your way!