The film opened in theaters July 19.
Up and coming actress Kyla Deaver plays a lead role in film set in the 1970s about a family that moves into a haunted farmhouse in Rhode Island. At only 10 years old, Kyla has been featured in many commercials and a short film.
Based on a true story, the movie follows the journey of the Perron family who think they have found their dream home until strange activities force them to seek out the assistance of a husband-and-wife pair of paranormal investigators.
Kyla’s character as the youngest child in the family of seven is a breakthrough role in her first big Hollywood film. She was overjoyed when she landed the part.
“I was really excited,” said Kyla, who was born in southern California and lives with her family in Marietta. “I was jumping up and down. I couldn’t believe it.”
Since she was 4, Kyla has been acting and perfecting her craft with the help of coaches and agents in Atlanta and southern California. She has appeared in a short film called “The Candy Shop,” a Band-Aid commercial and various other commercials.
Her mother, Stephanie Deaver, said she expressed an interest in performing for people at an early age. As a voice and piano teacher, Deaver let her daughter perform for an audience after Kyla begged to sing onstage in Orange County, Calif.
“I always had girls in the house, and I would take them around to perform in southern California,” said Deaver, who has lived in Marietta for about five years. “Kyla was always begging me to be onstage with them when she was 2 or 3 years old. And I wouldn’t let her, and finally I just let her. She jumped up onstage at the Orange County Fair and sang a Hannah Montana solo, and everybody just went crazy over her. So I’ve been letting her perform and I decided to get her an agent. She was like, ‘I wanna be on TV.’ … So that’s how she started. I can’t keep her away from it.”
Kyla’s agent, J. Pervis Talent in Atlanta, helped her get the part in “The Conjuring” by sending a tape of Kyla’s audition.
“She goes to regular school and most of her auditions are done on tape in our basement, believe it or not. … If she gets a part, she can be homeschooled for that amount of time and then just jump right back into school.”
But Deaver says her daughter just likes being a regular kid and loves dancing, singing, horseback riding, cheerleading and swimming.
As April Perron in “The Conjuring,” Kyla got to meet the Perron family and the real woman her character is based on.
“They told us a lot of spooky stories that happened to them,” Kyla said.
In the film, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, try to help the Perrons rid their new home of a dark presence. Forced to confront a powerful entity by the name of Bathsheba, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.
Directed by James Wan, who also directed “Saw” and “Insidious,” critics hail the film as an old-school haunted house tale similar in style to “The Amityville Horror.”
In fact, the real life Warrens also investigated the “Amityville Horror” home in New York before the events in the Rhode Island case.
Kyla’s parents in the film are played by Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston and the four sisters are played by Shanley Caswell, Mackenzie Foy, Joey King and Hayley McFarland. Deaver said the filming in Wilmington, N.C., was like a 10-week slumber party for Kyla and she learned a lot from her colleagues.
“The other girls are such pros - Joey King and McKenzie Foy,” Deaver said. “Just watching those girls and being on set, we learned and I learned a lot. So now we know what to do for auditions and kind of how to be more real.”
Despite the movie’s reputation as the most terrifying film of the year, Deaver said the filming was anything but scary.
“They never see anything,” Deaver said. “It was funny cause the girls would go into their scene and they would be screaming one minute then the next minute when they yell ‘cut,’ they’re all laughing.”
Production relied on mostly traditional filming techniques and little to no computer effects.
“They don’t use any of that in this movie. It’s made to look like an old-fashioned movie from the ’70s. It takes place in the ’70s, and they filmed it that way. A lot of times when there’s something scary, you never see anything. It’s all just good acting.”
Deaver says her daughter wants to continue acting and will do so as long as she has the drive.
“I know she wants to,” Deaver said. “It’s a tough business; she auditions a lot and it’s really tough to book a job. … There’s a lot of rejection.”
Kyla is set to appear in the Lifetime Television series “Drop Dead Diva,” and in the upcoming Showtime series “Masters of Sex,” based on the life of researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson.
Audiences will love “The Conjuring” because it’s a fun type of film that gradually builds suspense but lacks the violence and gore of other typical horror flicks, Deaver said.
“They’ll be on the edge of their seats,” Kyla said.
Rated R, “The Conjuring” runs for 112 minutes.