The trailer likely gave you nightmares for the past month. “The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It” is the seventh installment in one of the creepiest horror franchises of all time, and was seen by Hollywood pundits to be one of the key movies in ushering in a post-pandemic era of moviegoing.
There was a heavy Bluffton connection to the movie starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Fermiga. Bluffton residents Nick and Audrey Buglione are the in-laws of the movie’s director, Michael Chaves. They rented a theater at Cinemark Bluffton Friday for a special screening with 15 of their closest friends.
“It was absolutely thrilling to see Michael’s creation come to life up on the big screen,” said Audrey, the stepmom of Chaves’ wife of 12 years, Dina. “We were just as scared as the rest of you watching those trailers. Horror is definitely not Nicky’s and my cup of tea, but we loved seeing what he created.”
The Fermigas are recent transplants from Long Island, where Audrey served as district sales manager for Chevrolet for many years. Nick was a service manager for a Chevy dealership, where the couple met.
“I found my first real love at 48 and we married in 2003,” Audrey said. “We’ve watched Michael and Dina build a life out in Hollywood, scrape from nothing to get noticed, and when Michael got his shot, he absolutely made the most of it.”
Dina was an East Coast actress before Nick drove his daughter cross-country to California to try to make it in Tinseltown. She did some theater acting but truly found her niche in casting. She started DB Casting agency and met Chaves during a commercial shoot.
Chaves made his mark with web series, short films and a Nickelodeon series before a breakout year in 2019. He directed a Billie Eilish video short, “Bury a Friend,” and made his major motion picture directorial debut with “The Curse of La Llorona,” a Conjuring Universe film which earned him praise in the horror community – as well a $26 million opening weekend and $123 million worldwide gross.
“That was a huge moment for them both. They have worked their butts off out there, have managed to have two kids and be focused on family while living their dream,” Nick said proudly of his daughter and son-in-law.
The film led Chaves to the “Conjuring 3” gig, which outperformed box office predictions to dethrone “A Quiet Place 2” as the No. 1 movie in America for June 4-6.
“We have friends who were just too creeped out to come to the screening. They wanted to support us, but they just couldn’t stand all the creepiness,” Audrey said. “I literally screamed out loud at one point and I really didn’t think I was going to be that freaked out.”
“I keep asking him if he could just do a nice, calm romantic comedy but there’s no money in rom coms these days,” Nick said.
The Bugliones are hoping to host their Hollywood crew, including grandkids Scarlett, 6, and Jack, 4, sometime in the coming year. Until then, Chaves is capitalizing on the “Conjuring” success.
“You got to strike while the iron’s hot, and he’s red hot right about now,” Nick said.
“He’s told us he’d really feel like he’d arrived if he could direct a Marvel movie, and I wouldn’t bet against him,” Audrey said of her son-in-law. Chaves is reportedly in talks to take the reins of the next installment of another well-known franchise involving building blocks.
“He needs a break from the horror, so he’s looking to do something a little bit more family friendly,” Audrey said.
The Bugliones rented a red carpet and stanchions for a “La Llorona” home viewing party. They hope they’ll be able to host a bigger Cinemark event with a bit of glitz and glamour for Chaves’ next film.
“It’s made us feel a bit like celebrities, but mostly, we’re just beaming with pride,” Audrey said.
“All the Hollywood stuff and his incredible creativity is amazing, but it’s equally rewarding to see the family they’re building,” Nick said.
See “Conjuring 3” at Cinemark Bluffton and at home on HBO Max.
Tim Wood is a veteran journalist based in Bluffton. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.