There was a quiet and nervous whisper that took place during the pre-show before The Conjuring 2. It was a mix of a few things but it broadly speaking it was bravado and fear. Two opposite feelings required to enjoy this type of movie. The Conjuring when it first arrived was a bold vision of old school scares. It differentiated itself from other scary movies by actually having plausible heartfelt characters at its core. But sequels are often tricky things relying too heavily on what have come before it or attempting the bigger is better path. The good news is The Conjuring 2 works. Find out how well it does in our review.
In Enfield, England 1977, a single mother struggling to make ends meet find after her husband leaves her, finds her life throw into a much deeper chaos and taking a sinister turn when her children begin to be haunted by something in their house. Meanwhile, Lorraine and Ed Warren have risen to fame after the famous haunting at Amytville and are called to investigate the church before they will actually commit resources to an exorcism.
The Conjuring 2 is about scares and director James Wan is a master of it, whether it be suspense, scares or out and out horror he knows how to do it well. Whether it be Saw, Insidious or the original Conjuring there is a confidence that is unmatched amongst current working directors of the genre. It’s probably a number of things that work to build the brilliant sense of tension and fright. Whether it small subtle practical effects like a creaky house, a leaky faucet or a moving chair or whether it’s the small escalation of a toy truck that comes out of a dark blanket fort, a whisper in the dark or making your way through a flooded basement with bad lighting. This all lays the foundation so that when possession and levitation and ghosts all come then we are willing to jump with the movie. In the case of the Conjuring 2 that is quite literal.
The structure of the film helps to compliment how much as an audience we are invested in the “scare” factor. At first, we are reintroduced to the Warrens again and then the film spends a sizable amount of time away from them getting to know our victims. We care for both set of character’s plight before their paths actually meet or anything goes catastrophically wrong. It’s a great way to get invested in what happens.A further complimenting force is the everyman performances of the two lead actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. Their acting here convinces and builds on the work that they have established previously as Lorraine and Ed. Their affection for each other and their belief in helping people for the sake of something bigger than themselves is crafted convincingly here. Young Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson has a big role to play being the source of much of the haunting. Yet her commitment to the role is unquestionable.</p>rn<p>If you ever look at any of the ”factual accounts” of the true story of The Conjuring or its sequel you will come across a lot of healthy scepticism. What’s surprising here is that they the cynicism as a twist and that
A further complimenting force is the everyman performances of the two lead actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. Their acting here convinces and builds on the work that they have established previously as Lorraine and Ed. Their affection for each other and their belief in helping people for the sake of something bigger than themselves is crafted convincingly here. Young Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson has a big role to play being the source of much of the haunting. Yet her commitment to the role is unquestionable.
If you ever look at any of the ”factual accounts” of the true story of The Conjuring or its sequel you will come across a lot of healthy scepticism. What’s surprising here is that they the cynicism as a twist and that’s really clever. In all accounts of the story, young Janet is thought to have played up her possession for cameras and people and the way the incorporate that into the third act of the film works nicely.
One of the things about the original Conjuring was it felt as if the Warrens were outside observers simply coming to the rescue The Warrens don’t simply feel like outsiders here and much of the third act is a direct threat to them. It’s also a throughline from the first film that links them together.
The Conjuring 2 probably only stumbles in its execution in one major way and that with the introduction of a little bit too much sentimentality. This is a movie as much about families as it is ghosts and the supernatural, so it is likely to be prone to that. But when there is this constant reminder of noble intentions, of God’s plans and then an Elvis sing-along it all starts to be a little bit groan inducing with its clichés. Taken alone their not terrible but cumulative it’s definitely a knock against the film.
The Conjuring 2 Review Cheat Sheet
Overall The Conjuring 2 is a strong sequel. Not relying too heavily on what came before it but rather paving a new set of scare both subtle and overt. Much like its predecessor it is a scary film that at first relies on the scariness of an empty house before diving into the absolute supernatural. Yet this is a different story, a more personal one, that affects the Warren’s as much as it does those originally being haunted. While at times overly sentimental the film gets right what the first film did without feeling like recycled material. A scary treat indeed.
+ Great grounded performances
+ Lots of wonderful scares, that start in the smallest of sounds and end in some wonderful supernatural chaos.
+ A wonderful structure which allows for investment in characters and story.
+ Use of cynical version of the true story as a plot twist.
– a little bit too sentimental.