Review: The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Written by Sean Wall
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Madison Wolfe, Frances O’Connor, Lauren Esposito, Simon McBurney, Simon Delaney | Genre: Horror (Supernatural) | Runtime: 134 Minutes | Rating: R (Language, Suggestive imagery, & Violence)
Face facts to make a sequel refreshing and different than the original is truly hard when fans like the original for its fresh take on why the movie’s franchise existed in the first place. The Conjuring 2 may not be the better version of its predecessor, but maintains the thrills that have a methodical pace to deliver the creepy-boo factor that fans crave. It’s rather interesting seeing the versatile direction James Wan has been taken as he’s impressed many in the horror & action genre with movies like Dead Silence (2007), Insidious (2010), Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), The Conjuring (2013), Furious 7 (2015), and announced earlier in the year Aquaman (2018).
As the first Conjuring gave a new look at the classic 70s haunted horror, this sequel serves as a good follow-up. It’s suitably creepy, unsettling and terrifying with some very memorable frights along the way.
With ‘The Conjuring 2‘ we have “Psychic investigators”, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren are called in on a case of demonic possession in England. Thought it was pretty interesting to see a pre-credits sequence finding the Warrens back in the basement investigating the haunted Lutz home in Amityville, New York, the 1970s haunting that (real or not) made the couple famous. Lorraine steps into the shoes of the man who murdered his family there before encountering a horrifying nun. “This is as close to hell as I ever want to get” hmmm can’t say that I want to be anywhere near hell by any stretch of the imagination or reality.
After the Amityville murders, the Warrens decide to step away from investigating cases. That is until the Church sends them to Enfield, North London to interview a distressed mother (Frances O’Connor) whose family are being terrorized by a malevolent spirit.
Ed and Lorraine investigate. They get to know the family. They help out around the house and attempt to restore normalcy. Other investigators, consisting of both believers and skeptics, join the fray. And then things get really bad and the identity of the threat is revealed and that seemingly unrelated case from the start of the film comes back in a big way to ensure that this isn’t just another case for the Warrens – it gets personal. They have to solve it for the family and for themselves.
Although the movie carries itself through what can be seen as some under-developed elements we do get the usual jumpy moments that are effective. One of the film’s great moments comes from the terrifying demon dressed as a nun (portrayed by Bonnie Aarons) who torments Lorraine throughout the film. The screenwriters don’t forget to use a measured approach by consulting the requisite haunted-house playbook that takes the unease and misdirected route that gives this film its own goosebumps than the first film.
Horror sequels following the same beats as their predecessors are nothing new. Normally this is a sign of laziness, evidence that the shepherds of the series want to replicate what works instead of breaking new ground or being adventurous in any way. However, the familiar structure of The Conjuring 2 feels less like a cheap copy or more like a fresh coat of paint on a template that worked.
The Conjuring 2 is not perfect by any means, but it does play on the emotions of the audience enough to be enjoyed. There’s plenty to keep you aware and the cast is uniformly brilliant with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga having their dynamic chemistry along with Simon McBurney as Maurice Grosse and Frances O’Connor as Peggy Hodgson. The atmospheric tone to this movie leads the audience to believe that even the relaxed moments will uncover something fresh and horrifying at every turn. As with anything when a movie is said to be based off true events you ask yourself how much is true and how much is just plainly Hollywood. However, this movie plays on the personal emotions that exist in a person that it may the imagery in this movie may linger long after the movie is over.