- on Thursday, 09 June 2016 23:02
- by Loron Hays
He’s baaack! Thank the Maker for director James Wan because he knows how to navigate a film through one hell of a frightmare, complete with creaks and groans and ghouls and dark, dark corners. Everything you expect to see in a scary movie he inexplicable makes new again. Few moments about The Conjuring 2 come across as standard. For ghostly sequels, this is a damn good thing.
Now an arguable franchise (with its own disappointing spinoff), The Conjuring series – based on the haunted investigations of Lorraine and Ed Warren (played expertly here once again by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) – gets another round of hauntings to investigate. Trust me, this film will not be the last we see of them either. As a team, they are that good in their roles and, overall, there’s little dip in the quality here.
The Conjuring 2 is every bit as creepy as its original entry and, with a change in location from rural Rhode Island to a borough of Enfield in North London, provides enough differences in story and setting and quiet charm to be an engaging white-knuckled experience.
Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), a single mother with four children, has no one to turn to when she discovers that things literally do go bump in the night in her North London home. Her Enfield council house is filled with malicious spirits that seem to be centering around her daughter. Janet (Madison Wolfe whose performance as the plagued little girl is very strong indeed) receives the full blunt of the poltergeist activity in the home. But when the other children – including Margaret (Lauren Esposito), Billy (Benjamin Haigh) and Johnny (Patrick McAuley) – also begin to experience things and the neighbors seem unconcerned, she reaches out across the pond and brings in the Warrens to help ease the family’s collective discomfort.
The real case files of the Warrens – featured in some of the promotional material for the film – confirm that this is indeed a demonic possession. Spooky stuff. And the tense film never once eases up on its grip once all hell breaks loose. While it is familiar in its set-up, you just might pee yourself all over again. The film isn’t rushed and remains firmly locked in 1977, months after the Amityville happening, which opens the movie and sets several storylines loose for us to catch up on later. This is both interesting and clever and provides a strong narrative lens to focus upon.
Screenwriters Carey Hayes & Chad Hayes & James Wan and David Leslie Johnson might not completely buy the possessed stories the Warrens are telling, but they do know how to make you believe them. They ease up on the rote jump scares and let the film – after a séance in the beginning – settle into its pace and roll out into an effective experience of horror.
But what would the film be if the couple at the center of it – Farminga and Wilson – had no chemistry together? It’d be a wagon without a horse. The heart of the narrative is seeing and believing that this investigative team – a married couple, how shocking! – really do care about one another. This, ultimately, is their story and that’s why the film works on so many levels.
We care about the Warrens. And it’s this reason that makes The Conjuring 2 such a success as a tale of haunted possession. Tensions rise when this couple is put directly in harm’s way. Ultimately, it is a worthy and intelligent sequel that – in the era of threequels and more – absolutely earns every last dime of your hard earned money.
Buy a bucket of popcorn and enjoy this one.
But don’t go alone.
MPAA Rating: R for terror and horror violence
Runtime: 134 mins
Director: James Wan
Writer: Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe
Tagline: The next true story from the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren
Memorable Movie Quote: "LORRAAAAAAINEEE!"
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Official Site: http://www.theconjuring2.com/
Release Date: June 10, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: The supernatural thriller brings to the screen another real case from the files of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. Reprising their roles, Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as Lorraine and Ed Warren, who, in one of their most terrifying paranormal investigations, travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.
No details available.