Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Conjuring 2 (2016): Review

The Conjuring 2 is a 2016 horror sequel. Directed by James Wan (Insidious, The Conjuring) and starring Patrick Wilson (Insidious, Bone Tomahawk), Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) and Francis O' Connor (A.I). The film focuses on the real life investigation into the Enfield haunting.

The film picks up with Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga) investigating the famous events that occurred in Amityville in the mid 70s. After a particularly intense séance, and a demon nun attack, The warrens decide to give paranormal investigation a rest and stick to the talk show circuit for a while. Meanwhile, in Enfield, the Hodgson family begin to experience intense poltergeist activity in their dingy council house, seemingly led by the ghost of an elderly man. As the haunting intensifies, the Warrens are brought across the Atlantic to help and quell the media circus developing around the family. However, as the poltergeist begins to reveal it's true nature, the Warrens realise they are more personally involved than they first thought.

James Wan has a real skill for walking the thin line between homage and parody when it comes to his classical style of directing horror. In terms of the Insidious franchise, the sequels stepped way over this line and were completely superfluous, cutting the legs out from under the entire series. However, I'm pleased to say that the Conjuring 2 is a triumph and will hopefully sustain several more entries in the franchise. The reason for this is no doubt the wealth of real life hauntings detailed in the Warren files and the strong central performances of Wilson and Farmiga that carry the film. The inclusion of an Amityville sequence felt a little weird since the film didn't focus on this otherwise, but I just saw this as them getting this out of the way to deal with other stories and I'm not keen on seeing another film about this infamous haunting

Wan's directing is flawless as usual and the trademark jump scares, accompanied by screeching violins, always feel painstakingly crafted rather than cheap. The setting of a miserable and rainy London is a refreshing change and gives the film a real gothic 70s feel. There were a couple of sequences that tiptoed into cliché, the cringeworthy "Crooked Man" is an ill advised Tim Burton-esque creation, but for the most part the scares are well built, well executed and unleashed on the audience in short bursts of terror. I found the "Demon Nun" character to be a fresh and original villain that resulted in some fantastic scares using light and dark and, unsurprisingly, it seems the character is going to get a spinoff movie (which hopefully turns out better than the tedious Annabelle).

With so many dismal attempts at horror remakes and reboots in recent memory (and probably plenty more to come) Wan remains a beacon of originality, even if his films often feel like mix tapes of various old school horror films, and The Conjuring is the flagship of this movement. A rare horror sequel that adds to the original instalment, whilst also supporting and improving the franchise, The Conjuring 2 is one of the best horror films of the year and I can't wait for number 3.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of the movie? How does it compare to the original conjuring?


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