The Conjuring 2 Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Warner Bros UK
Directed by James Wan
Written by Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, James Wan, David Leslie Johnson
2016, 134 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Movie released on June 13th 2016
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson
Frances O'Connor as Peggy Hodgson
“Best reason to watch (The Conjuring) is the inspired casting of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens. I could watch a whole series of movies starring the pair.” Me, three years ago, of James Wan’s The Conjuring. Well ask and ye shall receive, as the lovely Warrens return, investigating an all new case: The Enfield Haunting.
Yes, that one. Second only to the Amityville Horror in terms of notoriety for the big book of Warren case files, and Britain’s very own Hell House. Intrigued by the case, the lovely Warrens (Wilson and Farmiga) jump on a plane and head to 1970s London to do battle once more. Even they may take some convincing though – caught on camera actively faking paranormal activity during the ‘real’ event, daughter Judy is the prime suspect in the Porky Pie telling stakes. The possible fakery behind the Enfield Haunting is tackled head on by Wan, a lovely touch in a subgenre constantly marred by filmmakers’ abuse of the phrase ‘based on a true story.’
The place is haunted though, and Wan leaves us in no doubt whatsoever as to that fact. Its first hour is the most terrifying half of a supernatural horror film I’ve ever seen, complete with jump scares which left me bouncing around in my cinema chair like Crash Bandicoot or Super Mario. The haunted house film is a hard subgenre to put one’s own stamp on without risk of repetition – there’s only so many variations on flinging chairs around a room one can muster – but James Wan has somehow achieved it not once but twice with his Conjurings. Not so much flinging chairs around a room as directly at his audience’s heads.
What The Conjuring 2 lacks in narrative originality, it makes up for in atmosphere and panache. Wisely realising that one has to care about his characters before we can give a shit about their plight, Wan and the writers go to great lengths in endearing the family to us. They’re a simply etched lot, but depicted with so much working class humanity that one genuinely worries for their well-being. Levitating beds, crashing furniture and spooky childhood toys complete the Haunted House Bingo Set, each accompanied by an almost unbearably, agonisingly screeching score and Wan’s favourite trick of having things frequently pop up over Patrick Wilson’s shoulder. Time to retire the Darth Maul Demon, Annabelle the Doll, Mr. Boogie and even Mr. Babadook – The Conjuring 2 offers up not one but four of the most terrifying horror creations seen in years (oh, alright then, three. I was counting Margaret Thatcher, briefly glimpsed on a TV set).
While it certainly packs the scares, The Conjuring 2 thankfully doesn’t forget the very pair who made the first film so successful. In a time when even Batman and Superman seem to find the heroism game a bit tiresome, the altruism of the lovely Warrens is beautifully refreshing. The real-life accuracy of this depiction is highly debateable – like casting Tom Hanks in a Derek Acorah movie – but for the intents and purposes of The Conjuring 2, it really works.
As Lorraine Warren consoles troubled young Judy, so Ed potters about the house, repairing washing machines and comforting the kids with an Elvis Presley impression so charming that it makes me want to see Wilson cast as the King in a Presley biopic or Bubba Ho-Tep prequel. The arrival of the Warrens during the second half dilutes the scares somewhat, but the story is no less exciting for it – the stakes cleverly shifting with Ed and Lorraine, leaving me genuinely worried for their fate.
The Conjuring 2 is multiplex horror elevated to the top of its game – exhilarating, scary (three jump scares total) and unexpectedly funny and sweet too, it achieves just about everything that mainstream horror should aspire to be. Bit on the long side maybe, but if that gets us more character development for the family or extra lovely Warren time, then it’s a trade-off we should be willing to take.
Once again, I’m left craving more from Wan and his Warrens. The Conjuring 2 is lovely and terrifying, and I can quote me on that.