Directed by James Wan
Starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson,
The Conjuring was a breath of fresh air when it hit cinemas in 2013. The film deviated from the found footage spastic approach of current horror films for a more traditional, slower paced haunted house tale. The film traded on dread, as it’s primary scare tactic and simply spiced things up with truly unique jump scares. The film further built depth through taking dramatic license with real people and loosely basing itself on supposed real events. I particularly loved seeing side-by-side images of the actors with the real people in the closing credits. The film was a huge success in theaters and on home video so it was inevitable that there would be a sequel, thankfully the original director, James Wan has returned to helm the follow up film.
Fortunately the main characters, a husband and wife team of demonologists named Ed and Loraine Warren, left plenty of fodder during their exorcism and ghost hunting days for storytelling. The two became celebrities after dealing with the Amityville haunting. The strain of celebrity, and the emotional impact of that case pushes the couple into a self-imposed hiatus at the beginning of The Conjuring 2. Meanwhile a single mother and her children are finding themselves plagued with a demonic entity. As things escalate for them they eventually approach their church for help and the church reaches out to the Warrens.
Wan again trades on a sense of dread with this film choosing to build tension at a slow precise pace rather than blow through the film at a breakneck pace like a videogame. A combination of clean and subtly impressive camera work, solid direction and performances, and appropriate score make this film absolutely work from beginning to end. There are problems though. Wan also directed some of the Insidious movies and there’s some crossover between the two franchises that almost gets confusing. For instance at the beginning of the film Loraine wants to step back from her and her husband’s work for reasons that I thought were repeated from the previous film, which truly annoyed me. Upon reflection I realized that those motivations were actually defined in the insidious franchise. The character development between these two franchises needs to be so different that the two shouldn’t be confused with each other. On that note, this film is paint by numbers from the first film as far as the story development formula. While this formula is still unique compared to most other horror films hitting theaters there should be some development of that formula from one film to the next.
All things considered The Conjuring 2 is still a stylistic and entertaining horror romp that is confident in itself enough to build dread and tension without hitting a required boo count every so many minutes. The camera work and acting are stand out and they really sell the story. Vera Farmiga deftly carries this movie and you can’t take your eyes off her throughout. Patrick Wilson and child actor Madison Wolfe are also solid in their roles. The Conjuring 2 is scary, cool, and well done, definitely worth your bucks.