For me, The Conjuring was where James Wan really hit his stride. Already a fan from his earlier works such as Saw, Dead Silence and Death Sentence, this was where he really elevated himself away from the chasing pack. If Insidious was his breakthrough in terms of recognition, then The Conjuring was his game changer. So the announcement of The Conjuring 2 addressing the Enfield Haunting was horror music to my ears. The big question was could lightning strike twice and the easy answer is yes.
The Conjuring 2 is again based on the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), probably the two most notorious paranormal investigators ever. We open with a shot that, if you know your horror, will seem strangely familiar to you which sets our scene with the Warrens and ends up as anything but throwaway.
Meanwhile in a run down house in Enfield, England is a family that are experiencing ever stranger happenings which seem to be centred around the youngest girl, Janet Hodsgson (a superb Madison Wolfe). As things become more extreme for the family they turn to investigator Maurice Grosse for help. What he witnesses makes him believe that the family need the church to help rid their house of the evil spirit that dwells within.
This leads us back to the Warrens, sent by the church to determine if it is a real haunting, following the embarrassment of the Amityville case being announced as a fake. What the Warrens were about to witness was beyond even their expectations.
James Wan takes us on a journey with the Hodgson family, from their humble home life to having their world turned upside down by an unseen malevolence. The look and feel of the film is very much in the vain of The Conjuring and he does utilise some of the same tricks but just ever so slightly changed. However this doesn’t prevent it from being an intense roller coaster ride that will likely have many a bottom jumping out of its seat. Some of the set pieces in this are truly terrifying and for a period of about 45 minutes the film doesn’t let up. Which in some cases you could get bored of the “oh here comes another scare” momentum that the film builds with but in the main it is used to propel the film forwards narratively and is paced very well so you never feel yourself withdrawing from the action of it.
It does have quite a hefty run time and probably could have been somewhat shorter and there are a couple of things within the film I really didn’t like. I don’t want to say in fear of spoiling anything but these were very minor and didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the film. I can say the same about the ending. Through the Insidious movies and the first Conjuring, one of the areas I have struggled with James Wan is his endings and it is no different here. It’s never quite the satisfying pay off you’re looking for after such a wonderful ride. It’s like the songs where the verses are better than the chorus. You’re expecting the film to elevate but instead it deflates a little. However again this didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the film and could even be considered nit picking.
Performance wise it hits all the notes. Wilson and Farmiga are once again superb in their roles but Wolfe as Janet was a revelation. Essentially the film hung on if she could pull the role off and she did and more. A brilliant actress who I am sure we will be hearing a lot more of. There was one strange thing. The second boy in the family; he seems to be introduced, disappear and then suddenly he’s in a scene again about half way through. Felt a little jarring as we really hadn’t seen anything of him
Overall a top notch scary movie. I saw it with a seasoned horror crowd and they found it scary. The commercial audience will not know what hit them.
Excited? Impatient? Full of expectation? Yep, that was me once I had heard a follow up to the excellent THE CONJURING was in the pipeline and even more so when I discovered the film was to focus primarily on the Enfield poltergeist haunting of the late 1970s. It seemed like two great ideas, a follow up movie and that choice of setting made for what could potentially be an amazing horror film. Question is, what did we end up with?
Kicking off in Amityville we find the Warrens investigating the events of that house and here we meet the demon that features throughout the rest of the movie as Lorraine Warren forsees the death of her husband and then decides that maybe breaking away from these investigations may be the best and safest way forward. All is fine until a call comes from from the UK from the church who need proof that the events in the Enfield house are actually real.
I really liked this movie yet I didn’t love it. Maybe it is the fact the first movie is so good that this was going to be difficult to beat but it just didn’t hook me in as much as the first outing. That said it is a perfectly good horror movie with two flaws that stood out for me. Firstly it is way too long in excess of two hours and secondly the soppy love story between the Warrens themselves was totally not needed, this is a horror movie, not a romantic one. For a while I half expected Hugh Grant to show up. And I have to say that there are a few scares but this is nowhere near as scary but also bear in mind I am quite a seasoned watcher of horror films. A lot of the trickery i saw coming with hardly any exception.
Criticism aside it is still a bloody good film and I thought the family dynamic was great, the character of Janet was excellently played, the teenager struggling to be a middle child and dealing with the family break up.
So yes to summarize… It’s a film to go and watch, in fact don’t miss it but just don’t expect it to be as good as the first movie. If you drop your expectations you won’t be disappointed by what you find.
A week before sitting down to the conjuring 2, I had caught the follow-up to Sinister. I think this is
what made me a little nervous about seeing this followup to the (frankly) superb Conjuring.
oh, and the stupid dolly movie (which we wont mention).
Wilson and Farminga both return as the Warrens, dramatizing a different case file from the Warrens investigations. I was half expecting a exact re-step of the original in a new location, but the film was very different. This time it moves in similar ways to Insidious, the underworld makes an appearance and there are a number of dream sequences within the film. However is never really strays from the 1970s period horror and nails the feel perfectly.
Following on from the Fast and whatever number it’s on…. 9? Conjuring 2 highlights where Wan has got to with his career and shows excellent use of technology, psychology and storytelling, there is jump scares, atmospheric scenes and decent mix of false starts. So much so – that within the film he took to setting up a number of shots that were framed as if it was being setup for a scare that never came, just to keep the audience guessing.
For me it felt less scary than the original conjuring, but then others within the group felt the opposite. The film certainly has more of a relaxed feel to it, which adds to the uneasiness in some of the scenes.
At 2.15, this is (for modern standards) an unusually long mainstream horror release, and it’s quite the slow burner. Yes in parts it could possibly have been trimmed a little – but it was only within the last 15 or so minutes that the film began to feel its length. This isn’t the greatest horror Wan has made, but it’s also certainly not the worst. Considering the list of films includes 3 huge franchises (Insidious, Saw and Conjuring/Anna-cough-le) his work is some of the best and most successful horror films in the last 10+ years.
Should you catch it? yes, Will you be scared? possibly. Will you like it more than the first? flip a coin.
The Conjuring 2 is out at UK Cinemas from the 13th June
And at cinemas globally from the 10th June