The Conjuring 2 – A solid sequel with no real surprises
I have been looking forward to The Conjuring 2 for some time, and I do think that in those circumstances you will tend to judge a movie more harshly than you might normally. Having said that, The Conjuring 2 is a good (not great) movie, and a very, very good horror movie. Just don’t compare it to The Conjuring (2013) and you have yourself a more than solid sequel.
To be fair, The Conjuring 2 is, stylistically and thematically, very different to its predecessor. If you really want to make a comparison, go back to 2010 and James Wan’s other ‘paranormal’ series, Insidious. There is absolutely no doubt that The Conjuring 2, whilst a sequel to Wan’s 2013 classic, shares a whole bunch of DNA with the Insidious franchise. The ‘Demon Nun’ bares a striking similarity, visually, to the ‘Bride In Black’ of the Insidious movies, and even The Conjuring 2’s other creation, the ‘Crooked Man’, would not be out of place in an Insidious film. This is a James Wan film in all aspects – visually and audibly – and with this film he has found a nice ‘sweet spot’ right within his Insidious-style comfort zone.
As if to make a point of this, my ever-patient wife, who is no horror fan but does me the courtesy of coming along to the cinema and sitting through them with me, had to drill me for a few moments after the movie finished to work out where The Conjuring 2 stood in relation to Wan’s other films. Is it a sequel to the one with the mist? (I worked out she was referring to the climax of Insidious when Josh, played again by Patrick Wilson, uses astral projection to go and rescue his son). No. So what happened in the first movie then? And so the convrsation went for a few moments.
Wan is a talented film-maker and a saviour to horror fans, but it is a little troubling that his recent films are so similar that they begin to merge together as one.
The cast here are again first rate. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as the ghost-busting Ed and Lorraine Warren. Madison Wolfe is perfectly cast as the haunted Janet Hodgson, and Frances O’Connor hits all the right notes as Janet’s tortured, desperate mother Peggy.
One of the great joys of this film occurs in the opening minutes. Harking back to the infamous Amityville haunting. Fans of the original Amityville Horror (1979) and its prequel, Amityville II: The Possession (1982), will delight in the recreation of events that drove the Lutz family from their home, and also opens the door for the Warren’s later investigation into the Hodgson’s home.
The Conjuring 2 has some great jump scares, but also manages to build up a good deal of tension along the way. There is also more than a little of the ‘creepy factor’ that makes films such as this so good – little girls sleep-walking, talking to themselves in their sleep, and a particularly good Paranormal Activity-esque moment with a little girl hiding under the covers of her bed, having just barricaded the door with a chair. Unfortunately it also has quite a long running time, and there are definitely moments where it begins to drag. The films final moments are well done, but fairly stock-standard for a film of this type, and the ending does come as a bit of a welcome relief.
Overall an enjoyable experience, and probably leads the pack in the horror stakes so far for 2016 (though don’t discount The Boy). This will keep Wan’s The Conjuring world alive and well, and sets up many possibilities for further sequels and spin-offs.