The Conjuring 2 review
Worst Christmas ever
Filmmaker James Wan (Saw, Death Sentence) turned down what he called “a life-changing” paycheck from Universal Studios to direct a sequel to his last film, Furious 7, in order to continue a horror franchise he began three summers ago. According to Box Office Mojo, the successfully scary The Conjuring wound up one of the most profitable horror films of all time as the number 1 period-horror film in addition to earning more than any other horror flick in 2013, making approximately $318 million on $20 million (nearly 16x back). Wan’s newest, The Conjuring 2, follows another real-life documented supernatural event from the case files of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. Just like the original, Wan makes the protagonists a family falling prey to a malevolent poltergeist in the 1970s with the Warren characters appearing in a supporting capacity to aid the victims and solve a supernatural mystery. The dynamic of balancing the family’s terror/ emotional stress with the Warren’s methods of investigation again becomes the plot rhythm as Wan’s R-rated sequel merely turns into a better-crafted version of his first that all horror fans and most general audiences will enjoy.
The strengths of The Conjuring are amplified in its new sequel. If one enjoyed the groovy, American, early-70s vibe of the first, then the Green Street, Enfield, North London setting (now just a few years later in the same decade) heightens the attention to detail with Wan maintaining a distinctly American theme from the original for a few of the Warrens’ earlier scenes, unnecessarily featuring their Amityville case at the beginning with a runtime-bloating sequence having nothing to do with the new family of protagonists. While his long, suspenseful, terror-building shots are appreciated, a horror movie (or comedy) with a runtime exceeding two hours is simply stretched too thin (The Shining standing as the exception). As the atrocities build in shock, the audience receives an ending that should have happened a plot-relative long time ago for an anti-climactic result.
Character actors Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, The A-Team) and Vera Farmiga (The Departed, Up in the Air) reprise their roles as the married paranormal investigators from real life, Ed and Lorraine Warren. Their marriage and mortality again get put to the test by the forces of absolute evil. As Ed begins a curious portrait and Lorraine dreams nightmarish prophesies, a recently-divorced mother and her four children across the pond endure the wrath of a malevolent, murderous poltergeist not unlike the antagonist from the 2013 original. Not only does Wan accomplish the 1970s atmosphere and setting with careful precision and terrifying style, but he also reminds the viewer of horror films from the era like The Exorcist and, coincidentally, The Amityville Horror through long, suspenseful shots featuring awesome supernatural power coupled with a tense, classical score from Wan’s regular composer Joseph Bishara.
If one enjoyed the 2013 James Wan horror insta-classic The Conjuring, then movie-goers this weekend must decide as to whether or not they liked it enough to see its familiarly-structured sequel over an online-gaming adaptation (Warcraft) or another sequel to a 2013 movie (Now You See Me 2). The infamous case files of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, again played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, continue to serve as the source material in director/ producer Wan’s high-earning, critically-acclaimed horror franchise. Despite the tarnishing of the Enfield poltergeist tale in recent years due to the incident being widely-regarded a hoax more and more as time passes, The Conjuring 2 rises above the legend with its R-rated frights and excellent filmmaking. Any time a film earns an adult-rating for horror alone (the language and sex keep relatively clean for the genre), a viewer can rest assured of quality horror.