Nutshell: creepy, chilling, and definitely not for the faint of heart, The Conjuring 2 is a worthy follow-up to its terrifying predecessor. A bit hokey at the very end, but it’s a small price to pay for some seriously good, scare-you-silly horror. Grade: A
“THIS IS MY HOUSE.”
That ranks right up there with The Amityville Horror‘s “GET OUT”. And that’s not surprising; the real-life story this sequel is based on the Enfield Poltergeist. In 1977, the Hodgson family – single mom Peggy (Frances O’Connor) and her four kids – begin noticing strange things happening in their “council house” (a form of UK public housing). Before you could say Bob’s-your-uncle, youngest daughter Janet (the amazingly talented Madison Wolfe) is sleepwalking, getting red-rimmed around the eyes…and oh yeah; channeling the spirit of a dead man. Meanwhile, after their dealings with the Amitiville case, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are trying to take a break. With Lorraine having premonitions of Ed’s violent death, the last thing she wants to do is take another case. But when the church asks…
Yeah I know. Why don’t these folks just pull an Eddie Murphy and beat feet? Much like the family in the first film, the Hodgson family’s financial situation prevented them from moving. And, of course, by the time things got to the “to bad we can’t stay” point, it was already too late; Janet was possessed. Bad for the Hodgson’s, but good for horror movie nerds like me, since we get a scary-ass film to enjoy. And believe me, this is a scary one. It gives good creep, there’s effective use of the ol’ “coming from the shadows” scare, and the visual effects are outstanding. Maybe because most of the effects look like they’re practical (on-screen rather than CGI) effects, grounding the story and giving the film a shot of reality that even the grooviest computer stuff can’t touch.
Keeping the same director and screenwriter gives a creepy continuity; the tone, and overall art direction helps C2 flow seamlessly from it’s predecessor. In fact, a Conjuring/Conjuring 2 double-feature would be just the ticket for this year’s Halloween spookfest. Well, if you’re looking to be scared of of your wits. With Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring under his belt, and his producing the creepy-looking Lights Out coming next month (OMG you have to see the short film of the same name that Lights Out is based on), Wan is quickly becoming my go-to horror guy. The only whine I can come up with is that at the very end, a few of the lines come off as a bit hokey. A little too-too, if you will. I’ll leave it at that for fear of spoilers, but let’s just say there was one line that had a few of us giggle where we definitely weren’t supposed to, and another that was a bit too heavy-handed. They don’t squash the overall awesomeness of the film, but with everything else done so well, those two bits did stick out.
Wilson and Farmiga have a believable, comfortable onscreen chemistry. I got that they were in in through thick and thin, regardless of all the creepy that got thrown at them on the regular. Farmiga, with her ethereal beauty, is perfect as the kind-hearted Lorraine. As for Wilson, he’s every spooky girl’s dreamboat, and in this film he not only battles evil but plays a mean guitar. Renaissance man!
A lot of folks wonder why horror movies hit the multiplex during the warm summer months. Me, I sometimes find myself getting miffed that these films aren’t opening in October, during The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. But with this film, I get it. The morgue-room temperature of the a/c in most theaters already has your goosebumps raised. A good horror film can run with that, bringing out the best kind of chills. With The Conjuring 2, the best kind of chills are exactly what you’ll get.
BTW, if you’re interested in knowing the fact vs. fiction of the real-life Warren case, check out the compare/contrast over at History vs. Hollywood. But read that after the film, as there are plenty of spoilers. You’re not gonna want spoilers for this film. Trust me; you’re gonna want all the shock right in your face. Because that’s exactly where it’ll be. Pleasant dreams.