THE CONJURING 2:
NOT AS FRIGHTFULLY FRESH THE SECOND TIME AROUND, BUT IT DOES DELIVER ON SCARES!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B (3 stars)
WARNER BROS. PICTURES AND NEW LINE CINEMA
The next terrifying case file of the Warrens in The Conjuring 2
Talk about being wrong about a horror movie sequel, when I first heard there was going to be a sequel to director, James Wan’s (Saw, Insidious trilogy, Furious 7) 2013 horror hit, The Conjuring, I rolled my eyes and thought “Another unnecessary horror sequel to cash in on the success of its predecessor!”. The first Conjuring movie was a fresh take on the classic ghost story genre that focused on suspense and build-up rather than those splatter flicks and slashers we’re so used to today.
The Conjuring was both a critical and commercial success and quickly became one of my favorite horror movies in recent years. How do you follow-up a movie that brought so many unique scares and chills and still have it be good? And my thoughts on the 2014 Conjuring spin-off, Annabelle certainly wasn’t helping.
So I was expecting The Conjuring 2 to suck hard, but it turned out I was pleasantly surprised that the film had a “Fresh” Rotten Tomatoes score and decided to go to one of my local theaters and give it a watch to see how it holds up compared to the first Conjuring and Annabelle. For a horror sequel that probably didn’t need to exist, it isn’t half bad and a huge improvement over Annabelle in terms of continuing the Conjuring story.
Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2) and Vera Farmiga (The Departed, Orphan, Up in the Air) return as real-life ghost paranormalists, Ed and Lorraine Warren who are called in to travel to London and help a family in need of paranormal experts, single mother, Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor-A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Windtalkers, Mercy) and her children, Margaret Hodgson (Lauren Esposito), Johnny Hodgson (Patrick McAuley), and Billy Hodgson (Benjamin Haigh). The youngest daughter, Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe-On the Road, True Detective, Trumbo) had encounters with the ghost of a man named Bill Wilkins and eventually shows signs of possession.
Janet eventually does get possessed and all sorts of freaky happen. So it’s up to Ed and Lorraine to solve the case behind the possession and bring the daughter back to the living world before the spirit consumes her.
Overall, The Conjuring 2 is better than what I expected, I thought it was going to be a straight up rehash of the first film with nothing new added in. Don’t get me wrong, the film does hit a lot of familiar territory in terms of suspense and horror, if you’ve seen the first film you already know what you’re getting into in scares, but many of the scares are very creative and well executed that it puts you on the edge of your seat.
The characters are developed well and you would think, seeing how this is a horror movie, they would probably just be tools to get the plot going or they’re just there to die, not exactly. The movie takes time to develop the characters, Ed and Lorraine talk with the family a lot and you even see the family and Warrens bond together without any scary things happening, and you really feel for the emotion of the characters when something horrible does happen.
My only real issue with the movie is the film lacked the ingeniously chilling build-up that the first film had and what I mean is the first movie didn’t jump right into the scares (Nor did this film really) but it took more time to develop the paranormal investigators and show exactly what they do before the scary stuff happens. It’s nothing I’ll lose sleep over and aside from that small nitpick, the movie makes up for it with some suspenseful atmosphere and scares.
If you loved the first Conjuring movie, you’ll probably enjoy the second as well, but if you’re looking for an original and new horror movie to test your fears, this probably won’t be your flick. Quite a few plot elements felt they were borrowed from other films like The Exorcist, Poltergeist, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, not much new in the story, but plenty of clever scares.