Taking place following the terrorising events at a farm house in Rhode Island in 1971, Ed and Lorraine Warren are looking to distance themselves the toll of investigating paranormal phenomenon. With increasing scepticism surrounding their work and the horrifying visions Lorraine keeps experiencing they agree to take a break. However in 1977, the increasing unexplained events at a house in Enfield, England lead them to return to their work in order to save a family from the ghostly disturbances that have plagued their home.
Master of horror James Wan returns to the directors chair to bring us a sequel to the incredibly tense and terrifying film The Conjuring, which he also directed, as he explores further the real life investigations conducted by the Warrens. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as the supernaturally gifted couple Ed and Lorrain Warren. Frances O’Connor joins the cast as Peggy Hodgson, the mother of the family haunted by an malicious presence, and she is joined by Madison Wolfe who plays Janet Hodgson, Peggy’s daughter who appears to be the focal point of the entities games.
The first film was a masterpiece of a horror film created by an unsettling score, terrific direction and excellent escalation of fear. It truly is a watermark for any haunted house film to aspire to, but the sequel is somewhat different to its predecessor. It’s not the intense shock ride that The Conjuring was, but it is something a little more. The Conjuring 2 remains a well crafted haunted house film, with some trademark deft direction from James Wan maintaining a dark uneasy atmosphere, but the expanding story detracts from the fluidity of the fear. The unfortunate side effect of more scenes dedicated to building character or exploring other subject matters, is more time where tension can dissipate. This is of course a shame, because the extra time spent in the film doing things other than scaring you is still worth the watch.
The avenues Wan ventures down are refreshing for a haunted house film. The psychological effects of a broken family unit is one of them, with an absentee father and oppressive paranormal entity in the mix it sure makes a compelling angle for story, but it’s one it certainly could have played out more. On the other side of the tracks the idea of a hoax (which the actual story has been widely claimed/proven to be) was skirted around, and as juicy a topic as it is, its inclusion within this story should have been full or not at all. To loosely toy with the idea of a hoax after featuring numerous scenes and images that tell us it’s not, is just time spent undoing the intensity it builds up. Though both themes provide interesting elements for the film to draw from, they become extra weight for a story to carry and it left me thinking does this want to be a relentlessly terrifying film like the one it was born from, or a psychological drama.
It may not be as scary as what came before but it is just as good a film. For most the enjoyment of this film will come down to how much you know about the story it is based on (you’re better off knowing nothing), and how easy you are to scare. The Conjuring was a compact haunted house film that was sinister, tense, and it never let up, with The Conjuring 2 there is more time to breathe but it is a little deeper than your conventional horror. Fans of James Wan’s work will not be disappointed thanks to some fantastically ghoulish imagery, and and yet another unforgettable antagonist. It’s a fun midnight movie that is sure to chill people for years to come.