Review: The Conjuring 2
PLOT: Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) travel to London, England, to investigate to haunting of a council estate in Enfield, which is threatening the safety and sanity of single mother Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) and her four kids.
REVIEW: The upside of a disappointing summer of sequels is that when one comes along that’s actually good it feels doubly satisfying even if it’s a little familiar. THE CONJURING 2, despite adhering very closely to the formula set out by the first film, is an extremely efficient sequel. If the major applause that greeted the closing credits at the sneak screening I attended is any judge, it’ll play to packed houses and proves that yes, sometime sequels are in fact a good idea, just as long as the filmmakers have enough fresh ideas to merit them.
Coming-off his billion-dollar smash, FURIOUS 7, director James Wan brings a new swagger to the proceedings that’s a stark contrast to his own previous sequel to INSIDEOUS. Packed with complicated tracking shots and a surprising absence of cheap jump scares, like its predecessor this feels like a bonafide studio A-level production, unlike the micro-budget genre outings that have become the norm. Wan’s clearly let his imagination run wild with this sequel, and is able to occasionally take a break from all the horror to further develop the love story between Ed and Lorraine, something that comes-off far more strongly here than it did in the first.
It helps that stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga give the movie their all, with Wilson the strong, protective Ed, while Farmiga’s Lorraine is more vulnerable due to being in closer contact with the demonic entities they seem to deal with routinely. This sequel ties together two of the more infamous 1970’s hauntings, with the pre-credits sequence dealing with Lorraine’s traumatic experience with the Amityville horror, before settling in to the main story, which is the so-called “Enfield Haunting.”
Like the first, this carries a “based on a true story” moniker, which obviously should be taken with a huge grain of salt. The Warrens were real paranormal investigators, but whether you believe any of this depends on your take on the supernatural. Either way, the movie is entertaining if a tad overlong at 134 minutes. Part of the expanded running time is devoted to establishing the Hodgson family, and while that’s all well and good, any time away from the Warrens seems like a waste, and could have been cut down a bit. What’s happening with the Hodgsons feels like a repeat of the put-upon family from the first film, and while the acting is fine the stuff going-on with Ed and Lorraine is far more interesting.
Farmiga’s especially good as Lorraine tries to pull Ed out of the limelight they’ve found themselves thrust-into after Amityville, with her big fear being a premonition she had of Ed’s violent death, leading her to suggest they quit the ghost hunting biz. Of course, when a family’s in need Ed and Lorraine do what they gotta do...
It all adds up to a very entertaining horror romp, with some terrific set-pieces, including an extended finale that throws everything at you but the kitchen sink. While far from subtle, the score by Joseph Bishara helps ratchet up the tension making this more of a thrill-ride than all-out horror, although the first film was more-or-less the same. Certainly it’s an extremely effective genre outing and Wan, now much in-demand for action epics, still seems to relish his ghost stories. It’s easy to imagine him checking-in on the Warrens every few years in between his higher-profile projects, and I have a sneaking suspicion that for however many sequels have failed financially this year, THE CONJURING 2 won’t be one of them.
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