Vera Farmiga - Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson - Ed Warren
Frances O’Connor - Peggy Hodgson
Madison Wolfe - Janet Hodgson
Simon McBurney - Maurice Grosse
Franka Potente - Anita Gregory
Genre - Horror/Thriller/Supernatural/Demons/Ghosts
Running Time - 134 Minutes
In 1976, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) investigate the infamous Amityville house to see if the stories are a hoax or not. While their contributions to the case turns the Warrens into celebrities, Lorraine sees a vision of Ed’s death in the house - causing Lorraine to want to give up investigating supernatural occurrences. Ed reluctantly agrees, staying home with their daughter and continuing their lecture circuit in colleges.
A year later however, the Warrens are pulled into another case they can’t seem to get themselves out of. Apparently in Enfield, England (a town in London), single mom Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) and her four children are being haunted and terrorized by the angry spirit of a 72-year-old man who died inside of their house prior to the Hodgson’s moving in. The local church won’t step in unless they have proof the claim is real, hoping the Warrens will investigate alongside researcher Maurice Grosse (Simon McBurney) and skeptic psychologist Anita Gregory (Franka Potente). Usually able to pick up on things, Lorraine is having trouble sensing anything evil in the house - which complicates matters until it’s possibly too late.
- James Wan does it again, directing a horror film that actually relies on atmosphere, mood, and the occasional jump scares that should feel cheaper than they do - but they don’t, adding to the experience. Wan really uses editing, framing, and mise en scene to provide creepiness and tension throughout the film, giving us glimpses of supernatural activity without revealing all until the time is right. I especially loved the fact that Wan didn’t always use loud sound cues during the jump scares, letting them come out of surprise instead of during moments you’d expect them the most. Wan even excels at the quieter, more human moments. I loved every scene involving just the Warrens together interacting, especially the “Can’t Help Falling in Love” moment with Ed doing his best Elvis impersonation. Just a really beautiful film directed by a man who knew exactly what he was doing behind the lens. Just masterful stuff.
- The acting in THE CONJURING 2 is wonderful. More so than in the first film. the sequel really let Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga shine as Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of my minor issues in the first film was that we didn’t really get enough of Wilson and Farmiga as the Warrens, as that film was more focused on the Perron family. I’m glad the couple is more in the forefront here, as Wilson and Farmiga are fantastic as this couple of paranormal investigators. Their chemistry is extremely charming, loving, and realistic. Sometimes you get horror characters that just annoy you. And then you get some that just make you wish they get an entire franchise devoted to them and their adventures. The Warrens deserve this franchise, thanks to the charming and heroic Wilson and the warm and strong-willed Farmiga. The other actors, especially Frances O’Connor and young Madison Wolfe, are great as well. Wolfe, in particular, manages to bring some creep factor as the conduit to the evil spirits inside the Enfield House. I thought everyone in this cast brought it and truly elevated an already well-written script.
- The narrative in CONJURING 2 could have just rehashed what was done in 2013’s THE CONJURING. Yes, we get a family haunted by demonic spirits inside of a newly moved in house. Yes, a family member gets possessed. Yes, we get the Warrens investigating and believing in the situation while others remain skeptical until they see things for themselves. But I thought the story was a bit stronger, and more fun, than its predecessor. I think what I liked most about it is that this sequel felt more personal for the Warrens, as the Amityville investigation [which is a great quick opener to the film] causes them to doubt their investigations, fearing for their lives. The demonic spirit Lorraine sees at Amityville has a connection to the Enfield house, giving the Warrens more of a reason to stop it - regardless of the danger it presents. I thought Hodgson family had great interactions with each other, as well as bringing in the neighbors as comic relief characters to bring up the mood a bit when appropriate. I even loved the scenes where the Warrens are on a talk show and are called frauds due to massive skepticism, which brings out some nice character development for Ed and Lorraine. While THE CONJURING was a bit more contained, the sequel needed to be a bit broader while maintaining the essence of what had already been established. THE CONJURING 2 could have played it a bit more safe, but the script lets this sequel play with things a bit more on a grander scale. I thought it worked really well.
- Some people had issues with the special effects. Yes, some of it does look a bit like a cartoon at times - especially towards the end. But I still dug it for the most part and thought some of the demonic spirits were pretty creepy. There are too many scenes to put down here, but I loved the painting scene [reminded me of J-horror] and a scene involved a flooded basement. The special effects don’t look like a Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster, but they get the job done and manage to be creepy at times.
- If there are any issues I had with THE CONJURING 2, maybe the film was a bit too long. A horror film that’s more than 2 hours is a bit much, even though it doesn’t hurt this film all that much since there is a lot going on. I also felt the ending was a bit too clean. Yes, it had to end happily as possible, but the resolution felt way too rushed, too easy, and too cliche. I get it was set up throughout the film, but the revelation just seemed to pop up at the most convenient time.
THE FINAL HOWL
THE CONJURING 2 is exactly what I wanted this sequel to be. It has more of a focus on the Warrens, portrayed wonderfully by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. While not as creepy as the first film, it does have its moments that will make you jump every now and then. I thought the script was pretty solid and James Wan confidently directs the sequel with a lot of style for its two-hour-plus running time. Sure the ending arrived a bit too easily, the film was probably longer than it should have been, and not all the CGI works. But I had a lot of fun with THE CONJURING 2 and I’m looking forward to another one if all the major players return.