The Conjuring 2 (15)
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor
Running time: 2hr 14min
There’s that certain stigma in the air when it comes to sequels, especially in the horror genre. But if there’s one man who knows how to add to a film’s impact, building further on a solid foundation, it’s James Wan. He knows what a follow up needs, having seen what came out of his debut Saw, and his own Insidious: Chapter 2 added some brilliant scares and something different. The Conjuring was such a runaway success that a sequel seemed inevitable, and with Wan back onboard, it was always going to be different. But does it surpass the first?
The first film set a serious bar with its opening scene; it gave us Annabelle, a character so iconic she got her own spinoff film (and a sequel in the works) despite the fact that she’s barely in the film. Though 2’s opening doesn’t top that, it does give us the creepiest visual of this film: the demon nun. She’ll keep your blood chilled throughout.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson nail it again as Lorraine and Ed Warren, this time getting to showcase more of their chemistry, more of their characters in general. It’s really good to see, knowing that they could have gone cheap with it.
Despite the fact that the film opens in Amityville (known to horror fans the world over as the Warren’s most infamous case) we don’t spend any time there past the opening scene, which feels like an unusual turn. Yes, the Amityville story has been done to death and beyond in movies, but seeing a fleshed out spin on it would have been interesting.
Instead we transition to England, to witness the lesser known Enfield story. The Hodgson family soon fall victim to the spirit within their home; claiming to be an old occupant set on murdering the family through their daughter Janet. The format hasn’t changed much from the first one, but it’s still an entertaining, pulse-racing decent down the rabbit hole.
Much like he did with Insidious: Chapter 2, Wan doesn’t go cheap with the scares. We won’t give any of them away, but there’s a glorious scene involving a TV set, a painting of the previously mentioned nun and the terrifying presence that an inanimate object can be, such as an old armchair, or an old turntable.
As the film creeps on, it’s clear that Wan knows exactly how to direct this sort of story; he tries new things, but he has the horror formula refined. The issue that The Conjuring 2 has that its previous outing didn’t is that you notice the length of it; at 134 minutes (bumped up from the original’s sleeker 112) you may be checking your watch once or twice. The other thing that could grate is the Mary Poppins level of “Landana!” English accents. At one stage we’re a heartbeat away from a police officer saying “Allo allo allo, what’s all this then?” If you get through it without wanting to strangle someone, you’re stronger than I am.
On the whole though, this is a strong addition to a franchise that still has plenty of scares to give us. It’s head and shoulders above the pretenders, or the carbon copies, and although it sticks quite firmly to the original’s formula, Wan delivers the goods, the way he always does.
3.5 out of 5 Nerds