The Warrens travel to Enfield, London to help a single
mother whose daughter has been possessed by an evil spirit.
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Directed by James Wan
Written by Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes, James Wan,
David Leslie Johnson
Starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Frances O'Connor,
Madison Wolfe, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick McAuley, Simon McBurney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon Delaney, Bob Adrian
Sequel to 2013's The Conjuring
James Wan has really become a force to be reckoned within the horror genre. He has delivered a consistent quality in all of his films where he delivers equal amounts of engaging character development and terrifying scares. He also has successfully kickstarted three of the biggest franchises in modern horror. Now, with all of that said, I’ll be the first to admit his Conjuring Universe isn’t one of my favorites. Mainly due to the numerous spin-off films coming off lackluster almost every time. But the same can’t be said for his two Conjuring films. Both have proven to be the high points of this franchise and why I’m willing to keep going with it. I can only hope the upcoming third film continues that considering he’s not behind the director’s chair this time.
As mentioned earlier, Wan has excelled at mixing character development and scares seamlessly into his works. That doesn’t stop here. In one moment, he’s engaging us with a lovely scene of Patrick Wilson singing a beautiful song meant for Vera Farmiga; and the next he’s terrifying us with a scene in a darkened bedroom involving crosses turning upside down by themselves. In a lesser horror film, these would come off disjointed and force. But with Wan attached, it just feels organic and integral to the plot. It helps that both the aforementioned actors deliver tremendous performances as Ed and Lorrain Warren, respectively. Regardless of how you feel about them in real life, there is a genuine sense of honesty and warmth brought to life by the actors. Now, there are two quick negatives I have for this film. And, if I’m honest, there quite minor. The first being the film having to embellish a lot with the Warrens’ actual involvement in the case. The second being the, at times, emphasis on characters being meant for spin-offs and not necessarily this film.
Wan is one of my personal favorite directors working in the horror genre. He delivers high class films which place equal attention on the characters and the scares. He’s backed with actors who deliver wonderful performances and show true commitment to the material. Even with my two minor negatives, this is still one of the finest horror sequels in recent years.
Horror sequels are almost always unnecessary and unwanted. They frequently suck and sometimes end up tarnishing the legacy of the first film. It's a law of nature that is rarely broken. Remarkably, The Conjuring 2 bypassed everything it was supposed to do and ended up being one of the most frightening and entertaining horror sequels ever made, one that I would place on the same level as Evil Dead 2 or Bride of Frankenstein. It gives us more insight into the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren and shows us another of their most infamous cases. This time, it's the Enfield Poltergeist, the most documented case of paranormal phenomena ever.
The monsters in The Conjuring 2 are a creepy demonic nun and a vicious British old man ghost. While this would be either cliche or ridiculous in the hands of most horror directors, under James Wan, both of these become spine-chillingly creepy. There are a number of scenes in this film that will one day be iconic in the horror community, particularly everything involving The Crooked Man. Also, I must praise the decision to open with the Warrens' investigation into the Amityville haunting. Not only did seeing those iconic windows again give me goosebumps, it told me I was not going to be disappointed.
I'm surprised at the critical acclaim and financial success that The Conjuring 2 is achieving, even though it deserves all of it. It's extremely rare for a horror sequel to be this good. After the lukewarm reception of Annabelle, the success of this film just shows that only James Wan can adapt the case files of the Warrens with the horror and respect they deserve. This is yet another great horror film to add to the watchlist around Halloween, right next to the first film.