Review: THE CONJURING 2

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James Wan’s scary sequel opens today.

Now call me old-fashioned, but when this writer likes a film, any sequel that follows rarely does much for me. The same goes for cover songs.  But I really liked James Wan’s THE CONJURING.  I’m delighted to report that I enjoyed THE CONJURING 2 (read our set report here) even more. 

When it comes to film, nothing is more troubling than the phrase “based on a true story,” words that I have grown to dread. It’s such a sweeping statement and really, what does it mean? How much weight should we attribute to the facts of the true story? But in THE CONJURING films, Wan and writers Chad and Carey Hayes have intelligently and thoughtfully created ways to mirror the original cases, while, in respect to this sequel, paying respect to Enfield, England’s Hodgson family and to Ed and Lorraine Warren themselves. 

The roles of real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine are once more essayed by the endlessly talented Patrick Wilson (BONE TOMAHAWK, Wan’s INSIDIOUS films) and Vera Farmiga (BATES MOTEL).  THE CONJURING 2 brings them to the UK to assess the case of the demonic happenings in the house of the Hodgsons and the “possession” of Janet (Madison Wolfe, who is fantastic) the youngest daughter.  Kids are creepy as is but Wolfe really understands the character and handles the difficult role flawlessly; her presence really ups the creepy factor of the sequel.

THE CONJURING 2 also introduces a number of memorable demons, one of which has a great “Stendhal Syndrome”-esque scene, a real deal jump scare, that had the entire theater shrieking at the press screening I saw. But there’s more to the movie’s horror that just jolts. One of Wan’s many talents is his dissection of our fear complex. Sure blood and guts are scary but real fear comes by way of fearing the things we believe we know the best like our families and homes, things safe and familiar. In my case, I guess I took the film home with me because I now have trust issues with everything in my apartment.

Congratulations, Mr. Wan, you succeeded in scaring the shit out of me!

Another strong element of THE CONJURING 2 that may surprise some (as it did me) is just how romantic and funny it is,with Wan exploiting Wilson’s good looks and comedic timing to maximum effect. And gelling it all together is Joseph Bishara’s effective score, one that maintains the movie’s aggressive momentum. It’s a moody and broody score but it’s never overpowering.

The sequel is also more content heavy and has more narrative and thematic meat to it than its predecessor.  It is kind of like the older sibling to the first one, all grown-up with more depth and character.  It has all the elements to become a classic in the genre and of course has the signature fluid James Wan style we have all grown to love so much. 

And without saying too much I will give you this: stick around to the end credits. One of the smartest and creepiest moments in the film starts as the film ends…

 

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Weekend: Sep. 19, 2019, Sep. 22, 2019

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