The Conjuring 2
This familiar sequel still manages to be both frightening and fun.
Haunted house films tend to follow an obvious formula: things go bump in the night, people get scared, and an escalating array of supernatural hijinks ensue. If you've seen one, you probably feel like you've seen them all — and The Conjuring 2 isn't going to change that. Thankfully, it isn't going to make horror fans abandon building-based scares either.
Given that the latest movie — based on the exploits of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren — is a sequel, a certain amount of predictability is to be expected. Still, knowing how the follow-up to 2013 surprise hit The Conjuring will play out doesn't render its creaking floors, slamming doors and ghostly visions any less effective. Both frights and fun can be found as an English family attempts to break free from a malicious force, with the former largely springing from sudden noises and ghastly faces, and the latter resulting from the screams they inspire.
Six years after Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farming) helped the Perrons through the events of the first film — and a year after the Amityville case that still remains their biggest claim to fame — the Hodgsons of Enfield need their expertise. Trying to raise four children alone, single mother Peggy (Frances O'Connor) is already doing it tough before spooky occurrences start targeting her 12-year-old daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe). When the Warrens are called in, they're not just asked to assist; they're also tasked with determining whether the otherworldly infestation is real.
Of course, relishing the chilling ordeal inflicted upon the bewildered Hodgson clan is the film's primary focus, rather than exploring the hoax side of the story or even spending too much time with the evangelical exorcist and psychic assessing the situation. And as easily foreseeable as the jumps and jolts that follow prove, they're also teeming with tension thanks to the film's other significant presence: director James Wan. After kicking off the Saw and Insidious franchises, Wan did the same for The Conjuring, investing what could've been a routine horror movie with the right amount of vintage thrills and visual flair. Returning to the series after an action-packed stint at the helm of Fast and Furious 7, he does the same again, even if lightning doesn't exactly strike twice.
Whether you've heard of the Enfield poltergeist before or you've simply seen The Exorcist, there's no escaping the been-there, seen-that status of The Conjuring 2. Thankfully, Wan's fondness for letting the camera prowl around the house in question, and his precise sense of timing when it comes to both the unexpected and the lingering, ensures that familiarity doesn't breed contempt. Instead, it's the length of the film, and the raft of repetitive scenes that help pad it out to 133 minutes, that may end up stretching your patience.
Accordingly, the Hodgsons aren't the only ones fated to think that everything goes on too long — and the last thing horror viewers want is to feel bored and anxious at the same time. Luckily, when the movie works, it really works, a versatile performance by Wolfe at the centre of the sinister proceedings included.
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