- Directed by James Wan
- June 7, 2016 (TCL Chinese Theatre) / June 10, 2016 (United States)
A single mother raising four children in Northern London is tormented by a malevolent spirit and the Warrens arrive to help.
I will say that while The Conjuring 2 had its frightening moments, it was not nearly as frightening as the first film. It is hard to emulate the first film in a sequel since the audience is now familiar with the characters and universe being presented. They attempt to overcome this by being more character focused. This is much more about people dealing with events beyond their understanding than it is about scaring the audience. And there is nothing wrong with that. Horror can focus on characters and still give you chills even if it does not scare you throughout.
Once again these are ordinary people dealing with things beyond their understanding. With the father abandoning the family, the Hodgson Family of mother Peggy (Frances O’Connor), daughters Janet (Madison Wolfe) and Margaret (Lauren Esposito), and sons Billy (Benjamin Haigh) and Johnny (Patrick McAuley) are trying to survive day to day life when a malevolent entity attaches itself to Janet. As the demonic possession becomes greater, word of the disturbances reaches Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively).
Director James Wan makes everything feel authentic. As I said in my review of the previous film, reading up on supernatural things was my jam when I was younger. In what I read it was apparent that dark spirits would seek out the troubled or those going through difficult times in an effort to make their lives worse and feed off of the misery. It is something they touched on in the last film but did not highlight. They hang a lantern on it here. I appreciate that little detail. It helps to make the dramatic presentation more believable.
The Warrens are a little bit more in the background here than they were in the last film. This was their case, but they feel like they are the in for the viewers to have someone experience the story through with the real focus being the lives of the family affected. We come to identify with them.
The demon Valek (Bonnie Aarons) is brought on as more of a character here than just something whispering in the background. A demonic nun is just freaky. I would also like to recommend the film The Nun if you have not seen it.
Ostensibly the family is being tormented by the spirit of Bill Wilkins (Bob Adrian), a truly creepy entity who died in a chair in the corner and claims to want his home back. But this involves the supernatural and Bill is just a façade to hide the real threat.
The Conjuring 2 is also based on real events and references some of their actual cases in the narrative but as I always say do not go into any Hollywood film expecting the facts. These are dramatic presentations and sometimes events are altered or changed or just made up in order to heighten the story. I am sure they made up plenty here but that does not make it a bad story. In fact the story is quite good.
Of the real things in this movie, the characters of Maurice Grosse (Simon McBurney) and Anita Gregory (Franka Potente) are among them. They were two real life individuals involved in the Enfield case with Grosse predating the involvement of anyone and are presented much like they were in real life. When it comes to Grosse physically, they were accurate down to the physical appearance.
They certainly get the look of the time period right. They do not beat you over the head with news clippings or television shots or continual references to the date that this story occurs in. They dress the characters appropriately and drop hints to the era in the background. I hate when movies rub your face in the time period in which they are set. It makes me feel as if the narrative itself is weak and the creative minds do not trust the audience to understand when it is going on.
There is no lag or useless material here. Everything contributes to the narrative. The film does not prop itself up on gore or effects. My only issue is that this film came out after it was decided to create The Conjuring horror universe and they force in elements like Annabelle that clicked in the first film that were clearly not even involved here. It is annoying but not harmful. James Wan knows how to create quality horror and now that he appears to be moving away from the genre it will suffer.
The Conjuring 2 is a nice follow up to the first film. It is a somewhat different type of movie but fits in well with that universe. I say watch it!