“The Conjuring 2” is without a doubt the best horror sequel I have seen to date.
Summer is notorious for two hit or miss horror blockbusters. Thankfully, though, “The Conjuring 2” was a huge hit. Director James Wan continues to prove with this latest installment in the franchise that he can produce quality horror.
“The Conjuring 2” picks up six years after the events of its predecessor in 1977. While investigating the infamous Amityville murders, Ed and Lorraine Warren hold a seance to determine whether demonic possession was a factor. Lorraine has a vision in which Ed dies gruesomely seemingly due to a demonic nun she has not yet encountered. The couple is soon called upon to London, England to investigate a more pressing case. A young girl has shown signs of demonic possession and has been tormenting her family, and it’s up to investigate and put the nightmare to rest.
Let me first say that “The Conjuring 2” is not only a great horror film, but a great film in general. Wan knows how to expertly build tension and dread, even in scenes set in broad daylight. As with its predecessor, this story is based on the journals of the real Warrens and has been dramatized to varying degrees.
While the resulting overarching story is well balanced and gets audiences invested from start to finish, the scares used are where Wan’s directorial touch is most prevalent. A lot of them are easily anticipated, as Wan relies mostly on traditional horror tropes, which could be the divisive factor to this film. It didn’t feel entirely original because it had so many tried and true scare tactics. Nonetheless, Wan was able to pull them off effectively and expertly terrifying to the point that I had trouble driving home alone later after viewing the film.
Two of our three cast MVPs are of course Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, who played Lorraine and Ed respectively. Farmiga has the most expressive face, perfect both for portraying kindness and quiet terror. The audience’s eyes are just drawn to her in group scenes regardless of her number of lines. Wilson, too, is highly expressive, though his strengths lie in conveying concern for his wife and the affected children and his steadfast pursuit of the truth. The two as a working couple are believable and achingly sweet at times. Whether they are working together as a strong-willed, intelligent couple or having quieter character moments, these two actors are always seemingly in their element.
Our third stand out, is Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson, the 11-year-old possessed by a vengeful demon. This is the second film this year to impress me with its child actors, the first being “The Nice Guys.” Wolfe’s role so easily could have sank this film. A child possessed can be the epitome of horror when done well, and Wolfe’s performance gives Linda Blair from “The Exorcist” a run for her money. I was really hoping this film would refrain from over the top make-up on the young girl and rely solely on her acting chops to convey the violent possession, but the make-up as a practical effect turned out to make the transformation for me. With purple-yellow skin reminiscent of a corpse, the effect was subtle and and helped sell me on her performance along side the quick, jerky body movements and gruesomely bared teeth.
This film was brilliantly done, due to both the cast’s and the crew’s palpable passion for the project. It could have done with less obvious scare tactics, but what we were given were of the highest caliber. Whether you believe in the supernatural and the validity of these case files or not, this film will haunt you for days to come.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars