The Conjuring 2 Review
James Wan cranks up the scares in this delightfully dark sequel to The Conjuring
Based on the supposedly true events of the Enfield haunting in 1970s London, James Wan returns with another sure-fire hit.James Wan's previous film The Conjuring was extremely successful worldwide, with the biggest opening ever for an original horror film. It went on to generate over $319 million worldwide and remains one of the highest grossing original horror films, second only to The Exorcist. In The Conjuring we last saw demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) helping a family battle with a malevolent force at a remote farm house in Harrisville, Rhode Island. Fast forward seven years and it’s 1977, and we meet our couple once again, this time in the middle of a séance in Amityville. It’s during this séance that Lorraine encounters a dark, terrifying entity which would have a lasting effect on the couple, resulting in Lorraine’s refusal to take on any more cases.In Enfield, North London, single mother of four Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) struggles to cope with an absent husband refusing to pay any support whilst she’s trying to manage a household of young children. It’s not long before some strange happenings start afflicting Peggy’s youngest daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe) but Peggy initially puts it down to her two daughters scaring themselves by meddling with a homemade spirit board. However, it doesn’t take long for the paranormal phenomena to escalate and begin targeting every member of the Hodgson family, with a particularly sinister focus on Janet. Peggy initially goes to the police, before receiving help from experts in the field Anita Gregory (Franka Potente) and Maurice Grosse (Simon McBurney)
However nothing manages to rid the Hodgson family of the entity that is infesting their home. Attracting a lot of attention from the media the Hodgson’s are accused of faking everything and find themselves with nowhere to turn until Father Gordon (Steve Coulter) brings the case to the attention of the Warrens. Reluctant to take on the case at first, the Warrens agree to go to London for a few days just to observe the supposedly strange goings on and report back to the church. Upon their arrival at the Hodgson home Ed and Lorraine quickly begin their routine investigation and soon discover that what is plaguing the Hodgson home is far darker and more evil than any thing they have yet encountered.
There is a lot going on in The Conjuring 2 which all culminates in the film's finale. The entity haunting the house soon transpires to have dark intentions, manipulating anyone who gets close to it and revealing itself in many guises. Playing on the innocence of childhood this dark force invades seemingly harmless objects and brings them to life in an effort to rid the house of anyone who can banish it. Likewise, Lorraine is made to face her own demons and rely on the strength and courage from her partnership with Ed and her own faith if anyone is to come out of this unscathed.
James Wan’s follow up to The Conjuring contains all the elements that made that film so brilliantly terrifying, whilst managing to up the ante by refusing to give in completely to all the traditional horror film tropes. Wan replicated the house from the original Enfield case in a studio, which allowed him and his camera crew to really showcase the space. When combined with production designer Julie Berghoff’s creativity, the house is remarkably successful in delivering a space that permeates with a supernatural presence. Wan’s affinity with long tracking shots gives the film a fluidity which not only aids in showing the family in their natural surroundings but also creates a sense of something constantly following and surrounding them, all of which contributes to the look and feel of the film. Through this utilisation of frequent tracking shots and doing as much in camera as possible, including many of the special effects, Wan is able to sustain tension with the scares never coming when they're expected.
The dark elements of this film are sure to seep into your subconscious
Reprising their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren, Wilson and Farmiga brilliantly portray the strong-willed and determined couple we saw in The Conjuring. Both are forced to bring a deeper and more dynamic feel to the characters they play, which results in an intense and authentic performance on both parts equally. Madison Wolfe is brilliant as Janet and truly creates the sense that her character is beleaguered by this unseen force determined to take a hold of her. Playing the older sister Margaret, Lauren Esposito does remain in the background at times but manages to convey the protectiveness of her sister and family at all times. Benjamin Haigh and Patrick McAuley play the younger brothers Billy and Johnny respectively and, like Esposito, are in smaller roles but ones that demand stamina and the ability to portray fear and apprehension in such a manner so as to really get the audience to feel what they feel. Frances O’Connor’s representation of Peggy Hodgson is exactly what you would expect of a mother who’s daughter is the target of something this horrific. Forced to watch Janet go through this traumatic ordeal O’Conner believably plays a mother at her wits' end unable to put a stop to whatever it is tormenting her daughter.
With help from the real life Lorraine Warren and members from the Hodgson family, including Janet, Wan is able to really deliver a true sense of what the Hodgson family went through. Through spending time with Lorraine, Farmiga and Wilson have managed to hone their representation of the couple down to the smallest details, ranging from their costumes to Ed’s lighthearted rendition of an Elvis number. This great care and attention to detail really pays off and results in a truly atmospheric and tense horror film. Nothing is quite what it seems and with jumps and scares lurking around every corner, it’ll have your heart pounding and nerves rattled.
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