I was a huge fan of 2013’s The Conjuring so I was eager to find out if The Conjuring 2 will pack some surprises, but I’ve watched enough sequels to know that chances of it being better, or to be less ambitious, just being as good as its predecessor is almost impossible. James Wan (director of The Conjuring and Insidious) proved me wrong.
Those who’ve watched The Conjuring will feel a bit of a déjà vu as the movie starts with real-life paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) investigating the famous Amityville case where Lorraine has a out of body experience which leads her to a scene that will hint that Ed’s days are numbered. Lorraine has kept this vision to herself but has made Ed promise that they will not be involved in another paranormal investigation which Lorraine believes will fulfil the prophecy.
The story shifts to Enfield, England where we meet the Hodgson family. Peggy (Frances O’Connor) is a troubled single mother with four kids. One of the girls, Janet (Madison Wolfe) begins to sleepwalk, hearing sounds in the middle of the night and eventually gets terrorized and possessed by the spirit of an old man named Bill who used to live and died in the very same house. Wolfe did a good job projecting a terrified young girl and so convincingly possessed to a point where there are times I doubt she was acting.
Wan follows a similar sequence as he did for The Conjuring. First a distressed family, followed by small scares like doors opening by themselves and toys moving across the corridor when no one is playing with them, building up to bigger scares and finally climaxes to the ones that convinces everyone including once-skeptics that a full blown haunting is happening. It may seem used, but the build up was credible and absolutely worth it when the final scare happens. It also allows time for the audience to get familiarised with the characters and share their intensifying fear with every lingering shot of a dark corner.
The Warrens on the other hand are experiencing some spooky occurrences which involves an unnamed entity that both Ed and Lorraine have seen in their dreams.
It was almost one third into the movie before the Warrens finally got news of the haunting and arrives in London and we all heave a sigh of relief because it’s about time this poor family gets some saving.
Wilson and Farmiga delivers a solid performance but that was hardly a surprise. Wilson performing an impressive cover of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling In Love” was the big surprise. The guy can sing! That being said, despite the movie running 134 minutes long, it was unfortunate that none of the other children and even O’Connor’s character gets to shine much and because of that, it becomes hard to resonate with them at times.
Wan does a good job playing with camera angles and modernizing jump scares. The scares are fast and short, and although not as much as the first movie, are solid and skillfully executed. Perhaps the most effective scares are still the ones that are overused and old school. One particular scene of Janet hiding in fear under her covers with her flashlight had me gripping on to the arms of my seat.
Was it was good as the 2013 The Conjuring? No, it was lacking in a solid storyline that the first movie had. But as a standalone, it was great.
But was it scary? Hell yes, it was one hell of a scary ride. If Wan’s only intention was to scare, he has succeeded tremendously. There’ll be much to look forward to if there is The Conjuring 3.