Director: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga & Madison Wolfe
Synopsis: Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by a malicious spirit.
Rating: 15 Duration: 134 minutes Release date: 17 October (UK)
The Conjuring was a delight, in the only way a horror film can be, when it hit cinemas three years ago. It spooked audiences all the way to over $100 million at the US box office and had done enough to earn a spin-off; Annabelle and its sequel The Conjuring 2. James Wan returns to direct, as do Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren. The Conjuring 2 is a similar beast to the original, but works well enough on its own to be an accomplished horror, even if it doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessor.
The film starts off in a long-familiar house where the Warrens are attempting to rid a family in Amityville of the horrors that have besieged their home. During a séance, Lorraine witnesses a cloaked figure walk around the house, seemingly there to dish out some ominous message; that her husband will die a gruesome death. After the Amityville case, Lorraine wants them both to stop what they are doing, in the hope that her vision does not become reality. Unfortunately for the Warrens, they are soon instructed by the church to investigate a similar case in Enfield, England.
The set-up here is largely similar to that of the original The Conjuring. The Warrens are asked to help out a family under threat from supernatural happenings and embark on a terrifying ordeal to rid the family of the ghosts which haunt them. What sets The Conjuring films apart from other horror films is the fact that we feel like we actually care about what happens to these characters, not just the Warrens, but the families they are helping too. Director James Wan, spends time with the characters and that builds a relationship between the film and the audience in a way that doesn’t get replicated enough on the big screen.
Caring for the characters is one thing, but a horror film has to scare the audience as well as the characters that inhabit it. To say that The Conjuring 2 bears an over-similarity to the first film would not be a wholly dishonest assessment of the film. Rather than copy the scares, which would be cheap, The Conjuring 2 seems instead to copy the nature of events from the The Conjuring. It sets a tone for a film that can feel it’s too reliant on its roots to attempt anything different. But, then again, is that not the point and hasn’t Wan given us exactly what we wanted? If we weren’t after a sense of familiarity here, wouldn’t we instead be watching something else?
Wan is an intelligent director and knows what audiences are after when they come to see big Hollywood style horrors at the cinema. He is a master of using dark corners and making you feel completely unsafe in any scenario, which makes his films unpredictable too. When you feel like something is going to jump out at you it won’t and when you feel like you can sit back for a moment, Wan pulls you back in and raises the hairs on the back of your neck once again. To be able to do this consistently shows just how good a director Wan has become.
Fans of the first film will likely love what The Conjuring 2 offers and will be pleased with another solid entry in an ever-growing franchise. Yet, those who are well-versed in horror may see too much that they have seen before and be put off by the sense of being there done that. And it is true that The Conjuring 2 can seem a little rote and doesn’t have the zing of the first film, but this is still a very well made horror that will not let you relax until the credits have rolled.
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