The expected unexpected: “The Conjuring 2”  

From a lush garden, through an arched window, across a cluttered room, down an unassuming staircase and straight into the mind of ghost chaser Lorraine Warren. And inside of it – quietness.

No, the opening sequence of the Post to Post Links II error: No link found for term slug "Conjuring 2" is not silent. But when you go to horror movies that unravel preternatural plots, you half expect malfunctions of this sort. “At least, it is color,” a man from the around 100-strong audience joked.

“Envision yourself in a halo of bright light,” Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) instructs several people, hunkered over a round table, when the sound finally came through in the hall. That aimed to keep them safe if  a demon appeared.

con2-2nd-trl-88553Well, it definitely did not protect her and husband Ed (Patrick Wilson), the film’s protagonists – and real-life demonologists – who, in 1977, jaunt to Enfield, England to save the poor Hodgsons from the incessant torment of an evil spirit. It is another sensational case from the Warrens’ presumably truthful, eerie archives, which initially opened on the silver screen in 2013 with The Conjuring, one of the highest-grossing films of its hair-rising genre.  

Hopes are high for the sequel that reignites the creative chemistry between Oscar nominee Farmiga (Up in the Air) and two-time Tony Award contender Wilson (The Full Monty). Back are the first picture’s screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes as well as its director James Wan, who, despite taking a fast detour with Furious 7, has excelled in horrorthink of Saw and the Insidious series. The cast also features budding 13-year old thespian Madison Wolfe (Trumbo), slipping under the skin of the possessed Janet Hodgson, and British actress Frances O’Connor (The Hunter), channeling the despondent single mother Peggy Hodgson who raises her four children in a terraced house with a dark past.  

con2-fp-028Although dissecting an independent spectral storyline, The Conjuring 2 hints at its predecessor in a string of subtle references – from sleep walking to music boxes-turned-paranormal Pandoras to impoverished ghost-plighted families to chilly basements clamored with junks and apparitions. Some additions, nevertheless, do freshen up the rather familiar narrative – Ed’s paintings, the Hodgson’s British accent and audiences’ peeks inside Lorraine’s visions among others.

Yet, do not expect anything out of this world. The movie’s glum, tense atmosphere – conveyed through long, lingering tracking shots a la Martin Scorsese, quick editing and superb special effects – would probably hasten your heart rate several times. However, The Conjuring 2 is no different from any other horror flick – genuine scare proves hard to muster. In fact, in the 134 minutes in which the film slowly crept toward its life-or-death climax, only once did I spring in my seat, startled. (And that was not during its finale.) Not to mention that viewers’ giggles often rang through some of the supposedly spookiest moments.

The Conjuring 2 is definitely a horror for mass consumption. So, grab some popcorn, which is likely to finish even before Warner Bros’ opening salvos thunder, and fret not: the sun always beams back after bleak times. It is only a fortuity that The Conjuring 2, most outdoor scenes of which depict rainy Britain, hits the screen in the week when tropical storm Colin pelts northern Florida. Or maybe it is not.   – by: Dima Vitanova

Grade: B
Release date: June 10, 2016
Running time: 2 hours and 14 minutes
Rated R for terror and horror violence
Director: James Wan

Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson
Frances O’Connor as Peggy Hodgson
Lauren Esposito as Margaret Hodgson
Benjamin Haigh as Billy Hodgson
Patrick McAuley as Johnny Hodgson
Simon McBurney as Maurice Grosse
Franka Potente as Anita Gregory
Bob Adrian as Bill Wilkins

             After everything that we’ve seen, there isn’t much that rattles either of us anyone.

                                                But this one, this one, still haunts me.

In 1977, shortly after their investigation of The Amityville Horror case, the Ed and Lorraine Warren are called upon by a Catholic priest to investigate an alleged haunting in Enfield, England. Peggy Hodgson, a single mother, and her four children reside in a council house on Green Street. After several peculiar events have occurred in the house, the family notices that the youngest daughter, Janet, is behaving strangely. Their neighbors accept them into their home when the activity becomes unbearable and recommend that they seek the help of the church. In order to gain approval from the church to perform an exorcism, the Warrens must gather evidence that the haunting is genuine. Lorraine begins her investigation by warming up to Janet while Ed performs some much needed repairs in the house. Local paranormal investigator, Maurice Grosse, provides evidence that he has gathered in the case and asks the entity to reveal itself to the Warrens. Despite the many signs that something is not right with the case, Lorraine does not sense that there is an entity in the Hodgson house. Also, local parapsychologist, Anita Gregory, provides video footage to debunk the family’s claims. As the Warrens are preparing to return home, Ed discovers that there may be more to the story….much more.

              Something inhuman wants to kill you. If we keep doing this, you are going to die.

MK1_1866.dngJames Wan returns to direct another true story from the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren. His passion for directing horror films is evident in the spine chilling result of his creation. The premise that an innocent family is subjected not only to terror but also to outsiders that are determined to prove that their experiences are a hoax is cleverly laid out for the audience to draw their own conclusions. After extensive research, I feel that Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga truly bring the life ambition of the Warrens to life. Having worked with A-List actors such as Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Bryan Cranston, and Diane Lane, Madison Wolfe is very impressive as the 11 year old child who is being targeted by an oppressing spirit. Frances O’Connor and Simon McBurney also stand out in their supporting roles. Their acting is so believable that, at times, the film seems like a documentary instead of a movie based on a true story. As a period piece, the attention to detail in recreating a 1970’s home along with the soundtrack expertly created the necessary atmosphere to raise the hair on my arms and send a chill up my spine. I am also over critical of sequels yet this one was very satisfying. The Conjuring 2 is a solid horror film that should not be overlooked by any horror fan. Grab your comfort food and levitate into the theater to catch this one. ~Movie Buffette

About Dima Vitanova