The Conjuring 2, 2016.
Directed by James Wan.
Starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Madison Wolfe, Frances O’Connor and Simon McBurney.
Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.
Following up 2013’s supremely chilling The Conjuring was always going to be a difficult task but James Wan has managed to deliver an intensely scary piece of film that is nearly as good as the first.
Opening in arguably one of the most famous haunted houses ever; we find Ed and Lorraine Warren attempting to contact spirits at Amityville. Within the first ten minutes The Conjuring 2 manages to deliver edge of your seat scares, coupled with phenomenal direction from Wan. We see Lorraine (Farmiga) walking through the Amityville property, carrying out the crimes that have become so famous. It’s well acted and a perfect way to set the tone for what’s to come.
After this harrowing sequence, Ed and Lorraine decide to stop taking on cases and avoid the fame that they have attracted. We then cut to 1970s North London. Meticulously recreated and filtered to look grey, dark and dingy, it’s a far cry from the grandeur usually associated with haunted house horrors. The “Enfield Haunting” followed the Hodgson family and specifically their daughter Janet (Wolfe) who experienced numerous strange goings on. The family are close knit and feel genuine, despite the slight Eastenders vibe you get from them.
Wan excels at making a small end of terrace house feel huge, cold and empty and there is an element of dread from the first shot. As the children wander the house in the dark, Wan keeps the wide frame so that the audience can pick up everything that’s going on. So many horrors rely so much on loud noise jump scares that they never build any sense of dread. This is not the case here. The Conjuring 2 is a frightening film that will have you jumping out of your seat when needed, but it also keeps the tension bubbling away throughout.
Another standout sequence takes place in the Warren’s house. Lorraine is plagued by the spirit from Amityville and in a masterfully crafted scene she comes up against the “Dark Nun” that we saw teased in the promos. Using a painting and a slightly darkened room, Wan creates an innovative and horrifying sequence that had many people in the cinema jumping or cowering from the screen. Farmiga is perfect throughout the whole film but in this sequence in particular she is tremendous.
The run time does work against it in the second act. It feels like it takes an age for Ed and Lorraine to turn up in London and the tension does start to wane a tad. That is until the big finale which is scary as hell. The resolution falls into the standard horror trope of convenience and ex machina but it doesn’t deter from the terror that cinemagoers will feel watching this film.
The quieter, non-horror moments are also handled well. A sweet and innocent scene of Ed (Wilson) playing the guitar and singing an Elvis song to the kids is a reprieve for them and reinforces the gravity of their situation. It’s a nice moment amongst the horror and demonstrates that Wan can be subtle and relish the quiet moments in a film.
Whilst not as perfect as its predecessor, The Conjuring 2 demonstrates that Wan is a modern master of horror and a force to be reckoned with. He respects his audience, he doesn’t rely on cheap scares and he has made a worthy sequel with great performances and a terrifying new villain which I’m sure will be imitated for years to come.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Helen Murdoch is a freelance writer – Follow me on Twitter