Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren return to the big screen with yet another case of a supernatural demonic presence. This time, the pair investigate the infamous Enfield Poltergeist, which the film claims was based on a true story.
Whilst this sequel serves more scares and shocks than The Conjuring’s prequel, Annabelle, it cannot match the original. This is largely due to the numerous over-the-top and ludicrous scenes that are more humorous than horrifying. From the poorly CGI’d crooked man to the Patrick Wilson’s cringey Elvis impression, The Conjuring 2 is littered with awkward moments that detract from the otherwise suspenseful and intense setting that director James Wan achieves throughout the rest of the film.
Set in 1977 England, Wan’s presentation of England is also too cliched. The use of The Clash’s London Calling to introduce 1970’s London was unapologetically unimaginative, whilst the scene in which the poltergeist is flicking through the TV channels onto Margaret Thatcher’s televised speech was unnecessary. To top it all off, whilst England is infamous for its rain, the monsoon that showered Enfield throughout the film was excessive to say the least.
Nevertheless, with regards to the horror factor, Wan is certainly within his element in directing The Conjuring 2. His directorial repetoire reads like a halloween filmfest in itself; Saw, Insidious and of course, the original Conjuring, are all films that have shaped the parameters of the horror genre over the past decade. As a result, his previous experience in terrifying movie theatres has paid off – when The Conjuring 2 is scary, it’s extremely scary.
Indeed, The Conjuring 2 is suspenseful, chilling, jumpy and shocking, and Wan’s timing in executing these moments is spot on. Even when you’re expecting a jumpy moment, Wan will expertly catch you off guard, making the whole experience unpredictable and because of this, terrifying.
Both Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson perform as solidly as they did in the original film. Franka Potente also pulls of her role convincingly too as audiences will undoubtedly find her skeptical character to be detestable, as intended. However, the performance which deserves the most credit is Madison Wolfe, who plays possessed 11 year old Janet Hodgson. Not only does she pull of a convincing British accent, but she is also effectively the glue that holds the film together. Her role is certainly demanding and integral to the film, but her performance goes beyond simply doing it justice. Wolfe displays excellence in transforming effortlessly between a shy and timid school girl and being a haunting and horrifying demon. Her interactions with other characters are at times heartbreaking too. Credit must also be given to Frances O’Connor, who plays the single mother of the haunted family.
With regards to the actual plot, The Conjuring 2 wears a bit thin in comparison to its previous films. It’s not made clear exactly why the Hodgson family is being haunted or even why they are being haunted at that specific time, considering they were living their for years already. Nevertheless, as horror movies go, the plot isn’t too farfetched.
On the whole, The Conjuring 2 is probably one of the most terrifying films to hit the big screen this year – and yes, I’m confident in saying that even though we’re only half way into 2016. Whilst there are few laughable scenes, strong performances by the actors and creatively haunting direction from James Wan secures this sequel as a solid horror film in its own right.