Today: February 28, 2024

The Conjuring 2

It is interesting that throughout cinema the same ‘based on true event’ ghost stories keep cropping up. Anyone would think there is a lack of them around which to focus a film. Thankfully for The Conjuring 2 it manages to cram not one but two of, arguably, the most famous hauntings in history, or at least movie history.

The film opens with a James Bond like intro of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), the paranormal investigators from the first film, in none other than The Amityville Horror House. With the ghostbusting taking a particular toll on Lorraine the pair retreat to their home with the intention of taking a step back from the ghouls that lurk in the shadows.

In actual fact this is more an excuse for sidelining the Warrens for a long period of time in order to get round to this installment’s creepy house. So across The Pond we fly to Enfield, England where we meet the Hodgson family. Mother Peggy (Frances O’Connor) has money concerns which soon pale in comparisons to worries for her daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe). Because what starts as a mild case of sleepwalking soon turns into something altogether more creepy when she begins to talk in the voice of an old creepy man called Bill.

It’s here the film is at its best. Slowly building the creeps director James Wan, now so versed in horror franchises between The Conjuring and Insidious you wonder if he has made a pact with Gozer The Destroyer, eeks out wonderful atmospherics. Everything is depressingly mouldy, paint peeling and on the verge of being condemned.

As Bill gradually makes his appearance felt The Conjuring 2 magics up a slow-build creep and some well timed jumps. The issues arise that you cannot help but think something is missing. Wan obviously did too because we’re then whisked back to the good old US of A to meet up with the Warrens, a moment of “hey, remember these guys are actually in it, and in fact the protagonists” writing.   

It’s well into an hour before the Warrens arrive in Blighty. And by the time they do there’s a sense that the chills have dried up. The atmosphere remains but it’s no longer scary. The Warrens are so confident in dealing with this sort of thing, kind of like a supermarket stacker absentmindedly putting cans of beans on the shelf, they act as a comfort blanket from the horror. This all in spite of an attempt to shoehorn in some tension through Lorraine’s visions, which only really works in keeping you mildly on the edge come the climax.

When it works The Conjuring 2 is a smart little supernatural thriller but it’s running time means it drags at points and feels disjointed. A fun little shocker that gets bogged down by too much plot and not enough horror.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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