Director James Wan delivers a delicious scare-fare with The Conjuring 2 and this time, it takes place in good ol’ London. Here’s our review.
The latest instalment of the horror franchise The Conjuring is here and this time, it’s double the ghost and double the scare.
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente
Direction: James Wan
Rarely are sequels better than their predecessors. When it comes to horror films, that is even rarer. But James Wan and his gang have delivered a really well-made The Conjuring 2 that is consistently engaging, definitely better than the first part, and this time, things are not just scary, but at times, funny as well.
That’s right. Of the many good things about The Conjuring 2, one is its sense of humour. In a very early scene in the movie, two girls (one of who is later haunted) are caught smoking a cigarette by their teacher who shoos them away, only to smoke it secretly, drawing huge laughs from the audience.
In another scene, one of the ghosts actually cracks a Knock Knock joke, before admitting, on camera, that his sole purpose of haunting the family is to hear them scream; nothing more, nothing less. Later, when the same ghost, in the body of a young girl is asked to clarify his reasons for being, he is too shy to speak with everyone looking at him, so he requests everyone to look away while he presents his case.
This time, paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively) travel to London to investigative poltergeist activity in the Hodgson household. The change of scenery from a farmhouse in the middle of a sparse, isolated landscape in the first movie to a house in a densely populated London borough is refreshing.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as the Warrens
Consequently, there is a lot of media attention on the haunting as it becomes a more public affair, and all the noise and gossip surrounding the event adds a semblance of reality to the proceedings. In other words, you feel more invested.
But the most interesting thing about The Conjuring 2 is that there are two ghosts haunting the characters this time.
One, the aforementioned ghost, is the spirit of an old, cranky man who refuses to leave the haunted house and shows up at inopportune moments behind children, shouting, “This is my house”, and scaring them. He is more or less a troll in the scheme of things.
The other is a more sinister, cruel and crafty “inhuman” presence who looks like Marilyn Manson in nun’s clothes, with terrible dental hygiene. You wouldn’t want to mess with that.
A still from The Conjuring 2
There’s another character in the movie, tall and dressed in a pink suit and bowl hat, who shows up twice to scare the kids, and disappears without a trace; it’s not clear whether this is a separate character.
Wan uses a lot of devices to drive home the point that yes, you are in “fish, chips, cup ‘o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary f**king Poppins…London! “. The introduction to the London business begins with a montage of documentary-like clips featuring footage of the Sex Pistols, 1978 trade union riots, and of course, the Queen – all set to London Calling by The Clash.
The movie is peppered with 60s pop hits (I Started A Joke by Bee Gees, Bus Stop by The Hollies) and includes a beautiful montage that has Ed Warren playing Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love With You on the guitar, to help the scared family relax, and this sequence is inter-cut with the Warrens’ colleagues investigating throughout the house.
The biggest asset of The Conjuring 2 is that it respects the craft of and displays quality writing, thanks to the tried-and-tested horror film writing team of Wan and the Hayes brothers, who worked together on the first movie, along with screenwriter David Leslie Jones (writer of Orphan and The Walking Dead).
The Conjuring 2 has some particularly scary sequences
Contemporary mainstream Hollywood horror movies, such as they are, resort to same old ‘gotcha’ scares and gimmicky CGI. Thankfully, The Conjuring 2 uses ‘gotcha’ scares in new, exciting ways (watch out for a scene in a flooded basement). Wan and cinematographer Don Burgess (Cast Away, The Polar Express), to their credit, reinvent ways to shoot and present standard horror movie scenes in a new way. At times, the camera floats over the characters, zoom in suddenly from a distance and then drift away, creating an immersive feel, similar to sections from David Fincher’s Panic Room and Emmanuel Lubezki’s work.
From the perspective of craft, The Conjuring 2 is a good, well-written-and-directed, classic entertainer. If you are looking for cheap thrills, you might want to skip this. But if you are in for a good movie-watching experience and wouldn’t mind a few chills, go for it.