THE CONJURING 2 (USA/15A/134mins)
Directed by James Wan. Starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon Delaney, Madison Wolfe.
THE PLOT: When a London family is the focus of a violent and unpredictable haunting, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren find themselves travelling across the world to try and find out whether the events experienced by the young Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe) and her family are real or an elaborate hoax. Battling ghosts and visions of their own, the Warrens find themselves drawn into the case, but struggle to find out what is targeting the family, and why.
THE VERDICT: ‘The Conjuring 2’ is the follow up to the immensely successful film ‘The Conjuring’, and, as with the first film, follows stories taken from the case files of real life demon hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren. ‘The Conjuring 2’ is inspired by the true story of the Enfield Poltergeist – which was first reported in 1977, as was the subject of a Sky TV drama last year – but while the true story seems to have been a hoax, ‘The Conjuring 2’ takes this ghost story and ramps it up for the big screen.
The cast of ‘The Conjuring 2’ are strong in their roles; Frances O’Connor plays Peggy Hodgson, the head of the family and a single mother struggling to cope on her own. The kids are played by Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh and Patrick McAuley, with Madison Wolfe taking centre stage as the haunted and traumatised Janet. Wolfe makes Janet a compelling character, and excels in striking the balance between creepy and fear. Returning to their roles as demon hunters, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga work well together; Wilson the more strong and unwavering of the two, while Farmiga makes Lorraine’s fears and visions feel relatable and engaging. Two Irish actors, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Simon Delaney, turn up as the Hodgson’s neighbours and friends, Peggy and Vic Nottingham.
As mentioned, Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, James Wan and David Johnson’s screenplay is inspired by the true events of Enfield in the 1970s. There are differences between the true story and the film, since everything has been heightened in the film for dramatic effect and to give the audience good, old fashioned scares. There is a lovely contrast drawn between the Warrens and the Hodgsons, as both families are fighting their own demons that are seemingly unconnected. The screenplay is also a careful look at the troubles of those on lower incomes, as the Hodgson family cannot afford to move out of their haunted house, so must either spend their time sleeping on the floor of friends’ living rooms or go back and face their fears; moving into a new home is not an option. The final act of the film amps up the scares, the jumps and the creepy kids, but although these are standard horror movie tropes, the film does not over use them, instead using these familiar themes to its advantage.
As director, James Wan takes a true story and makes it bigger and scarier for the big screen. There are less jump scares than a creeping feeling of unease that permeates the entire film, leaving the audience on edge and almost waiting for the big frights to ease the tension. The film is rather slow to begin with, with the Warrens and the Hodgsons not meeting until an hour in, and although this time is given to develop family dynamics and explore the fears that motivate the people at the centre of the story, this means that the film is drawn out to 133 minutes, and the pacing often drops and then the film awkwardly jumps through time to catch up with the haunted house tale.
In all, however, ‘The Conjuring 2’ is a confident and smart horror film that tries to stay away from atmospheric tropes and obvious scares, instead being carefully infused with a feel of dread and anticipation. The cast do well in their roles, with Farmiga and Wilson standing out as they make their relationship warm and complex, and young Madison Wolfe making Janet Hodgson almost effortlessly creepy. The pacing drops from time to time, but warmer moments keep the film moving, as does the careful exploration of what constitutes a hoax.
RATING: 4/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

The Conjuring 2
Review by Brogen Hayes
4.0Confident and smart
  • emerb

    After “Insidious” and “The Conjuring”, skilled horror-director James Wan returns with another gripping supernatural chiller, “The Conjuring 2”, a sequel to the 2013 sleeper hit and set 7 years after the ghostly goings-on with the so-called Amityville Horror. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as real-life demonologists, the Warrens, but this time they are tackling the Enfield haunting case that gripped London in the late 1970s. The film weaves both the Warrens’
    story with that of the Hodgsons, a working class London family who find themselves tormented by chilling events in their house and who are being menaced by undead spirits.

    Clairvoyant Lorraine Warren (Farmiga) wants to take a break from case work, because she has been shaken by a vision she had during their Amityville investigation (we see this chilling sequence at the start of the movie). She is particularly troubled by a dark vision foretelling the death of her husband Ed (Wilson) and she thinks it’s a sign that they must stop their investigations into paranormal phenomena. However, the Catholic Church requests their assessment of a very troubling situation in England and they are persuaded to provide their services once more.

    Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) is a single mother taking care of her four children. They live in a crumbling, gloomy council house where the father has abandoned them and life is both bleak and uncertain. Raising four children is difficult enough, but once their new home is visited by a sinister force that insists the house is his, Peggy can no longer continue to live in this nightmare. Terror that has gripped them all since the youngest daughter Janet (a very toothy Madison Wolfe) has been plagued by an apparition who has possessed her. She suffers from sleepless nights, she’s tossed about, levitated and haunted. The
    demons rip off her bed covers, turn a wall of crucifixes upside down, and, eventually, start speaking right through her. Added to that, they experience rattlings, clatterings and appartions of an old man around the house, so the Warrens arrive as a source of hope and stability for them. After investigations,
    the Warrens remain open-minded but unconvinced about their troubles and
    certainly cannot persuade parapsychologist Anita Gregory (Franka Potente)
    that it is anything more than an elaborate hoax.

    Both Farmiga and Wilson make a believable married couple whose bond is strengthened by their unusual line of work. Farmiga is particularly good as the film winds toward its tense climax and she gives a performance that’s appropriately histrionic and scary. Along with an excellent Madison Wolfe, as the 11-year-old girl who’s tormented by the spirit, the cast is uniformly very good and work well together to create a suitably atmospheric 1970’s feeling.

    Director James Wan has really upped the ante with this excellent sequel. It might be just another haunted-house demonic-possession movie but, for me, it stands above the rest. The original movie was a surprise hit in 2013 making $318 million worldwide on a reported budget of only $20 million and while this follow up might not reach those heights, horror fans will be delighted. Normally this is not a genre I would choose to see as I’m a cynic and not easily ruffled. However, there
    are many solid and effective scares, Wan has expert timing and the camera work is superb with lurking shots and short sharp shocks. Rather than outright gore, the film works by a sense of dread and terror. It’s a smart and convincing creepy story of a real life-haunting, and for a genre that often fails miserably, this is a horror worth watching.

  • filmbuff2011

    Having succesfully kept the Fast & Furious franchise running smoothly after a bumpy journey along the way, James Wan returns in style to the genre that made his name. And what better way to return than re-visiting the real-life paranormal investigators that featured in his genuinely unnerving frightfest The Conjuring?

    Having dealt with the infamous Amityville case, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren are taking time out to depressurise. Lorraine is beginning to feel that this line of work should come with a health warning. Plagued by visions of her husband’s possible death, she starts to see a pale, dark presence in their house. Ed has seen it too, though only in a dream. What does it want? Meanwhile, in the London borough of Enfield, single mother Peggy (Frances O’Connor) is raising her four young children in an old, suburban house. Her 11-year-old daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe) starts to experience something supernatural in the house. She’s terrorised by an entity who wants to control her. It comes in the form of an old man who died in the house many years before. At her wit’s end, Peggy believes her and seeks help from the Church. Enter Ed and Lorraine, who are initially sceptical. But within this house lies a very dark, very evil presence that might just kill them this time around…

    Like all good sequels, The Conjuring 2 builds upon the firm foundations laid by the first film. It then rocks them, and the audience, to the core, shattering any illusions as to what a typical horror film might be. Whereas many modern horrors simply aren’t scary (e.g. The Darkness recently), Wan knows how to build tension to breaking point while barely letting the audience have time to breathe. That’s the strength of a great horror film – it’s relentless in its aim to scare the living daylights out of you. Wan certainly achieves that, even unsettling a seasoned gorehound like this one. The scares are timed so perfectly and precision-engineered that they have you holding onto the edge of your seat waiting for the release (which doesn’t always come). Much like Steven Spielberg, Wan knows how to work an audience as he maniacally controls the levers and switches on his breathtaking rollercoaster.

    Another benefit of the film is in the deep, involving relationship between Ed and Lorraine. Knowing that these are real-life investigators adds a layer of authenticity. It also helps to have two very fine actors in Wilson and Farmiga keeping the audience guessing as to whether the Enfield haunting is really just a hoax, or something altogether prime evil. There’s a firm sense throughout that even the Warrens might be out of their depth on this one. That makes it even more engaging and frightening. Wan has delivered a pitch-perfect sequel that ups the ante and puts other recent horrors to shame. Even the longer-than-normal runtime for a horror film passes without notice, as Wan doesn’t waste a minute of it. The Conjuring 2 leaves you in much the same state as its characters – drained, exhausted, put through the ringer, terrified of the unknown and reaching for the light… A superior sequel that packs a major punch. Highly recommended. ****

  • dainiux79

    Supernatural demonic spirits arise in North London, continuing the scary franchise.