In 2013 “The Conjuring” came along like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise bland and stale horror genre. The film used some familiar approaches, but it also featured a good, creepy story and two very compelling characters. It was a wonderful horror picture and a surprise box office hit. With a modest $20 million budget the film managed to earn $320 million which pretty much guarantees a sequel in today’s Hollywood.
Now it is 2016, the horror genre is still pretty bland and stale, and along comes “The Conjuring 2” to give it another swift kick in the pants. James Wan returns to direct and co-write this second installment of the terrifying adventures of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. This time he is give $40 million and already the film seems on track to bring in a big return.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as the Warrens this time six years after the events of the first film. It is 1976 and they are fresh off their most publicized case in Amityville, New York. During the encounter Lorraine experiences a horrifying vision which haunts her well after the case ends. Due to her fears the couple agree to step away from their supernatural investigations.
One year later a single mother named Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) and her four children believe they are being haunted by a violent spirit in their London council house. The Catholic Church asks Ed and Lorraine to go to London to see if there is any validity to the claims. Upon arrival they find that the spirit seems to have targeted 11 year-old Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe). The Warrens witness a series of anomalies and must determine the true cause.
The Warren characters we get may be fictionalized versions of the real people, but Wilson and Farmiga bring such personality to each. They still have the same wonderful chemistry and the script smartly manages to further explore their relationship through the events they are experiencing. Their mutual love and faithfulness is something refreshing and unique. I love these two characters and the two performances.
A surprising amount of attention is given to the Hodgson family. Some may struggle with Wan’s pacing, but he intentionally spends time developing their relationships, their social and economic struggles, and of course the frightening things that begin happening in their home. They are easy for us to care for. The writers simply don’t allow them to be disposable characters.
But first and foremost this is a horror movie and thankfully it is every bit as good as its predecessor. The film has its share of jump scares which Wan can build up to better than anyone. But he is more focused on the unsettling creepiness of what his audience sees. So many moments brim with tension simply based on the way Wan deliberately orchestrates the scene or moves his camera. And once again he doesn’t have to rely on blood and gore despite the film’s R rating.
“The Conjuring 2” is a superb sequel that delivers another genuinely spooky experience. It employs several familiar horror movies devices, but as with the first film it uses them in its own unique way. There is a very old-fashioned horror movie approach to these films that I adore. The sequel wisely embraces that formula while also telling another compelling story from the Warren’s casebook. I’m often hesitant when it comes to horror sequels, but if Wan and company can continue this type of quality I’m anxious to see where Ed and Lorraine go next.
A very satisfactory follow up. I liked the pacing a lot. You want to care about the subjects of the story and understand their situation. The Warrens are a key ingredient in making the story telling work. Their absence was one of the weaknesses of Annabelle.
Soooo true. Annabelle was underwhelming for a variety reasons but one is definitely the absence of the Warrens. I really went for this one. I liked the first one a lot and this one just as much if not better.
So glad you enjoyed this! I am looking forward to catching this sometime soon. I expected it to be a bit flat, but the reviews have come back that it is actually a really good sequel.
It is a really strong sequel. Did you like the first film? I think this is a solid companion to it. Some have had a problem with the longer running time. I actually liked it because that extra time went into character building which I really appreciated.
I really enjoyed the first film. Ah, I don’t have a problem with a longer runtime, provided it is used for something useful (like character building, as you have said).
Good! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.
Ahhhh! I need to see this so badly before it gets pulled from theaters!! The first one was terrifying! Nice post!
Thanks. I liked the first one too and this a very worthwhile sequel. Much like the first film this one has a very old school flavor to it. Did you like Farmiga and Wilson in the first movie? I think they are the key ingredient to its success.
Yes! They are absolutely fantastic together.
Agreed. And I like the way they are handling this series. Not so much direct sequels but case files from their experiences. Smart approach.
Loved this one too and I so agree about the wonderful relationship and the chemistry between the Warrens. It gives both movies so much heart and that ending was absolutely beautiful
YES! Loved the ending as well. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m all onboard with this series. They have a great formula and hopefully Wan will stay involved.
I’ve been hearing how good this one is, but man even seeing the trailer of the first movie scared the heck out of me Keith!
Btw, I’ll check out your ‘Pets’ review once I posted mine. So we can compare notes then 🙂
It’s reaally good Ruth. I liked the first one a lot but having such a high quality horror sequel was kind of amazing. This one really works. And you have to love Farmiga and Wilson.
Anxious to read your thoughts on “Pets”. We will definitely compare thoughts.
I like Farmiga a lot, glad she has a franchise that utilizes her talents. Yeah, I’ll post my review tomorrow 🙂
And as I was telling someone else, I really like how they are doing this series. Not back to back sequels but actually individual case files. It seems like there is a lot they can do with that.
Ah yes, they built each film to stand on its own. Man, if only more studios think that way, instead of forcing everything for sequels, so the story doesn’t feel complete until you see film 2,3,4, etc.
Great review. I really liked the first one, but I’m yet to see the Conjuring 2. I’ve only heard good things about it so looking forward to it.
Thanks Liam. Really impressed with this one. If you liked the first film this is mandatory viewing. And it still maintains that old school flavor. Loved it.
For once I am asking for more from a series man. James Wan, I don’t know how you did it but you’re brilliant bro. I can’t wait to see where the Warrens go next (if they do), either man. Right there with you. Excellent review Keith
Man I loved this thing. Easily one of my favorites of the year. Some have criticized the length but I love the extra detail and attention given to the Hodgson family. And don’t they have a cool formula? No direct sequel to this. Just another from the Warren’s case files.
Yeah i really think that setup is brilliant. They are each just chapters rather than continuations. It allows this franchise some longevity I think.
Longevity for sure plus they can do a wide variety of things too. Hopefully Wan will stay onboard for a while.
I was already looking forward to seeing this. Glad to see you liked it Keith. I’m even more eager to catch up with it now.
It’s well worth seeing. To be honest I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Did you enjoy the first film of the series?