Director: James Wan
Writers: Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, James Wan and David Leslie Johnson
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Madison Wolfe, Frances O’Connor, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick McAuley, Simon McBurney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon Delaney, Franka Potente, Bob Adrian, Javier Botet and Bonnie Aarons
Synopsis: Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
James Wan surprised everyone back in 2013 with his surprise summer horror hit film The Conjuring. Based off the case files of real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, the film put Wan back on the map. When it was announced that a sequel would happen, many thought that maybe Wan wouldn’t make an equally good film that The Conjuring was. Well, it turns out, it is, and arguably better than the first.
The Conjuring 2 is based and inspired (as some things were added for the sake of story) by the Warren’s case, the Enfield Poltergeist in London. The case follows single mother of four, Peggy Hodgson (O’Connor), who is just trying to get by. However, when her children in Margaret (Esposito), Johnny (McAuley), Billy (Haigh) and Janet (Wolfe) starts experiencing strange occurrences throughout the house and Janet starts showing signs of demonic possession, Peggy has no choice but to call for help. Enter Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga), who are called in at first to just oversee and report if this is truly a case of demonic activity or a hoax, which many believe it is. Of course, thing progress very fast and dangerously that the Warren’s have no choice but to help and save the family, especially Janet.
The Conjuring 2 had some big shoes to fill, but thankfully, the film steps up its game and brings a little more scares and ups the creepiness factor from the previous film. Wan has already established himself as a great horror director, but if it wasn’t clear by now, Wan is a great director, period. The way he sets up the shots and brings the story together is done effectively, and his collaboration with cinematographer Don Burgess makes the film feel more eerie than the first. There are a few particular shots that still give me chills just thinking about them, one of them involves an out of focus character.
Wan is also able to make some horror clichés work for him. Like his previous horror films, the jump scares are scattered throughout, but still manage to work and don’t feel like there are forced like other horror films. Also, the dreadful scenes are enhanced by the villains. There is Bill Wilkins (Adrian), the demon scaring the Hodgson family and seemingly possessing Margaret. The Demon Nun (Aaron), which is creepy in name itself, but more creepier in the film I assure you, and one of the standouts The Crooked Man (Botet), who I won’t ruin, and I sure many will think is mostly CGI, but he isn’t.
Like The Conjuring, the leads may be Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s Ed and Lorraine Warren, but the sequel spends a lot of time with the Hodgson’s that we feel emotionally connected to them and worry for them when things start to go down. However, we do spend most time with Janet, played impressively by Madison Wolfe. Wolfe really owns every scene she’s in and you can feel the dread along with her. Frances O’Connor’s mother character Peggy starts by not believing her children until she sees it herself and will do anything to project her children no matter the cost. Patrick McAuley and Laruen Esposito don’t really get too much screen time, but you can sense that they want will stand by their sister. Finally, Benjamin Haigh, who plays the youngest child Billy, is given a different trait than the others that shows that the family is dealing with their own problems.
Wilson and Farmiga, once again, are fantastic as the Warrens with Farmiga getting more of the meatier material. Lorraine is still struggling to adjust and control her ability to tap into the supernatural, but also trying to live a normal life with her family, which is always at risk with their line of work. Wilson takes a bit of a backseat this time around, but does have his moments to break through.
All in all, The Conjuring 2 is as effective, if not more, than its predecessor. The cast, more specifically Madison Wolfe, bring life to the dreadful and scary story of the Enfield Poltergeist. Filled with great scary moments and overall terrific cinematography, The Conjuring 2 is worth the watch for horror fans and people that love being scared alike.
The Conjuring 2
4.5 out of 5