** Mostly Spoiler Free **
Okay so Trapjaw beat me to the punch, also having seen the movie this week. His review is pretty spot on, so I don’t want to rehash what he said in any great detail (just go read it). I have to concur with him, I liked this movie. I was afraid, with recent takes on modern horror, that it just wasn’t going to hit the spot. Let’s be honest, sequels are never as good as the original, and most times aren’t good at all. This movie looks to defy our stereotypes about horror sequels, and does so well.
First let me say that this is a nice looking movie. I especially liked the cinematography and a lot of the muted colors they used. I thought it was a well shot film and many of the camera movements only added to the suspense. I will say, however, that the effects weren’t always perfect. While the bodies being thrown around the room worked fine, there was a bit of CGI that didn’t work for me when a character from one of the children’s toys came to life. For me it felt a little too “Beetlejuice” and took me out of the moment.
Where this movie is strongest is the relationship between the main characters. Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively) are protagonists that hold your hand around every darkly lit corner. They don’t necessarily have arcs as characters, but the chemistry is surprisingly warm given the narrative. Not only are they strong with each other, but their relationship with the Hodgson family comes across as really genuine. You believe that Lorraine is struggling with the premonitions she has about her husband, and that Ed (despite his fears) really wants to help the haunted family regardless of the stakes. I sincerely hope they can find a way to work these characters into future movies because I want to see more of them. If anything, I’d like to see a future movie focus primarily on them, rather than them serving as the new-age Tangina Barrons.
Besides some of the CGI, there were a couple other minor gripes I had. The movie clocks in at about 134 minutes, and there are a few moments it feels that way. I wouldn’t say I was looking at my watch, but they could’ve left out a few torture scenes (I use that metaphorically) and likely tightened up the pacing a bit. After all, we know that can make or break a horror flick. The only other issue I had with the movie was it’s ending. I can’t say that it ruins the movie, but the climax doesn’t feel quite as satisfying after a couple hours of build-up. I would love to tell you why, but I don’t want to spoil your spoilers.
Overall, this is a solid entry in a series that I hope continues. While there are things that could’ve been improved upon (better character arcs, tighter CGI, less obnoxious jump scares), none of these took away from my enjoyment of the movie. James Wan (Saw, Insidious) has clearly hit his stride has a maker of visual horror films and I’m on board with whatever he’s doing in the future. That Aquaman movie sounds downright terrifying…