The Conjuring 2: Horror Done Right
The Conjuring was a breath of fresh air back in 2013. Found footage was becoming stale. Zombies were dying off as well. The world needed something different.
So, Hollywood looked to the past. Ed and Lorraine Warren were famous paranormal experts who founded the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952. They had an odd little museum filled with supernatural items and cursed possessions. The couple had already been depicted in The Haunted and The Haunting in Connecticut. Their stories were creepy, and they were one of the first investigators on site in Amityville. They had an entire of catalog of horror to pick from.
The movie was a hit and a “sequel” (Annabelle) was brought out last year.
The Conjuring 2 follows the power couple (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to Enfield, England to do battle with a poltergeist torturing a single mother and her four children. The Conjuring 2 is not just horror done well. It’s horror done right. Director James Wan takes the time to make us care for our characters and the dynamics they face. While at times it feels like a retelling of The Exorcist, the scares don’t feel disjointed like they did in Annabelle. The scenes are much more connected here. What impressed me the most was how comfortable the movie was in its own skin. It’s a stand alone movie in the middle of a franchise (and that is a rarity these days!). The Conjuring 2 will be remembered for the right reasons.
L’il Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe) is a normal 11 year old trying to fit in this world. After making a homemade Ouija board, she manages to conjure up an evil spirit that likes to mess with her and her sisters. At first, her mother (Frances O’Connor) brushes off strange happenings as bad dreams and pranks. But after witnessing some truly otherworldly events, she seeks help for her family. The spirit divides the family as media attention picks up.
The Warrens are asked to observe the family on behalf of the Catholic Church. However, Lorraine has many reservations about this case as she is having visions of Ed’s demise. Although she’s scared, she agrees to go to England to help the family.
What many horror films lack is heart these days. The Conjuring 2 not only focuses how stressful supernatural events can be on a family (think Babadook), it focuses on the love that the Warrens have for each other. While we often scoff at a family’s decisions in these kind of movies, they make sense here: When shit hits the fan, they run. They don’t wait around. They help each other and stand by each other. Yeah, they fight. But it’s healthiness in the midst of cancer. It’s refreshing. And to add to that dynamic, Lorraine is convinced that Ed will perish. He is portrayed as a great man, and there are quite a few touching moments (and even an entire scene) just paying tribute to him outside of his paranormal work. It’s nice, and again, is a great antithesis of the horror around them.
One of the issues I had with Annabelle is that the movie (besides being formulaic) was disjointed. It was scenes stuffed into a movie. The overarching story was weak. It felt too much like a movie that was proud to be a sequel and relished it’s place in the series. However, The Conjuring 2 is opposite of that. When most movies end these days on a cliffhanger or teasing things to come, The Conjuring 2 stands alone. You don’t need to have seen the first two movies in the series.
Recently, James Wan had this to say on twitter:
Horror is really difficult to get right. People don’t give it enough credit https://t.co/t85G9736OT
— James Wan (@creepypuppet) June 6, 2016
Horror is difficult to do well. In my opinion, The Conjuring 2 gets horror right. Judging by the reaction of the crowd last night, I’m not the only one.