Movie Review: The Conjuring 2 (2016)
“The next true story from the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren”
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Director: James Wan
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe
Synopsis: Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to England to help a single mother of four children whose house is haunted by a malevolent spirit.
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Having solved the paranormal woes of the Perron family in The Conjuring, married ghostbusters Ed (Patrick Wilson – Young Adult, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga – The Departed, The Judge) squeeze in a quick visit to Amityville to shoo away the pesky ghouls bothering the Lutz’s before receiving yet another call for help from the church. This time, the supernatural shenanigans are taking place in the unlikely location of a council house in Enfield, England in which single mum Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) lives with her four children. The former occupant of the property, a 72-year-old man named Bill Wilkins, died in the chair that still sits in the corner of the living room, and now his malevolent spirit has taken exception to the family moving in to his house, and is doing everything in its considerable supernatural power to terrify them into leaving, with youngest daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe – Keanu) bearing the brunt of his wrath. However, Lorraine senses the presence of an even stronger malicious spirit at work in the house, that of a demon nun whom she has encountered on a couple of previous occasions, and whose presence seems linked to a premonition Lorraine has of her husband’s violent death.
In its opening narrative, The Conjuring 2 trots out that hoary old claim about being based on a true story. It’s a spurious tag that filmmakers sometimes use to lend an air of authenticity to a work that is mostly fiction in order to part naïve moviegoers from their hard earned. The Lutz’s were debunked, and the Hodgson’s story was always on pretty shaky ground, while the Warrens have long been denounced as frauds. Hollywood has never allowed facts to get in the way of a good story, though, and The Conjuring 2 unquestioningly portrays their fantastic version of events as fact. Had they just sold it as a piece of horror fiction, the movie would have been a far more enjoyable experience – it’s a polished and effective movie, with a budget far in excess of most horrors – but instead, any enjoyment we gain from watching it is tempered by the fact that we’re being sold a lie.
With a running time of 135 minutes, The Conjuring 2 is a good half-hour too long, and it sometimes feels as if director James Wan is giving little consideration to whether the checklist of paranormal incidents he’s working through actually serve to heighten the tension. Apart from Peggy’s youngest son’s encounter with the crooked man, a genuinely frightening character inspired by an old nursery rhyme, the incidents soon begin to have a treadmill feel about them. But it’s not these that undo the film so much as the repeated interludes during which the sticky-sweet wonderfulness of the Warrens is rammed down our throats.
(Reviewed 14th October 2016)