The Warrens head to London to help a single mother and her children deal with a restless spirit.
This was my second time seeing this film; I saw it once before in the theater, and at the time of my first viewing, I thought it was almost as good “The Conjuring”. After just finishing this again, I stand by my original opinion: this is almost as good as the first one, with a heavy weight on the word almost. There are lots of things that this film did better than the first one, but there are also a lot of things that this one really took too far, and as a result, some of the scary moments ended up being rather silly instead. Compared to other horror films that came out around this time (like “The Forest” or “The Boy”), this movie is still leagues ahead in terms of writing, technical prowess, and overall atmosphere.
“God will be there for all who need.”
As we join the Warrens at the start of the Conjuring two, they are just coming off their most publicized case yet: the haunting at Amityville, New York (think “The Amityville Horror”). Ed (Patrick Wilson, “The Watchmen”) and Lorraine (Vera Farminga, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”) now face more press and public scrutiny than ever before. A skip across the pond, in Northern London, the Hodgson family begins experiencing some sort of unrest in their home. The family is comprised of a single mother, Peggy (Frances O’Connor, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”), and her children; of the children, Janet (Madison Wolfe, “Trumbo”) seems to have a sort of connection to a spirit that resides in their home. As the haunting gets worse, Peggy turns anywhere she can to try to find answers.
I think the thing that I personally enjoyed the most about this film was that it carried over the same themes of faith that appeared in the first film. In fact, this movie made them even more prevalent than the first one did, and that kind of positive portrayal of faith is rare to see in modern secular cinema; it’s practically unheard of in R rated horror films. Themes of faith and doubt are absolutely huge in this film; most of the movie revolves around whether or not the Warrens should choose to believe the Hodgsons. Again and again the idea of ‘taking a leap of faith,’ or trusting that God knows what he’s doing is brought up.
Now, there are a lot of things that I liked about this movie beyond the themes too. First of all, I really liked the slower, more deliberate pacing in this film. The Warrens and Hodgsons don’t even meet until about the hour mark in the film, and while it is twenty minutes longer than the first, and I don’t think that time has gone to waste. We really get a chance to delve into the psyche of some of the characters and people that are drawn to the Hodgson’s home; the people feel more flushed out, and again, the themes are more established this way. Even some of the more minor characters are given reasons for why they’re interested in the case. I think one of my favorite moments in the film is when Lorraine speaks to one of the British investigators asking why he’s interested in the paranormal. The man says that he’s primarily interested because it will mean scientific discovery, but when pushed further he admits that his daughter died and that he really wants to know for certain if there is life after death.
Not all of the added time was a bonus, however, there were certain scenes that felt strange and out of place, and other scenes that were meant to be scary but came off as ridiculous and silly. I could’ve done without the awkward scene where Patrick Wilson inexplicably sings an Elvis tune for a good minute and a half. There were also some ‘spooky’ moments that went a little too far for me, and really didn’t make sense or (in my opinion) follow the rules of the universe. My least favorite part was the Crooked Man elements of this film. I can buy the lingering ghosts, I can buy malignant spirits, but what I don’t think is scary is a big Slenderman looking fella with an umbrella popping out of a dog. That’s not scary; that’s stupid. Also, while I wouldn’t go so far the first film subtle, it was far subtler than this movie. This movie tends to shy away from easing you into the terror and creating atmosphere; instead it just thrusts you in and expects you to be terrified. As far as a scary movie; it’s fine, it’s got some moments where it’s kind of spooky. But it doesn’t bring the level of terror that the first one did, nor does it maintain the level of scariness for quite as long.
Though not quite as good or as scary as the first film, the Conjuring 2 still provides a wonderfully creepy world to sink into for two hours. This isn’t a horror film that will linger quite as long as the first movie, but I’d say it’s a worthy successor due to the consistent writing and acting, and also the great scary visuals and well-designed locations. For me, this feels like a perfect ‘cold, rainy day horror movie;’ it’s got enough atmosphere and chills to make you want to curl up in a blanket with your dog and just disappear in some creepiness for two hours, but when that two hour is up, the atmosphere wont latch on to you; it will vanish like dew with the dawn. Overall, its worth seeing if you liked the first one.
This is part of our 31 Nights of Thrills Series. Not all of the movies we review for this series will be strictly horror, but all will have something to do with the spirit of things spooky or scary. If you like those types of movies, be sure to check back throughout the month of October!
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