By Jack Dignan
I made a number of mistakes during my experience of watching The Conjuring 2. Firstly, I decided to watch the movie alone. Sure, why not? It's just a horror movie. I've seen plenty of those. Bad move. Secondly, when I was in the cinema, I decided to sit in a spot away from people, but in the middle of the cinema. I had space all around me, and nobody near me. I guess that enhanced the film, but it certainly affected my sanity. And finally, once the movie was over, I decided to walk home alone in the dark. Again, very poor decision as The Conjuring 2 is, without a doubt, one of the most terrifying movies ever made, and I loved it.
Just like the first movie, The Conjuring 2 is, unfortunately, based on a true story. It's not too hard to guess why that's an unfortunate thing. It picks up not too long after a haunting at Ammityville, which proves to be too much for Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Loraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). Loraine wants them to retire, but a case is soon brought to their attention that brings them right back in. A family in England is being haunted by an evil spirit who wants to murder them all, and this spirit is communicating to them through one of the daughters, Janet (Madison Wolfe). It's up to Ed and Loraine to help put an end to the haunting, but the case proves to be much more than meets the eye.
The first Conjuring was a simple, but effective horror movie. It worked, and a spinoff was released a year later by the title of Annabelle. That didn't work, although a sequel is currently in the works. The Conjuring 2 follows a fairly similar premise to the original, and yes, the structure even feels mildly been there-done that at times, but unlike Annabelle, The Conjuring 2 is a horror film that works, and it's even more haunting than the first movie. The Exorcist? Forget about it. The Conjuring 2 is where it's at.
While their screen time starts out rather sparse, Verga Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are, once again, absolutely terrific as the husband-wife paranormal investigator couple we've all come to love. They're just fantastic actors giving fantastic performances, Farmiga especially. Don't get me wrong, I adored Wilson in this role, but Farmiga's character, to me, is a lot more interesting, and this gave her more to play around with in her performance, and it allowed for some really effective moments.
James Wan is one of the most talented horror directors out there at the moment, even if he is trying to deviate away from horror. Thankfully, he returned to direct The Conjuring 2, and he does a mighty fine job at it. His camera work is excellent, featuring a mixture of beautiful looking shots and shots used to elevate the suspense or reveal a scare, and this mixes together effectively as this film will stick with you for a very long time.
In a lot of comedy movies, when a character watches a horror movie, they usually jump up and down a lot, shaking their popcorn violently through the air. I always presumed this was an exaggerated reaction done for laughs, but when watching this movie, I discovered first hand that that sort of reaction is not only possible, but I'm capable of doing it. Wan builds an insane amount of tension in this movie, never releasing it, even after a jump scare or two. Most horror films take things slow, but almost every scene in The Conjuring 2 had me on the edge of my seat. It was refreshingly frightening.
To sum up, The Conjuring 2 is one of the most terrifying movies of all time, director James Wan relentlessly creating tension that had me shaking for a good while after the movie finished. With great performances, solid director and a good plot, The Conjuring 2 makes its way well above most horror movies.
4 1/2 Stars