Friday, June 10, 2016 marks the official theatrical release of The Conjuring 2, the latest horror film from director James Wan, and sequel to 2013’s The Conjuring. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the early press screening on Monday, June 6, 2016 courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.
Written by the team of James Wan, David Leslie Johnson, Chad Hayes, and Carey Hayes, and produced by New Line Cinema, the film was originally slated for an October, 2015 release, however it was pushed forward to June 2016 by distributor Warner Bros. to match its predecessor’s summer release. But of course, the real question on everyone’s mind is “is it any good?” – and we plan on doing our best to answer that, so read on to find out!
Set in 1977, The Conjuring 2 once again follows the ghost-hunting exploits of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (once again played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively) who open the story investigating the strange phenomenon of the infamous Amityville Horror House in Amityville, New York. After their attempts to cleanse the house of evil spirits, while very revealing, are seemingly unsuccessful, they head back home, set on walking away from their profession, when Lorraine is haunted by terrifying visions of a demonic creature (that, just for the record, is actually pretty scary.)
Meanwhile in London, England, the Hodgson family is plagued by a series of hauntings in their North London home, which are particularly focused on young Janet Hodgson (played by Madison Wolfe of The Campaign). After the hauntings get progressively worse, the mother, Peggy Hodgson (played by Frances O’Connor or Blessed, Bedazzled) contacts the church for help, who reaches out to the Warrens to investigate. Once the Warrens arrive, things really begin to pick up. The hauntings get really intense, with the ghost of an elderly man, an extra-creepy take on the fairytale Crooked Man, and the aforementioned demon coming together for some truly horrifying stuff. I won’t go into any more detail than that, as this is a 100% SPOILER FREE article… but suffice to say, it’s all very well done.
James Wan offers more of his signature style of paranormal horror, blending very creepy, surreal scenes chock-full of suspense and an overall sense of dread with a few well-timed jump-scares and just a pinch of comic relief. While it is all very well done, it is also absolutely bursting with all the typical, formulaic horror tropes – objects flying through the air, paintings coming to life, creepy toys, things in the shadows, possessed children, people doing some of the dumbest things you can do to further the plot, you name it. This isn’t so much of a problem, per-se, it’s just a bit humorous for experienced horror movie veterans. Also worth mentioning is the exceptional realism of the 1970s period set. Absolutely everything in the film looks like it was dug up out of a time capsule, and that really helps to enhance the believability – far beyond the whole “based on a true story” bit.
Unfortunately, however, this film is also really, really long, and as a result tends to drag quite a lot. While any good horror film is supposed to make moviegoers uncomfortable, that isn’t supposed to include discomfort from sitting in a cramped movie theater seat for over two hours. A minor gripe, yes, but definitely one that’s worth mentioning. I personally feel that this film could have cut a lot of the needless exposition and slow (non-suspense) scenes in favor of a much shorter runtime. Also on the negative end, the score at times felt very uneven, with the horror scenes fitting very well, but others not exactly meshing, or worse, pandering.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, The Conjuring 2 is a very effective horror film that is a fine addition to the horror subgenre of paranormal ghost stories, and definitely one worth seeing. While it certainly isn’t perfect, and is a bit too long for its own good, it does an excellent job of manipulating audience emotions/fears, and touts an excellent cast. James Wan continues his trend of releasing quality horror, if a bit formulaic, and will most certainly catch a lot of critical and fan praise for this one. – 7.5/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine