[Early Review] The Conjuring 2 (2016)

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Director: James Wan

Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente

Screenplay: Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, James Wan, David Leslie Johnson

133 mins. Rated R for terror and horror violence.

 

Good evening, everyone, I just got back from an early screening for The Conjuring 2! Did I like it? Spoiler: Yeah, I did.

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This sequel from director James Wan (Saw, Furious 7) is set after Lorraine (Vera Farmiga, TV’s Bates Motel, The Departed) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson, Watchmen, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) have wrapped up their famed inspection of the Amityville house. Now, a far more terrifying case comes calling all the way from Enfield in north London. Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Mercy) and her family have been experiencing a new level of paranormal disturbance that threatens the lives of the entire family. This entity has centered itself on Peggy’s daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe, The Campaign, Keanu) and plans on forcing her to do the unthinkable. Now, the Warrens have found themselves in their most dangerous journey, facing an enemy that wants more than just the Hodgsons.

First of all, I have to congratulate Wan on not tackling The Amityville Horror. This sequel touches on it just enough to provide a context for the series. The Conjuring 2 is one of the more amazing horror films in recent times. It may also be Wan’s best film to date, and I mean that.

The acting from Farmiga and Wilson are again incredible, but it’s the relationships built between them and the Hodgsons, particularly Janet and Peggy, that make the film. It’s rare to call a horror film heartwarming, but that’s exactly what The Conjuring 2 reaches for amidst its shocking and tense mood. Young Madison Wolfe holds her own in her scenes with the more accomplished performers here. There’s also a terrific turn from Simon McBurney (The Last King of Scotland, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation) as Maurice Gross, a man searching for proof of life after death but who may be too easily convinced. On the polar opposite in the troupe is Anita Gregory (Franka Potente, TV’s Copper, The Bourne Identity) who is out to prove the Hodgson haunting a hoax.

Wan’s always had great cinematography in his films, and The Conjuring 2 is no exception. It would seem that the horror director’s entire filmography has led to this, from his smaller pictures like Saw to his action-packed extravaganza with Furious 7. Wan’s work has created a unique style pulling from everything he has done before and creating something wholly new.

Another progression is that of Joseph Bishara, who scored the film. Bishara is much more restrained than in previous works like Insidious, his score only enhancing scares instead of instigating them. It works very well here.

James Wan swings for the fences, even if he misses on the special effects. There is a hint of swift CGI to this film involving one particular element that I won’t mention here. You’ll know it when you see it, this piece of CGI will not age well, even if it didn’t completely take me out of the movie.

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The Conjuring 2 feels so personal and so profound, the master stroke of a filmmaker in full control of his craft. It’s incredible to have been a fan of this storytelling for over a decade and to see his metamorphosis into a skilled and strong filmmaker who impresses me more each time I enter the cinema. See The Conjuring 2. It’ll make you believe in studio horror again.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of James Wan’s The Conjuring, click here.

For my review of James Wan’s Insidious, click here.

For my review of James Wan’s Furious 7, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 13 – The Conjuring (2013)

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Director: James Wan

Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor

Screenplay: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes

112 mins. Rated R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror.

 

James Wan (Saw, Furious 7) is THE horror director of today. The man is known for creating tone and utilizing it perfectly to create a terrifying atmospheric experience. He also shows that he can learn from mistakes, and nowhere is that more apparent than what is likely his best work, The Conjuring.

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Carolyn (Lili Taylor, Say Anything, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials) and Roger Perron (Ron Livingston, Office Space, Vacation) are loving their new home. But there is a presence in the home, and it is taking its toll on Carolyn. In steps Ed (Patrick Wilson, TV’s Fargo, Insidious) and Lorraine Warren (TV’s Bates Motel, The Departed), two paranormal investigators (demonologists, technically) who are looking to solve the family’s dilemma. But this demonic force isn’t willing to go lightly, and wants to take the Perrons, and perhaps the Warrens, with it.

The screenplay by Chad and Carey W. Hayes (House of Wax, Whiteout) is where it starts. This screenplay combines that perfect mixture of horror with lightheartedness and humor that James Wan thrives on.

What also helps Wan thrive is the perfect blend of great actors and professional genre performers that blend into such a realistic and thrilling experience.

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James Wan’s previous film Insidious was great but had issues, namely the overuse of music and the overappearance of the big villain. In The Conjuring, he learns from these mistakes and excels here with pure vision. The Conjuring is a pure modern masterpiece in just about every way.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of James Wan’s Insidious, click here.

For my review of James Wan’s Furious 7, click here.

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