Film Review – The Conjuring 2 (2016): Jordan’s Take

The Conjuring 2 New Line Cinema

Ed Warren paints his nightmare in The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2

Directed by James Wan

Starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe

Review by Jordan

When I was young, for a brief period of time I had a bedroom at the end of a hallway. Sleeping with the door open at night, with my head positioned to look directly into the dark corridor only occasionally lit when a full moon sky would influence the kitchen at the end of it, I would often wake up and find myself staring down into it, scared for what could possibly be down there, staring back up at me. I would wake up, and I would have nightmares, and never have I seen this innate, and I imagine universal childhood fear translated so authentically, and terrifyingly to screen than with The Conjuring 2.

The scene referenced, which also involves the deathly dark inside an indoor tipi and a silence-breaking toy fire engine, is only one of many that build absolute horror through fear of the dark at first, and then a fear of what we can’t see staring down the back of our necks. Then, as with The Conjuring, physical terror is employed to completely fry the last vestiges of un-involvement for the viewer, to have them, like the Hodgson family of Green Street, constantly on edge in anticipation of the next horrifying occurrence. Never has a film been so continuously scary as this. Moment upon moment there is no respite, like Janet Hodgson has no respite, with the dread suffered by Lorraine Warren through her visions flowing into the diabolical haunting in Enfield, London; a dread that is duly warranted.

Set seven years after the events of 1970, where paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren just barely survived the trauma in the farmhouse of the Perrons, The Conjuring 2 briefly touches on the famous story of Amityville before again focusing on a desperate family living in a house alive with sorrow. Here, the sorrow, and the anger, is emitted through the returning of the 72 year old past owner of the residence, whose targeting of young Janet to communicate and enact violence is a harrowing thing to behold. At first it’s furniture being moved, knocking on doors and the eerily positioned lounge chair in the corner rocking with the weight of the vengeful Bill, before things escalate to the extent the Church needs convincing it’s not in fact a hoax. The Warren’s are called upon, and their genuine desire to help those in need outweighs Lorraine’s want of retiring. Although Ed makes contact, neither can feel particular malevolence in the property; a curiosity that will reveal itself to be the greatest horror of all.

Director James Wan has many tools at his disposal. He utilises classic film techniques like long tracking shots and static cameras, and juxtaposes them with experimentation (the opening scene with Lorraine embodying the Amityville Horror a particularly striking example of this) and vivid, ghoulish imagery with a particular emphasis placed on fixed, deep eyes and creaking fingers emerging from the shadows. This is never more evident than when a macabre painting of Ed’s, inspired by a nightmare, is used as a conduit for a fateful message. It’s chilling. His working relationship with Patrick Wilson is also integral to his career to date, with the two collaborating on the impressive Insidious (2010) and of course the original Conjuring (2013). Vera Farmiga should also be commended for her commitment to role and absolute stoicism. Truly what sets these films apart is that they are based on a foundation of drama, with internal conflict and motivations of earnest characters paving the way for the evil that would disrupt it to appear all the more abhorrent.

The Conjuring 2 is patient, yet relentlessly unsettling, and because of my deserved affection for the characters I found myself constantly engaged even during moments some might find jarring. Imagination and impeccable application drive Wan’s latest to be quite possibly his best film to date, and his creation of a nun whose very appearance can make your blood run cold solidifies it as his scariest.

4.5 small and light video cameras out of 5

28 responses to “Film Review – The Conjuring 2 (2016): Jordan’s Take

    • I really do respect their commitment to these roles. They play them so well and add an impressive sense of gravity to the films. I was just so pleased this turned out so well.
      Cheers Keith.

  1. Hmmmm, I will keep my eyes open for this. I honestly expected it to flop, or be really bad, but it looks like the reviews are coming back pretty positive. Great work!

    • If you liked the first then I can’t see any reason why you’d be disappointed with this. I couldn’t help but be confident with Farmiga and Wilson back on board.

  2. Sounds like a horror film worth its title! I can’t wait to watch it and it seems like James Wan has found the key to success! 🙂

    On a side note, no wonder why you love horror movies so much…you kept your door open staring at the dark corridor?! WHY?!! :))

    • Well he certainly knows the key to scaring me!

      Ha, for some reason it seemed less scary than shutting it! Either monsters down the hall or under the bed I suppose. I do realise now it was silly, ha.

      • Oh, I most definitely was not disappointed! Saw it today, then had to rush back home and finish “The Conjuring” piece, so it’s been interesting these last four hours. I feel like I understand Wan when he said that he felt inspired to do horror again, at least once more. Something along that line of thinking.

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  4. I agree wholeheartedly. With the exception of ‘Sinister,’ I don’t think any movie’s scared me more! I think it’s an incredible film too. As you describe, the plot doesn’t serve simply to setup the jump scares. Rather, this is a story rich with drama and filled with characters we care about. It really raises the bar for horror films!

    • Both conjuring films are the same in that Wan really establishes the victims as not deserving of their ordeal. The warrens are terrific heroes. Here’s hoping he’ll deliver a third chapter down the line.

      • I’ll second that. A third film, with this quality and these characters, would be amazing!

  5. This review was great! I totally agree! Although your ‘The Warrens are terrific heroes’ comment really made me smile. I am a huge fan of The Warrens, they are a great on screen couple fighting the darkness of the world. I would be very interested in seeing a third instalment of this franchise!

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