The Conjuring 2 will scare the Hell out of you.
Seriously, I’ve seen a lot of horror films, including the first Conjuring (which I absolutely loved). I’ve seen ghosts, vampires, demons, werewolves, psycho killers, and threats in the shadows. I’ve seen cats jump out of closets. I’ve seen ghostly faces suddenly appear in the darkness. I’ve heard screams and chants and howls. I’ve seen limbs severed in every possible way. I’ve seen a lot of cinematic horror and, as a result, I tend to feel that there is nothing that can scare me.
Well, it turns out that’s not true because The Conjuring 2 scared the Hell out of me.
In many ways, The Conjuring 2 tells a familiar story. Once again, the film begins with an opening crawl that informs us that what we’re about to see is based on a true story. Once again, a loving but chaotic family is being haunted by evil spirits and the Church has asked paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to investigate.
The setup may sound familiar but director James Wan manages to keep the scares compelling. Over the past few years, Wan has emerged as one of our greatest genre filmmakers. Whether he’s directing an Insidious film or the latest Fast & Furious installment, James Wan knows how to hold an audience’s attention and how to make the potentially predictable compelling. In The Conjuring 2, Wan creates and maintains such an atmosphere of dread that even the expected scares (bumps in the dark, voices in the shadows, slamming doors, and faces suddenly appearing in the background) take on an ominous intensity. From the very first shot, Wan leaves the audience with a profound feeling of unease. I was not alone in covering my eyes during a few scenes. I was also not alone is occasionally looking around the darkened theater, just to make sure that there weren’t any ghosts creeping up on me.
That said, we all already know that James Wan is a master of horror. We know that he can tell a ghost story and, from the minute we saw the first trailer, we all knew that The Conjuring 2 was going to be scary. What sets The Conjuring 2 apart is the same thing that made the first Conjuring so special. (For that matter, it’s the same thing that made Wan’s Furious 7 so special.) Wan fills the screen with horror and spectacle but he also finds the time to celebrate his character’s humanity.
There’s a scene that occurs about 90 minutes into The Conjuring 2. Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) are visiting with the haunted family. The family has been shaken by both the supernatural and the fact that so many people refuse to believe that they are actually being haunted. Ed spies a guitar sitting in the corner of the room. He grabs it and, with the haunted children gathered around them, he launches into a surprisingly good Elvis impersonation. He sings I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, all the while glancing over at Lorraine standing in the doorway.
(What makes this especially touching is that Lorraine has been having premonitions of Ed’s violent death and is terrified that she’s going to lose him before they finish investigating this case.)
It’s a totally unexpected scene and yet it works perfectly. Some of it is because Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have this great chemistry that makes you believe that they actually have been married for years. But it’s also because the scene reminds us that The Conjuring 2 is about more than just ghosts and scares. It’s also about love and family. The haunting is threatening to end Ed and Lorraine’s love story. The haunting is threatening to destroy a loving family. Ed and Lorraine aren’t just investigating a ghost but they’re also saving a family. They’re not just fighting against the supernatural. They’re fighting for love.
And, in our cynical times, that may sound corny or silly or old-fashioned. Well. you know what? The Conjuring was an old-fashioned film and, in a way, so is The Conjuring 2. But who cares? Horror works best when it’s mixed with humanity. The Conjuring 2 may be a horror film but it’s also a celebration of humanity, love, and family.
You may have noticed that I haven’t go into many specifics about the plot of The Conjuring 2. I don’t want to spoil it for you. This is a film that you should experience with fresh eyes. I could tell you about the scariest scene in this film but, if I did, you would not get the full experience. I’ll just say that I’ve seen a lot of scary movie nuns but none of them can compare to The Conjuring 2.
The Conjuring 2 is the best supernatural horror film that I’ve seen this year so far. It will scare you and it will touch your heart. See it.
Also, be sure to stay for the end credits, which feature a lot of genuinely creepy snapshots of the actual locations where the film’s haunting is said to have occurred. Not only are the pictures scary but they also show the care with which The Conjuring 2 recreated 1970s London. Is the picture below a scene from the film or is it a picture that was taken during the actual haunting? You’ll have to see The Conjuring 2 to find out!
I liked it too. Although a feminist critic I read was offended by the film’s message that all the family needed was a decent man to come in and fix their problem (Ed is fixing the plumbing the minute he shows up). It got me thinking of the The Exorcist as well (the absent father symbolically replaced by the priests).
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