The Conjuring 2 is a Horror movie directed by James Wan and starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Madison Wolfe. The movie follows the paranormal investigating turned ghostbuster couple Ed and Lorraine Warren as they reluctantly approach what may be their deadliest case yet. Inside the murkier regions of England’s public housing, a single mother and her children are violently tormented by a malevolent entity who seems out for blood.
It’s a tried and true story, especially within the scope of the paranormal-obsessed era of modern horror we are living in, but James Wan makes a commendable effort to execute it in a unique way. Outside of some of The Conjuring 2’s bolder risks, Wan’s guise lends the film a level of filmmaking aptitude which is rarely seen in Horror blockbusters. Much of the stellar camera work and shot-framing in this film was only hinted at in this movie’s predecessor. If the original Conjuring can be credited with anything, it is that it nailed the fundamentals of film excellently and was good despite its cliché plot as a result. This carries over to its sequel but instead of fitting comfortably with its modern horror contemporaries, The Conjuring 2 carries the series with newfound confidence and self-assurance in its ability to be truly terrifying.
The performances of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Ed and Lorraine are taken to even greater heights as their natural chemistry give the audience a reason to care for their well-being. This is even truer for the haunted family, whose battles with real-world struggles like poverty and divorce make them easy to empathize with when their lives start falling apart. Frances O’Conner’s performance as a mother who has been rendered powerless to defend her children is particularly engaging. While all the main cast performances are great, many of the peripheral characters are frustratingly rigid.
Perhaps The Conjuring 2’s biggest strength and weakness is its willingness to bring life to the villainous malevolent forces at the centre of the conflict. This leads to sequences that aren’t all smoke and mirrors but are actually visually impacting and engaging. One sequence involving a “crooked man” was not just horrifying but legitimately ballsy as it is rare for Horror films to have such dynamic visual flair. The issue with the new visual focus is that there is more than one instance where the low production value is apparent, leading to CGI more akin to an online Flash game rather than a blockbuster.
The Conjuring 2 approaches its typically safe brand of paranormal horror with a refreshing level of confidence and enthusiasm. Almost like it is the uncomfortably secure and offbeat younger sister of its predecessor, it haplessly takes risks and adds colour to its morose palette where it can, which pays off for the most part.