HOLLYWOOD—Rarely would I advocate a sequel as being better than the first, especially in the horror genre, but wow, “The Conjuring 2” sure delivered on so many fronts I never expected. The sequel, a follow-up to the 2013 hit, sees the return of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren, paranormal investigators who have a bevy of experiences that they have documented incidents that can’t be explained in ordinary terms.
Like its predecessor, the flick opens with Ed and Lorraine investigating a haunting that was teased at the end of the first flick involving the widely reported Amityville murders. Yes, there is still plenty of speculation till this day, about what really happened in Amityville.
However, director James Wan who helmed the first chapter gives the audience a delicious tease that catapults the narrative and keeps us waiting to get an answer to a question that you will indeed want to know. Wan has such a unique stylistic approach to crafting horror that as a fan of the genre (true horror) you can pinpoint his influence when you see it.
This time around, Ed and Lorraine find themselves travelling to London, England to help the Hodgson family, led by matriarch Peggy (Frances O’Connor) who’s performance eerily reminded me of Ellen Burstyn in “The Exorcist.” At the center of all this chaos, is Peggy’s youngest daughter Janet portrayed by Madison Wolfe. For a movie of this magnitude casting is everything, and Wolfe brings sincerity, fear, rage, guilt and a ton of other emotions to a character that audiences will instantly connect with.
With any horror flick, things start off small, but Wan certainly amps up the level of suspense where the audience is quickly left unnerved by what is transpiring. The first flick did a slow build of the events, this sequel does the same thing, but in my opinion the scares are relentless and the suspense factor is so heightened you are literally grabbing to the hold of the theater seat as things play out.
I will admit one character that annoyed me senseless was that of Anita Gregory (Franka Potente) who just seemed misplaced in the entire narrative. Farmiga and Wilson prove to encompass their characters fully and you no longer see the actors, we see Ed and Lorraine Warren, and Farmiga certainly absorbs her character to full potential. There is an oddly unsettling scene that takes place at the Warren residence that would have totally had me book in a matter of seconds, and Farmiga just eats up those scenes with perfect ease.
I know, plenty of you are thinking, well we’ve seen all the good scares from the trailers and the TV spots, trust me you have NOT! Director James Wan is becoming a genius at his ability to craft suspense, I mean we got teases with “Saw” and “Insidious” but his work in the both “The Conjuring” and “The Conjuring 2” is proof that he knows precisely what to do to leave the audience unsettled, and even more important he delivers on that ‘moment’ that the suspense leads up to. His use of the camera, which is pinpointed in the right direction, angle and focus for those ‘scares’ prove someone knows precisely what he is doing behind the camera and not just winging it.
The plot, the characters, the scares, and the villain for “The Conjuring 2” were indeed bigger, better and more encapsulating than its predecessor that was still spooky. I must say the villain this time around definitely unnerved me. I can’t even believe I’m saying this, I’m super eager to see what haunted tale audiences will be treated from the many cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren for “The Conjuring 3” because I’m certain we’ll see another installment. Fingers crossed with Farmiga, Wilson, Wan and the writers returning yet again!