The Conjuring 2

Scott Wallace
9th Jun 2016

In 2013, James Wan's The Conjuring was quietly hailed as one of the most tense and frightening supernatural horror movies in years, even if it wasn't particularly original. Demonic possession and haunted houses are on the menu again in the sequel as another true story from the annals of real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren takes them to a council flat in north London.

Set in 1977, six years after the first film and notably a year after the notorious Amityville haunting, The Conjuring 2 revels in delectable period details right down to the opening credits which approximate the look of many of the 1970s' best horror films. The film dives right into the scares after a spine-tingling prologue, introducing Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe), who, along with her mother Peggy (Frances O'Connor) and her three siblings, is a victim of a strange and malicious presence in their home. Called in to investigate by the church, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren are the only ones who can help.

The Conjuring 2 is slight on narrative. This will be welcome to some horror enthusiasts, who want to be scared without any dull exposition, but overall it makes the film feel somewhat flat. Sometimes solutions can feel somewhat convenient, falling straight into characters' laps, and as a result it seems as if certain elements to the story are never explained or explored properly. 

The scares, though, are very effective. There is a pattern and a formula to them, but the location of the creaky old council flat and some inventive set-pieces keeps the audience on edge. Arguably, though, many of the scares are scary not because they're unexpected and well-constructed, but because they're loud. By the film's end, many filmgoers may be fed up with the constant barrage of thuds and screeches. 

Like the preceding film, The Conjuring 2 has a strong emotional pull. As Janet, to whom the malignant spirit has chosen to attach itself, Madison Wolfe is brilliant and consistently believable. The terror and sadness on her face always feels real. Frances O'Connor is also brilliant as her mother, her performance tapping into a great blend of fear and anger. Seeing performances of this depth in a horror movie is rare and very welcome.

Overall, The Conjuring 2 doesn't match its predecessor, but it's still one of the stronger horror movies likely to be released this year. It seems that with these films, Wan and his team are attempting to build a horror franchise with its own distinct mythology. It's certainly not fleshed out enough to reach that point yet, but The Conjuring 2 is still a very enjoyable horror movie. 

The Conjuring 2 is in Australian cinemas now.