By Justin Browning (Horsham, West Sussex, UK)
The Conjuring 2 is the hilarious new comedy from respected director James Wan. Of course, it was never his intention to make a comedy, since this is in fact a sequel to one of the better horror movies of recent times. However, Wan’s latest effort falls very short of the lofty expectations that have been attached to it. Even for a horror sequel, which have notorious reputations for disappointing fans, this is an exceptionally poor effort. Never before have I convinced myself that a new director must have been brought on board – but there is no better way to imagine The Conjuring 2 than as the work of a lesser director attempting to copy Wan’s original step-by-step, leading to inevitable failure.
Also never before have I spent so much of a movie’s run-time wanting to flee the theatre. Admittedly, this had a lot to do with my cowardly aversion to horror of all shapes and sizes. I will not deny that I jumped out of my skin countless times – if all you’re looking for is a cheap scare, this will fit the bill. Yet therein lies the problem: the scares here are cheap as chips, as the British say (the dull setting in an average urban British terraced house only detracts further from the atmosphere and the quality of the horror). There are almost no jump scares that you won’t see coming; there is almost no effort to build up a really chilling atmosphere; and all attempts made to set up the action amount to pathetically obvious signaling of the staging of “boo!” moments later on in the painful 2hr 10min+ running time.
At this point it is perhaps wise to insert the obligatory plot summary. The Warrens are back, played by the ever-competent Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. Watch with mild disinterest as they wander around at home for almost half the run-time, while the parallel plot of a single mother and her five children suffering paranormal oppression develops. We learn the identity of the terrifying spirit that haunts this family when he speaks the immortal words: “My name is Bill Wilkins, and I’m 72 years old.”
Eventually, the Warrens arrive to save the day, but sadly even they cannot save us from more abysmal writing and lazy craftsmanship. Squirm in your seat as Wan gets under your skin with an interesting new tactic that relies not on aesthetic and tone, but instead on a melting pot of obnoxious and predictable bumps-in-the-dark and nauseating moments of cliché sentimentality. Recoil in horror from the inexplicable bursts of cheap CGI which assault your eyes as the Crooked Man ghost stalks the family. Avert your eyes as Wan fails to follow the most basic rules of the genre by fully revealing the villain to us almost from the outset, leaving nothing to the imagination about the evil nun which threatens the Warrens (that’s right, there’s an evil nun). Roll your eyes at the constant throwbacks to the devices which made The Conjuring great and which make The Conjuring 2 a lazy cash-in – for example, small girls weeping at the sight of invisible creatures in the corner of their bedroom, or a basement filled with all manner of nasty things.
The point of this long list is that the movie is like a twisted greatest hits version of its predecessor, rehashing the same plot devices and spooks, while adding in many new features which make me love to hate this movie. I cannot deny that it is not a totally useless venture, simply because in following the path created by the first instalment, this sequel manages to create some moments of intelligent horror and it retains some of the atmosphere which imbued the original. But it is a pale imitation, as most horror sequels are, and the drop in quality is so great that it might just give you whiplash – The Conjuring 2 will therefore cause discomfort, but not at all in the way that was intended.
Rating: 1/5BEST QUOTES